Last Tuesday, UTM students, professors and staff members attended a lecture given by Dr. Christopher diCarlo, entitled The New Ethics: A synthetic approach to understanding the Good and Evil. The lecture, organized in collaboration with the Mississauga Free-Thought Association, Centre for Inquiry and UTM, was hosted in the Student Centres presentation room.
Jai Sangha from the Mississauga Free Thought Association introduced Dr. diCarlo, the assistant professor of philosophy at the University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology who won the 2008 TVO Teaching Excellence Award. Some of Dr. diCarlos research includes his PhD thesis on scientific evolutionary epistemology at the University of Guelph and current research on bioethics, human value behavior and actions.
Dr. diCarlo began his lecture by alluding to humans as unpredictable tidal waves that react to the causality of a complex web of events. Building upon this argument, he put forth a first-of-its kind philosophical model of New Ethics, which he explained using a model known as the Onion Skin Theory of Knowledge. This model is significantly different from previous ways of explaining causality and human knowledge because it separates the two truths: Truth with a capital T, such as religion, supernatural and metaphysical phenomenon, and truth with a lower-case t, such as natural, empirical and rational arguments of the physical sciences along the lines of what he refers to as the Cross of Reason.
Dr. diCarlo described this novel model as a very complex interplay of natural and cultural systems that separates humans from the other species, as they are system manipulators who have the ability of consciousness and ability exploit the constraints of nature. This idea was advanced through the concept of mimetic equilibrium that advocates a balance between human actions and ideas. Unlike previous approaches, this new epistemological model attempts to reveal a greater understanding of the human nature by working to understand the causal factors in natural, physical and social sciences such as anthropology, sociology, politics and law.
Due to the contextual nature of the model, it draws its strength from taking into account the physical setting, cultural relativism, subjectivism, circumstances and other phenomenon around a particular event to explain human understanding of events. Dr. diCarlo analyzed the implications of model on the dualism present in the Canadian legal system. The evolved capacity of homo sapiens that allows them to examine behavior of themselves and others, said Dr. diCarlo.
According to John Baker, one of the attendees at the conference, should humans find out that they have no control of their actions as the OSTOCK model claims, then the entire view of capital punishment and other forms of incarceration systems would change to a different approach where human behavior is not just judged on religiously or culturally imposed moral ideals but rather it is judged by a complex interplay of genes, science, culture and numerous other factors beyond control of humans.
Dr. diCarlo, who also works with the Society for Evolutionary Association of Law, argued that under his OSTOCK model, the legal system should change to not simply incarcerate or execute serial killers, rapists, pedophiles and other criminals based on moral judgment, but rather the legal system needs to be reformed to account for the causality of events and biological and physical factors that created the criminal. Behavior modification, among others, should be implemented to help those who want to reform and become conscious of themselves.