Comment: The inescapable subjectivity of morality

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The inescapable subjectivity of morality

You've said several things with which I disagree. Their common root is your evident belief in some ideal Morality, which all men aspire to attain. It's rather similar to the belief in "natural" rights, in that its adherents visualize one common moral vision which can be applied to all people by virtue of (pick one) God's endowment, man's nature as a rational being, common humanity, infatuation with the Bill of Rights, or an overdose of singing "Kumbaya" while under the influence of cool drugs.

Morality is NOT an ideal. It is the very practical tool by which every sentient individual makes the important choices in his life. It isn't all that complicated, in many cases: it can be as simple as hedonism, or obedience to some Authority. Morality is WHATEVER a person uses to establish his values and prioritize them to enable the choice-making on which his life, happiness and relationships with others all depend. Certainly a morality CAN be acquired by philosophical reflection, but that is not a necessary precondition.

Morality is inescapably subjective. How could it be otherwise? The only place moral decisions can be made is inside each individual's mind. What one man names "evil" may be another man's "good." That does NOT imply that all moral systems are equal, or that they all function equally well; only that any moral system CAN be adopted, if a person is willing to accept the consequences of adopting it and of acting by its guidance. Real-world consequences are very much NOT subjective or whimsically escapable. Fantasies and boneheaded moral systems generally yield unhappy or fatal results. Think of it as moral evolution in action.

You suggest a distinction between "behaving morally" and "being a moral person." I therefore disagree. It's a difference that makes no difference. A person who "behaves morally" does so for moral reasons, does he not? Every choice we make is guided by whatever it is we use for our moral system.

But here is what's really scary: Statism IS a moral system. People truly believe in it; they define "right and wrong" according to it; and they use it to guide their actions. They do NOT share our voluntaryist view of liberty as a moral good, or our fondness for "individual rights." They are not unaware of government abuses -- they accept them as religious folks might accept hurricanes as "the will of God." This is not good news for folks like ourselves, who prefer liberty to slavery. We are not merely engaged in a practical struggle for liberty against a gang of tyrants; we are up against a whole Statist Religion, in which every schoolchild receives a twelve-year indoctrination during his most formative years. As an atheist, can I say "God help us!"? Guess not.

You may also find this discussion of "natural rights" of interest, since I recall that you're writing a book on the subject. I've also posted that article here on the DP -- link below -- but the comments at Strike the Root are more interesting.

If you'd like to continue this discussion (please; I'm quite enjoying it), may I suggest that we change the venue, because I find this thread obnoxious? How about here?

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...