May I give the gist of what I should like to reply? My main thesis was, as I thought, the opposite of apriorist; namely it was that ethics are derived from experience. Your point, as I understand it, is that my assertion is not derived from experience and has no consequences in experience. To take the first part of this first. I believe I might reply by the simple tu quoque . Your assertion that my statement is clearly not derived from observation is itself not derived from observation. But if this rather school-boyish reply does not satisfy you, I think I should proceed as follows. The derivation of a philosophical assertion such as mine from experience is not easy, at any rate to me, to understand, but I still believe that such statements have a meaning. It seems to me that they probably cannot be derived from any contemplation of experience, but only from participation in it. By participation in it I mean essentially attempting to alter it. And thus the first part of your criticism, as to derivation from experience, dissolves into the second, as to the application to experience. In that connection I think my reply is clear. If my thesis is correct, the considerations which should be taken into account, in determining whether it is ethically right to bomb Germany, are those relating the presumed results of that action to the general progress of human society; the people best competent to discover
95 the facts and assess them are military scientists, sociologists and historians. If the contrary thesis about eth,ics is correct, the considerations to be taken into account are intuitions, and those most competent to consider them are priests, poets and prophets.