Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Molyneux and the Objectivist Tradition 4

UPB 4: The necessary premises of debating 1. Molyneux’s sophistry reaches its apex when he commences on the thankless task of “validating” his theory.

“Universally preferable behavior” must be a valid concept,” [insists Molyneux, because] “if I argue against the proposition that universally preferable behavior is valid, I have already shown my preference for truth over falsehood – as well as a preference for correcting those who speak falsely. Saying that there is no such thing as universally preferable behavior is like shouting in someone’s ear that sound does not exist – it is innately self-contradictory. In other words, if there is no such thing as universally preferable behavior, then one should oppose anyone who claims that there is such a thing as universally preferable behavior. However, if one “should” do something, then one has just created universally preferable behavior. Thus universally preferable behavior – or moral rules – must be valid. (35-36)

This is such a mass of confusion and unsubstantiated assertion that it will take a bit of effort to sort all out. I can identify at least three serious problems with Molyneux’s formulations: