Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:36 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
Ch. 17: Redesigning Morality 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16153
Location: Florida
Thanks: 3485
Thanked: 1319 times in 1041 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

 Ch. 17: Redesigning Morality
Ch. 17: Redesigning Morality


Please use this thread to discuss the above listed chapter of "Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life" by Daniel Dennett.



Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:44 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Reading Addict


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1360
Thanks: 1432
Thanked: 678 times in 550 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Ch. 17: Redesigning Morality
Okay, this will probably be it, for me, having finished Dennett's book. I found him really quite good on the subject of morality, and his comparison to A.I. (left largely implicit) to be insightful. He sees a challenging "real time" problem of making real decisions, and our limited rationality (as well as limited time and limited devotion to moral ends, in Ch. 18) leading to "heuristic" pruning of the decision trees. He doesn't really present a good framework for thinking about morality (his attempt in Ch. 18 is charming but nearly useless) but he rightly (IMO) discards most of the attempts to be systematic, including Bentham and consequentialism as well as Kant and deontology (a word he never uses). His observations about them in a "real time" thought framework are spot on, I would say.

However, he seems to be totally unaware of existentialism, or uninterested in it, which is rather strange as a philosopher. As a result, his discarding of religion as either quaint cultural artifact or dangerous fundamentalism or empty relic of a worldview is philosophically indefensible, though it may be sociologically justified. Like Dawkins, whom he obviously admires, he seems oblivious to modern theology and the sense it makes of the framework he cannot make sense of.

For me he makes the incredible error of concluding that morality is "essentially arbitrary" (even though he is happy to declare a number of particular moral choices to be "beyond the pale" in the next chapter) on the grounds (apparently - he is less than explicit, as usual) that it cannot be systematically derived, like mathematics, or systematically verified, like science. Another victim of the incompleteness of systems of moral derivation, unwilling to look at it for its own properties and see that incompleteness does not imply arbitrariness.

Sure, we cannot in real time sort out every moral issue, nor even very many of the interesting ones that we focus on for their ambiguity. Nevertheless there are a tremendous number of choices we do make, with confidence, based at least in part on moral considerations, and society would be much more of a mess than it is were this not so. For someone so willing to skip straight to asserting what is beyond the pale despite lack of objective verification, he is surprisingly unwilling to engage in disentangling the moral sense from the complications with which people do actually wrestle.

Sigh. Looks like for Dennett, any actual moral guidance is a skyhook. And we can't have that, no matter what else the interpretation might lead to.

One last note. I am shocked, perhaps even dumbfounded, by his lack of engagement with evidence of moral sense in animals. At one point he comes close to asserting that our morality is part biological (since, in an interesting example, it was found that people can do logic about enforcing social rules much better than about any other kind of problem) but never explores the implication that logic is involved in cultural use of these biological processes. The same rush to erroneous judgment that I suspect Haidt of.



Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:53 pm
Profile Email
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:

Announcements 

• Promote Your Fiction Book on BookTalk.org
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:33 pm

• Promote Your Non-Fiction Book on BookTalk.org
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:18 pm



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
How To Promote Your Book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank