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Good and Evil

Essay by   •  July 11, 2012  •  Essay  •  287 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,115 Views

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Whatever happened to good and evil? The title gives perfect insight into the topics at hand and leads nicely into Shafer-Landau's arguments. After setting the stage and getting a sizable list of definitions out of the way, Shafer-Landau sets forth to dissuade readers from skeptical viewpoints and persuade them to view morality through reason and ultimately adopt objective morality.

The largest fault I see in Shafer-Landau's methodology lies in his arguments against nihilism. In a good argument, it is absolutely essential to cast doubt on any opposing views before proceeding with one's personal viewpoint. I feel Shafer-Landau has failed here.

Simply put, nihilists believe that no moral code exists and actions possess no moral value. Shafer-Landau has only two criticisms. The initial complication he presents is that a nihilist's view places Hitler and Mother Teresa on even ground morally. The vast majority of individuals would be appalled at the thought. The second criticism is that nihilism allows no possibility for moral progress.

I would hope any nihilist would have already taken ample time to consider the first complication. It is, after all, in the very definition of the theory. Assuming that the reader has considered this point and still maintains his or her beliefs, then the argument is completely nullified. Subsequently, the moral progress criticism also withers away.

Shafer-Landau presents no logical faults, flaws, or fallacies in the theory. So, I feel that the nihilist is the one reader he has completely failed to reach. He merely stated the nihilist theory, reiterated the concepts, hoped that many naturally swayed elsewhere, and advised the reader against adopting a "radical" system. This is by far his weakest arguement.

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