Michael Shermer: <To find out whether an action is right or wrong, ask first.

Shermer wrote: <The moral doer should ask the moral receiver whether the behavior in question is moral or immoral. If you aren’t sure that the potential recipient of your action will react in the same manner you would react to the moral behavior in question, then ask. You will almost always receive your moral answer swiftly and without equivocation. And, as often as not, you do not actually have to ask the question to know the answer. The thought experiment alone should give you a strong sense of what is right and wrong.>

The challenge to skeptics/materialists is not how to define or determine what is right and what is wrong without reference to God (as Shermer has very well done), but why, knowing what is morally right  and what is immoral or wrong, we should choose the right from the wrong when we ourselves will not be adversely affected. This is what I call the <ethical hard problem.>

I am not saying we should appeal to God or religion or scriptures for this, but I am wondering  what other possible source there  is to induce or urge us to CHOOSE right from wrong as the preferred mode. THAT is the problem, not a definition of right and wrong or a strategy for determining them.

Not hurting others would be one of the most ethical rules to follow. But why should we engage in such behavior on moral grounds alone? That is the question.

January 12, 2010


Published by:

Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.

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