This article is a follow-up to the article Weighing Without a Scale: Duty, Honour and Dignity, and though this article stands on its own it is recommended to read the linked article first. Here we attempt taking a step down on the abstractness scale and discuss more concretely the problems connected to duty raised in the above mentioned article in the context of modern society. We ask the question: is it reasonable to think that uniform social norms can be arrived at and obeyed by appealing solely to the individual’s reason? Continue reading
What is duty? – A dictionary will let us know it is a moral or legal obligation. Legal obligations we can make unambiguous sense of. One is obligated in the sense that failure to comply will lead to persecution in a clearly defined manner. The obligation of law is not an invisible bond, but a simple statement of consequences – do this, or else…
Moral duty, on the other hand, is a mystery. Indeed, we have done legal duty a disservice, for the law is not in truth meant as a statement of consequences; if it were, what then when there are no observers, no one to enact the promised consequences! The law states, as the moral duty does, that one should. Here the moral duty sets a period while law, perhaps in admittance of should’s obscurity, adds a tangible motivation; a because. You should; if you do not, then… Law made the astute observation that handcuffs are more certain to be binding than should.
Evolution follows a very simple rule: genes live on only if passed on. Clearly then, the organisms that prevail in nature are those who are able to pass on their genes; those that are best able to protect themselves and their offspring. Since all the creatures are the result of such a harsh process, they are adapted to serve themselves – or, rather, their genes. This is interpreted as meaning that we measure the payoff of actions in promoting oneself and one’s position. And, as much is true, we always try to maximize the payoff of something. But, from a simple rule one can get a complex system. Continue reading
Recently I started to read the book “Natural Justice” by Ken Binmore, and in his introductory chapter he talks about the evolutionary basis for morality. For his part this is meant only as an introduction of sorts, and therefore the exposition is shortened and simplified, and so it would be unfair to criticise it too harshly for avoiding some issues. But, it did get me to think about some common presentations and arguments from evolution that I feel are too much of a simplification – especially if the goal is to make ethical and political claims based on human nature. I will in this article raise some general questions considering how one argues from and presents evolution, and in particular I will present important concerns about the focus on religious beliefs, that is beliefs containing deities or the divine, by certain atheistic groups. Continue reading
Traditionally morality has been defined in terms of rational categories detached from humans. The morality of an action or idea is determined by checking abstract criterias: loyalty, honesty, honour, harm, justice and so on. The important question is, how did we arrive at these terms? If one is to argue that honesty is moral, one shows that it satisfies certain criterias, or lead to certain consequences. Where did these criterias come from? Why these consequences?
The answer does not lie in logic detached from Man. We do not eat because we logically deduce that we will die if not, but because we are drawn to it. Indeed, we can give no reason for living other than a force that draws us. It does not make sense to talk of morality without such a force.
The moral concepts and principles we have made cannot be explained other than as a result of a force – and it is this force that is morality. Continue reading
Certificate of “Truth”
When you smile at someone they smile back: Society is a house of mirrors. Our psyche has a mirror nature, which determines education, morality and culture. We copy when we learn, we copy what we like, we copy as we see – and, in order to save energy, our mind leaves it all behind the limit of our consciousness. Whoever we meet, all we can see in others are our own traits: exaggerated, fascinating and sometimes similar. Whatever we see we are only aware of the properties we have already saw: the reflections of previous experience. Whatever we do was already done by someone else in a similar way: the new is transcendental to human society. The mirror nature is our gift and our curse. Here is the source of society and its boundary.
We ought to have wings in order to fly, but we do not so requiring us to fly is to doom us to eternal failure of our goal. This is how insistence on some morality can be: we require that we do something that by nature we can not.
Why has the Is always eluded us? – we have been blinded by our desire for the Ought. If we ought to fly, how could we ever believe it is impossible for us? Continue reading