Objection #1. This theory is speculative: there is no conclusive evidence for it.

There is no absolutely conclusive evidence for the theory, but then this is also true for any other theory. The lack of absolutely conclusive evidence does not mean that Middle Way theory is speculative in the same way that metaphysics is speculative. We need to verify it to our own satisfaction through our own experience.

The conception of the Middle Way itself is a very high-level theorisation, meaning that its relationship to experience is remote and indirect, and there may be a number of layers of reasoning between the theory and its direct application in experience. It therefore cannot be falsified through the falsification of a general principle derived from it. Again, however, it is not unique in this respect, and high-level scientific theorisations also run into this problem. It is, however, applicable in individual experience in a way that scientific theorisations are not. In individual application a person could verify or falsify the Middle Way to their own satisfaction by setting themselves a goal and a time limit within which a Middle Way approach should have led to the achievement of that goal. For example, a smoker attempting to give up might apply a Middle Way approach by taking account of both the desire to give up and the desire to smoke, and finding strategies that address all the conditions represented by both these sets of energies.

Many people, however, are already adopting Middle Way strategies in parts of their lives where they have learnt through experience how to address all the conditions and give up dogmatic theoretical assumptions that limit their awareness of these. Bringing up a child, for example, involves learning how to combine protective care with letting go, and some people who protect or let go too much learn from their experience of difficulties in their relationship with their child. If in practice you are already applying the Middle Way in some areas, proof of the Middle Way is much less important than consistency in applying it and the philosophical work of spotting dogmatic beliefs that interfere with your practice of the Middle Way.

The Middle Way theory can also be applied negatively to predict the failure of strategies dependent on metaphysical beliefs. Chapters 3 and 4 of the thesis offer detailed accounts of the relative moral failure of past Western forms of metaphysical ethics. Such a case is cumulative: the more examples of failure to address conditions due to metaphysical assumptions one considers, the more the case mounts up. Human history and biography potentially offer a rich fund of examples. 

The theory is thus not speculative, because it can be applied and related to human experience in many different ways, both at a general and an individual level. In many ways many people already recognise the Middle Way as common sense. The arguments are more likely to lie at a theoretical level in establishing the huge and largely unrecognised philosophical implications of what one has experienced at a common sense level.

Links to further discussion relevant to this objection

The heuristic process from thesis

Verification and falsification of the Middle Way from thesis (scroll down to section c)

Thesis index (look at any section of chapters 3 and 4 for historical discussion of the failures of metaphysical theories)

 

Return to list of objections

Return to moralobjectivity.net home page