THE IS/OUGHT GAP
“Facts do not bridge the is/ought gap by themselves.” I thought we were done with this, but according to this writer, we’re not.
There are people (we know them as philosophers) that claim there is no logical connection between reality and morality. The phrasing of this problem, the is/ought gap, comes from the 18th century influential philosopher David Hume. This “problem” has been largely discredited with the resurgence of an Aristotelian influence in philosophy – a hugely important trend.
So what are the facts that bridge reality (is) to morality (ought)?
The fact is all life forms must act to remain alive. It is our senses that provide us the raw data about reality. We have the ability to integrate that data, draw conclusions, resolve contradictions – the ability to reason. The fact is our ability to reason is crucial to our survival – therefore we ought to think. Rationality is a virtue – virtues being those character traits that allow us to pursue values in support of our life. Virtually everything from food to the device you’re typing on had to be produced in support of your life – that’s a fact and therefore one ought to be productive – productiveness is a virtue. Living is work – that’s a fact so stamina is a virtue. Living entails risks – that’s a fact so courage is a virtue. It is the facts of reality that determine the virtues we OUGHT to practice.
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