Monday, May 16, 2005

Argument against morality from determinism, part 5

Indifference is inconsistent with commands, because commands bias the will, throwing it out of its state of indifference. Commands prescribe what people ought and ought not to do. They only work if they give the person some motivation to act. That motive may be a sense of duty or obligation. If that sense of duty or obligation motivates the person to act, then the person is not acting out of indifference.

If commands do not bias the will, then they become superfluous. If we act out of indifference, then we are not motivated by any inclination to do right or wrong, and since we lack any intention of doing right or wrong, we cannot be worthy of praise or blame if we do them. If we do any of the requirements of commands at all, it is merely by a fluke, and therefore cannot really be called obedience. Nor can it be called disobedience if we happen not to do them. It would be superfluous, then, to require anything of people who remain in a state of indifference.

A command may require something of the will which the will is not inclined to do. If the will is not inclined to obey, then it has a moral inability to obey due to a lack of inclination. If evil inclinations excuse us from doing evil, then the stronger our desire to do evil, the less responsible we are for doing it. The more wicked a person is, the less we should blame him for doing wicked things.

This is contrary to common sense. Whenever we are injured because of what somebody else did, we always want to know if they meant to do it. Never do we accept the excuse that “It’s not my fault; I wanted to do it!” as if they are blamable if they did not mean to do it, and excused if they did mean to do it. The reason we want to know whether they meant us any harm is because we blame them if they acted out of an intention to harm, and we excuse them if they had no intention to harm us. Moral inability consists in disinclination and never excuses a person from disobedience.

Moral rules can only work if they produce motive to excite and determine the will. The stronger the conscience, the stronger the motive to do good, and the more inclined the will is to act morally. If moral rules did not incline the will to act morally, then moral rules could have no effect. They would be pointless. It follows that morality is incompatible with a liberty consisting of indifference.

Part 6

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