The universal permission slip
January 11, 2016 § 21 Comments
Modernity is characterized by a whole array of incoherent doctrines: liberalism, positivism, nominalism, feminism, materialism, relativism, financial anti-realism, etc.
It is technically impossible to say what a person committed to an incoherent doctrine should and should not do based on that commitment. An incoherent doctrine provides layers of intellectual rationalization for whatever the person committed to it happens to prefer — what he happens to prefer for reasons extrinsic to the doctrine. Incoherent doctrines create an illusion of being in the moral right, a structure of arguments and reasons which propose to justify whatever a person’s preferences happen to be independent of the incoherent doctrine itself.
This is a significant reason why incoherent doctrines are so popular. They make it possible to argue, at least superficially, that the good, the true, and the beautiful are equivalent to whatever preferences we happen to have. Incoherent doctrines destroy objective values and replace them with whatever our preferences happen to be.
Now sometimes we have good preferences and sometimes we have bad or objectively disordered preferences. Rather than examining the coherence of a doctrine used to rationalize those preferences, we prefer (ahem) to characterize people who rationalize what we perceive to be bad preferences as having an inauthentic commitment to the doctrine.