Re: Ethics

Guru George (
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 13:54:01 +0000

I quite agree with David Musick (if I read him correctly) that
empathy is the root of morality. So said Schopenhauer long ago (more
or less), and I think it really is as simple as that. The 'rules'
of morality have no bite whatsoever for someone who feels no empathy
for his or her fellow human beings: nor do they have any
justification unless one feels empathy. (I mean, if someone has
empathy *then* it is possible to say that such-and-such rules,
generally followed will lead to 'good' benefits for all concerned,
and then the person will say "Aha, so I *should* follow those rules
then!" He will say this because he *wants* the 'good' benefits for
all concerned, because he feels empathy.)

Why do libertarians generally feel the need to dress up empathy as somehow selfish? Surely it is
just what it seems: concern for others, pure and simple. This is
the more baneful side of Rand's influence at work again. Ach, so much good she did,
yet how much confusion has flowed from her work also!

The situation is this: morality *is* concern for others' dignity;
ethics *is* concern for one's own (via integrity): as a matter of
fact most people, most of the time, and when they aren't in
psychological pain, are concerned with their own and others'
dignity, and wish the best for all, including themselves. I
conjecture that this tendency is partly innate and partly reinforced
and handed down.

Why so? Because as TIT FOR TAT shows, it is objectively the
case that co-operation wins in the end, therefore these traits will
be selected for, both genetically and culturally.

What's all the fuss about?

Guru George

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" - AL i.40
"So with thy all: thou hast no right but to do thy will" - AL i.42
"Do that and no other shall say nay" - AL i.43