This is the second of a two-part series in which I assess CosmicSkeptic’s (a.k.a. Alex O’Connor) claim that he can make morality objective. A crucial part of O’Connor’s argument is that human behaviour is completely determined, so my first article argued against O’Connor, that we are meaningfully free. This article will address O’Connor’s claim that ultimately the only thing we desire (and which we must desire) is pleasure, before critiquing the way he brings this all together into a theory of an objective morality.
A friend recently brought to my attention a very interesting YouTube video of a talk called The Good Delusion given by Alex O’Connor, owner of the CosmicSkeptic blog and YouTube channel of the same name, in which he was making the case for an objective morality. O’Connor believes he has devised a way to make morality objective; that is, a morality based on ‘is’ rather than ‘ought’ propositions, thereby overcoming the insurmountable hurdle Sam Harris mysteriously continues to bang his head against of getting the latter (an ‘ought’) from the former (an ‘is’). Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons for thinking O’Connor hasn’t succeeded in his goal, hence the reason for this article. Because one of the premises in his argument concerns freewill (specifically, the claim we don’t have any), in order to disprove his claim in its entirety, I will also need to address this notoriously thorny topic. This first article then will argue, against O’Connor, that we do have freewill, while the second article will reject his broader claim that morality can be objective.