Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Determinism and moral imperfection

If determinism is true, then I always do the best I can do. If I always do the best I can do, I lack moral imperfection. So if determinism is true, I lack moral imperfection. But I am morally imperfect. So determinism is not true.

6 comments:

Domenic Marbaniang said...

This is a good one. The premises will need to be defended for some. But, I don't see why if determinism is true, it will not be true that I always do the best I can do. However, the evolutionist with the survival of the fittest notion will interpret "best" in utilitarian terms (e.g.Fascism), in which case the idea of "moral perfection" suffers. Or, does the argument presuppose the teleological definition? Anyway, I see determinism as incompatible with morality; in which case, when one talks of determinism, it will not be possible to talk of morality anymore, since moral choices do not exist. In that sense, perhaps, you are talking of "moral" perfection.(?)

Dominic Bolin said...

Whether you agree with the argument will depend on your specific understanding of ethics. From my point of view, there is an equivocation on "the best that I can do." In the first statement, this refers to something like the best according to the physical possibilities realizable by the agent (and if determinism is true, there is only one possibility), while I would only think the second statement is true if it means something like morally best course of action according to my subjective state (even if determinism is true, there will be many courses of action according to my subjective state, and the one I will choose is not necessarily the best moral choice).

steven m d young said...

The statement "But I am morally imperfect" begs the question. Claiming you are morally imperfect assumes that in some situations you *could* have acted differently, i.e in ways that could have been better. Which you could not have, because determinism (might still be true).

Kolten Ellis said...

It's not circular if there are other reasons I could give to justify my belieb that I am morally imperfect- perhaps I feel conviction from the Holy Spirit, whom I have every reason to believe does not lie about such things.

Jakub Moravčík said...

Good point, Steven.

My alternation of argument:
"If determinism is true, then I always do the worst I can do. If I always do the worst I can do, I lack moral perfection. So if determinism is true, I lack moral perfection. But I am morally imperfect. So determinism may be true."

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

In other words with "determinism" I am not morally responsible for I do.