A friend writes me off-blog to observe that the point I made a couple of days ago in passing, regarding naturalism and moral realism skirts (or maybe doesn't skirt) a difficulty:
If God exists (for lack of a better word), then God IS natural. And there is no reason to take that naturalness as any more grounding than the "ewwww" you posit here as problematic for naturalists. What transcendence do you seek at that point to ground your moral verities?I might quibble with "natural" here, but I think that issue may be a red herring.
Seriously, I think Plato's Euthyphro still shows the gaping chasm of trying to ground morality in God as everyone keeps trying to do.
As to the main difficulty, I don't have an answer to this (and neither, as far as I can see, did Socrates), except to say that as long as the Truth and the Good are kept separate there will always be the question of what the Truth is about the Good, and whether it is always Good to know the Truth.
This is also bound up in the connection and distinction between jnana and bhakti I referred to yesterday. In an earlier post I related these to abstraction and encounter, and I noted that this can generate apparent paradoxes: privileging encounter over abstraction leads to abstractions like "encounter" rather than specific, um, encounters with whoever you are living with and alongside.
I'll add that it is not the "ewwww" recoil which is itself, in my opinion, problematic, but rather the claim that moral indignation reduces to this emotive state. One question that arises is, are there any wrong actions that, in any given setting, don't arouse this response, and ought to? (On can ask this, for instance, with regard to the eating of meat, or the procuring of an abortion, or the continued use of fossil fuels, or the assassination of political enemies. Some aspects of these questions might hinge on epistemic or even empirical issues; for instance, a "climate change skeptic" might even be ready to concede that driving a gas-powered car is wrong under any conditions at all if there is a link between climate change and fossil fuels, but reject all evidence of the latter. But it is also possible (though alas, unnecessary) to imagine someone who shrugs off the moral issue of whether oil consumption and air pollution is right or wrong. Even if such a one decides to drive less, it will be solely for what Kant called reasons of prudence.) This is, I take it, part of Libresco's point that moral norms cannot be merely equated with cultural ones. (see, e.g., here, and other of her posts in the series.)