Philosophy & Ethics

Is there such a thing as moral expertise?

Good question, right? I’ve been thinking more about it for a few weeks now as a result of an interesting talk by Gopal Sreenivasan (Duke University) entitled “Moral expertise and the proto-authority of affect,” which he gave at CUNY’s Graduate Center.

The imminent death of a family member is riddled with emotions for family family members. The reasons are obvious.  But it's not just them. 


People who identify with the various versions of the skeptic / atheist / rationalist / freethinking movement(s) hold up the Enlightenment, the famous “Age of Reason,” to be the pinnacle of human civilization, as well as a model for future progress.
Whenever a machine or moist machine (aka animal) comes up with a solution, an observer could imagine an infinite number of alternate solutions. The observed machine, depending on its programming, may have considered many possible options before choosing one. In any case, we could imagine a 2D or 3D (or really any dimensionality) mathematical space in which to place all these different solutions.


As I’ve mentioned on other occasions, my most recent effort in philosophy of science actually concerns what my collaborator Maarten Boudry and I call the philosophy of pseudoscience. During a recent discussion we had with some of the contributors to our book at the recent congress of the European Philosophy of Science Association, Maarten came up with the idea of the pseudoscience black hole. Let me explain.

“Should I kill myself? May the artificial intelligence (AI), which humankind will depend on, ponder such questions, decide rationally, and drag us with it in a mercy killing?”

After a series of media stories about the Liverpool Care Pathway being systematic malnutrition, dehydration and premature death in patients across a wide age-range, it was subjected to review by a panel which delivered their findings on 15 July 2013 saying that
the Liverpool Care Pathway
needed to abandon its name, as well as the use of the word "pathway", and that the
the Liverpool Care Pathway
should be replaced within 12 months by an "end of life care plan". 


I’m getting a little tired of writing about the relationship between science and philosophy when it comes to ethics, as I’ve made my views abundantly clear on this blog and elsewhere.

Nonetheless, more than one of my readers has exhorted me to take on Richard Carrier’s arguments to the effect that science can answer moral questions, as these arguments are allegedly much better than those advanced by more prominent skeptics, such as Sam Harris and Michael Shermer.
A recent talk by Adam Elga (Princeton University) at CUNY’s Graduate Center made me think a bit about what the author calls “suspiciously formed desires.”

When the Supreme Court was debating the legal foundation of the Affordable Care Act in the United States, Justice Antonin Scalia challenged the Obama administration claim that the controversial individual mandate provision was Constitutionally legitimate, even under the broad 'Commerce' clause.

"Could you define the market -- everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli," Scalia said.