Somehow nearly two weeks have passed since our last discussion of my absurd philosophical views. Shameful. Luckily, I've come across something I wrote last summer which (I think) does a better job of explaining my position. If you look closely, there's even a little bit of an argument in there.

The major stumbling block you're running into here, I think, is that you are tempted by the view that we can't really be committed by our evaluative judgments unless those judgments somehow match up to the way things really are (in some robust sense). The problem is that ethics seems to be like aesthetics (but not, allegedly, like science) in that there's no 'way things really are' for our judgments to match up to, and yet we want to say that we ought to be committed to our ethical judgments.

...one way to handle this difficulty is to deny that there is any domain in which we can know that our judgments match up to 'the way things really are', at least not in any robust sense. Less ambitiously, one might argue that there is no domain in which our commitment actually depends on knowing that our judgments match up to 'the way things really are.' Instead, commitment is legitimate just in case a judgment survives the application of the appropriate evaluative norms.

The difficult question here is saying which evaluative norms are legitimate. So, for example, someone might object to what I said above about cosmology by asking why we should accept our contemporary cosmological practice rather than that of, say, Ptolemy. The beginning of the answer is to notice that we have no reason to suppose that Ptolemy would resist a heliocentric model of the solar system were he given access to contemporary astronomical information. In fact, we think that a fully informed Ptolemy ought to change his views. The point here is that the mere existence of a practice which differs from the one we accept doesn't constitute a threat to our practice. In order for there to be a threat, the competing practice must generate some kind of problem for us. Ptolemy's cosmology doesn't generate a problem for contemporary practice for the simple reason that contemporary practice developed, in part, as a response to shortcomings in the ptolemaic system.

The lesson here is that our commitment to an empirical belief doesn't require a demonstration that the empirical belief somehow corresponds to the way things are, robustly construed. It requires just that the belief be licensed by the appropriate norms and that we have no good reasons to reject those norms. Moreover, if empirical commitments can be explained in this way, then it would seem perverse to require something stronger for ethical and aesthetic commitments.

That's it. The post it's taken from is here.

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