The 3 big flaws in Stefan Molyneux´s ethics (UPB)

I have followed Stefan since around early 2011. He was a big inspiration for me and the major reason why I started to philosophize.

I always had the notion that something was missing in his ethics, more precisely his book called “Universally Preferable Behaviour” (aka UPB).

I made an hour long critique of it around a year ago on my YouTube channel and it was not the best video I ever made. I am slightly encumbered by the fact that I don’t speak English in my day to day life and thus sometimes struggle to find certain words. This problem is much less there when I am writing and have time to think the expressions over.

Recently I made a new video pointing out three big problems with his ethics and I think it is much more clearer now what I think the problem is with his argumentation.

I encourage you to watch the videos if you are interested in UPB or ethics and morality in general. I do not present any alternatives I just point out the problems.

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Descriptions of fact versus descriptions of value

Free-Photos/Pixabay

You may not be quite sure what I am actually referring to in the title, but it is, in my view, an essential aspect of philosophy and one that is SO often neglected and the foundational reason why most philosophical discussions tend to end up being disagreements about the “meaning” of the terms (words) involved in the discussion, rather than actual philosophy.

One of the glorious examples of this problem is the basic foundations for the idea of meta-ethics. Meta ethics is often discribed as the field of understanding what is the “meaning” of the words “right” and “wrong”, “good” and “evil”, “moral” and “immoral” etc. In meta ethics it all coalesces into the dichotomy … is morality cognitive or non-cognitive.

First of all, whenever philosophy converges towards language/words, I always remind myself what the factuality of those terms really are.

Language, are sounds made by an individual

You may think that this is too simplistic or insufficient. Yes and no. The factual aspect is just that. Whatever else you want to add, are all value based descriptions .. like “… in order to communicate x …”. These are value-imbued expressions, because “communication” is an interpretation or “behavior”, based on the purpose or the valued result of that factual action. Sound is a sensory signal and therefore propositions can be made about it. “Communication” is a value expression and propositions cannot be made about them.

Value and changes in value is a part of the individuals consciousness. A change in value is something like this:

The change of perceived value of two situations related by causality, each described by their factual expressions (true propositions)

Since value is subjective (otherwise trade would be impossible), the value expressions cannot be used to describe any universal “rules” of any kind. They must be described using ONLY factual descriptions. This has HUGE consequences for how one understands human interactions and how ethics is used and the moral principles that it may lead to.

This distinction is the essence in Hume´s “is/ought” gap and where the ideas of objectivity and subjectivity come from.

Podcasts in danish regarding this subject:

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