Re: Rights and Morality: The Primethic Decision

Gary Lloyd (
Tue, 30 Sep 1997 18:21:56 -0400 (EDT)

At 11:28 PM 9/29/97 -0700, Ken Wiebe wrote:
>At 09:25 PM 9/29/97 -0400, Gary Lloyd wrote:
>>At 06:05 PM 9/28/97 -0700, Ken Wiebe wrote:
>>>At 12:13 PM 9/28/97 -0400, Gary Lloyd wrote:
>>>Because agression, by definition, is immoral.
>>Is aggression by animals immoral?
>Animals do not engage in aggression. Violence, yes. I believe that
>attributing 'aggression' to animals is an instance of anthropomorphism,
>roughly in the same category as Walt Disney cartoons featuring mice that

By your definition.

>>>> 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?
>Morals are "by agreement". If you agree that a particular
>universally-applicable principle is a 'moral', then it is - for you and
>everyone who agrees with you about that principle. "Universally-applicable"
>means that you presume it applies to yourself and everyone else. Such
>presumptions are, of course, rebuttable.

I think we just said the same thing, with me using the word "decision" and
you using the word "agreement." And at the end of this post you agreed that
agreements come from decisions.

>>>> 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.
>As far as I know, only humans engage in aggression.

By your definition. How about when humans aggress against animals? Is that

>>>>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.
>Is the primary decision dependent on anything?

I'm not sure what you are asking here. If a decision is dependent on another
decision, then it cannot be the primary decision.

>>>>Where does the *concept* of morality come from if not the primethic
>>>Presumably, the concept arose originally from somebody's imagination.
>>For what purpose?
>Who knows? Maybe it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

You're being evasive. Where does the concept of morality come from? For what

>>>> 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
>Are you suggesting that morals are instinctual?

Possibly. The primethic does seem to be widespread. It's entirely possible
that amorality vis a vis A/D could be learned behavior, with the primethic
being instinctive.

>>>>>> If
>>>>>>defense against aggression is amoral...
>>>>>It isn't, ever.
>>>Because of the definition of 'aggression'.
>>Only in your dictionary.
>Perhaps, but my definition of 'aggression' is not much different from
>common useage, and the dictionary definition works well in all but very odd
>situations. Your definition of 'primethic' has more serious problems.

Such as?

>>>>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.
>I disagree. In order to label something as 'aggression', it is necessary to
>have already made a moral judgement of the 'aggressive' act in question.
>'Aggression' is a morally-loaded word, and 'aggression' is _always_ a 'bad'
>thing. I agree that the word is sometimes mis-used and applied to animals,
>but I think that is simply a mistake - anthropomorphism. Similarly, the
>word 'aggression' is sometimes mistakenly used to describe violence
>employed in self-defence.
>Consequently, I think it might be important to be rigorous about the
>definition of 'aggression', to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. I've
>stipulated a definition for 'aggression' that makes sense to me and isn't
>too different from correct common-useage. If you prefer a different
>definition, we can certainly look at different one.

Virtually any statement can be made valid by simply changing a few
definitions here and there. Be that as it may, even if your definitions were
widely accepted, they prove nothing. Argument by definitions is nothing more
than argument by assertion, substituting, "because the dictionary says so"
for "because I say so."

>>>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.
>If the primethic is truly a decision, then some thought must go into the
>decision-making process. What thoughts would be relevent? What factors
>would be considered prior to making this "primethic decision"? Certainly
>not any self-defense or survival issues, we've already agreed that those
>are instinctual and instinctual responses require no thought at all. So...
>What remains?

The primethic may very well be instinctive, but I haven't thought of any way
to prove it...yet. Not all survival tactics are instinctive. For those who
are less successful at aggression, or prefer to sleep without one eye open,
the primethic may present a means of peaceful coexistance with their
neighbors. If many share in that decision, then all are safer.

The fact that people feel that defense (against human aggression) *itself*
is moral, and human aggression *itself* is immoral, as opposed to just
aggression against oneself being immoral, would tend to indicate that the
primethic may be instinctive.

>>>>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.
>Indeed they do... And decisions are made by a process of reasoning. The
>question then becomes: what reasons might be relevent to enter into any
>sort of agreements? Especially agreements that might be the basis of
>something called: Morals?

See above.

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