Philosophy Only A Philosopher Could Love?

Jonathan Livengood, Metafilter, Jan 02, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Jonathan Livengood calls this "philosophy only a philosopher could love," and while I don't actually stand as a counterexample, I think there might be wider love for Clark Glymour's manifesto than the author suggests. His point of view, in a nutshell, is that for all the criticisms logical positivists receive, they contributed much of value to society, including not only computational logic and artificial intelligence, but a better and more moral view of the world than, say, Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. I have said many times that "my morality is based on my science; my science isn't based on my morality." Though Hume famously said you cannot derive an "ought" from an "is" I take it as foundational to ethics that you can't simply argue your way out of what is a transparently flawed morality. You have to account for the facts, and if your morality leaves half the world starving, or unleashes death and destruction on an entire nation, or sanctions and accommodates fascism and tyranny, then your morality has somewhere gone off the rails. Society is a network, and behaviours that wreck networks are immoral. I think the logical positivists understood that, and while their overt stance was the preservation of a "distinction that made a difference" their underlying objective was to rid the word of the vapid equivocations and rationalizations of unethical systems with which we are all so familiar today. Clark Glymour is one of my philosophical influences; read more of his work today. See also the John Stuart Mill quote from the bottom of this article by Michael Ruse.
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