IS it true that we OUGHT to seek reason?




David Hume stated that there are fundamental differences between Moral arguments and other kinds or arguments. The IS/OUGHT conundrum. This theory can be best broken down like this... 
Rational Argument: All women are mortal. Krys is a woman. Therefore Krys IS Mortal.

Moral Argument: Seeing a woman get robbed is frustrating. Robbery is against the Law. It is wrong to Rob People, therefore we OUGHT not to Rob each other.

A  statement using IS, can be considered a description of the world. A fact that someone may be able to confirm or deny through research or analysis. OUGHT on the other hand, is a value judgement, something which calls on preferences, perceptions, and intuitions.Neither which are necessarily universal. Although there is nothing wrong or irrational about OUGHT statements, we use them to describe if-then scenarios that depend on what a particular person wants or feels, which are called "Hypothetical Imperatives."

So for example if I want to make myself a sandwich (in the middle of the night as I write this. lol), then I OUGHT to get some bread to make it. You can confirm or deny this statement, and prove its validity with scientific method/ However, this scenario is dependent on person, time, and place; in-then scenarios, and might not hold to be universally true. This would be a rational statement.

In contrast, the truth or a Moral Statement is not supposed to depend on the opinions and values of the person saying it. It is usually more of a Categorical Imperative, like supported by philosopher Emmanuel Kant, that says: 

"One’s actions can only be justified if it could be turned into a Maxims or universal law to be applied throughout the world."
Does your head hurt yet??? - Don't give up! There's a video at the end. lol.
Our first reactions to something might not be the most authentic expression of our values. This is how this article relates to REAL every day life.



HUME realized there was a gap, between the statements of fact of IS, and the Moral output of the OUGHT to question. A poignant observation that has been passed down in modern history as "to Assume, you make an ASS out of U and Me." Hume although a bit empirical in this methods of distinction in the IS/OUGHT problem "GAP" or Hume's Guillotine as it has come to be called, does not mean that he did not acknowledge that sometimes we CAN make OUGHT assertions from IS statements, and therefore fill the gap, although there is no empirical evidence pointing to those facts. He postured that this occurred through reason, and that by exercising one's rational mind, we could come to conclusions that perhaps we did not appreciate before. He used the example of ART, in saying that although we were all not inclined to like the same colors or patterns, that when we look at certain pieces of art, that normally we would "not like" sometimes we are taken by them, and it required a second look to fully engage and understand its meaning.
Similarly, when you watch a movie or read a book, that you think is dumb, but later discuss it with your friends and suddenly you have an epiphany and understand more than you initially did. Looking at things from a new angle (See my post on Perception). 


Well... Here is something even MORE interesting! New advances in Neuroscience have now lead Philosophers to reject the old notions of the Aristotlean 5 senses. That... is another post all together!


1 comment

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