Featured image is by Willem van de Velde the Younger.
Let’s say that human beings could only perceive the world, and decide how to act, based on mathematical equations. Further, there are many such equations we could choose from.
Each equation has a history; originally formulated by specific people, with variations devised by other people. Often, attempts at creating wholly original new equations end up having clear predecessors.
Let’s say that there’s one particular equation that outputs flourishing, happiness, and a meaningful life for the widest range of values for the variable X.
Only for a specific set of corner cases of X, its output is that nationwide ethnic cleansing is permissible.
Question: should we throw that equation out entirely?
Well, that depends on what the other equations get you, right? What if all the viable alternatives get you genocide for a wider range of X values? Or what if they give you some horrible outcome other than genocide, how would you even being to weigh different possible horrors?
I don’t have the equation for you to answer those questions.
But even if it ended up being the best of all possible equations, wouldn’t you still want to know that some X values lead to a horrible outcome? Even if you couldn’t determine precisely what those X values were?
And wouldn’t you want to look into the history of the thing, to see if you could find any information on what sorts of horrors it’s capable of producing, and what exactly have caused it to produce it in the past?
I’d hope you would.
Previous Posts in This Thread:
- The Hermeneutic of the Dangerous Question
- The Politics of Truth
- Does the Is-Ought Divide Make Atrocities More Palatable?