Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is consent the sole criterion of the good?

A popular subject these days. I don't have the skill, learning, or currently the inspiration to add an exhaustive treatise to the blogosphere's corpus of moral philosophy, so I will attempt to be pithy.

Consent is not the sole criterion of the good, because one can consent to things that are manifestly bad.

I don't mean just being willing to participate in something while invincibly ignorant of negative consequences, or acquiescing under pressure to something you don't have a good feeling about, although it's still a part of those things.

I mean being presented the chance to do something positively harmful to yourself or others, with a guaranteed result or proportionately probable outcome that is harmful, that by your own moral calculus brings less good than evil; and then doing it, knowing better.

In most real situations there are mitigating circumstances, but I live a pretty safe life, so when I end up in a bad place, I know it's largely because I've said to myself "I damn well am going to do this, anyway." Most of the factors that would overwhelm the remnants of my consent only had the power over me that I chose not to oppose.

If things can be bad despite my willingness, then I can't a priori assume on the other hand that things might be good despite my resistance.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Went out to lunch with a coworker on Friday. This being Lent, I scoured the menu for a dish that didn't contain carne.

It was difficult finding something I would have enjoyed, as I don't like seafood of any sort. I finally settled on the fish and chips; it seemed simple enough not to offend my palate, and the breading would carry the tartar sauce well.

So I asked for the fish and chips, and the server pointed out that it was all the fish filets and french fries I would want. "Great," I said, appreciative but entirely uninterested. "Thank you." I already had all the fish I wanted--none--and I didn't have to spend ten dollars to get it. Well, fine, whatever; I'll offer it up, like I'm supposed to.

Halfway through lunch, the server came back and offered to reload my plate. I politely declined, almost unable (along with my coworker who was well aware of my distaste for fish) to keep from laughing at her attempts to entice me with even more of something I never wanted.

Later, I was nearly done, and she came back one more time, trying to make a last-ditch effort to interest me in seconds. "You sure? You could have just a little, then take it home for later!" I was briefly tempted, since ten bucks might be fair for tilapia and rice pilaf but was a bit steep for three pieces of whitefish--but no: one meal of fish was enough.

Thank you, no. I've had more than I ever wanted already.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

You know what I'd like to see?

A former coworker of mine has rather eclectic musical tastes. One of the CDs she used to bring in to play in the lab was a Metallica album where they did a lot of covers; on either the same one or a different one (I don't remember), they did a healthy number of tracks incorporating a full orchestra.

What I'd really like to see is Metallica cover some songs from "The Muppet Show." They could do some John Denver-Muppet Christmas carols or just some straight up Muppet standards, but I think it would be both epic and hilarious.

Muppets, or any show tunes, I suppose. I bet Metallica could infuse "The sun'll come out tomorrow" with some overwhelming irony.