Sunday, 25 April 2010

Desirism II

Martin's second post in our discussion on desirism, in which he tries to explain desirism to me further is up.

I think it's becoming a little clearer to me, but one of the problems with me trying to get my head around all this stuff is that I lack a succinct definition that I can begin to ask questions about. There is so much information in your posts that I struggle to see the wood for trees and can't pick out the crux of what it is all about. So I think I'd like to take you up on your offer of a short description of the basic principles or desirism. A single paragraph or around five bullets, would be sufficient I think. Try to imagine what the opening intro paragraph of a Wikipedia article about it might say. If you wish to further embellish or offer definitions after that, that's fine, but I'm looking for concise here; a rock on which I can anchor my flailing thoughts about the topic.

I do have a few questions though, from what has already been said:
  1. Since Desirism is sometimes called Desire Utilitarianism, does it agree that it is the outcome of an action that is important when determining its moral status and that an increase in the wellbeing, or reduction of suffering of sentient creatures, is the goal of moral actions?
    • Does Desirim dictate that there is a right thing to do in any given situation, regardless of the culture in which it is taken? Are there, as Sam Harris contends, "many peaks on the moral landscape", or is there one rule for all?
    • Are there grades of right and wrong rather than a binary decision?
    • Does Desirism resolve the ought-is problem, or does it have nothing to say about this and just work from the principle that we ought to be moral and only concern itself with the "how" rather than the "why"? 
    Sorry to throw the ball back into your court so strongly, but since the object of this discussion is for me to understand your position, I feel it is justified.

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