By Tibor R. Machan
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Additional info for A Primer on Ethics
Others would say that he has the right to drink if he wants to-it is his life, after all-and that you should avoid imposing your values on him. At a different level, we may ask, "How can we ever decide how to act? " The following theories operate at this higher level. They are concerned with justifying ethics. Whereas ethical theorists pro- 34 1#1 A PRIMER ON ETHICS pound arguments for basic principles of conduct, metaethical theorists show how the basic principles are evident. Cognitivism The cognitivist view holds that the truth of moral judgments can be demonstrated-that morality is knowable.
Sperry, have found evidence for the existence of free will in this sense. Sperry's view depends on some of the premises that I have already discussed. It presupposes, for example, that different kinds of causes occur in nature and that the brain as a complex neurophysiological system may manifest self-causation. (In an organism with our sort of brain, some mental functions may occur by what Sperry calls "downward causation," for which he finds some evidence in the external environment as well.?
Economists examine the various permutations and consequences of such choices as well as regular features of marketplace activity. People are free to act as commercial agents in a number AsSUMPTIONS MADE IN ETHICS LfIIii' 23 of ways. They go about their business more or less intensely at different periods in their lives, for reasons of their own as they address their circumstances. We need not identify a cause of these events, and yet all of these actions are open to moral evaluation. 9 Much order, even predictability, is nevertheless evident in people's economic activities, providing that we do not expect to see impersonal laws or random forces played out precisely, as they would be by Halley's comet or by a subatomic particle.