Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Science Says Nothing About Moral Values

In my logic class tonight I'll present, as an example, the following logical argument.

Note: an evolutionary account of how belief in moral values evolved is irrelevant to the matter of the truth or falsity of moral values. To think it is relevant is to commit the ubiquitous genetic fallacy.


1.    Science only investigates physical reality.
a.    Non-physical reality is not within the scope of science.
b.    Science, e.g., weighs and measures physical objects.
c.     Science studies what physically “is.”
2.    A moral value is not something physical.
a.    The following questions are absurd: How many inches long is “goodness”? How many ounces does “right” weigh?
b.    Moral values are about “ought.”
3.    Therefore, science can say nothing about moral values.
a.    Or any “value,” for that matter.
b.    Famously, one cannot derive “ought” from “is.”

4.    Evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould wrote that “science studies the ages of rocks, religion studies the rock of ages.” 

Note: a philosophical naturalist (physicalist) will reject premise 2 because it assumes non-physical realities exist at all. Therefore, on this hard physicalism "morality" does not exist at all.