Thursday, October 26, 2006

Logicians, Mock Me!

Any (complete) moral theory that denies the value of truth, however convincing it is otherwise, must be at least question-begging and possibly false. Think of it this way: I claim that the only thing which is valuable is pleasure. That means truth isn't valuable, so, even if it is true that pleasure is the only thing which is valuable, internally, it is left mysterious why it matters that pleasure is the only thing which is valuable: I don't care about truth, so why should I care that it is true that pleasure is the only thing which is valuable? Couldn't someone just respond, since truth isn't valuable, I have no reason which follows simply from something being true to adjust my beliefs to the truth, and if I have no reason of that kind to adjust my beliefs to the truth, then I am given no additional reason to adjust my moral beliefs to the dictates of some moral theory by someone showing me that that moral theory is true. I've tried to formalise this below, but rather suspect that I have buggered it up.

a) the value of truth is the only explanation of why our beliefs ought to track the truth for its own sake

b) therefore, in the absence of the value of truth, there is no explanation of why our beliefs ought to track the truth for its own sake

c) therefore, in the absence of the value of truth, explanations of why our beliefs ought to track the truth must be for reasons other than for the sake of truth

d) such explanations of why our beliefs ought to track the truth will appeal to values other than truth

e) generally, an explanation of why a given x ought to y in terms of a value fails unless that value is a true value

f) therefore by d) and e), in the absence of the value of truth, there is no explanation of why our beliefs ought to track the truth

g) generally, if there is no explanation of why a given x ought to y, then we ought to conclude that x ought to y is false

h) therefore by f) and g), in the absence of the value of truth, it is false that our beliefs ought to track the truth

i) therefore, in the absence of the value of truth, it is irrelevant for our beliefs whether something is true or not

j) therefore, in the absence of the value of truth, it is irrelevant for our moral beliefs whether some moral theory is true or not.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you "believe" something in the absence of truth?

Rob Jubb said...

I suppose this is precisely the question

Anonymous said...

You won't know truth without belief, nor pleasure without truth, nor belief without value. Else why wake up in the morning?