Morality and law

Mark D. Fulwiler (
Wed, 07 Jan 1998 13:02:27 -0700

Daniel ust writes:

>Mark conflates morality and law. I believe the two are distinct. >There are
>which are immoral which should not be illegal, such as smoking. >Smoking is
>self-destructive -- yet it should not be outlawed. Under a rational >morality,
>smoking would be wrong, but no police officer would come knocking at >your
>door if you smoked. Ditto for overeating, lack of exercise, most drug >use.

I don't agree with you that smoking is immoral. I view it as a choice
that people make which is stupid. The same with overeating, etc. As an
extropian, I am obviously interested in extending my lifespan. However,
I do not take things to extremes. I am not on a 10 per cent fat, 1200
calorie a day diet even though that might give me a few more years. I
like having a chocolate chip cookie once in a while. Does that make my
actions immoral? One problem with your definition of morality is that I
am unsure where you draw the line. Is any action which does not serve to
extend your life immoral?

In my view morality , like good manners, only comes into play when you
are relating to other people. A person on a desert island can be stupid
and self-destructive, but he can neither be rude nor immoral.
Immorality, in my view, involves the use of force or fraud against
others. This, I think, is a rather simple and easy to understand

I really don't like being called immoral because, say, I eat a box of
chocolate chip cookies. (By the way, I am slim.) I think that really
trivializes the word. I think immoral should be equated with evil, such
as murder, rape, theft and mayhem.

>Rational morality cannot be forced. It must be spread by persuasion. >The
>only time force can be used is when someone initiates or threatens to
>initiate force. Then it is just a matter of defense or just >retaliation.

Daniel, we disagree on the definition of morality. I agree that bad
personal habits should be no concern of the law and attempts to change
others should only be accomplished by persuasion UNLESS they violate the
rights of others.

Mark Fulwiler