Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Making Some Things Less Bad Than They Might Have Been | Quote by Philosopher and Theologian Keith Ward

There is a real question of whether it is possible always to do what is good, or whether you can guarantee that your long-term purposes will be realized. There are many reasons why they may not be--because others frustrate them, or because chance intervenes and makes them impossible, or because you lose heart and give up trying. If you say, "I want to bring about world peace," this will immediately be seen to be too big a project for one person to undertake. You can do something towards it--take part in a demonstration outside the Ministry of Defence, perhaps. You can do that. That is your purpose. But it may not, and almost certainly will not, have the desired effect. But that is because your purpose is an instrumental one. It is part of aiming at a greater good. You might say that you cannot guarantee that goodness will ever flourish in the world. But you can still have moral purposes of doing little bits of good, and making some things less bad than they might have been. Those are your real purposes. They are not very grand, and you may fail even at those--but at least they are purposes that you want to, and often can, realize.
~Keith Ward (Morality, Autonomy, and God 2013)

Beneath a redwood grove, northern California