Saturday, December 11, 2010

Does "Responsibility" Exist?

I want to take a post to discuss responsibility and its relationship to naturalism. This is going to build upon my previous posts "The Responsibility to Know and Act" and "Human Equality and Naturalism".

Responsibility assumes three things in order to have meaning:
Obliged Action

Person A has a responsibility to Person B to perform action X on Person C.

Subject (Person A) is the person who possess the responsibility (obliged to perform action).
Object (Person B and C) is the person who the subject is obliged to perform the action to and/or for.

In order for such a responsibility to exist, the both objects must have value. In order for such a responsibility to exist in an objective form, the object must have intrinsic value. If the object does not have intrinsic value, responsibility does not exist in any objective form, which really means that there is no responsibility (the word "responsibility" is more of a manipulative term to get what we want).

In order for such a responsibility to have value, the subject must have value. In order for such a responsibility to have objective value, the subject must have intrinsic value. If the subject does not have intrinsic value, then the "responsibility" is relative, once again, it becomes a manipulative term.

In order for the value of any of the three to be "good", "good" must exist. In order for the value to be objectively "good", objective "good" must exist. Without an objective "good", the whole "oughtness" behind "responsibility" disappears, "responsibility" loses all meaning, except for manipulation.

Only the Christian worldview provides such a foundation for intrinsic value on the objects and subject of the responsibility, and the objective "good" that is required to provide "responsibility" with true, deep, and objective value.

Other worldviews provide such foundations in subjective or relativistic forms. The responsibility is, therefore, just as subjective or relativistic.

Those who do not believe that morality or value has its foundation in an absolutely and perfectly valuable and moral Being has no grounds to believe that he can ever take meaningful "responsibility" for anything. His responsibility is what he makes it to be. His responsibility may be different from his neighbor's because of the different values given to the subject and objects, and the different beliefs of what is "good". He may also use his values to make others believe that they have meaningful responsibilities, when they really don't. This would be a survival tactic that the brain has evolved to use. Notice that the truth of the existence of "responsibility" has no bearing on whether the belief of it evolves or not.

If naturalism is true we have no responsibility to other humans or the institutions they make up (family, businesses, government, social group, etc) because none of them possess objective and intrinsic value. The only "responsibility" of ourselves (or others) to these entities is relative- for ourselves, it makes us feel good, for others, its manipulative (ultimately to make us feel good too).

Any worldview that depends on the naturalistic evolutionary paradigm assigns equal value to both a house fly and a human being. It would follow that any responsibility a human has to another human, the house fly is just as deserving of such a responsibility. Going the opposite direction, any responsibility (or lack thereof) that is due to a house fly is also due to a human. Remember, I'm talking objective, meaningful responsibility; not the relative, manipulative "responsibility" that naturalism can only account for.

Its kind of ironic, animal rights (taken to the same level as human rights) fits right in with the naturalistic worldview. But are the animal rights activists ready to ascribe the same values to all animals (bugs included)? Is there an objective reason, or is it all relative, like the value they place on other animals or even themselves? Do they hold the responsibility to protect bugs or other humans as dutifully as they do certain animals? Nope, they don't even have a responsibility to protect the animals that they do. They only do it because it makes them feel like they have a purpose- they are part of a "cause". Its all relative!

The lack of objective and meaningful responsibility forces the naturalist into a narcissistic (self-centered)  hedonism (pursuit of pleasure) that ultimately has no purpose and no end. Whatever gives them pleasure is what they are drawn to. They have no where else to turn. Psychologist Dr. Archibald Hart (The Hart Institute) has much to say about hedonism and its link to depression and anhedonia in his book "Thrilled to Death".

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