0

One of the key themes of Rawls' AToJ, and a notion used in (I'll call them "classical") definitions of deontology vs. teleology, is that there is an alterable cognitive/intellectual phenomenon where two concepts, here "right" and "good," are put into an order, and this order can be correct or incorrect.

More broadly, it seems that people can emphasize the very concept of evil over that of good. Examples of where this seems to happen would be with regards to doing-vs.-allowing (I've never seen anyone counter a proposed equality of responsibility, here, by asking whether we're to be praised for allowing good, but the inquiry is only if we are to be condemned for allowing evil); or the notion of unforgivable sin, which is rarely paired in a system with... well, look, I don't even know a word for what the obverse would be, I know that in the LDS there is talk of a "second endowment" whereby the recipient is declared immune to some important form of spiritual criticism thereafter, and perhaps another example is how the Nerevarine in the computer game MORROWIND is always referred to as that, once established by victory over the primary evil in the story.

But are these kinds of orderings really voluntary/willful? I daresay that they are rarely deliberate, if ever. Granted, someone philosophically refined enough to come up with the Rawlsian/classical question mentioned here first, might then self-consciously decide to define terms along such lines, but that sounds like an artificial case, to me.

EDIT: Another, presumably nonmoral case would be the order of definition for modal operators. It is said that we can take either possibility or necessity as a primitive and spell out the other three standard operators thereby, by a nifty use of the negation operator besides. It is also said that taking necessity as primitive is customary, which fits to the role of necessity in the description of deductive logic as "the conclusion necessarily following from the premises," or we might be more skeptical and think it easier to presuppose possibility instead of necessity.

1
  • Is the suggestion here that there is some cognitive bias towards taking some concepts as primitives rather than others? Because it could simply be that philosophers follow a tradition with necessity or that pragmatic considerations make the doing/allowing distinction more pressing when it comes to harm. And yes, this can dictate the emphasis or order of exposition subconsciously. But considering that philosophers are also very fond of crafting their own primitives rather than working with those of others, and spend volumes explaining and justifying them, those biases must vary wildly. – Conifold Oct 26 '20 at 10:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.