DiaBlogue: A Minimal Set of Shared Beliefs

Dear Alan,

On the whole, I was probably more relieved than surprised to discover that you responded to my bet with affirmation (given my past failures to accurately identify shared beliefs :-). For the most part, I am pleased that — for the first time since our Epistemology — we have agreed on a Minimal Set of Shared Beliefs (MSSB), which renders my provocative questions mostly moot. To celebrate, I have rechristened them using [Mr. Balboa’s discarded :-] Roman numerals, and rounded up to ten:

I. Happiness is better than Suffering
II. Love is better than Hate
III. Truth is better than Falsehood
IV. Truth is compatible with both Love and Happiness
V. Love and Happiness are compatible with each other
VI. There are some good things about Christianity
VII. There are many things wrong with Christianity
VIII. It is both necessary and possible to improve upon Christianity
IX. Reason and Empirical Observation are both key to improving upon Christianity
X. The goal is maximize actual and potential Happiness while minimizing actual and potential Suffering

I’ve added “V” to complement “IV”, and added the metric of Universal Utilitarianism as “X”, but I trust this still meets with your approval, and clarifies our common “goals.”

Now that we have a mutually-agreeed-upon Minimal Set of Shared Beliefs, let’s see if that can illuminate some of our previously perplexing posts; especially those about love

One question we can now ask is the relationship between the MSSB and my first Goalpost:

1. Belief in a transcendent moral purpose for the universe is as well-justified and essential for social inquiry as belief in the transcendent mathematical nature of the universe is for scientific inquiry.
As often happens, this is one of those things which seems so obvious (to me) that it is very difficult to explain! Let me see if I can break my understanding down into concrete logical steps, to help me understand which (if any) you find controversial.

I believe that:

A. We need a set of assumptions comparable to the MSSB in order to support meaningful “social inquiry.”
B. Using a deistic hypothesis — that “the various systems encompassing humanity are the result of a benevolent Purpose”
(one sympathetic to human Reason, Virtue, and Happiness) — we can derive the
MSSB assumptions as theorems, rather than needing to state them as axioms
C. In science, a discrete list of facts is less powerful than a theory which explains them

In other words, if the MSSB is “well-justified and essential for social inquiry”, then I would argue that the “deistic hypothesis” [though not without its own problems] is even more so, at least under the usual rules of science.

What I am unclear on, though, is whether you disagree with assertions A, B, or C, or simply disagree that they support my goalpost. Hopefully you can help me narrow down where we disagree so I can (finally 😉 provide you a concrete proof of [one of] my assertions, leveraging our newfound set of shared assumptions.