Re: Rights and Morality: The Primethic Decision

Gary Lloyd (
Sun, 28 Sep 1997 12:43:23 -0400 (EDT)

At 05:25 PM 9/27/97 -0700, Ken Wiebe wrote:
>At 11:38 AM 9/27/97 -0400, Gary Lloyd wrote:
>>Virtually all human beings would instinctively agree that defense against
>>aggression is not wrong. This is evidenced by the fact that the contrary
>>instinct, i.e. defense is immoral, would be anti-survival.
>Lots of things that are moral can be anti-survival.

My point is that anything as blatantly anti-survival as
stand-still-and-be-eaten cannot be part of our instinctive make-up. Any such
notion would be very quickly eliminated from the gene pool. Therefore,
defense-is-not-wrong *must* be a human instinct.

>In fact, the whole
>point of morals is to create rules that people will follow even in
>situations where it is not in their immediate interest to do so. In extreme
>circumstance, it's possible that death might result. Consequently, I agree
>that defense against aggression is not 'wrong', and it is moral to defend
>against aggression.

Why do you believe defense against aggression is moral? Why not amoral?

>Now, define "aggression".

It is not the purpose of the primethic decision to define defense or
aggression, but rather to identify the real world phenomenon that
establishes the basis of both rights and morality. IOW, where do these
concepts come from?

>>Still, this could mean that defense is either moral or amoral. In non-human
>>context, we would probably deem defense to be *amoral*. In human context,
>>however, it is in the interests of the vast majority to make a personal
>>moral choice to the effect that proportionate defense against aggression is
>>*moral* and thus aggressive behavior which elicits a defensive response is
>Are you saying that people can pick and choose?

I am saying that people *do* pick and choose.

>If so, who is to say that
>one choice is 'moral' while another choice is 'immoral'. What defines 'moral'?

Defense cannot instinctively be immoral. The choices are *moral* or
*amoral*. The decision that proportionate defense is moral, and aggression
is immoral, is what defines 'moral'. The decision that defense is not just
something we do (amoral), but rather something that is right to do (moral),
is the very basis of morality and rights.

>>I call this choice the "primethic" decision.
>I guess you can call it whatever you like, but what exactly does
>'primethic' mean?

It means making the primary ethical decision that proportionate defense
against aggression is moral and aggression is immoral.

>>The primethic decision establishes the basis for both "rights" and
>>"morality" since to deem defense against aggression, in the human context,
>>to be *amoral* is to deny the *existance* of both rights and morality.
>Defense against aggression is moral, by definition. What definition of
>"aggression" are you using that would lead to the mistaken notion that
>defense against aggression might somehow possibly be 'amoral'?

Where does the *concept* of morality come from if not the primethic
decision? A definition must ultimately connect to a real world phenomenon,
or it is meaningless. Why, when we view a dispute between humans, do we
judge who is *right* and who is *wrong*? Do *all* people do this, or just
those who have made the primethic decision?

>> If
>>defense against aggression is amoral...
>It isn't, ever.


>> ... then aggression which elicits a
>>defensive response must necessarily be amoral.
>It isn't, ever.


>> The personal moral choice to
>>be made, then, is *rights/morality* or *no-rights/amorality*.
>How so?

There can be no concepts of morality or rights without first believing that
defense against aggression is moral, and aggression is immoral.

>>If these, in fact, are the only two choices, then my proportionate defense
>>against aggression is, from my point of view, moral, and from the
>>aggressor's point of view, either moral or amoral.
>Aggression, by definition, is immoral. A rights violation.

What real world phenomenon forms the basis of your definition?

>>Either way, such defense
>>*imposes* nothing on the aggressor. That is to say, proportionate defense is
>>not, even from the aggressor's point of view, an immoral aggression.
>Probably true, but your argument is weak and does not support your conclusion.

Where do the concepts of *rights* and *morality* come from? Where do your
definitions come from?

When the boot of government is on your neck,
it doesn't matter if it's left or right.