Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Announcing: Moral Science Index

Continuing the paradigm established by my glossary and my mathematical index, I've put together an index to and summary of the material I've accumulated on the topic of moral science. The index can be reached here, or from the link, 'Moral Science', on the right-hand side, beneath my profile.

The idea is simply to provide a point of entry for people interested in knowing what I have to say on this topic. People can see everything I have presented on this theme, the order in which the different pieces were published (and hence, approximately their dependency), a short description of each piece's function, together with some global motivating and qualifying remarks. 

The relationship between science and morality represents a significant percentage of the material on my blog. It's an important (by definition) and highly overlooked topic, so I think it is important for people to have a single point of access to this material, the same way that the mathematical index provides a consolidated resource for learning about statistics, and the same way that the glossary represents the most definitive statement of my philosophy available, anywhere. (In some respects, I now view the blog as secondary to the glossary.)

I will try to keep the moral science index current - as I release more material, I'll update the index accordingly.

As always, I welcome your comments, questions, criticisms, outraged indignation, etc. If anything needs clarification, the fault is mine. If you're curious about some detail I can help with, then I'm delighted to do so (that's the whole point of the website, actually). Comments are open here and on the index itself, and alternative contact details exist on the right hand side of this page.

Some Highlights:

For your convenience, I'll reproduce here some of the major points from the moral science page. 

(1) As of the publication date of this blog post, the index stands at:
Blog entries on this topic (in order of publication):

Glossary entries on relevant concepts:

(2) To disclaim any extraordinary expertise in any specific realm of moral decision:
My writing on ethics is not to prescribe how to behave, but to inform on how to know how to behave.

(3) Quoting from the overview:
The founding principle behind my writing on this blog is that there is no better method to learn about anything than science. If a thing is meaningful - has consequences - science can measure it, by virtue of those consequences.... 

It is often said that science has nothing to say on the matter of what constitutes moral behaviour. If correct, this leaves us with only one option: morality has no meaning, it is a non-concept. It seems to me absurdly trivial that this is not so. Anyway, only a moderate amount of reflection is required to prove it. Thus, it is equally trivial to prove that science can guide us - in fact, is the optimal guide - concerning moral prescription.

(4) Another feature on the moral science page is a short list of blog articles I expect to write on the topic in the near future, covering (in no particular order):
  • the correspondence, if any, between correct consequentialism and classic utilitarianism
  • the correspondence, if any, between correct consequentialism and political libertarianism
(Spoiler alert: the answer in both cases is, not so much.)
  • some necessary aspects of the nature of human decision criteria
  • the limited insight offered by the classic thought experiments in the philosophy of ethics
  • the potential for correct moral realism to significantly reduce reliance on superstition, leading to a better informed and more rationally directed society 

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