Friday, October 24, 2008

Human Nature and Morality III

Let's take a few cases of human functions, desires, or dispositions and examine the interface between human nature and morality.

It may be that certain features of human nature don't track well with right and wrong. Whether to use intoxicants is a moral issue not to be decided by whether using them is fitting to certain desires of fits in with certain functions of human beings. Nor is the issue of whether homosexual acts or homosexual marriage are right or wrong whether liberty and democracy are amenable to human nature.

Yet human nature counts in the deliberation over the moral status of these ways of life. How our natural inclinations are likely to receive these ways of life counts in determining whether we should pursue them. Some inclinations and natural functions may adhere to these ways of life whilst simultaneously others do not. There is a determination of preference involved in discerning the fit. How a way of life fits in with other ways of life we'd prefer to pursue is also relevant. Some components of human nature move us to do wrong, while others conduce to what is right. Human nature is not determinative. Yet, right and wrong do track with the resultant vector, as it were, of the sum of all components of human nature. This resultant vectors is discovered through ordinary moral deliberation, not merely observing human nature. It's not physics or biology that discovers right and wrong. It's prudential reasoning.

In short, there is no straight inference from a feature of human nature to morality. Preference and prudential reasoning intervene. We'll see just how so in subsequent posts in this series.