Thursday, 7 February 2008

Looks Like You Goofed, Sophie

At least, you sure goofed if the emotivists are right.

In Ethics class today, we began discussing emotivism. Yikes. At least the prof wasn't trying to teach us that emotivism is the way to go. After watching a movie about someone like Sophie Scholl, the whole idea of "there is no such thing as ethically right or ethically wrong" rings stupidly hollow.

Why is it that some people are so stringently empirical that ethics are not only entirely subjective, but entirely meaningless, except as an expression of emotion? (No, not even an expression of opinion, but an expression of emotion, akin to "Ouch!" or "Wooooo!", with no truth or falsity value at all).

When I say, mitigating circumstances aside, that "stabbing me in the hand with your fork is morally wrong", I do not mean "stabbing me in the hand with your fork, blech!"

Are people who adhere to this theory so frightened of a higher power, or so rebellious towards it, that they cannot even admit that "morally right" and "morally wrong" have more meaning than "!" ?

I admit that in some cases, it may be true that what we believe to be ethics related is only emotion related. For example, it's obvious that this post is very emotionally charged. Is it righteous indignation, or offended bafflement? Sometimes what I judge to be a moral affront may just be hormones and an upset stomach. But I think it's nothing more than a load of rubbish to say that every single instance of ethics boils down to just that.

Sure, morality isn't physical. But being unable to verify something empirically does not logically mean that it is either meaningless, inexistent, or unimportant. All it means is that you can't scientifically prove it. I realize that is a sad, short attempt to argue against emotivism, but how do you argue with a theory like that? If people reduce everything unphysical down to just emotion, you can't even hold a rational discussion on the matter!

People may hold whatever opinion they want to hold, but it would be ridiculous to talk to me about holding an open mind when one is unable to even admit the possibility of there being a notion of right and wrong.

Well, that's my rant. Sophie and Hans Scholl would be rolling in their graves to hear people actually believe in a theory like this. They died as an expression of their emotions? Oops.

Granted, this was part of the movie, so I don't know if she actually said this, and granted, too, this is only a paraphrase, and yes, I realize "wrong" can mean either immoral or incorrect, but the gist is the same either way:

Mohr: You were just following your older brother; you didn't question what he was doing, did you? Shouldn't we put that in the report?

Sophie: No, because that would be wrong.

You have to respect someone like that.
(Notice she doesn't say "No, grooooaaan.")


Bri said...

Wow... not a whole lot to say about that. To say morality is all about emotions is absurd. Go Sophie!

Art said...

I wonder if Vulcans who operate solely on logic, would be considered amoral? If I was a Vulcan, I would think that I could base my purely logical actions on arbitrary assumptions that would cause everyone else to think I was making an immoral decision.

Live long and prosper.

Carla said...

Um... If you were Vulcan, would that comment make more sense?

Based purely on logic, you can still come to reasonable conclusions about ethics.