Re: "Morality?" - Composite Reply

Delmar England (
Tue, 07 Oct 1997 10:39:39 -0400

On Oct. 2, 1997, I posted an item captioned, "Morality?" I
received a reply from Gary Lloyd, Greg Burch and Lee Daniel
Crocker. There is also a reply to Mr. Crocker's response by
Frederick Mann. I thank one and all for their interest, comments
and questions. I responded to Mr. Lloyd's reply and I have since
received another. Mr. Burch has also added considerably to his
contribution. All in all, the volume is rapidly increasing and
getting beyond quick handling. In light of the current
circumstance I have concluded that a singular composite response
focusing upon the central points and questions of the issue will
avoid unnecessary repetition and aid in communication. Of course,
if there is any specific question or point that anyone wishes me
to address, just say the word and it shall be done.

What is clear to me is that I have failed to communicate my
conclusions and position on the concept, morality. Rather than
discuss and speculate about cause, I shall endeavor to remedy by
sharper focus on a few points.

As I see it, the issue and focal point is this: I see the
concept, morality, as definitively and inherently attached to the
illusory, but much believed concept, superior being; a concept of
many variations often far removed from formal religion.
Consequently, the derivative concepts, inferior being,
subordination and rule are anti individual and inevitably
culminate in hostility and violent conflict.

On the other hand, Mr. Lloyd, Mr. Burch, and no doubt many
others, see the concept, morality, as adaptable to the concept,
individualism, with resultant peaceful non coercion that the term
individualism implies. Thus, are we consciously in accord as to
end desired, but divided on the question of means. This is the
chasm I shall try to bridge.

Mr. Lloyd states:

>Morality is rooted in the objectively observable phenomenon of
>aggression/defense. It comes from the fact that humans, as
>volitional creatures, must necessarily choose to defend
>themselves against aggression, and decide that it is "right" to
>do so. The far less desirable alternative survival strategy is
>to subjugate themselves to aggressors, thus losing volition.

The statement assumes that an individual MUST choose a particular
end: the end, survival. This contradicts the natural element of

In response to another post, Mr. Crocker addresses this current
situation as well:

>That conclusion requires a premise you failed to state:
>that you desire to stay alive. Those same descriptive
>premises, combined with the normative premise of wanting
>to die, would rationally lead you to conclude that you
>/should/ piss off a cop. Without sneaking in the normative
>premise, there's no way to reach a normative conclusion.

As Mr. Crocker implies, the choice to live does not constitute a
"natural standard" . When one incorporates in his thinking the
fact that the choice to live is a subjective choice not an
objective mandate, one arrives at far different conclusions about
a lot of things. The idea of "life" as a "natural standard" may
seem innocent enough because most consciously choose to live, but
the premise denies the reality of individual choice and opens the
door to the limitless choosing of values for another or others.
If there is an "objective standard" of "life", it follows that
each and every value making up a philosophical life is likewise a
matter of "objective value" - or "ought to be." The concept,
morality, itself presumes to set an alleged natural standard, and
thus presumes to displace individual preference. This is the root
premise of subordination and rule. If peace and harmony is the
goal sought, this belief system is bad news.

The general history of mankind, up to and including present day,
has be and is one of dissention, hostility, and violent conflict.
Behind this effect are the actions that cause. Behind the actions
lie the beliefs that direct. These beliefs are for the most part
propagated and promoted by the use of language. If the beliefs
that underlie these hostile action are true, I see no possible
remedy. If these beliefs are false, i.e., do not conform to
objective reality, it follows that the language usage that
promotes and sustains these beliefs likewise does not conform to
objective reality. When one matches words to the real, a picture
emerges that is far different from the one painted by language

At the forefront of it all is the term, truth. We all claim to
search for truth and quite often claim to find it. Suppose,
however, there is some disagreement as to what is or is not
truth. Would we not need to know what truth is in itself that we
have a reference by which to decide? Absent such a common frame
of reference, what can the possible outcome be but confusion and

Mr. Burch writes:

>Moral "truth" is not of the same character as metaphysical or
>logical truth. One might say that there are metaphysical or
>logical Truths, but only moral truths, because morality
>can not be reduced "below" the level of social systems; it is an
>emergent phenomena of the complex adaptive system that is the
>life in society of volitional beings. However, viewed from
>within the framework of such systems, they ARE truths. Viewed
>from outside such framework, they mean nothing.

Isn't truth quite simply an idea or belief that conforms to
objective reality? The recourse to alleged "dual definitions" is
an indirect admission that "moral truth" (often referred to as
"spiritual truth") is in conflict with "metaphysical or logical
truth." In other words, fallacy. At this juncture, I will not
pursue further, but suffice it to say until I see a second
objective reality, which is necessary to give the "second truth"
definitive meaning, I reject without equivocation the idea and
all that is attached to it.

Getting to the mission at hand, the "problem words" currently in
focus are: good, bad, (evil) moral,(good) immoral (evil). A
saturate teaching that one is subjected to from infancy on is the
idea of "the forces of good and evil." This teaching sets "good
and evil" as objective and constant universal elements. This idea
is not only promoted in formal religion citing an omni god as the
"ultimate good", the idea is promoted to saturation by "community
values", "national interest", "values of society" and a host of
other "divine abstracts" reinforcing the emotional impression of
values existing independently of individual; values that express
or imply a superior being; values that individuals are programmed
to believe they "ought" to hold. As false as this whole scenario
is, it is usually a lock that binds the mind to "duty."

Mr. Burch writes:

>So far, you seem to say that there is no OUGHT, there is
>simply IS. In this view, the ultimate possibility of moral
>choice completely evaporates: No set of values is better than

Yes indeed, I do say there is no objective ought. Even on the
face of it, the idea of an objective ought is an obvious
contradiction. The word itself is opposed to IS as "ought" is
necessarily referenced to what is not. Among other flaws, it
implies objective reality is alterable by subjective choice as
well as setting an obligation existing independently of
individual volition. In short, there is no "ought form is."
There are often word games pretending otherwise, but none survive
"the ordeal of definition."

As for: >In this view, the ultimate possibility of moral choice
completely evaporates:< - Because it never was. Choice, yes.
"Moral choice", myth.

Mr. Burch's comment above assumes without question that values
are subject to determination as right or wrong. With all due
respect, I must question, that is, disagree. The belief that a
value or values are subject to determination as right or wrong
comes from the idea of selecting the "proper and superior values"
inherent in the "superior beings." In the real world of
individual and subjective value, the term value always asks the
question: value to whom for what purpose. Value is not something
existing independently of individual and inherent in a thing or
circumstance. To speak definitively of value is to say that
someone ATTRIBUTES value to a thing or circumstance, a set of
conditions as it were. If an individual attributes value to a
particular goal, desires a particular set of circumstances, how
can this valuation be subjected to the determination as right or
wrong? Can it be evaluated as means to itself? I cannot accept
the question as it stands because there is no definitive judgment
of one set of values being better than another because the
natural characteristic of attributing value is not subject to
validating or invalidating as right are wrong. This function
applies to means, not ends.

So, how is it that the illusory idea of "good or bad" values gets
to be a major part of the philosophical and social scene?
Perhaps, exploring "good and bad" will help answer the question.

Mr. Burch also writes:

>It seems you are saying that "good" and "bad" are simply "what I
>like" and "what I don't like".

That's exactly right; and I'm not talking just about me, but you
and everyone else as well. The terms, good and bad, are merely
expressive synonyms for *suited to personal purpose* and
*unsuited to personal purpose* respectively. Let's see what
happens when we set aside popular notions and feelings and attach
the terms, good and bad, to human individual, the actual
objective reference. Human individual is the real is it not? If
so, then what else can stand as definitive reference to find the
actual meaning of symbols, good and bad?

Suppose there is a small wood fire going. Suppose you value
eating cooked food and are cooking your supper over this fire.
Suppose an individual comes along and dumps a big bucket of water
on the fire. It goes out. Do you say, good, or do you say bad?
Since dumping the water and putting out the fire negates the
means to fulfill your purpose of cooking supper, you would call
the action bad, would you not?

Suppose there is a small wood fire going. The fire is close to
your house. The wind changes and the fire is about to ignite your
valued house and burn it down. Suppose an individual comes along
and dumps a big bucket of water on the fire and it goes out. Do
you say good, or do you say bad? Since dumping the water and
putting out the fire fulfilled your purpose of saving your valued
house, you would call the action good, would you not?

Same entities. Same actions. Same end result. - But a different
call as to whether good or bad, right? So what made the different
call? Your varied purpose, right? Your value judgment of end
desired by which to evaluate the means as suited or unsuited to
current purpose, right? Isn't this always true whether were
talking about your varied end desires or the end desires of other

The foregoing utilizes real individual as reference and
illustrates the DEFINITIVE (conforming to reality) application of
the terms, good and bad. How does one arrive at a constant
"objective morality" while incorporating the fact that the
definitive designation of good or bad is infinitely variable in
step with subjective individual purpose?

All speak of the "moral good" etc. as "objective" and fixed. This
requires a constant and universal purpose. Thus one is obliged to
abandon individual as reference and rely on "God's will", or
other alleged source of a singular universal objective value.
Since morality is myth and exists only as a feeling, it is not
uncommon for conscious mind to reject the idea of a universal
superior being as source. Nevertheless, when we eliminate human
individual as reference for the concept, morality, what remains
except an expressed or implied superior being; indeed, what
psychological force does the concept, morality, have without
subordinating individual to an "external superior?"

Most believe (feel) that if one is not guided by a "moral code",
he is "evil incarnate" and given to all sorts of murder and
mayhem. As usual, this belief is exactly backward. I am an
advocate and practitioner of individualism. My operational
premise is self ownership. This premise rejects initiation of
force and coercion in any and all forms, including governmental
systems. I hold this philosophy solely because I believe it is in
my best interest. I need no, and seek no other validation.

If another individual values something I have and chooses to try
to gain it by theft, there is nothing to prevent me from
resisting for no other reason than his actions are not suited to
my purpose of keeping that which he covets. I do not call his
valuation or action "immoral" for the word is meaningless except
to imply a universal code of values that said individual and all
others "ought" to hold and practice. Nor do I defer to any
imaginary superior being seeking sanction of "moral right" to
"justify" my defensive actions. Such thinking is admitted
subservience to a "higher authority". If one looks to "higher
authority" for the "moral right" to defend, cannot one just as
easily look to "higher authority" for the "moral right" to
command? This is the danger and destruction of the concept,
morality, and illusory objective value. Do I not describe the
"justification" for the horrors of history and present

I am acutely aware of the nearly infinite psychological
resistance to the ideas expressed and implied herein. The
resistance is evidenced in the centuries of unquestioning
devotion and dedication to the concepts, god, government and
morality that have consistently failed to bring about peace and
harmony. Indeed, a few simple definitions easily predict this
perpetual failure. Millions talking about government as if the
term symbolizes a volitional acting entity does not erase the
factual definition that government IS the initiation of force and
coercion. Neither faith nor language distortion for sake of self
delusion and preferred self image will ever change this fact;
nor will all the believers in the world manage to change natural
law and cause an end result contrary to the means employed.

As always, show me a flaw in my thinking and I will be grateful.
However, unsupported declaration of error will not suffice.

Delmar England