Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Mark Rowlands on morality

Mark Rowlands talks about morality on the ABC's Philosopher's Zone (that site includes a complete transcript). Putting aside what seem to me irrelevant comments about his pet wolf, Rowlands introduces some basic concepts about morality very neatly:
  1. If you construe human morality on the basis of implicit contracts then at its base morality is about:

    • Power - You only make a contract (you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours) with people who are capable of helping or harming you. People without power fall outside the contract.

    • Deception - Perceived back scratching is more important than actual. Contracts reward skilled deception.

  2. Given that interpretation, animals have moral rights wrt their relationship with humans. [Doesn't seem to me that he justifies that claim.]

  3. But morality is more than just rights e.g. we might be morally obliged towards object (e.g. an obligation to protect a work of art) that have no inherent rights.

  4. Critical of Descartes' mechanistic view of animals:

    • "Going back to the Descartes classic example, the very famous philosopher who had ridiculous views of animals, you know, animals can't think or feel because they don't have minds, and so on, this resulted in animals being vivisected while alive and conscious, you know, nailed to boards and cut open, and if anyone would protest about their sort of protests, then people say Don't be stupid, they're just machines, this is just their wheels locking together and making a funny noise, they don't feel anything at all."

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