By Tibor R. Machan
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Additional info for A Primer on Ethics
That is, some arguments extrapolate from our observations, reflections, economical theorizing, and so forth to develop a new understanding of the world. Sherlock Holmes notwithstanding, detectives rely on inferential reasoning, not deductive, to identifY a suspect. Nor do scientists work in a strictly deductive fashion. Instead, they advance their understanding by developing and evaluating concepts and theories to find those with the greatest explanatory value. Indeed, we are most often concerned to establish definitions that are the product not of deduction but of generalization, analogy, abstraction, and even serendipity.
Often we view such conduct as reflecting inner drives rather than conscious choice. If so, the conduct would have no moral sig- 44 _ A PRIMER ON ETHICS nificance, since choice must be possible before ethics can even enter the picture. For some of us, however, the pursuit of pleasure is indeed a serious business, something to be learned and cultivated that is not at all inborn. It is not obviously absurd that experiencing the maximum possible amount of pleasure could be the moral goal for which all human beings should strive.
Diversity is more apparent than real. Three subarguments address apparent diversity. First, it is said that moral opinions tend to differ about details, not basics. Then, too, the appearance of diversity is sometimes fostered by individuals who want to obscure moral standards to avoid charges of wrongdoing. Finally, some people, acting as professional devil's advocates, promote skepticism (and the appearance of diversity) by continually testing, questioning, and seeking to verify (these people may avoid acting like skeptics with their children, friends, and political representatives, however).