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culture

Quantitative Methods for Ethical Prescription?

Good intentions do not necessarily provide good outcomes.

Context: The Calculus of Ought

It is a curious world in which what can ever and only be proven from within the clockwork constraints of complex quantitative and logical tautologies might become the foundation and justification of and for ethical prescription. Of course, science is invaluable and proceeds from strength to strength by proof and induction to general principles but it is as often the case that the aspirational certainties of such procedurally axiomatic reasoning find themselves at the inadvertent whim of authoritarian or other misanthropic rationales; Francis Galton’s eugenics – for instance – was always likely to be ill-fated but when National Socialism saw a scientific framework of self-validation for internecine atrocities, all bets were off.

The road to hell is, as it goes, paved with good intentions but the assumed neutrality of rational or logical proof underlies a deeper, broader concern. That is, logic and systems of thought themselves are implicitly limited to the rubric of their own circularly self-defining vocabularies and (again) tautological assumptions. The part of a mind, a culture, an ethical matrix or a civilisation that marks it as useful or admirable is precisely that which lies just outside logic and is not brute-forced.

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