The Superfluity of Morality to explain Human Systems of Behavioral Expectations

This is an argument presented in response to a Facebook user named Adam Johnson who suggests emotions are not sufficient to account for human systems of behavioral expectations.


  • P1: Adam believes animals construct systems of behavioral expectations based on their emotions.
  • P2: Adam believes animals are not moral agents.
  • C1: Therefore, Adam believes a) systems of behavioral expectations do not require moral agency, and b) emotions are sufficient to explain systems of behavioral expectations. (P1 & P2)
  • P4: Adam believes humans have emotions.
  • P5: Adam believes humans have systems of behavioral expectations.
  • C2: Adam believes human emotions are a sufficient explanation for human systems of behavioral expectations. (C1 & P4 & P5)

Adam and others may respond in a rigorous syllogistic (or at least focused) form. All lengthy unfocused comments will be deleted.

A useful analogy is the movement of tectonic plates. We now have a fairly firm material explanation for why we have mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes. If someone were to add the explanation of an army of underground goblins on top of the tectonic plate explanation, that army of goblins would be superfluous since we already have a exhaustive explanatory theory at our disposal, i.e., tectonic plates. And even if we did not have a clear material mechanism to explain volcanoes and earthquakes, would we be justified in invoking an army of unevidenced underground goblins as a supplementary explanation? Conjuring up a magical, spiritual or moral realm on top of the material realm that itself already offers a comprehensive explanation of a particular phenomenon is intellectually dishonest.

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