Horton hears a homicide
January 10, 2016 § 17 Comments
In fact, body and soul are inseparable: in the person, in the willing agent and in the deliberate act, they stand or fall together. – Veritatis Splendour
The physicalism-relativism dichotomy in moral casuistry is a false one, a false dichotomy which arises from the post cartesian separation of reality into utterly distinct physical and subjective realms.
Kant allows that things in themselves do exist, but only as etherial noumena that we can’t know anything about. (How he manages to include things he can’t know anything about in his philosophy is left to the ouroboros). Modern materialists allow that consciousness exists, but only as a ghostly and irrelevant epiphenomenon of the mindless bouncing around of wave-particles in accordance with the laws of physics. Their putative knowledge of this is illusory on its own terms.
Back here in the real world, a man’s behavior follows from his intentions. Different intentions imply different behaviors, and vice versa. That is why things like contraception and usury are and shall be judged based on objective standards: the notion of ‘subjectifying’ morality by confining moral judgment to someone’s ‘heart being in the right place’ rests on false, question-begging metaphysics.
A man who intends to mow the lawn doesn’t run the mower over a concrete parking lot, or take off the blade before he starts his task. A man who intends to win the lottery doesn’t buy a ticket and then destroy the numbers on his ticket with a sharpie.
Likewise, a man who runs the mower over the grass intends to cut the grass (whatever further intention he may have); and the man who buys a lottery ticket and does not mutilate it intends to participate in the lottery, even if the notion of winning millions of dollars fills him, to his credit, with trepidation at the thought of the concomitant complications and responsibilities.
 But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work today in my vineyard.  And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went.  And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering, said: I go, Sir; and he went not.
 Which of the two did the father’ s will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you.  For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him.
It is sometimes objected that (for example) when one surgeon murders his patient while making it look like an accident, and a different surgeon actually does accidentally cut the aorta, that these are “the same physical act”. The idea is that in the rarified world of subjective intentions the acts may be different, but that physically they are identically the same.
As I’ve mentioned before, this begs the question by very carefully looking at the situation at only a certain fuzzy resolution, and then quickly looking away. Because even a strict physicalist would have to agree that different neurons are firing in different ways in the different brains of the different surgeons in the different cases.