Saturday, September 14, 2013

There Are Probably No Duties. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life

 
 
So it is almost certain that duties do not exist. However, if nothing is right or wrong then religious terrorism is not wrong, inquisitions are not wrong, crusades are not wrong, homophobia is not wrong. The Taliban are not doing anything wrong when they throw battery acid in a woman’s face. One can state that they don’t like these things but subjective expressions of emotion are not a replacement for sensible public evidence like science. Those who offer moral critiques of religious practices may as well invoke the existence of fairies at the end of the garden, belief in unicorns, imaginary friends or spaghetti monsters if they want us to accept there are moral duties. Belief in duties is just a primitive Bronze Age superstition.
 
Flipping around arguments against a deity and re-applying them to moral duties of every kind makes for an interesting rhetorical play.  Now an atheist could still propose that the existence of a god in the mind of a theist is likely an extension of the "theory of mind" that allows for empathy between humans and even between humans and non-humans (i.e. caring about cruelty to animals) but this is the internet ... and the weekend.  So, yes, we admit we're not trying that hard here.

3 comments:

Matt Flannagan said...

I actually addressed that play in argument seven.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I actually think the play behind the "theory of mind" approach is more directly addressed by eight, from what I've seen how of theory of mind gets discussed. That we are able to imagine the minds of others

Paradoxically even if the "theory of mind" explanation is true it would suggest it is impossible to eliminate theistic beliefs from the human race and that attempting to do so would risk destroying a person's capacity for empathy. I'd heard that when pressed for whether he would choose to eliminate religion unilaterally even Christopher HItchens said he wouldn't.

Matthew Flannagan said...

My point is that analogous evolutionary explanations have been proposed for our belief in duties.

The theory of mind explanation also has the problem that: our belief in other minds is produced by the same process as belief in God is. Yet that fact alone does not entail sollipism,