a1 University of Hull
If morality concerns the question how to live then can it be a science? Can there be a science of how to live? Hilary Putnam who poses this question answers it thus:1 ‘It is not “logically impossible” that some day we might have so complete a theory of our own nature that we could program a computer to determine what would and would not satisfy us’. But, he reassures us, ‘since that will not happen for a millennium, if ever, the question about morality being a science is best put aside’. In the meantime moral reasoning must engage ‘our full capacity to imagine and feel, in short, our full sensibility’. This is developed through ‘the imaginative recreation of moral perplexities’ in literature. If the computer takes over, of course, then ‘philosophy and literature may well disappear in their present forms’. So too, he says, may science, not because redundant but because complete in its explanatory and predictive power.