When I wrote the series about The Promise and Failure of UPB, I focused on responses from notable folks in the ancap community. I didn’t consider the potential impact a work like this might have on atheists in general.
As a visitor to Liberating Minds pointed out in this conversation, “…most (if not all) Athesists would welcome such a monumental proof of secular ethics. If they had any bias at all, it would be in favour of UPB, not against it.”
So you’d think.
But then the visitor offered a link to this thoughtful review of UPB by atheist Luke Muehlhauser who took a sledgehammer of logic to the more popular UPB chestnuts: “the act of arguing against UPB actually validates it” (See Muehlhauser’s dissection of Proof 1) and the ever-popular “yes, I really did get an ought from an is,” argument (See Proof 3). Muehlhauser’s summary is similar to most of the thoughtful reviewers I’ve read: “…after reading the book, I still have no idea what a Universally Preferable Behavior (UPB) is.” He gives a good college try toward finding something comprehensible before ending with this conclusion:
I get the impression that one day Molyneux was impressed by a book with many sections of numbered statements, the last always beginning with “Therefore…”, then decided to write his own book just like it, without first learning anything about how logic or argument works.
To Molyneux and everyone else, I recommend Weston’s A Rulebook for Arguments and Copi & Cohen’s Introduction to Logic.
Ouch. Looks like mainstream atheists aren’t buying UPB, either.
In Molyneux’s defense, one commenter—who called himself “Nathan”—attempted to demolish the review with this comeback:
“So what you are saying is that in order to be valid, Stef’s theory should contain logical arguments?”
I am not making this up.