Every human is from birth imbued with the filter of the Gedanken Policy Test. After all, the Test is that of Reality; so, no real can but apply it, so as to discern which way it should go. Thus no organism subject to selection pressure – i.e., to the Test – can long do without an intimate acquaintance, and indeed agreement, with its dictates.
It is a harsh and implacable Test. It is the Test of conscience. Nobody gets out of it. Nobody is in the end ignorant of this fact; or as well, of his own failures in respect to the Test.
The failure of a policy under the Test is registered in the normal and healthy human by a reaction of disgust thereat. If a policy fails the Test, it almost always is viscerally disgusting to most people. At least, a bit. What right mind, after all, can abide a policy that manifestly fails the Test? Only a mind wholly corrupt, and lost to corruption.
Now, in the natural course of a life these days, the reaction of disgust to this or that perversion – this or that failure of the Test – is likely to have been somewhat attenuated, by considerations of political correctness (which is to say, of expedience), or of confusion, or of divided loyalties (i.e., “I don’t want to valorize x, but if I don’t, I shan’t so readily be able to excuse my own y”).
No matter. The Test is inexorable.
FFS Are You Kidding Me is then where the rubber of social life meets the road of the Test.
Attend to your feelings of disgust. They propose something real.
Disgust is a deeply Christian emotion. It is at the root of God calling certain sins abominations.
Disgust and hatred must be reclaimed.
No abhorrence of sin, no departure therefrom. And, likewise: no love of the ascent to sublimity, then no sufferance of the costs pertinent thereto.
– Alexander Pope
I am starting to buy into moral intuitionism, which is this a case of.
There is the argument that people have different intuitions about big political cases, but there is the counter-argument that in big political debates people tend to not accept the factual claims of the other side either. And often it is not possible to prove them. How do we know there are not some WMDs buried deep in some remote part of Iraq? In 1991 ex-Soviet officers were selling everything on the black market. Conversely, both liberals and conservatives agree that the sky is blue and nuclear war is bad.
(Intuition: claiming that life does not begin at conception creates the problem that there is no other clear threshold line, clearly birth itself does not change a baby that much. The capabilities via which we recognize a human being are built gradually. Babies recognize themselves in a mirror at 18 months old so they cannot really be called sentient in practice before. One could try to make an argument saying two months before birth it is 25% of a human and six months after 60% but it gives no clear input on when it is okay to kill them. Even when one does not believe in a soul, if we do not want another Auschwitz there needs to be a *legal fiction* of a human being who has a right to live, and conception is the only real Schelling point.)
And I figured out something interesting. Why does a person stomping on wild flowers looks intuitively bad while a little girl collecting wild flowers to decorate her room with a bouquet intuitively sweet, when the consequences of it – in a week – are exactly the same? Only explanation is virtue ethics, as in, hating vs. loving beauty. Any other examples of same consequences, different virtues/vices similarly intuitive?
FFS moment. A SlateStarCodex commenter said if you think some people’s interests are inherently more important than some other people’s interests, that is, if your ethics are agent-dependent, you are right-wing and your reasoning went horribly wrong.
Obviously everybody ever thinks some people’s interests are inherently more important than some other people’s interests. Imagine ten trolleys rolling towards ten leading cancer researchers and ten serial murderers, you decide which ten to save and which ten dies. Of course everybody would save the cancer researchers, because they are obviously more worth saving, that is, they are making the world for other people a better place, their lives deliver more utility to other people, than the ten serial murderers. And that is even on the basis they accept, namely consequentialism. I don’t think anyone could agree seriously that it should be decided by flipping a coin.
Thanks, Dividualist, this is great stuff.
Moral intuition is the fossil in our very bodies – in the structure and so in the ineluctable deliverances of our nervous systems, of our endocrine systems, and indeed perhaps even (come to think of it, how not?) of the very ecologies of our guts – of millions of years of experience. It is, i.e., the embedded fossil of quadrillions of iterations of the Gedanken Policy Test. Natural selection is selection of the winners of such iterations of the Test.
The human body is the basic vector and thus vessel of tradition. What cannot long agree with its massive embedded wisdom cannot long perdure as a policy, or even as a notion. What cannot long agree with it is not properly human.
The present catastrophe of the West is of a collision between obdurate moral reality and the insane prevalent heresies to which the long success of our civilization – founded on ancient and veridical moral intuitions – has enabled it to accede. Moral reality always wins. So does it school.
This right now, this crisis in which we find ourselves, is yet another concretely realized iteration of the Gedanken Policy Test. In its result lies the true hope of what remains of the True West.
St John Henry Newman puts it very well:
Unfortunately, as he also notes,
Thomas Reid, whose writings would have been current in the Osxford of Newman’s day, employs the same simile: “To reason about justice with a man who sees nothing to be just or unjust, or about benevolence with a man who sees nothing in benevolence preferable to malice, is like reasoning with a blind man about colour, or with a deaf man about sound…” (Essays on the Powers of the Human Mind III 6)
Among its other practical advantages, a thoroughgoing moral relativism is a sockdolager rhetorical defeater of all contradictory argumentation. Thus it smooths and soothes the otherwise far more puzzling and difficult – fraught, and important – path through life. This is so especially when it operates in coordination with radical epistemological skepticism.
Even when we demonstrate the autophagous character of “That’s just your own idiosyncratic truth” with the rejoinder “’That’s just your own idiosyncratic truth’ is just your own idiosyncratic truth,” our idiot interlocutor shrugs his shoulders and agrees.
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