Download Richard Taylor: ON THE ORIGIN OF GOOD AND EVIL

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Richard Taylor:
Morality is not transcendental, but a
naturalistic reality.
It originates in the fact we have desires
and what Taylor calls “felt needs”
• If there are no desires, there are
no values & no good or evil
• Compare with Hobbes? Nietszche?
Taylor’s “4 Worlds”
Taylor is presents us with 4 worlds to
support his argument that good/bad and
good/evil are tied. to our being
Conative, or people with “felt needs”.
• He proposes 4 worlds, gradually adding
conditions to see what is necessary for
good/bad and good/evil to be present in
the world.
• He make some claims about rationality
that we will want to examine carefully.
World One:
Imagine the world as it is, but without
any living thing capable of reacting to
the world
• There would be no concept of
• In fact no difference between a
beautiful and a harsh world
• Nothing is better or worse – it is
just a world of facts
World Two:
Imagine a world with people like
ourselves… rational, intelligent and
capable of perception, but these
people don’t have needs, purposes or
desires. [They are mechanical beings.]
• There would still be no concept of good
and evil.
• QUESTION: How is rationality related to
• Is rationality only true/false &
inferences as Taylor seems to
• Is rationality independent of needs?
World Three:
Add one sentient being. A being for
whom “what he finds makes a
difference” [definition of sentient”?]
• Now we get the notion of good
and evil – but NOT the idea of
moral right & wrong.
• Furthermore: Good and Evil are
absolute to that person.
• And there is no sense of “moral
obligation” [Why not?]
World Four:
Add another sentient being and we
get moral right and wrong – Why?
• Because aims and purposes can
• They both can want the same thing
• But their aims and purposes can also
coincide [compare with Hobbes]
Right and Wrong are relative
to rules
In order to satisfy the needs and fulfill
goals for more than one person rules
are needed.
• Rules = ways of behaving/”practices”
• The “rational element” is that one
choice available avoids an “evil”
• Compare with Hobbes? Nietzsche?