Monday, January 19, 2009

Another Reply to Lemos

I have posted John Lemos' response to my earlier comments on his book Commonsense Darwinism. In reading his response, a few thoughts come to mind.

Lemos writes: "I have no special interest in defining good or the good, but I do think that things are good when they do their characteristic activity well." That's a confusing sentence. He begins by saying he has no interest in defining good, and then he defines good as a thing's performing its characteristic activity well!

He suggests that he might agree with G. E. Moore that goodness is a "nonnatural property." It would help me a lot if he could explain what this "nonnatural property" is.

He says that he departs from my position in that he defines the human good as doing well at practical reasoning. I am not sure why he thinks I disagree with this. My list of twenty natural desires includes "practical reasoning," and I give a lot of attention to the need for prudence.

Perhaps he would say that he disagrees because for him "practical reasoning" is not a desire or dependent on desire. But then I would ask, what makes practical reasoning practical, if not desire? He appeals to Aristotle. But doesn't Aristotle insist that "thought by itself moves nothing," because practical thought is always tied to desire? Doesn't Aristotle say that deliberate choice is either "desiring thought" or "thoughtful desire," because practical reasoning requires the union of reason and desire?

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