Re: Property and life
Thu, 14 Jan 1999 09:19:41 -0700

I wrote:
>Eating (or the alternative, starving) is neither good nor evil?

Samael returned:
>No, it's bloody well not. A person decided to starve himself recently to
>protest against something or other here in the UK (something to do with
>animal welfare, I believe). It was not an evil act he committed. In his
>opinion it was a good action. Objectively? It was an action.

An objective evaluation obviously has to consider context. In this case, _given the protester's goal_, it may be true that starving to death was the right thing to do, i.e. it was good.

But for most of us most of the time, our objective (and a necessary means to achieving just about any other objective) is to stay alive, and since starving is obviously inconsistent with that goal, the proper objective judgment is that eating is good.

I want to emphasize something which I've been remiss in not stating explicitly: I'm not arguing that anything is _intrinsically_ good or right (good or right in itself), as if goodness or rightness were an attribute of an object or action; that's not where the objectivity lies. Things are good or right only relative to someone's purpose. In this view, "rightness" and "goodness" express relations, not qualities.

Thus, ethical principles, like all heuristics, are conditional: IF you want to live, AND eating is necessary for life, THEN you need to eat (or, in ethical terms, eating is good). The conclusion can be generated by a syllogism. There's nothing arbitrary about it.

What I'm saying is that objectivity resides in recognizing effective means to an end, not necessarily in choosing the end itself (except insofar as an end is itself a means to a more important end).

Does this help us see a bit more eye-to-eye?