Saturday, September 3, 2016

Do we choose by truth or preference?

It hadn't occurred to me that you could come to a wrong conclusion from right information. It was a surprise.

Thomas Nagel, professor of philosophy at New York University, "I want atheism to be true. And I’m made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t that I don’t believe in God and naturally hope that I’m right in my beliefs, it’s that I hope there is no God. I don’t want there to be a God. I don’t want the universe to be like that."

He is among the few who speak objectively about the force of preference against truth.

What we want will affect what we believe, what we admit is truth, and the impact of our lives.  

(NC-17) What if an unborn child is in fact a child?  Do we believe what we prefer, or do we acknowledge truth?  Is our position based on science or politics, truth or preference?

Pascal warned us, "Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established that unless we love the truth, we shall never recognize it."  Is he right?  When is the last time truth forced us to change our personal behavior?  

What about that unborn child?  Is there a difference in the child between the day after being born and the day before?  A week before?   Care to look at a court review or perhaps a larger context.  What are the preference issues and what are the truth components?  (ref)(ref)(ref)(ref)  Do we prefer the unborn child be disposable?  Can we see the difference between right and rights?  And responsibilities?

There are medical issues we can now see before birth.  The discussion is difficult and emotionally charged, and no one trusts regulation to provide the right answer.  It's all hard to face, perhaps in part because the outcome may impose an inconvenient burden on us individually and collectively.  

Can we choose truth even when there's a price tag?  And what about our government's role?

 Thomas Nagel, The Last Word (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 130, emphasis added. Interestingly, Nagel has recently released a book in which he concedes to some degree the credibility of the evidence for a non-material cause of the universe. See Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). Neither the first nor the last to separate preference from truth, he offers a look at the dilemma of conscience, morality, honesty, and self-choices. Aldous Huxley once explained, "I wanted to believe the Darwinian idea. I chose to believe it not because I think there was enormous evidence for it, nor because I believed it had the full authority to give interpretation to my origins, but I chose to believe it because it delivered me from trying to find meaning...."