By R. M. Hare (auth.)
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Additional resources for Applications of Moral Philosophy
A young man may say, 'My parents think it matters enormously to go to church every Sunday; but I can't feel at all concerned about it'. ' It is by reactions such as these that people's values get altered from generation to generation. Now to return to my Swiss friend. I had by this time convinced him that many things did matter for him, and that the expression 'Nothing matters' in his mouth could only be (if he understood it) a piece of play-acting. Of course he didn't actually understand it. It is very easy to assume that all words work in the same way; to show the differences is one of the chief ways in which philosophers can be of service to mankind.
But I know that this is not all Mr Richards means, because, directly after the passage I quoted, he goes on, 'Its [the building's] aesthetic character is created as part of the same process; nor does the exercise at every stage of personal preferences and aesthetic taste, which is inherent in all architectural activity, in any way invalidate the functional basis of modern architecture'. Now what does he mean by 'is created as part of the same process' ? ) a consideration of the building's aesthetic character.
What may happen is that one set of values may get discarded and another set substituted; for indeed our scales of values are always changing, sometimes gradually, sometimes catastrophically. The suggestion that nothing matters naturally arises at times of perplexity like the present, when the claims upon our concern are so many and conflicting that we might indeed wish to be delivered from all of them at once. But this we are unable to do. The suggestion may have one of two opposite effects, one good and one bad.
Applications of Moral Philosophy by R. M. Hare (auth.)