Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Nagel on Value

In his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Thomas Nagel says that the materialist world view cannot explain human moral values.

Real value—good and bad, right and wrong—is another of those things like consciousness and cognition, that seem at first sight incompatible with evolutionary naturalism in its familiar materialism form (p.97).

Value judgments and moral reasoning are part of human life, and therefore part of the factual evidence about what humans are capable of. The interpretation of faculties such as these is inescapably relevant to the task of discovering the best scientific or cosmological account of what we are and how we came into existence (p.106).

We are the subjects of judgment-sensitive attitudes, and those judgments have a subject matter beyond themselves. We exist in a world of values and respond to them through normative judgments that guide our actions. This, like our more general cognitive capacities, is a higher development of our nature as conscious creatures (p.114).

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