Re: "Morality?" - Composite Reply

Delmar England (
Sun, 12 Oct 1997 12:47:51 -0400

At 11:12 PM 10/10/97 -0400, you (Gary Lloyd) wrote:
>What we have is a bridge across the is/ought gap. Like any bridge, it is
>based at both ends. It is both is and ought. It is both subjective and
>objective. It impels, but does not compel.
Can't agree. I said I didn't like the terminology because it really doesn't
really fit. It was an unsatisfactory ad hoc fill in. When we see that an
infant's urges are absolute directive as opposed to conscious volitional
choice, we're really talking about opposites, not a bridge of identity via
an arbitrarily selected similarity. An infant may go from is non volitional
to is volitional, but neither condition suggests an "ought." In the infant
stage, the situation is: is non volitionally reactive. In the adult stage,
the situation is: Volitionally active.

>Our values do not appear out of nothingness.

What do they appear out of? The natural ability to attribute value, right?

> They are rooted in instincts, and adapted by volition.

Didn't you say one could choose to not go along with what you call
instinctive urges? If this is the case, even if you label some urges as
instictive, if they are overridden by volition, how can they be rooted in
the very thing that volition overrides? Doesn't this place the concept,
instinct, as subordinate to volition? If this is the case, isn't this
placing "objective instincts" as subjectively alterable, or subject to
dismissal by choice? Doesn't this directly contradict the concept, objective
reality, as not subject to alteration or dismissal by subjective choice and

Where are all these contradiction coming from? From what else except absence
of definition allowing the root contradiction to be obscured? What is this
root contradiction?

>If, as you acknowledge, our instinctive urges exist, though we choose to not
>be directed by them, why would we define them as not subject to volition.

To the contrary, I made no such acknowledgment. What I said was: >>the urges
in question ARE NOT (emp. added) in the realm of instinct.<<

The whole thing comes down to defining the term, instinct. What is the
term's connection to objective reality? Answering this question clears up
the matter.

The question to be answered is: Does a term, and definition of it, describe
some aspect of objective reality, or does it create it? Most would balk at
consciously claiming they can create objective reality by words; yet this
claim is implicity incorporated in every argument of the fallacy, objective
value, whatever the manifestation. The acceptance of this fallacy as
"unquestionable truth" is so commonplace and so dominanat in most beliefs
systems that the distortion of language usage needed and used to support the
illusion is not even noticed by the users.

Let's observe infant animals, human and otherwise, that survive without
conscious effort of plan of action. Choice plays no part in it. The
reactive entity has no choice. Neither your choice nor mine can change this
natural circumstance. The urges that direct the survival reactions are
inherent in the entities. It is fact that there is no choice in the matter.
To this natural condition, we apply the term, instinct. Ergo, the term,
instinct, by definition, excludes choice. Thus does the definition conform
to reality AS IS. (It would not be opposed to the definition of instinct to
include the natural directive of an individual to pursue what he conceives
to be in his self interest. However, and it a very big however, let us not
forget that what one may conceive to be in his self interest is not an
instinctive reaction.)

To speak of urges as instinctive, yet can be followed or denied by choice is
to contradict the definition of instinct. If we have a natural reactive non
volitional circumstance of behavior and apply the term, instinct, to this
situation, can we turn right around and apply the term, instinct, to
volitional determination and have both usages conforming to reality?
Wouldn't this be saying that instinct means non volitional reaction AND
volitional action. In such usage, the term, instinct, does not serve to
differentiate two objectively separate conditions from each other.

Based on actual definition of the term, instinct, what you are calling
instinctive urges that "impel but do not compel" are not instinctive at all.
If these urges were, indeed, objective instinct, they would compel for that
is the nature of instinct. Other than to seek self interest as one conceives
it to be, the urges may be life oriented or death oriented, thus are a
matter of subjective choice, not objective mandate.

Since an actual definition connects to objective reality in a
differentiating manner, it simplifies and clarify. Unfortunately (for my
purpose), few are looking for simplification and clarification as it would
expose as false dominanat beliefs they hold as unquestionable truth. Since
this circumstance is commonplace, indeed, nearly universal, one is not
likely to find the truth of definition even discussed in most forums, let
alone practiced by a large number of individuals. Be that as it may, my
analysis and experience leaves me with the truth of it and it has proven
invaluable in literally every aspect of my life. So, rather than abandon it
simply because it is not popular and intrudes upon popular notions, I will
continue to use it to expose a large portion of what "everybody knows" as myth.

Stepping down from my soap box, let us now take a look at the term,
objective and subjective in the same manner that we examined the term,
instinct and non instinct. I observe things, entities and relationship
existing independently of my mind and independently of my mind to alter the
immutable natural laws that are inherent cause. To this observed condition,
I apply the term, objective.

I observe that that I and others are human individuals, each with a mind
that is the causal base for conclusions, beliefs and valuations. This
condition of derived from a mind and dependent upon mind, I differentiate
from objective by the term, subjective.

If these are actual definitions by virtue of describing an immutable reality
of 100% consistency, it logically follows that factual word arrangements
must necessarily reflects these definitions and truth in any and every
usage. If a belief actually conforms to reality, would there be any need to
do otherwise? If this is true, what does this say of beliefs that are
believed and promoted by non definition?

In examining the phrase, objective value, in reference to definitions, what
conclusion or consclusions logically emerge? If objective means independent
of individual mind, and value is the attributing of worth, requiring a
volitional entity, we arrive at the conclusion of a non individual entity
encompassing the whole of objective reality while attributing value.
Although the foundation premise is false, the formal religious idea of an
omnipotent god's will meets the criteria for the concept, objective value.
We also have "national interest", "values of society", etc. in a long list
of "infinite entities" that presume an all encompassing non individual
entity as creater and attributor of value in a universal manner.

There are some who consciously reject "God", "Society", "Nation", etc, as
real volitional things, yet hold to the idea of objective value. The claim
is that the concept, objective value, can be derived from the personal in
reference to the facts of reality. We can see right away that the concept,
personal (subjective) is in direct conflict with the concept, objective,
(independent of personal.) Thus to speak of "objective value" is to say that
the term, objective means independent of mind AND dependent upon mind.
Obviously, the differentiation and definiton is gone and such an expression
or belief cannot and does not conform to reality.

The usual effort to circumvent this contradiction is the declaration that
one's values may be objective by conforming to objective reality. Thus is
one contradiction invoked as fact to escape another. The contradiction is
that an individual attributing value IS objective reality regardless of what
is valued, or whether it is referenced to fact of fiction. To be most
direct, one's end chosen is not subject to validation or invalidation no
more that volition itself can be shown to be true or false. One may observe
or demonstrate that a given cause will result in a given effect. This is
objective fact. It has no value in itself, end value or otherwise. It is
only when someone chooses to attribute value to the effect does it become "a
value." You may prove that selected means (cause) may or may not be suited
to produce a specific result (effect), but by what criteria do you presume
to prove that withholding valuation or attibuting value to the specific
effect is right or wrong???

Since there is no such things as objective value, it follows that there is
no such thing as objective morality. Subjective morality? If the "moral
right" and "moral wrong" are not objective, universal and constant, then the
term, morality, must necessarily be referenced to individual. Giving all
equal standing to determine the "moral right" and "moral wrong", the sum of
each conflicting opinion is zero. Ergo, "morality" is myth anyway you slice it.

Now comes the everpresent and everpresently popular "ought." Objective? Or
subjective? To say it is objective is a direct contradiction of the term,
objective. To say it is subjective, puts it at zero sum in parallel with
"morality." An "ought" must necessarily refer to what is not. To say that
objective reality IS in conjunction with saying that "ought" (IS NOT) is
saying that objective means both is AND is not. You can't get anymore
contradictory than this.

To get a handle on the "ought", let's first look at the version found in
formal religion. To say that one "ought" to obey "God's will" is to say that
one can disobey omnipotence. That which is omnipotently and universally
willed must necessarily already exist. If we leave off the "God's will" and
just say objective reality, the same conclusion holds. Its just absent a
named alleged cause.

The underlying common denominator of all "ought" advocates is the feeling of
obligation that did not come about by individual agreement. The feeling
appears as something inherent in the "nature of man." What an advocate feels
obligated to believe, or do, or feels that others "ought" to do is
referenced to personal beliefs and values. As you have no doubt observed,
there is much conflict between "oughts". This as indicated stems from the
individual nature of "ought". Since it is individual feeling without a
common objective frame of reference by which to peacefully resolve
conflicting opinions, there is always "ought trouble" in River City.
Although the "ought" is myth, it is believed by many to be objectively real;
thus they are directed by principles of mind to heed the "directive ought."
If it is "God's will" or "for the good of the country", there is no limit to
the destruction derived from "ought."

Delmar England