"VIRTUE AND ITS OPPOSITE
The opposite of “virtue” must be “vice” – the opposite of “good” must be “evil.” If I propose the moral
rule, “thou shalt not steal,” then stealing must be evil, and not stealing must be good. This does not mean
that “refraining from theft” is the sole definition of moral excellence, of course, since a man may be a
murderer, but not a thief. We can think of it as a “necessary but not sufficient” requirement for virtue." (p. 65, ‘UPB: A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics’)
This section is the lynchpin of Stefan’s argument and is combined with the ‘coma test’ to prove that we have no positive obligations. Unfortunately it contained a blatant error, which you’ve probably noticed already. Stefan has confused ‘negation’ and ‘opposite’.
The negation of giving is not-giving. The negation of black is not-black.
The opposite of giving is taking. The opposite of black is white.
Not-giving is not identical to taking, nor is not-black identical to white. Thus quite clearly the concepts of ‘negation’ and ‘opposite’ are distinct.
Showing how Stefan is wrong here has nullified his coma test (p.67). Stefan’s argument is that if we have positive obligations (say, giving to charity), then a man in a coma must be evil, since he is performing the opposite of virtue – not-giving to charity. This is supposedly absurd, since he is unable to avoid his ‘actions’.
But Stefan’s argument fails because the man is not performing the opposite of giving to charity – merely the negation. He need not be virtuous or wicked. The fact that an action is not virtuous does not prove that it is immoral. Eating ice cream may not be virtuous – does this prove that eating ice cream is immoral?
This all shows that at the very least, ‘UPB’ needs to be completely rewritten to accommodate these findings. It contains overt errors. This analysis cannot be dismissed as ‘nit-picking’ unless you feel that proving positive obligations do not exist was not a major part of Stefan’s project. Feel free to proclaim yourself a supporter of ‘UPB’ ‘apart from the stuff about positive obligations not existing’, but it would be akin to a Marxist saying ‘well, you can ignore the part about abolishing private property.’ If Stefan won’t correct even this glaring flaw in his work, it raises serious questions about his rigour and credibility. If you are an honest supporter of Stefan, I suggest that you bring this to his attention so that he may revise ‘UPB’ at the earliest opportunity. It would genuinely strenghthen FDR as well as UPB.