I guess I misinterpreted your argument on that point. I’m somewhat inclined to the belief I attributed to you, so I’ll try to defend it...
We’ve been circling the same set of ethical ideas for quite a while now, if not for the whole of our species history. So either we’re stuck in a local maxima of ethical reasoning, or there’s a disconnect between our capacity to reason about ethics (which we’ve found possibly the absolute maximum of) and our capacity to implement it (having reached varying local maxima across the globe). I’m inclined to believe the latter, because the problem of ethics is ever-pressing, and yet we’ve seen no new formulations since (roughly) the enlightenment.
If that’s the case, the real challenge is getting a critical mass of humanity up to the absolute peak of ethics, where it’s easier to pull up those lagging behind, and where we can more accurately quibble about where the precise peak is.
I don’t believe that’s happening, for all the reasons it’s typically hard to escape local maxima. We’ve got to take “big” steps to get across valleys, which is not something particularly easy for societies to do, and we seem hard pressed to find a Moses-esque leader up to that challenge.
In this sense, I could understand an argument that said we’re not making ethical progress, both because we’ve already discovered the approximate peak and also because it’s seemingly impossible for us to get there.
What do you think? And how did you actually mean progress is impossible?
The enlightenment started around 300 years ago. It sounds like 300 years is a long period of historical time to you. To me, it is a short period of historical time. This itself could be the crux of our disagreement.
I do not mean that progress is impossible either. My argument is far more precise than that. I just saying that it is impossible to distinguish progress from a random walk using certain common meta-epistemological methods.