Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts
Times Opinionator by Justin McBrayer
This is a video of his explanation of the problem presented at Evangel University.
My response to the written piece in the NYT Opinionator
I have always maintained that the equation between truth and proof is fallacious. We’ve moved on past the simplicity of a logical proof to statistical correlations between facts, truths, and opinions. The nice thing about that is that irrespective of whether you are judging opinion or the real world, a statistical correlation gives corroboration and even warrant to the best of our moral intuitions, even as it does to our measurements of the material properties of the universe.
In this way we have learned to judge the negative value of divorce, except in the case of spousal violence. And divorce is a great example because any blanket proscription against divorce because it is “morally wrong” fails to rescue women (or men) from abusive relationships that may, and too often, result in death. Statistical correlation does give warrant for divorce. It is the moral solution in the case of abuse. It is not an opinion. (Or, if it is an opinion, it is also more than that.)
Yes, this judgment relies on the belief that all people are created equal and deserve equal judgment under the law. But even that belief has statistical warrant. It is a negative warrant, but one that has proved to be true over the many centuries when different values have been held. Other grounds for social values all end by breaking social bonds and result in logical, legal, and moral contradictions, subjecting one group to the will of another, and performing unjust actions upon them. This is not strictly a biblical value either, except by derivation. There was no proscription against slavery in the Bible, something that southern landowners knew very well.
Yes the very concept of justice relies on a belief that equity and fairness must be preserved, and that there must be redress for wrongs done, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
To think that values are simply opinions that can be dismissed because they are opinions is the shallow end of the gene pool, both intellectual and biological. They choose this path because it is deterministically simple, and no more complex thought is required, and whether they would be able to perform that complex thought is in question.
The only disappointing thing about relying on statistical correlations is that they must be worked out through arduous research. Logic is much simpler. But can we require certainty? There are plenty of examples where incomplete reasoning, false certainties, or open-ended absolutes are the cause of much abuse and damage to God’s children and the earth he has placed them on. Under which justification can a king claim divine right, the absolute rule over a subject’s life without appeal?