[Marxism] Ted Honderich: philosophy with attitude
shmage at pipeline.com
Wed Jan 30 20:42:21 MST 2013
On Jan 30, 2013, at 8:20 PM, Jim Farmelant wrote:
> Some recent Honderich:
> TED HONDERICH INTERVIEWED for the book Weapons of the Strong:
> Conversations on US State Terrorism, edited by Cihan Aksan and Jon
> Bailes, Pluto Press 2012.
This is most disappointing:
"It seems obvious to me that the right thing can be done out of bad
motives. It seems obvious because what philosophers call
consequentialism is true -- actions, policies, institutions,
societies, are made right or wrong by their probable consequences,
nothing else. The alternative to consequentialism, that intentions
make actions right, or that some things are right on account of the
agent's integrity, or on account of personal relations, or or virtues
detached from consequences, or Kant's pure good will, or whatever --
those suspect ideas are rightly in decline. Can you really dispute
consequentialism? Even if you think, rightly, that intentions are
among the guides to who needs punishment or the like, and of course
guides to probable consequences?"
What makes that "obvious?" Probability in the sense Honderich uses it
(ie., not the mathematical probability of, say, a fair pair of dice
coming up seven) is entirely subjective. One may view the "probable"
consequences of one's actions in good faith (based on a rigorously
impartial view of the objective situation), but human nature is such
that impartiality is very rare indeed--the overwhelming human tendency
is to judge "probable consequences" in close reference to one's
desired outcomes and perception-framing prejudices. So probability is
inherently subjective. Its accuracy can be judged only
retrospectively, once the spectrum of probabilities has collapsed into
an outcome--which *ex post* had 100% probability. And this doesn't
even reach the issue of the chain of consequences following the "good"
outcome--see in the *Gorgias* Sokrates pointing to the wise sea
captain who takes no credit for saving the lives of his passengers
because he has no way of knowing whether their subsequent actions will
be good or evil!
This cosmos did none of gods or men make, but it
always was and is and shall be: an everlasting fire,
kindling in measures and going out in measures.
Herakleitos of Ephesos
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