Re: Rights and Morality: The Primethic Decision

Gary Lloyd (
Mon, 29 Sep 1997 21:26:35 -0400 (EDT)

At 06:05 PM 9/28/97 -0700, Ken Wiebe wrote:
>At 12:13 PM 9/28/97 -0400, Gary Lloyd wrote:
>>>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.
>It does seem rather unlikely, although there are people like buddhists who
>claim they will die rather than employ violence in self-defense.
>> Any such
>>notion would be very quickly eliminated from the gene pool. Therefore,
>>defense-is-not-wrong *must* be a human instinct.
>I agree. Self-defense is rooted in survival 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?
>Because agression, by definition, is immoral.

Is aggression by animals immoral?

>>>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?
>>From inside people's heads, of course. All concepts do.
>Now, define the concept we call "aggression".
>>>>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.
>I'll take that as a 'yes'.
>>>If so, who is to say that
>>>one choice is 'moral' while another choice is 'immoral'. What defines
>>Defense cannot instinctively be immoral.
>What does that mean?
>> The choices are *moral* or
>>*amoral*. The decision that proportionate defense is moral, and aggression
>>is immoral, is what defines 'moral'.
>That isn't what defines 'moral'.

What defines 'moral' then?

>> 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.
>You should be more precise. Defense against aggression is moral. Defense
>against rising floodwaters is amoral.

OK, make that human defense against human aggression.

>>>>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.
>Oh. What exactly distinguishes a 'primary' ethical decision from a
>'secondary' ethical decision?

The secondary is dependent upon the primary.

>>>>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
>Presumably, the concept arose originally from somebody's imagination.

For what purpose?

>>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?
>Beats me. Does it matter?

If all people do this, then the primethic is not a decision, but a human

>>>> If
>>>>defense against aggression is amoral...
>>>It isn't, ever.
>Because of the definition of 'aggression'.

Only in your dictionary.

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

Yes, see above.

>>>> 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.
>But, if you start out with no concepts of morality then you can't believe
>that defense against aggression is moral. Similarly, aggression can't be
>defined as "immoral" until after concepts of morality exist. In fact,
>without concepts of morality, morality and moral judgements simply don't
>exist. Without morals, rights cannot exist. Follow?

It's a pretty safe bet that aggression and defense existed before the
concept of morality. The concept of morality was invented *because of* A/D,
as a means of facilitating peaceful coexistance. Without the primethic
decision, which *is* the invention of morality, rights cannot exist. Follow?

>>>>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?
>Language. In my particular case: the english language.

You're being evasive. Words describe things. Aggression is not limited to
human interaction, nor does the word describe a moral judgement.

>>>>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
>>Where do the concepts of *rights* and *morality* come from?
>Like all concepts, they come from the imagination - the mind. The
>interesting question is, how do some things come to be deemed 'moral' and
>other things come to be deemed 'immoral' and many other things fall into
>neither category and are therefore 'amoral'?

The primethic decision.

>>Where do your
>>definitions come from?
>My definitions come from the same place that all definitions come from:
>They are created by agreement. Which answers the previous interesting
>question, I guess.

And agreements come from decisions.

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