In my last post I challenged materialists to answer the following challenge:
Materialist premises lead ineluctably to the following conclusions. 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.
My challenge to materialists was to show how any of the conclusions I’ve reached based on materialist premises are not in fact compelled by those premises.
RDFish responded with a comment you can read for yourself (comment 23), the gist of which was “normal people agree that evil things are evil.” RDFish’s response is stupefyingly idiotic. I felt dumber for having read it. It obviously begs the question. But more importantly for my purposes, RDFish ran away from the question posed in the OP and tried desperately to change the subject.
Why did RDFish not simply respond to the OP? Simple. Because the question posed is unanswerable.
I answered RDFish harshly (comments 29 and 45). If you are going to come onto these pages to debate the issues, a certain level of good faith is required. When you beg the question; avoid the question posed in the OP; and try to change the subject, expect to be called on it, sometimes quite harshly.
RDFish seems to be laboring under the assumption that I was defending objectivism. I don’t know why he should think that, because I never said a single word about that subject. The OP is about the logical conclusions compelled by metaphysical premises. Whether those premises are warranted (I don’t believe they are) is an argument for another day.
The point of the OP is to get reductive materialists to admit that they don’t get to use words like “morally wrong,” “evil,” “bad,” “immoral,” or “wicked,” in any sense other than “that which I personally do not prefer, which personal preference can be reduced to the impulses caused by the electro-chemical processes of my brain.” Until the reductive materialist understands this, he has not understood the first thing and nothing he says will make the least bit of sense.
RDFish, now hear this. I will try to say it in words adopted to the meanest understanding and maybe you will get it this time: A reductive materialist is cheating when he uses those morally-freighted words in any sense other than “that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain impelled me to prefer.” A message to all reductive materialists: Stop cheating.
In the comments to this post as of the time I write this, one materialist (Lack of Focus) has made a lame effort to change the subject just as RDFish did. When I shut him down he ran away.
Where are you Mark Frank, mahuna, goodusername, Seversky, RDFish, Graham2, Jerad, Piotr, Popperian, velikovskys and the rest of our opponents? Do the collective lot of you have no courage to comment on a post in which I reject all attempts to change the subject and insist that you face the consequences of the premises you push?
If every time I was faced with the consequences of my premises I either tried to change the subject or wet my pants and ran away, I think I would reexamine my premises. That’s just me though.
SA’s Comment at 20 is spot on and I add it to the OP:
Materialist morality – “that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain impelled me to prefer.”
The only thing I’d change is the term ‘prefer’. There’s a moral component in that term. If I prefer one thing, then there’s a reason. We could be coded, somehow, to prefer certain things.
I think a better term would be “to select”. But even that implies free will – a choice. Maybe better would be something like “to adhere to”.
“that which the electro-chemical processes of my brain impelled me to adhere to.”
We’re just obeying the electro-chemical processes. It’s not even a preference or a selection of choices. We just do what we do. Whatever we did, is what we did.
The river flows downhill. The sand forms dunes. A jellyfish lands on the beach. A tree grows a new branch. A bunny rabbit hops along the bunny trail. A spider traps a fly. A human being imprisons and tortures a child in sex-slavery. Things just happen. Electro-chemical processes cause whatever, and it just is.
Not good or evil. Molecules, planets spin around. Human beings tell lies, drop atom bombs, create prison states.
That’s materialism. Nothing much more to talk about than that really.
But for some reason we can argue about this topic for months and the materialists can’t seem to accept what the idea really is.
If you can’t accept it, or can’t accept the necessary consequences — the best response is to no longer be a materialist. Pick another philosophical idea that makes more sense.
Under AS’s clarification, the formulation in the OP would be changed to:
Materialist premises lead ineluctably to the following conclusions. There is no such thing as “good.” There is no such thing as “evil.” There are only the acts the electro-chemical processes of each person’s brain impel him to commit competing with the acts the electro-chemical processes every other person’s brain impels him to commit.
That sounds about right. Materialists, is AS wrong? If so, kindly demonstrate why you believe that (he said ironically as if a bag of chemicals can have “beliefs”).