Mark Frank apparently no longer wants to play. So I will throw the question I asked him open to any of the other materialists who post here.
Imagine the following exchange:
Mr. Materialist, is it possible to imagine a universe in which torturing an infant to death for personal pleasure is actually an affirmatively good thing?
The answer to your question is that my metaphysics compel me to say that the phrase “affirmatively good thing” is all but meaningless in the sense you are using it. There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.” There is only my personal preferences competing with everyone else’s personal preferences, and all of those personal preferences can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain.
Certainly there is no external standard by which we can discern whether the personal preferences resulting from the electro-chemical processes in my brain are in any sense morally superior to the personal preferences resulting from the electro-chemical processes in anyone else’s brain.
It follows, Barry, that if by the word “good” you mean the desirable and by the desirable you mean that which a person actually desires, then of course I can imagine a universe in which torturing an infant to death for personal pleasure is actually an affirmatively good thing. In fact, we live in just such a universe. How do I know? Because certain people have in fact desired to torture an infant to death for personal pleasure.
On the other hand, if by “good” you mean “conforms to an external moral standard,” the question is, as I said, meaningless, because no such standard exists.
End of exchange.
Materialists, it is up to you to tell me how any of the conclusions I’ve reached are not in fact compelled by materialist premises.
WJM is correct. Very very few people actually live as if materialist metaphysics were actually true. And those people who do we call psychopaths.