Re: Rational base for morals

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 11 Jan 1999 12:09:52 -0800 (PST)

> Can you tell me how I can, in good faith, follow a moral code when
> I believe there is no logical reason to do so?

Even accepting (as I do) the Humean assertion that normative propositions are unprovable, once one has chosen any value or norm for any reason, one /can/ logically deduce which set of actions support that value and which do not. Once one has accepted, for example, that continuing one's own life is a value, it is absolutely and objectively true that placing a loaded gun to your temple and pulling the trigger is BAD /with respect to that value/. Similarly, if you express values such as "the absence of suffering in other humans", then it is perfectly rational to argue about which political systems are likely to support or hinder that value, so long as you do not try to sneak in other unrelated norms in your argument.

> Especially when nobody has yet even managed to come up with
> a logical objection to rape...

The "suffering" norm works easiliy here, but I can do better: (1) Rape increases the population of persons with genetic qualities that women would not have rationally chosen in their mates.
(2) Rape may impose a great economic cost on the victim other than suffering: pregnancy, disease, etc. (3) The act of sex is of economic value, so rape is a theft of valuable services (laws against theft being in turn justified as economically inefficient).

Note that while (2) and (3) apply both to male and female victims (though not equally since pregnancy is a cakewalk for the male involved) (1) applies only in the case of men raping women. This may be a rational justification for the legal double standard that we see in practice, and also may explain why evolution has shaped female brains to experience more suffering from the act than male brains seem to.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
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