[OPE-L] ad hominem

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sun Jul 16 2006 - 07:46:35 EDT

Hi jerry,

Hope you can sort out your engine problems... I have no real quarrel with
what you say, except that of course people should be accountable for their
actions in almost any situation, no matter what they believe, unless morally
relevant circumstances apply which mean that it is impossible to take
responsibility for one's actions.
That's more or less how it works in Western jurisprudence.

Point however is that somebody could have a perfectly valid analysis of e.g.
an economic phenomenon, and also vent racist slurs, in which case you might
rationally accept the analysis, but reject the racist slurs. The racist
slurs do not necessarily render the analysis invalid.

The deeper problem is really that it is rarely possible to attain perfect
behavioural or cognitive consistency between the micro-level of individual
behaviour and the macro-level of a social totality, and that, whereas in
politics one argues to persuade and win the argument, in scientific matters
one argues to establish the truth.

In social science, one is often concerned with verifying the aggregate
effects of the interactions of many individuals, but these effects could be
taken to have all kinds of different implications for individual behaviour.
One could make a certain assessment of the objective situation people face,
but from that assessment no particular behavioural imperative might
necessarily follow - different conclusions for practical action could be
drawn, depending on what interest one has in the situation and what moral
position one has.

Why did Marx never explicitly elaborate an ethics in a systematic way?
Presumably because he considered ethics to be time-bound and contingent, and
believed that a new morality had to emerge out of the living practice (ad
hominem) of the revolutionary classes in society; to be moral, would be to
act in a way to create the conditions under which people really can be
moral. Thus, "The criticism of religion ends with the teaching that humans
are the supreme being for humans - hence, with the categorical imperative to
overturn all relations in which a human being is a debased, enslaved,
abandoned, despicable being".


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