Thursday, September 03, 2009

Dynamic Pluralism… the rough cut…

Actually, I wish I was so far along that I could say I had completed the rough cut (or first draft) of Dynamic Pluralism. As it stands, I only finished the rough cut/first draft of the outline. One page of text… very little text… ugh…

The thing is, I’ve spent most of the past few weeks just making sure I had a reason for writing it to begin with. How silly I would seem if I was saying something that’s been acknowledged for years now or – just as bad – saying something any respectable philosopher would laugh out of the room. Clearly, the idea should be in the mainstream somewhere, maybe move it down the hill a bit.

Dr. Crippen at Cal State Fullerton turned me on to John Dewey as a starting point. Dewey actually comes very close to my idea but never goes all the way. While he says we cannot use set rules of ethics from the past because times simply change too much, just like me, he says the best way to move forward is to constantly analyze our motives and our ethical systems. But he is still keeping it internal and individualistic. The rest of the early-20th century Pragmatists are far worse, saying it’s impossible to establish any law at all.

The come close to Dynamic Pluralism but miss the key part: talking.

… I know. Not exactly revolutionary. But that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be. Dynamic Pluralism takes the dilemma established by the Pragmatists, that we can’t use outdated ethical systems, and provides hope for a new way. It doesn’t sound that impressive to say, “You should talk,” but it actually is, in a way, because nobody else has so far!

And so, I’ve written a single page of text, telling myself how to proceed with the book. It starts with the Introduction I’ve mentioned before and then heads into the different ethical systems laid out thus far. Early systems told us what was good – honor, truth, what have you – I call it the “I like pickles” idea – but that doesn’t help because everyone’s idea is different. That moved into Teleological systems: Utilitarianism. These said that maximizing the utility or the good – getting a good outcome – is what you want, but that just created an inherently selfish system. And that’s not ethical. Then, Kant came in with a non-consequential, Deontological system. And that put action over outcome. In other words, behave ethically and you will be ethical. Again, the problem lies in its individualistic roots – I could think I’m totally ethical as I brutally torture someone. (And hello to you, Mr. Cheney.)

Is it any wonder the Pragmatists thought it was hopeless? Well, maybe not. I just need to find the gumption to actually write the damn thing…

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