Investigations into motivations of behaviour result in Principles. Principles are, essentially, what you would add to convert an opinion to an argument; they are publicly accessible standards against which we can judge behaviour.

Principles do not express causal influences, as explanations do, and to a lesser extent patterns do as well. In some ways Principles are explanatory; in some ways they express goals. In any case, they are normative, in that they are expressions of standards, or norms.

For example:

LQ: Why doesn’t Sydney eat ice cream?
EE1: Sydney doesn’t eat ice cream.
RA1: She is lactose intolerant.
RA2: She only eats salty foods.
RA3: She dislikes cold food.
RA4: She eats no animal products.
ER1: Sydney never eats cheeseburgers.
ER2: Sydney gives to animal rights’ charities.
BE: Sydney doesn’t eat ice cream because she eats no animal products.

If we were to ask, instead, “Why do snails not eat ice cream?” we would not treat the results of this Investigation as a Principle. It would be purely explanatory. What distinguishes the snail case from Sydney is Sydney’s conscious choice. Sydney’s aversion to ice cream is not a natural phenomenon, as are the movements of non-conscious creatures, the growth of trees, the ebb and flow of tides, and the fact that apples fall toward the Earth.

In short, Principles result when the nature of an investigation involves conscious choice. Principles are public expressions of otherwise-unexaminable standards. These results, then, will be crucial for evaluating moral choices, which we will treat in greater detail when we deal with the Recommendation form known as Request for Guidance.

Last modified: Sunday, 10 September 2017, 4:01 PM