31 July 2006

The Epistemology of Temperance

What is the epistemology of temperance? IOW, how do we know enough is enough? Does anyone have any thoughts on this? As I see it, the three main approaches to this traditionally have been:

1) consult a religious text and do what it says blindly

2) some kind of Aristotelian naturalistic theory of human flourishing (I take it this is the line you are most interested in pursuing, Jim...?)

3) stop when it starts to feel bad (a.k.a. 'intuition')

Could there be any way of integrating 2) and 3)? It strikes me that 3) on its own is not enough - that this what "The Sixties Experiment" showed. OTOH one might argue that the way 12-step programs work at the end of the day is purely by forcing one to sit with the true consequences of one's own excessive behaviors and feel them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:46 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

(2) and (3) are necessarily integrated, since to "feel" the consequences of one's actions involves evaluating them in terms of one's view of what's good for humans. For example, if while drunk you assault your family, you have a choice whether to see/feel that as an outrage that shouldn't have happened or as a justified assertion of your authority.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Cathy Legg said...

I disagree. For instance, mightn't one relentlessly pursue religious fundamentalist separatism because one believes it is right, and yet on some level be troubled by a longing to connect with the fellow humans one is disdaining as hopelessly sinful? Conversely, mightn't one practice atheism because one believes that we are descended from monkeys and that is all there is to it, and yet feel a depressing lack of meaning in one's naturalistic weltaunschaung (Hume's nervous breakdown)?

3:18 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

We might do those things, but I'm not sure why they're counterexamples to what I was saying. Possibly an ambiguity in my "necessarily integrated"? I mean a necessary logical integration, but maybe you mean a possible lack of psychological integration?

4:14 PM  
Blogger Cathy Legg said...

I'm arguing that 'feeling' the consequences of one's actions involves more than mere ratiocination about whether they accord with consciously-held goals formulated according to a set of beliefs about what's good for humans. The examples are meant to show how the two processes can deliver differing results.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Cathy Legg said...

more on the distinction between what one might believe is good for one and how one actually feels about it:


12:31 PM  

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