I'm really sorry if this is in the wrong section, I wasn't really sure.
I wrote a theory of objective morality and I'd really like it if anyone could offer me a critique on it. Please try to find any inconsistencies, things that are not properly backed, logical loopholes, or anything about it that you think is not consistent with morality (like a bad action being permitted, or a good action being prohibited). Let me know if you agree with it. Would human society be happier if everyone followed these rules, compared to a society where no one did? Would most all reasonable adults agree to this code of morality? Many thanks to anyone who reads or replies.
JoshB Theory of Objective Morality
Certain acts are objectively wrong. This is due to self-ownership, and the principle of consent. Consent is derived from the golden rule, which states that you should do to others only what you would want to have done to yourself.
The Principle of Property
Due to the fact that all reasonable people would want someone to obtain consent before interfering with their body (which is their property) or any other property, all people must obtain consent before interfering with other people's property. Therefore, acts that interfere with someone else's property (body, possessions, privacy) without their prior consent are morally wrong. The Principle of Reparations is applied when an individual violates another person's Right of Property.
The Principle of Contract
Breaking an agreement which was explicitly said to be binding is morally wrong. The Principle of Reparations applies in case of such a breach.
The Principle of Reparations
Someone who breaks a Principle (at the expense of another) must always agree and endeavour to pay back the full value of whatever it is that they have appropriated, or repair and mitigate any loss, inconvenience, or harm caused to those who have been affected by the breach of Principle.
The Principle of Clemency
Any individual who is entitled to receive reparations under the Principle of Reparations may grant clemency to the payer of the Reparations, and thus eliminate the requirement for them to pay reparations.
The State of Emergency
Extenuating circumstances exist that permit the violation of the Principle of Property, or the Principle of Contract, in the case of the State of Emergency. The State of Emergency arises from a threat, of physical harm, death, or great suffering, to oneself or to another.
The Principle of Forgiveness (or The Principle of Extenuating Circumstances)
If someone who is in the State of Emergency interacts with or appropriate someone else's property, or breaches a binding contract, only to the degree needed to end the State of Emergency and mitigate the threat of death, grave harm, or great suffering, this is not morally wrong, and they are forgiven. The harm (which can never be bodily) caused by the individual can never be great enough to cause those affected by the breach of Principle to be forced into a State of Emergency of their own, or the Principle of Forgiveness does not apply. Despite the Principle of Forgiveness causing the individual to be forgiven for this breach of Principle, the Principle of Reparations always applies.
The Principle of the Inviolable Body
The Principle of Forgiveness does not apply to the body. The body is the most personal and rightful property, and thus it is impossible for it to be appropriated or unjustly kept to the exclusion of others. This is because all are equal in being granted a body and full permanent ownership and control over the body, and thus no redistribution of this bodily form of property is ever necessary.
The Principle of Violence
Violation of the Principle of the Inviolable Body (which is itself a subset of the Principle of Property) is considered to be violence, and thus invokes the Principle of Containment as well as the Principle of Reparations.
The Principle of Containment
It is not wrong for one to violate the Right of Property of, or a binding contract with, an individual who has violated the Principle of Violence, to the least degree necessary in order to prevent them from being a threat to others. This must be accomplished through imprisonment of a reasonable amount of time, accompanied by attempts at rehabilitation, unless this is impossible. If no infrastructure and organization exists to enact this imprisonment, then and only then may the individual be murdered.
The Principle of the Good Samaritan
If an individual is in a position to remove another individual from the State of Emergency, without risk of bodily harm for any individual, or placing themselves in the State of Emergency, they are obligated to do so, unless the individual in the State of Emergency does not consent to be saved. If the individual in the State of Emergency is incapacitated or otherwise incommunicado, then consent is implied. The Principle of Reparations applies. The amount of Reparations is the amount of value that was lost by the individual who took action to save the individual in the State of Emergency. If the State of Emergency is anthropogenic (created by another man), he shall pay the reparations to the individual who took action to save the individual in the State of Emergency. Otherwise, the reparations shall be paid by the saved individual to the individual who saved them.
The Principle of the Evil Samaritan
If an individual violates the Principle of the Good Samaritan, the Principle of Reparations applies. The amount of reparations is the same as the value that would have been lost by that individual had they followed the Principle of the Good Samaritan. If the individual who was in the State of Emergency is still alive, the reparations shall be paid to them. Otherwise, the reparations shall be paid to the civil authority of the land.
The Principle of Charity
Actions which increase the happiness of other individuals, or reduce their suffering, without causing any harm, suffering, or reduction of happiness for any individual except the individual who is taking the action, are morally good. No consequences good or bad shall be suffered due to an individual's choice to follow or disregard this Principle.
Thanks so much!
I'd like to see some citing of your sources. A proper referencing list, APA or Harvard style please.
I'm docking you points for essentially condensing Kant to garbage then putting your name on it.
Seriously though, do you have any or much background in philosophy, or the study of morality? I'm almost certain from the language you've used that you took a Freshman's Intro course recently. That said, I'm glad that it galvanized you the way that it did, but I have to say you've not broken any new ground. At all. You may have possibly covered some of it up.
Experiencing Empathy. Human beings, et al. 35,000BC-2018AD
A Discussion with My Girlfriend over FaceTime. "Ch. 2: Does objective morality exist? Can we apply the concepts of positive liberty and negative liberty to morality? I'm sure someones done it before. I think negative morality would be more binding." JoshB and H-------, 12/5/2018, 1:20AM PST
The Concept of Property. Pretty much just a thing in society that most people learn about growing up, ???-2018.
Keeping your Hands to Yourself: A Beginner's Basic Guide. My Mother, My Father, My Kindergarten Teacher. Circa 2 years of age through 12 years of age.
The Golden Rule. Episcopal Church Sunday School. Over 100 Sundays ago.
Coming to Common Understanding Through the Agreement of Rational Individuals. Life in a liberal democracy. My entire life - now.
That part of Health class where they tell you what consent is so that you know not to rape people. Mr. Sherman. ----------- --------------- Unified School District, Junior year, 10/3.
Is it really that hard to come to the conclusion that morality posited as being based on rules we could all agree on? Also I didn't see Socrates citing where he got his ideas from, probably because he *gasp* THOUGHT OF THEM. It's not like two different people can think of similar ideas? Wow this title is long. Me. Just now.
Sorry I couldn't get the tabulation right. Hope this'll do.
(to be real with you, I typed this off the top of my head. I've read some philosophy before, but what good would it be to directly rip the ideas I read and just retype them? I tried to come up with a moral theory that I can't find holes in, that goes beyond a simple formula for working out if an action is good, and tries to incorporate some of the good of utilitarianism while having a hard backstop to prevent it from justifying trampling on human rights for "the greater good") I'd love any substantive critique you have to give.
Good or bad I think it is pretty darn refreshing to see someone on the internet try their hand at actual argumentation.
...And get hit immediately with "sources pls?" and "lol Kant did it first."
Well, at least I stayed in class long enough (~20 mins) on Kant day to say "I don't need sources, this shit's a priori, bitch!"
I guess you don't need to understand Kant to condense his ideas and communicate them in an understandable way? Because I certainly don't.
(No offence intended to those who replied and I do appreciate your feedback, its just bants m8).
Alright. So you're serious. That's good, at least. I honestly thought somebody was trying to shop their Kant homework on the internet for points they'd missed, no offense. So let's talk about that guy. Kant. Kant.
Well, first, some housekeeping on the philosophical front.
So, one thing you'll have to get over if you want to make serious philosophical arguments is that it is, in fact, a legitimate criticism to say "that's already been done before," because it means for however long it's been done before, it's been done. Nobody gets an award or merit for reinventing the wheel, and if you're seriously pursuant to coming up with and exploring these ideas, then you will at best be regarded as wasting time if you try to.
After all, you don't wake up every morning and try to invent the internal combustion engine, or deduce the basic principles of electro-dynamism do you? No, students of science, engineering and architecture instead ascend to new and interesting heights of discipline by first understanding what work their forefathers painstakingly performed, so that they can innovate on what exists, and when the time is right, invent what did not already exist.
Because that's the problem with taking the "ah well, don't I get credit for originality argument?" It's just pleading from ignorance. It suggests you're more interested in your own accomplishments than making real discoveries. If you're really interested in such things, you ought to, you know, do some research and see what's been said before. It's also a lot less work for you to do than coming up with things.
Okay, we can move on now.
[I deleted about 500 words of trying to untangle what the fuck you're saying. It appears we are not going to Kant today.]
None of what you have articulated is actually objective, outside of some incredibly tightly contained stuff about "people own their own bodies."
If at any time you have to rely on the phrase "reasonable people" or have to indicate that Agents in a theoretical scenario make wild-ass judgement calls to facilitate your moral system, it is no longer an objective moral system. It might not even be a moral system.
What you said in the section titled Negative Morality just doesn't make much sense. Especially the, frankly bizzare, permission to kill as retribution if "the infrastructure for containment doesn't exist." A good tip, if you want to theorize on morality, you have to run your morality through real world moral problems.
Otherwise, you have literally justified war crimes. (Many mass executions of surrendered soldiers or civilians have been defended with, 'we had nowhere to put them.' This is bad, and not a convincing argument about morality.)
Second, are you describing morality, or are you prescribing morality?
Because the second is typically a much harder project with a much higher bar to clear. The first is simply saying, "this is what we think good and evil are, and why." Which is another problem.
" Let me know if you agree with it. Would human society be happier if everyone followed these rules, compared to a society where no one did? Would most all reasonable adults agree to this code of morality? Many thanks to anyone who reads or replies."
It looks like your prescribing morality then. In which case, all I can do say that your moral system ends up flawlessly emulating this:
If that's the case, then I think you haven't made a compelling argument at all. I'd advise a good place to start for you is to seriously pursue and read even just the Wikipedia articles on relevant, foundational moral philosophy, stew on it some, and try to figure out what you're missing.
I don't actually advise reading primary source material like The Critique of Pure Reason or whatever garbage Hume wrote, because those do require really strong grasps of both underlying philosophical ideas behind them (they were after all academic essays of their own time) and of the developments, arguments and counter-arguments surrounding them over the past 200 years.
You're "objective" morality seems quite Anglo-American-centric to me, especially the ideas concerning property. I'm trying to imagine a society based on them and I'm getting some serious anarcho-capitalism vibes (yikes!).
I don't see how morality can really be objective at all since all morality, to me at least, seems to be based on a mutual understanding between people wishing to effectively participate in society and is susceptible to societal changes.
All that you have written seems to stem from Biblical and American law, so I don't see how it would encompass an objective morality unless you believed that God or the founding fathers of America are the sources and gatekeepers of all morality.
The bible is anything but consistent, but a coherent moral code would hope to be. The Founding Fathers certainly never justified stealing from a wealthy man because you are starving to death. I understand that objective morality is a hotly debated subject. I believe there is an objective reason why killing someone who is not a threat is wrong. Even if we can't come to an objective theory of morality, perhaps we can come to an agreed-upon objectively useful code of morality that indeed acts as a mutual understanding between people wishing to effectively participate in society. Tell me, this, do you believe certain moral codes are better than others (such as ones that prohibit rape vs. ones that do not)? Or does it all just depend on the culture you live in?
well, sources are always important for stuff like this. You're free to have an opinion (or a fullblown theory) but you better have proper examples to back your stuff up. Why wouldn't you source your claims anyways, it's unreasonable to think you're treading on such innovative ground that there's no one you can turn to.
Besides, you sourced it quite well immediately thereafter. If nothing else it just shows the effort you put into it I suppose.
I mean, I think you're right in general but I don't think that "see, this philosopher agrees with me" is necessarily any sort of proof for a theory of morality. I think the proof lies more in the justification used for the moral tenets proposed, the usefulness and applicability of the moral theory, and the fact that it is generally agreeable to rational adults and bears no glaring holes in its logic. I'm going for more of a Socratic approach where the only proof for something is that you cannot make an argument which proves it wrong. Perhaps that means this is all subjective, but science (which most would consider to strive towards objective knowledge of the principles governing our universe) operates on much the same basis, but with real-world experiments (usually) rather than thought-experiments and abstract reasoning.
If you consider the general knowledge that I "sourced" in my faux-bibliography to be adequate, then I guess you basically agree with me? By academic standards, I don't think that those commonly known concepts that most would learn before they reach adulthood would require sourcing, because general knowledge doesn't. I could be wrong on my view of this though.
"Self-ownership" and "the principle of consent" are subjective values both.
What part of your moral system is objective?
The fact that you can't make a good argument for why anyone other than you could have ownership over your body. You have control over your body by default, so I would have to have some sort of justification to remove your ownership over it, wouldn't I? (And the principle of consent follows from self-ownership).
Unless you can make such an argument, in which case I am wrong.
I considered it good that you sourced it, I didn't say I agreed with your sources because, well, they're mostly your life experiences lol.
I meant to say that the simple act of going through the trouble of sourcing your thesis immediately gives your argument a bit more validity as it shows that you not only have a sound argument (that can be verified by previous observations), but also that it's not alien enough to the field that it'd belong somewhere else, I suppose. Now normally sources are, you know, books, thesis, something like that, which, and I'll be 100% honest with you, I genuinely thought:
The Concept of Property.
That part of Health class where they tell you what consent is so that you know not to rape people.
were both actual philosophy books because my idea of a philosopher is probably quite different and honestly probably disrespectful, than that of an actual modern philosopher.
Control and ownership are distinctly different things. Having control of something doesn't automatically grant you ownership of it.
It's a reasonable idea of course, but not an objective one.
"Consent is derived from the golden rule, which states that you should do to others only what you would want to have done to yourself."
Thank you for providing me with an opportunity to regurgitate my homework. Fun fact: aspects of sado-masochism are sort of illegal in the UK, and the legal reasoning for that is sort of along the same lines of the statement you presented. Is there a limit to what one person can consent to? In UK law, you apparently can't consent to extreme fetishes, and I want to know more about your stance on 'consent'. Is consent unlimited? [For info on this, you can refer to R v Brown, R v Emmet and R v Slingsby/R v Boyea]
Moreover, what about sexual 'roles' --> the golden rule says you should only do to others only what you would want to have done to yourself, but if law has taught me anything, you gotta be super fucking picky about that; what if Person A likes being a dominatrix but wouldn't like to be dominated. Assuming all normal rules of consent, your stance on the matter is that Person A is not abiding by consent because they wouldn't want their acts to be repeated upon themselves. You probably haven't even considered this, and I can't blame you because it's such a very fine and small technicality but when you're delving into philosophy and the matter of morals, you have to consider every corner of the room.
"The Principle of the Good Samaritan
If an individual is in a position to remove another individual from the State of Emergency, without risk of bodily harm for any individual, or placing themselves in the State of Emergency, they are obligated to do so, unless the individual in the State of Emergency does not consent to be saved."
Then we reach this. In my eyes, no such obligation should exist because then you are punishing people for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Let's presume I turn a corner to witness someone being stabbed, do I help? Your principle says yes, unless that situation would put anyone at risk of bodily harm; my intervention would most likely harm the attacker, or might harm myself, but my omission would possibly cause further harm to the victim.
I hope you see how your theories can get tangled rather easily, and would thus require far too many exceptions and escape clauses.
"The Principle of Charity
Actions which increase the happiness of other individuals, or reduce their suffering, without causing any harm, suffering, or reduction of happiness for any individual except the individual who is taking the action, are morally good. No consequences good or bad shall be suffered due to an individual's choice to follow or disregard this Principle."
Too vague, and again opens the doors for your theory to share a porous property with sponge. You say that there aren't consequences suffered due to an individual's choice to follow or disregard your principle, but how are you defining consequences? Objective? Physical consequences? Is there an exhaustive list? If I am aware that by doing a certain action, I will increase someone else's happiness without detriment someone else, but I choose not to carry out that action, is there not a consequence for the other person because of the loss of potential improvement of happiness? You might not make someone worse by not acting in such a manner, but you do block a path that would make someone better.
What if Person A acts in a way that they believe will increase Person B's happiness but in reality it actually increases B's suffering? In A's subjective mind, they did a good thing, or at least tried to. From a more neutral stance, however, Person A did a bad thing. You need to question motives and subjectivity before you make blanket statements, because just one small hypothetical can undermine your entire principle.
How long is the chain of causation? What if I give a homeless person some money, but they use that money to buy them and their friend drugs, which ultimately causes their friend to fall into a coma? I gave a 'vulnerable' person money, which your principle says is a good thing, but that money, along the line, was used in a way that created a dangerous situation and caused harm and suffering to another individual. I had no intention to do this, but if the chain of causation isn't broken, your principle would say I haven't done a good thing. Do we take a moral stance or a legal stance?
It may seem pedantic and anal to throw ludicrous hypotheticals into the equation, but hypotheticals are marvellous at exposing weaknesses that we may not have previously seen by taking everything at face value.
Ownership is derived from control, and only from control. Do you have a legal deed to the wheat you grew on your farm, or the books on your bookshelf? Can you prove that you own all of the possessions that you own? No, of course not. People do, in some situations, have physical control over objects that they do not own. This doesn't imply that ownership isn't derived from control, because these objects do have owners, and these owners claims originated from controlling the object.
Think of a berry on a plant, on some unowned land (yeah this is a hypothetical, but it illustrates the principle). Before anyone controls it, it has no owner. If someone comes upon it and picks it, they have now gained control over it, and thus they have gained ownership over it. If someone steals it from the original picker (steals, not receives), they do not own it, because it already has an owner. However, if he gives the berry away to someone, he is giving them physical control over it, as well as relinquishing his ownership of it. Clearly someone can renounce a piece of property and leave it to be taken by another, because through owning something, one also owns their own ownership of the thing. Thus, one can only gain ownership of something that was once someone else's if the previous owner has relinquishing the property. The new owner then establishes control over the unowned property, and is thus granted ownership. Still so far, every possible form of ownership has been established due to control of an object. Just because all forms of property rights originate from control doesn't mean that ownership is automatically generated in any situation where someone controls something.
The final case to consider is when someone owns something but does not physically control it. This can only happen through contract, as the owner must either form an agreement with someone who will hold the property for him (such as a bank, a storage facility, a tenant who stays on your land, or some random guy you hire to watch your stuff). This agreement ensures that the owner will still have complete control over all decisions made regarding the property, and thus they retain legal control as well as ownership over the object, despite losing physical control. The other possibility is that such an agreement already exists, and an individual buys one of these remotely controlled and remotely owned pieces of property from another. This is accomplished with a contract which transfers remote legal control, and relinquishes and transfers ownership, to the new owner. Even this form of property originates from a form of control, as well as the previous owner's control. One cannot sell what one does not control, physically or legally (remotely).
It's safe to assume that if you control a certain object, and no one can make a claim to ownership of it deriving from a claim to previous physical control (having previously held the object), or legal control (control over the object while it was held or used by another, while retaining the authority to make all decisions related to the object), then you are that object's owner and have property rights over it. This is how society operates, generally, and personal property is completely morally sound (I'm a little more shakey on remote control of things like speculation and corporate ownership of people's workplaces, etc.) .
Goddamn, @Owlz! I wrote an entire few paragraphs about how the bystander to the stabbing is not obligated to take any action, and this is clearly stated in the principle, because it says you are not obligated if intervening would put you into the State of Emergency (which risking being stabbed undoubtedly would), and thus it's a clear cut no as to if you are obligated, but when I tried posting I was hit with a 404 and when going back, the post was completely gone.
I then went on to explain that the principle which allows somebody to intervene and use violence to the minimum degree necessary to prevent the victim being harmed and to seize the violent individual so he can't harm others, is the Principle of Containment. It doesn't obligate anyone to do anything, as we wouldn't consider an 85 year old man with severe disabilities who doesn't attempt to bring a criminal to justice to be shirking his moral duty.
Ah, you are mixing up ownership as a social convention and as a philosophical concept. Societies have arbitrary rules for what someone owns, which tend to be based on philosophy but are far from philosophical objectivity.
What constitutes as control anyway? Is it enough to walk into an unowned forest and then claim it as yours, making everyone who then lives off of its produce a criminal?
What if two people find an unowned item at the same time?
What constitutes as control anyway? Is it enough to walk into an unowned forest and then claim it as yours, making everyone who then lives off of its produce a criminal?
What if two people find an unowned item at the same time?
How about when I, the rival berrypicker claim that objective ownership belongs to me if I have the strength the wrestle control of the item away from you
Or when your berry picker tribe's chief claims that they own the berries of the forest because ultimately chief controls everyone
Or the chief says the berries of the forest can belong to nobody but the starving
None of these are objectively true forms of ownership, they are conventions, just like yours.
It's philosophically very flimsy to base ownership on contracts or laws, since those can change entirely at any time and depend on nothing but the assumption that people will care about them. Not very objective.
We have arbitrary systems for defining ownership because there is no single objective one that would satisfy everyone.
As far as I can see, your system wouldn't consider taxation, right to roam or prohibiting owning certain items moral for example.
Apologies if I missed huge chunks; for some reason I thought it was a good idea to write a block of text at 5am.
I don't really have enough philosophical experience or time to digest the whole thread, but I've always felt like the idea of objective morality is inherently flawed. Morality is obviously an individual thing, otherwise politics wouldn't have opposition and serial killers wouldn't exist, right? What about sociopaths?
There are myriad parts of politics that escape the realm of morality altogether. For example, should we tax X group at 25% or 30%? Should we make stripe 3 of our flag red or blue? Should we put this $1 million towards education, or towards alternative energy? Just because two people disagree doesn't mean that one of them is morally right and one is morally wrong.
Sociopaths do exist, yes. Even a sociopath would want to live in a society governed by morality, because it is beneficial to all. Sociopaths just take an extremely subjective view of life and don't realize that it doesn't objectively matter whose body you happen to reside in, in any given situation. If it's bad for someone to torture you (nonconsensually, ok I know BDSM exists), then torture is bad. Sociopaths disregard morality and refuse to obey its rules, and thus some of them end up committing grossly immoral acts. Humans have the power to use perception and logic to reason out what is right and wrong, but that doesn't mean that all of us obey and follow what is right and wrong.
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