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theyangist comments on Pluralistic Moral Reductionism - Less Wrong

33 Post author: lukeprog 01 June 2011 12:59AM

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Comment author: theyangist 15 March 2013 05:03:17PM *  2 points [-]

In jest, I'm going to accuse you of plagiarizing my work, then tell you two problems that I have with the approach that you've outlined, and then wax e-peen and say that mine is similar, but more instructive on moral discourse among all users of it.

My problem here is that we already have a common language (in terms of wants) which reduces "should" and provides the kind of plurality that you're seeking out of this approach, so there's no need to claim, "I'm using 'is good' to mean P," and then eek out a true statement whose truth is a matter of lexical elaboration, when instead people use moral language to alter others' of their own behavior, perspective, etc. without all of that theorizing on top of it. Most people don't make moral arguments on the basis of grand (meta)ethical stances. But it seems like everyone would have to be a deep ethicist to get any traction out of this theory, and that would mean that it really only explains how experts use moral language, but not how everyday people do. But why would one have to be deep about ethics to prescribe that someone do something? Can't people prescribe an action and justify it without appealing to a definition of 'goodness' at all?

My last issue here is a potential paradox that I spotted when I made two pluralistic moral reductionists confront each other:

PMR1: "Is Harris's defined 'being good' better than Craig's defined 'being good'?"

PMR2: "What do you mean by 'better'?"

PMR1: "I mean whatever you mean when you say 'better' in questions like this."

PMR2: "But by 'better', I mean whatever you mean when you say 'better' in questions like this."