There are a few assumptions (now I'm criticizing) offered in UPB which I don't quite jive with me. On page 59, there's a casual assertion made, this idea which keeps showing up. The idea that a particular set of ethics or morality is responsible for the actions of the people in some historical society. Specifically, the book discusses the relationship between Nazis and Arianism (I took the name from the philosopher, not the cult which developed later). I do not believe that people select moral or ethical sets and then build personal relationships. I believe people build personal relationships and then adopt beliefs which support those relationships. To me, that seems to be the reason why people are willing to defend incorrect or illogical views strongly, to protect the personal relationships in which those views have developed. Take the idea of German superiority. Am I to believe that each German was, free from social pressures, exposed to those ideas and, after serious contemplation and study, accepting of them as right and good? Social relationships don't work that way. More likely than not, people were exposed to those views in some social context and accepted the ideas rather than challenge the underlying interpersonal relationships.
Suppose a parent tells a child something, anything. For the child to challenge that statement requires an action which pushes against both evolutionary and interpersonal pressures. The amount of moral courage in doing something like that (if the habit is undeveloped) is unimaginable. If the state has a paternalistic or maternalistic role, the average Joe must feel intense pressures to conform to whatever the prevailing beliefs are. Let me offer a bit of behavioral science to back myself up. In the case of the Asch conformity experiments, an experimental participant would mis-identify the length of drawn lines in order to have an opinion which conformed to a small group of strangers. Imagine that. A person would purposefully ignore objective truth in favor of conformity with a group of strangers. Then consider the power of interpersonal relationships and how that might effect an individual's point of view. To me, the idea that introducing a system for BS-checking ethical claims will resolve incorrect beliefs is addressing the symptom of a much larger, underlying problem. People lack moral courage, either by design or accident. Challenging a fake word in scrabble, an unreasonable edict, or a false moral system all require some degree of moral courage. My honest sense is that very few people are willing to accept total social isolation in exchange for true or correct beliefs. What about Zimbardo? People will brutalize each other for the sake of a social narrative with no basis in reality. What is a social narrative but a common folklore, a mutually accepted way of being? It's pressures from personal relationships, pure and simple.
I've actually been thinking about this quite a bit lately; social pressure and how it effects people. I see it as a very reasonable explanation for the extreme hostility people exhibit when one of their beliefs is challenged. As an example, who hasn't had a discussion which, when fueled by internet courage, resulted in the other participant sending an endless stream of insults, profanity, and threats? I've been trying to understand that behavior for quite a while. I think that when I say "Your core belief is logically inconsistent, let me show you how." the other person hears "Every relationship you have is built on a bed of lies, let me pull you from everyone you value." Why else take something like "how do you identify existence?" personally?
I don't even think UPB is actually foreign to anyone. I suspect we've all just abandoned it in favor of having family and friends, the endless series of mutually manipulative social relationships which everyone takes part in. In the end, which is worth more, social relationships or truth? That's the terrible choice which underlies a highly anti-social philosophy. That is, UPB is in total conflict with the bulk of accepted social relationships (Parent/child, State/citizen, Police/not Police, Elder/Youth, Relatives, Priest/Parrish). I'm sorry that personal relationships work like that (It saddens me deeply). I'd like to think it was possible for people to offer some degree of courtesy, compassion, or honesty to each other. We just don't live in a world where personal relationships can withstand an absolute-zero power distance and total honesty plus moral courage. Even the foundational concept of free people's relationships "All adult relationships are voluntary" is beyond the comprehension of most people. My god, "You can't pick your family" is a commonly used idiom. How about "Blood is thicker than water"? Untangling the various social relationships is the real challenge. Arguing about the logical validity of UPB at this point is just fiddling while Rome burns.
Relationships underlie beliefs, not the other way around.