Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Divine command theory

DCT, meet the Euthyphro Dilemma. Long story short, the mainstream philosophical view seems to be that if your god tells you to do something, make up your own mind whether it's a good thing to do.

Related note - I had until recently thought that ethics and morality were separate concepts - that ethics were a logical construct based on maximizing some sort of equity or utility function, while morality was a construct based on commands and precepts derived from a religious text or tradition. The latter seemed to me to be uninteresting from the point of view of serious thought, but liable to be a tested and successful way to organize a society, and one with the virtue that a supreme being might actually define (instantiate?) a moral metric. But somewhere deep in an Obsidian Wings thread a month or so ago I was informed by Hilzoy (wearing her philosopher hat) that morality is ethics and ethics is morality. I would entertain the idea of learning enough to fight the point, but the above link seems to me to make the question moot.

Re mootness, I suspect that ethics runs into the problem one meets in (I think) Bayesian statistics, what variable do I choose to treat? If I take a flat prior in x, what happens in x**2? What if I want the tails of the distribution to behave in some nice way? Note to self, read this, maybe useful on the subject.

Anyway, it's all angel-on-a-pin-counting from the chairs-and-people-are-heaps-of-elementary-particles viewpoint.


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