Let us begin again, then, with the fundamentals.[i] The ultimate good that all human action seeks is happiness (or flourishing, …
Continuing the theme of unfortunate tendencies in the youthful these days:
It is commonly heard, and indeed I hear it perhaps once or twice a week: “don’t judge me!” We are inundated with that statement, whether it is from family members or, more often enough, from television programs. I think the cultural engines of the liberal republic have done their jobs well and the prophets of mediocrity (namely, the mass media and television) have been preaching this message for long enough that it has finally sunk home in people’s minds. The message is simple in form yet fiendishly devious. That being, that no one ought ever to be able to say (without reprimand!) that what some other person does, chooses to do, thinks, or acts in any way might be a mistake; that it could possibly be (heaven forbid) foolish. There is a pervading fear of the foolish in this society that is now supremely and securely implanted in the youthful. (Indeed, it seems to be making its way up the age brackets and infecting adults and elders as well).
It has even gotten to the point that one cannot drive down the road, notice that the neighbor has left their pristine 1977 Chevrolet Corvette parked out in the snow (where it is now sorely neglected and not sheltered from the elements) and make the remark that such action is foolish (one is blandly allowing a valuable and classic car to rot in the snow). Now, perhaps they don’t intend it blandly but it certainly seems to be the case (granted, perhaps they don’t have garage space available, but at least put a tarp on it). So, is a “judgment” of this type a crime against the moral police of our age? The moral police whom we did not institute nor who, themselves, have much moral character? Do we not see quite clearly, distinctly, and blatantly the circularity of their argument and, dare we say, judgment against us?
This is the inevitable end result of a culture that has been taught that moral relativism (even if not explicitly taught) is the only answer, that cultures choose what they choose, that any offense to anyone’s sensibilities is tantamount to the greatest crime, the greatest “sin”, to being (God only knows what). But, I ask you, has anyone ever stopped and asked why? How in the name of all that is holy have “they” determined that? What are their principles? How is it possible? I would go so far as to say that not only is it psychologically impossible not to make some kind of judgment (forgetting the elementary distinction that there are varied forms of judgments, but let that aside); no, I would claim that it is also (most likely) ontologically impossible. We are judging beings, to do otherwise would to be something other than what we are. We cannot be human and not make judgments; we will stop when we are dead. The sentiment and vague moral value that states that we are “not allowed” to make judgments of others, of their actions, speech, etc is one of the foulest and most obscene lies that has been proliferated by sophists for the last many years. It sickens me to my stomach. It is antithetical to genuine ethical theory and moral practice. It is, in a word, idiodic. It is not even rational and a defense of it and other similar sentiments is hopelessly circular and fallacious. People need to grow up and realise that the world they live in is a world where persons are responsible agents and that other persons are watching them, expecting them to be responsible and take responsibility. Without judgments there can be no responsibility.
I came across the following in an article from Analytical Teaching and Philosophical Practice, volume 31, 2011; Christopher Cowley, “Moral philosophy and the ‘real world’,” (pp: 21-30). It is not directly connected to what I was saying above but he makes a point at the end which is: namely, that we have an obligation (as moral philosophers) to point things out to people. Otherwise, what on earth are we doing? This paragraph comes in the middle of a discussion on the distinctness (or lack of it) of what the moral philosopher is doing, and his/her relation to people “in the real world”.
“A dentist can be taken as possessing true expertise in a technical discipline. When I, a non-dentist, visit him to complain about the pain in my jaw, then I am bound to accept his advice insofar as I want the pain to go away. If he suggests that the molar has to come out, I can decide that the pain is not that bad, but I cannot disagree with him about whether removing the molar will ease the pain. He can successfully explain the reasons in rudimentary, metaphorical terms, but beyond a certain point he can only say “look, I’m an expert on this, I’ve got the certificate on the wall; until you yourself become a dentist then you will just have to trust me that I know what I’m doing.” None of this is possible with ethics. The prestigious moral philosopher, with several weighty tomes to his name, cannot turn aside criticism of his adultery or his embezzlement by saying “look, I’m an expert in this, I’ve got the certificate on the wall; until you yourself become a moral philosopher you will just have to trust me that I know what I’m doing.” It’s true that he may ignore my moral criticism. It’s true that he may respond to it by saying that I don’t know the full picture, and present me with relevant facts in an attempt to justify or excuse the adultery or the embezzlement. But ignoring or justifying or excusing is an avenue open to any competent adult
under moral criticism: there is no distinction between expert and lay here. Hence, moral philosophers have no special expertise to solve other people’s moral problems, although of course they have just as much authority to morally criticise other people’s actions and attitudes as anybody does (although perhaps as articulate intellectuals they have a certain civic obligation). This illegitimate moral expertise is to be distinguished from the legitimate technical expertise that such philosophers may possess on a particular historical figure or on matters of moral metaphysics, or on matters of public policy.”