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Fear and Dissembling

1 minute read

Philosophically, it is impossible to ground claims about the ultimate value or quality of living entities, e.g. genetic quality.

Such ways of speaking can make some sense, like when we say “this horse is higher quality than that horse,” because, for all of our practical intents and purposes, a strong and fast horse is preferable to a weak and slow horse.

But the fact that some horses—or some humans—have more or less of certain qualities generally preferred by most people has no ultimate philosophical or scientific significance greater than the fact that I prefer vanilla ice cream to chocolate ice cream.

Evolutionary psychologists are occasionally liable to overconfidence in the philosophical or scientific validity of how they perceive biological quality.

Any criteria or principle by which one might try to justify such rank orderings of qualities suffers from the problem of infinite regress. One cannot fully justify the principle of justification without taking recourse to another principle, which would need another principle, and so on.

Here, it is only religious people who are honest in saying: Reason can take us no further, but we choose to believe—on faith—that this kind of human behavior is better than that kind of human behavior. And we try to live accordingly, but the faith-based aspect requires us to see that—ultimately—we are all in the dark, equally.


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