After having pondered the major philosophic and religious moral theories for a number of decades, I more or less ended up agreeing with Hume’s perspective — that people are determined by “sentiments” and have to be taught justice from an early age.

Breaking this down in more modern times, I find that some people are extremely empathetic and have no need for morality. Others are extremely psychopathic at the other end of the spectrum and will not be guided by any morality. I used to play what I called the ‘hit man’ game with my students, suggesting that on the side I moonlight occasional hits for $10,000 each.

I challenged them to give reasons why I should not pursue this avocation. They never could come up with any to which I could not give an easy response. And one after class confided to me that he was a hit man, too!

The bottom line here. Most fall along the spectrum of sentiments noted above as extremes. Rationalization is the name of the game for most. Free will is a meaningless term. The ancient Greeks did not need it to suggest moral guidelines. But they were for the most part elitists and did not expect the masses to concur or even understand their speculations.

Similarly the joint philosophy/psychiatry groups with which I occasionally meet agree that we have no grasp of human consciousness or how it really connects with the brain. Beware the moralists and the psychopaths! — “A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli) — Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

[Edited by Simon – Fixed formatting problem]

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