Disjointed argument

(This is a disjointed argument where people talk past each other) 

We don’t need morality

But then it would be right to do any terrible thing. 

I don’t see why that would follow. I don’t see why I need any moral mechanism to throw criminals in jail, or to write laws and enforce them. 

Before you said “morality” now it’s “moral mechanism. You are fudging words.

I don’t think so. “Morality” is like a function machine where you throw in actions and out pops “moral” or “immoral”

Okay, but even the law needs such a thing.

I don’t think so. Say you throw in an action and out pops “immoral”. Either there is a consensus about it being immoral already, in which case the machine is superfluous; or there is no consensus: then you either let people decide for themselves, or (if everybody is against it) you can’t do anything about it. Say you throw in “divorce” or “usury” and out pops “immoral”. What then? What good is that? 

You could use it to work towards what is right. You could use it to guide your own life. 

Assuming you’re right. Another option is to assume that the morality function machine you made is faulty. And there’s the problem. The only reason you need morality is to make the tough choices that are somehow repugnant to what you want. But when something is repugnant to what you want, it counts as evidence that the machine got the wrong results. You could even get the best of both worlds and assume that the result that pops out is perfectly true, except in your particular case. 

Then you would know you were kidding yourself. 

I doubt it. Look, no human machine or process is so good that it can take into account all possible circumstances, so the only rational way to take morality is as admitting many exceptions. But what good is a morality that admits exceptions? How would you decide among the exceptions anyway? You need another morality function machine to throw the exceptions into, ad infinitum. 

Well, I guess we just muddle along as best we can. 

No we don’t! That’s the one thing we never do! Whatever account of morality you have, most people are wicked. We’re not mediocre, we’re numb! That might be the one moral fact we actually know!

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1 Comment

  1. Peter said,

    May 1, 2009 at 9:40 am

    At the risk of (yet again) muddying your blog with tangential comments, I think it worthwhile to share some links to books in the thomistic tradition I found yesterday while I was killing time. I haven’t come across any of your favorites thomists — Poinsot, Cajetan, Banez — but what I did find is very impressive.

    — 1400s
    Capreolus
    Defensiones theologiae divi Thomae Aquinatis, v. 3
    Defensiones theologiae Thomae Aquinatis (v. 1, 1483 ed) [images]

    Peter of Spain
    Textus Summularum Petri hispani [images, hard to read]

    — 1500s
    Hieronimus de Médicis à Camerino
    Formalis explicatio Summae theologicae (vol. 2, 1858)
    Formalis explicatio Summae theologicae (vol. 3, 1859)
    Formalis explicatio Summae theologicae (vol. 4, 1860)
    Formalis explicatio Summae theologicae (vol. 6, 1860)
    Formalis explicatio Summae theologicae (vol. 7, 1861)

    Melchior Cano [Partial, various editions]
    Opera…(a)
    Opera…(b)
    Opera…(c)

    Toletus
    In Summam theologiae (T. 1)
    In Summam theologiae (T. 2)
    In Summam theologiae (T. 4)

    — 1600s
    Arnu, Nicolao O.P.
    Dilucidum Philosophiae Syntagma: Physics part 2 (1685)
    Dilucidum Philosophiae Syntagma: Natural Theology (1686)

    Goudin
    Philosophia thomistica: Logica
    Philosophia thomistica: Ethica et Metaphysica

    Philippus
    Summa philosophica: Logica (1665)
    Summa philosophica: Physica in Communi (1654)
    Summa philosophica: Physica in particulari (1655)
    Summa philosophica: Metaphysica (1655)

    Vincent Contenson
    Theologia mentis et Cordis‎ (1)
    Theologia mentis et Cordis‎ (2)
    Theologia mentis et Cordis‎ (3)
    Theologia mentis et Cordis‎ (4)

    Salmanticenses
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 1, 1870)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 2, 1876)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 3, 1877)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 4, 1877)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 6, 1878)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 7, 1877)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 9, 1878)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 10, 1879)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 11, 1879)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 12, 1879)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 13, 1878)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 14, 1879)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 15, 1878)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 17, 1881)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 19, 1883)
    Cursus Theologicus (vol. 20, 1883)

    Vallgornera
    Mystica theologia Divi Thomae (1)
    Mystica theologia Divi Thomae (2)

    — 1700s
    Guerinois O.P.
    Clypeus Philosophiae Thomisticae: Logica 1 (vol. 1, 1729)
    Clypeus Philosophiae Thomisticae: Logica 2 (vol. 2, 1729)
    Clypeus Philosophiae Thomisticae: Physica 1 (vol. 3, 1729)
    Clypeus Philosophiae Thomisticae: Physica 2 (vol. 4, 1729)
    Clypeus Philosophiae Thomisticae: Physica 3 (vol. 5, 1729)
    Clypeus Philosophiae Thomisticae: Metaphysica (vol. 6, 1729)
    Clypeus Philosophiae Thomisticae: Ethica (vol. 7, 1729)

    Rentz, Placidus
    Philosophia Ad Mentem Angelici Doctoris Divi Thomae Aquinatis‎: Logica (1)
    Philosophia Ad Mentem Angelici Doctoris Divi Thomae Aquinatis‎: Physica (2)
    Philosophia Ad Mentem Angelici Doctoris Divi Thomae Aquinatis‎: Metaphysica (3)

    Alfonso María de Ligorio
    Theologia moralis‎ (1)
    Theologia Moralis (2)
    Theologia moralis‎ (1-2)
    Theologia moralis‎ (3)
    Theologia moralis‎ (4-5)
    Theologia moralis‎ (5)
    Theologia moralis‎ (6)
    Theologia moralis‎ (7)
    Theologia moralis‎ (8-9)
    Theologia moralis‎ (9)

    Billuart
    Cursus Theologiae: De Deo (T. 1)
    Cursus Theologiae: De Trinitate, angelis, opere sex dierum, incarnatione (T. 2)
    Cursus Theologiae: De Incarnatione, Mysteriis Christi, Gratia (T. 3)
    Cursus Theologiae: De ultimo fine, actibus humanis, passionibus et virtutis, peccatis et legibus (T. 4)
    Cursus Theologiae: De fide, regulis fidei, spe, de charitate (T. 5)
    Cursus Theologiae: De prudentia, jure et justitia, statu religioso (T. 6)
    Cursus Theologiae: De contractibus cum appendice, religione et vittis oppositis (T. 7)
    Cursus Theologiae: De caeteris virtutibus justitiae annexis, de fortitudine, temperantia, de sacramentis in communi et baptismo (T. 8)
    Cursus Theologiae: De extrema unctione, ordine, matrimonio (T. 10)
    Compendium theologiae: De fide, spe, charitate, jure, justitia

    Gotti
    Vera Ecclesia Christi signis (1)
    Vera Ecclesia Christi signis (2.1)
    Vera Ecclesia Christi signis (2.2)
    Veritas religionis christianae (3)
    Veritas religionis christianae (4)
    Veritas religionis christianae (5)
    Veritas religionis christianae (6)
    Veritas religionis christianae (7)

    — 1800s
    Grandclaude
    Brevarium philosophiae scholasticae‎ (1)
    Brevarium philosophiae scholasticae‎ (2)
    Brevarium philosophiae scholasticae‎ (3)

    Rosellius
    Summa philosophica ad mentem angelici doctoris S. Thomae Aquinatis‎ (1)
    Summa philosophica ad mentem angelici doctoris S. Thomae Aquinatis‎ (2)
    Summa philosophica ad mentem angelici doctoris S. Thomae Aquinatis‎ (3)
    Summa philosophica ad mentem angelici doctoris S. Thomae Aquinatis‎ (4)

    Pesch, Tilmann
    Institutiones philosophiae naturalis (vol. 1)
    Institutiones philosophiae naturalis (vol. 2)

    Urraburu
    Institutiones philosophicae: Cosmologia, (vol. 3 1892) [not listed in my previous post?]

    Vallet
    Praelectiones philosophicae: Metaphysica et Ethica (2)

    Zigliara
    Summa philosophica: Ethica (vol. 3, 1910) [not mentioned in my previous post]

    Bonal
    Institutiones theologicae ad usum seminariorum 1
    Institutiones theologicae ad usum seminariorum 2
    Institutiones theologicae ad usum seminariorum 3
    Institutiones theologicae ad usum seminariorum 4

    Franzelin S.J.
    Tractatus de Deo uno secundum naturam‎
    Tractatus de divina traditione et Scriptura‎
    Tractatus de Deo Trino secundum personas‎
    Tractatus de Verbo incarnato

    — early 1900s
    Blanc, Elia
    Manuale philosophiae scholasticae (v. 1, 1901)
    Manuale philosophiae scholasticae (v. 2, 1901)

    Reinstadler
    Elementa philosophiae scholasticae‎ (1)
    Elementa philosophiae scholasticae‎ (2)

    Billot
    De inspiratione sacrae scripturae theologica disquisitio‎
    De immutabilitate traditionis contra modernam haeresim evolutionismi‎
    Quaestiones de novissimis‎
    De ecclesiae sacramentis: commentarius in tertiam partem S. Thomae‎
    De virtutibus infusis: commentarius in secundam partem S. Thomae, tomus primus‎

    —-

    There are other things, but I’m out of time. Pretty awesome, though, isn’t it?

    Oh, and if anyone still doesn’t know, Albert the Great’s works are all online now.


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