Operational Philosophy and Immoral Monsters

Good versus Evil

Good versus Evil (Photo credit: Helico)

We understand a lot of things operationally that we don’t understand intellectually. Almost everyone has some notion about what is moral and immoral, but most of us would be hard pressed to express it in an intellectual framework that could stand much scrutiny. Philosophers are supposed to work at the intellectual framework part, but the news there isn’t very good. After a few thousand years of effort, there is no broadly accepted intellectual framework. Instead, there are several competing frameworks, all of which sound reasonable but also questionable under intense examination. I’m glad I didn’t make philosophy my life’s work. There is no a priori reason to assume that a comprehensive and unobjectionable philosophy is even possible.

Still, you don’t need to be an automotive engineer to drive a car. In most situations, operational philosophy is good enough.

So, why am I dwelling on this? Just another excuse to argue for awareness of moral foundations theory. In the real world, we have to deal with people who have different operational philosophies. The other guy probably isn’t an immoral monster – he’s just building on different moral foundations. Understanding this can make life a lot easier to digest.


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