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L&FP, 48L: Can we restore confident knowledge of moral truth?



But it will be contested.

As Dallas Willard highlighted:

Human life has an inescapable moral dimension. That is, it essentially involves choices with reference to what is good and evil, right and wrong, duty and failure to do what ought to be done . . . . What characterizes life in so-called Western societies today, however, is the absence, or presumed absence, of knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice: knowledge that might serve as a rational basis for moral decisions, for policy enactments, and for rational critique of established patterns of response to moral issues.

In short, we are up against a culture-dominating, institutionally entrenched narrative that even though lacking warrant, is backed by big power factions in key institutions. This is to the point, where R Scott Smith commented: “As Willard once remarked to me, if people on a major university campus were to claim to know objective truth, they very well could be branded fascists.”

Of course, the irony involved is lost on those who would so brand and marginalise.

This is an example of how inescapable the moral dimension of our thought, speech and action is, reflecting the branch on which we all sit, pervasive first principle nature of the Ciceronian first duties of reason:

1st – to truth,
2nd – to right reason,
3rd – to prudence [including warrant],
4th – to sound conscience,
5th – to neighbour; so also,
6th – to fairness and
7th – to justice
[ . . .]
xth – etc

Where, inescapable first principles that govern our reasoning are inescapably true, on pain of absurdity. Even objectors (as we have seen many times here at UD) cannot but appeal to said duties in order to gain persuasive force for their arguments.

Likewise, we have already shown how yardstick cases such as a kidnapped, sexually tortured and murdered child (and the holocaust etc) highlight points of moral knowledge where those who deny or evade show themselves morally defective, not merely critically aware. Indeed, the likely labelling as “fascist” Smith pointed to is an appeal to the manifest evil of the holocaust. there is no more reason to doubt our conscience expressed moral sense across the board as though it were a grand delusion, than there is to doubt our sight, hearing etc even though they can and do err occasionally.

From such, as we also saw, we can build . . . and historically have built . . . frameworks of moral knowledge and linked frames for law and government, with room for reformation. A good first step is to revise our approach to the story of the blind men and the elephant, to see that we can learn from diverse sound insights — the elephant in part is indeed like a rope, a tree, a snake, a wall etc — and seek to bring them together in a coherent, valid, legitimate framework for moral knowledge.

So, why don’t we see that, just as in book keeping, if results do not agree, it is time to search out and correct errors to restore a sounder view of the books?

Because, there are entrenched interests that do not see moral knowledge as legitimate. Often they try to use diversity, disagreement and appeal to tolerance to in fact invert moral knowledge. What do you think, it means when representative voices of some of our highest educational institutions would stigmatise someone who points to the objectivity of key points of moral truth, that such is a fascist?

So, the answer is, a counter-culture strategy, an uprising of truth, sound moral thought and reformation. Hold the truth and stand up for it, peacefully calling for reformation.

As with other major reformations (think, slavery and its trade), this will take time, but in the end, it will prevail. Let us hope, things don’t have to crash horribly before there will be willingness to change. END