Sunday, August 07, 2016

Normativity and the Primacy of Existence

Ever-valiant defender of the faith James Anderson has posted a blog entry titled Atheism, Amoralism, and Arationalism. It’s more of the usual fare that we’ve all seen many times before, the same tired claim that atheism as such is philosophically self-destructive because of some imagined consequence it supposedly has for the basis of thought and virtue. Anderson just likes to use a lot of big words in order to make his version appear more beefy.

There’s a lot of material to chew on in Anderson’s piece, and I may interact more with his statements there in future installments on my own blog if I find myself so inclined. For the present entry, I will focus primarily on one of the several related issues Anderson raises, namely the idea of normativity.

Anderson produces a quote from Alvin Plantinga indicating that “normativity” – essentially a standard for “right and wrong” and “good and bad” – is incompatible with “metaphysical naturalism.” You see, metaphysical naturalism, says Plantinga, “has no room for normativity.” If this is true, that’s too bad for metaphysical naturalism.

But it’s certainly not the case in Objectivism. In fact, one could argue quite feasibly that normativity is implicit in every act of consciousness, even sensation and perception, given the primacy of existence. The primacy of existence is the proper orientation between consciousness and its objects, and below I will delve deeper into this. Ironically, in spite of Plantinga’s assertions, theism rejects the primacy of existence and consequently is incompatible with normativity.