Freespeak (
Sat, 04 Oct 1997 21:55:16 -0700

At 03:56 PM 10/4/97 -0700, Lee Daniel Crocker <> wrote:
>>> Thus one must claim personal values as the basis for "morality" or
>>> concede a "superior being" as source. I know of none who claim
>>> the former.
>You now know at least one. Though I try to base my actions on solid
>rational thought as much as possible, it is not possible to derive
>normative values from descriptive premises, so I must have some basic
>normative values which I cannot rationally justify. In my case, that
>value is life; I choose to value life, and to devalue death and
>violence. I have no reasons to do so, only personal choice.
>I can choose actions rationally to achieve my values, but one
>cannot choose values by reason. I refuse on rational grounds to
>speculate about supernatural beings, so I am left with personal
>choice as my source of values. I choose life.
Descriptive premises: Cops carry guns; I've personally
seen cops "rough up" victims who "crossed" the cops;
Via media, I've received many descriptions of cops
"roughing up" victims, or worse; Because of my lifestyle
"outside the system," I am more at risk from cops than

Normative values: Don't "cross" cops; If confronted by
a cop, e.g., if pulled over for allegedly speeding, I
should play the role of an obedient supplicant.

Questions: Are my normative values rationally derived
from my descriptive premises?

Can I reasonably lump all me normative values together
in a high-level abstraction called "morality?"

Because individuals are unique and have unique
circumstances, will they tend to have "moralities"
that differ in some respects?

Because humans have much in common, can we expect
common denominators among "moralities" that are
rationally derived via observation and prediction?

Prediction may be a key here; is rational prediction

Suppose, e.g., statistical analysis indicates that
behavior X tends to be followed by consequence Y (say,
death) Z percent of time, while no other behaviors
or characteristics correlate with Y. Can we rationally
predict that in future, ceteris paribus, X will cause Y
with probability Z?

Are there predictable cause-effect relationships
(descriptive premises) from which normative values
can be rationally derived? -- Don't do X because it
tends to cause Y?

Could you reasonably argue that all my "ises" (descriptive
premises) are stated in a manner to include "oughts"
(normative values), thus I'm really deriving "oughts"
from "oughts?"

Or, do certain "ises" by their nature automatically
imply "oughts?"

Is continued life an automatic "ought" for a living
creature with human-like consciousness?

Or, could it be an automatic "ought" only under
certain conditions?

Frederick Mann
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