Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Prager "University": If There Is No God, Then Murder Isn't Wrong

What a stinker that video is.
I've said some good things--to my own surprise, actually--about a couple of the Prager "University" videos of late (here, here). But man, this one's just a train wreck from beginning to end. This is the worst attempted philosophy video I've seen since that crapfest from Vox on race nominalism. If I had to pick a loser from between those two, I'd be hard pressed.

   But these issues are just a lot harder than they seem, and even a lot of philosophers start talking nonsense when they try to discuss them.  (I ran into this video at Jerry Coyne's digs--very smart guy, on the right side of many issues, but even he trips over his own feet when trying to discuss this stuff.)
   Anyway, the divine command theory is a topic that basically everybody botches--especially theists.  And Prager makes a terrible hash of it. All the standard confusions are there--confusing nihilism with skepticism, and nihilism and skepticism with relativism, and all of them with emotivism, and blah blah blah. But anyway, the biggest error in all such discussions is: there's rarely any explanation of how God is supposed to improve the  situation. God is basically irrelevant to morality--there's nothing his existence could do to change anything. If something like moral obligations, or moral goodness, or moral virtue is real, then it's real whether or not God is real. And if nothing like that is real, then adding God doesn't help, doesn't change anything. God can reward or punish, but--unless you've got a really weird view of morality--that doesn't help. If nihilism is true, me punching you in the nose for killing someone won't make your act wrong. And neither will sending you to hell and punching you in the nose for all eternity. And the divine command theory per se fails basically because (with the possible exception of illocutionary acts, which aren't relevant) saying so doesn't make it so. Even for God.
   Well, that's too sketchy to be of any use to anyone who doesn't already know it, but I'm going to crash.


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