SIO27: What Grounds Our Morals? With Aaron Rabi

Joining me for the second time is philosopher and now podcaster, Aaron Rabi! Aaron specializes in ethics, and I have questions. I’m fairly certain that our morality ultimately boils down to consequences, for reasons I explain, but not all philosophers see it that way. Aaron and I have a very interesting discussion on what exactly grounds our morals, given that there are problems to be found in every moral system. Does consequentialism ultimately win out, as I have previously opined? Find out!

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John ReevesVladimir KrasnySt. RalphKristinnkyle Recent comment authors

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I’m not sure if I agree or disagree on consequentialism being the de facto fallback solution. What seems clear to me is that morality is something that arose out of our burgeoning self-awareness as we evolved and became capable of more complex conceptualizations about the pro-social behaviors that our species unwittingly adopted and inherited via natural selection. As far as I can tell, in overly simplistic terms, humans have spent thousands of years explaining and expanding on intuitions and urges that are the result of arbitrary/idiosyncratic demands which were necessary to survive in particular environments in the ways we happened… Read more »


Excellent discussion. Loved it.

St. Ralph

Thanks for the link to Aaron’s podcast! It may, in fact, be “The One True Podcast” (sorry, Irreligiosophy guys). Our morals being a moot point for the next eight years, we should, indeed, Embrace the Void.

Vladimir Krasny
Vladimir Krasny

Loved it, Thomas. I really enjoy these philosophical discussions.

Plus I am on your side – in the end it’s all about consequences and those arguments “they would take out all of your organs to save X people…” are bad ’cause you just need to ask yourself “Would people like to live in a world like this where visiting a doctor might be a death sentence”. Same goes for those first order rights – “Would you like to live in a world when…..”

Anyway, as I said, loved this epi.

John Reeves
John Reeves

Maybe someone has made this comparison before, but I thought of a metaphor that I think works pretty well, and is (roughly?) what Tomas was saying at the end. For a long time, we thought all the laws of motion were described by Newton’s laws. And they work almost perfectly almost all of the time. But in really extreme cases they break down. That didn’t make Newton’s laws wrong. It just turns out there’s a more fundamental underlying physics which works out to Newton’s laws in most cases, but can also handle the edge cases (and gives you a truer… Read more »