Tag Archives: mechanism

Jeremy Mayerfeld

There is no need to import superstition. We can begin with a mechanistic view of the world, one in which bits of energy and matter interact in various ways perhaps according to certain deterministic or probabilistic laws of causation; and in which people’s lives are determined by the interplay of their own desires, goals, commitments, urges, and impulses with those of other people, steered by different beliefs about the world, of varying degrees of falsehood and veracity, all within the limits imposed by nature; but a world that exhibits no transcendent purpose or meaning or design in any of its parts—no purpose, that is, outside the purely continent (and usually quite powerless) wills of individual people and animals. Nevertheless, surely it would be blindness to fail to see, at the very least, that some things in this purposeless world are objectively bad; that these things ought not to arise; that we are obliged by their very badness to prevent them from arising; and that certainly the experience of suffering in its many forms has this very property of objective badness that I have been describing, even if nothing else has it. It seems to me stranger to deny this than to affirm it.

Jeremy Mayerfeld, Suffering and Moral Responsibility, New York, 1999, p. 113