Echoes on the Road

“Only man as a living being introduces law and order into nature, not from a rational, but from a biological necessity (that is, in order to be able to act) by virtue of the fact that the sensory organs or functions indicate more the regular than the irregular processes in the world. Later, reason interprets this regularity as a natural law.”

– Max Scheler, Man’s Place in Nature

Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a contributor to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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9 Responses

  1. Rodak says:

    Is does not imply ought. Even those who claim that “is” does imply “ought” cherrypick the instances of “is” that they feel to be deserving of their “oughts.” No “is” that inconveniences, or threatens them stands a chance of holding onto its potential “ought.” Which is say: “natural law” is a crock. Or at least it ought to be.

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      Depends. That X is Y doesn’t mean that X ought to be Y. I’m with you there. However, if Y fulfills X, then there’s a case to be made that X ought to be Y.

      • Rodak says:

        We aren’t talking about X “is” Y. We are talking about if X then *perhaps* Y. There is no necessary causal relationship between X and Y. If there were, there would be no question.

        • Kyle Cupp says:

          You say that “is does not imply ought,” which is another way of saying that the proposition “X is Y” doesn’t imply that X ought to be Y. That I am a geek does not in itself imply that I ought to be a geek. True enough. However, if, in being a geek, I find a path toward fulfillment of who I am, then perhaps I should be a geek. That the sexual organs are biologically used for procreation does not, in itself, imply that they ought always to be used for procreation. However, if using them in accordance with their biological purpose brings the most fulfillment and happiness, then there’s a basis on which to argue that they ought to be used in this way. (Of course, the “if” is obviously, in this case, in question).

  2. Rodak says:

    I would say that the “if” in that case is demonstrably not true. To argue that it is the case is to just ignore the preponderance of evidence to the contrary. What is true is that it is necessary for the survival of the species that the sex organs sometimes be used for procreation. There are the “is” and the “ought” (to the extent that the survival of the species is stipulated as good, anyway.)
    So, we can say that *with regard to the survival of species* the sex organs *must necessarily* be used for procreation. This does not, in any way, however, mean that the sex organs *ought only* to be used for procreation. This is not the case even for lower species for which one would expect any valid “natural law” to actually be an “is/ought” circumstance.

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      Question or deny the validity of the particular “if” all you want. I’ve no interest in debating it. I’m talking about the logic of the formula, not the veracity of whatever you plug into the variables. The point is that a moral argument for an “ought” can be made if the “if” in question stands. If it doesn’t stand, then there’s no sound argument to make from it.

  3. Rodak says:

    If you are a geek, it is because your environment has fashioned you into a geek though its action upon the genetic raw material that your being presented to it. That is, the reasons for your geekhood are, at least in part, random and arbitrary. What would be the justification for saying that the resulting geekhood is that which you were meant to be? It seems to me that it’s more a case of you happening to be what you seem to have become. At this juncture, you then either make the most of it, or you rue it and perhaps try wilfully to change it. Now, it may be true that one is gay, or alcoholic, or a genius in some field because one has a gentic predisposition to be that way. But that situation is unique to the individual in question. Similarly, that the sex organs’ primary use may be for procreation, but one is able to wilfully control that possible outcome if it should not be the desired one.

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      Um, I haven’t made any argument or assertion that I was “meant” to be a geek. Nor have I argued against human freedom. Or that one shouldn’t exercise any control over the outcome of procreation.

  4. Rodak says:

    Well, then, at what point are we disagreeing?