Re: Clint on Rational Morality [was "Reforming Education"]

Robert Owen (
Sat, 09 Oct 1999 00:29:51 -0400

Clint O'Dell wrote:

> I'm describing a new type of rationalism. A rationalism I'm sure no one here
> has ever heard of because I thought it up only a few years ago.

Clint, I present a bit of historical background for the type of moral system you are working on. But more importantly I want to show you that it is possible for anyone with normal intelligence to understand "Logic Morals" if your arguments for this System are more adequately stated in proper logical form. The authors I quote could be of great assistance in this expanded and more rigorous presentation of your conviction that there can be a Morality based on the rational government of the will that is compatible with an well-ordered and humane society (which is what "civilization" means).

> The most important thing to an individual is pleasure. Naturally it is
> desirable for everyone to have the most pleasure possible.

You have here expressed an entire moral philosophy that is self-contained without reference to your additional statements. It is called HEDONISM which has the subsets "Psychological Hedonism" the view that humans are psychologically constructed in such a way that they exclusively desire pleasure, and "Ethical Hedonism", the view that our fundamental moral obligation is to maximize pleasure or happiness. Ethical hedonism is most associated with the Greek philosopher Epicurus (342-270 BCE.) who taught that the optimization of pleasure is the goal of life:

'We recognize pleasure as the first good innate in us, and from pleasure we begin every act of choice and avoidance, and to pleasure we return again, using the feeling as the standard by which we judge every good." [Letter to Menoeceus]

> In order have the most pleasure one must be free to do as he/she pleases...

> This person knows what happens to somebody else may also happen
> [to oneself]. So this person doesn't hurt others to avoid retaliation.
> This person may also show others the logic of this peace who, because
> they are rational, agree that it is desirable to not to inflict pain.
> They agree on a law that no person may harm another.

The 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) presented a criterion of moral obligation, which he called the categorical imperative. Kant rejects traditional theories of morality and argues instead that moral actions are based on a "supreme principle of morality" which is objective, rational, and freely chosen: the categorical imperative. Kant believes that in moral matters the will must be influenced only by rational considerations, and not by subjective emotional states.

The only principle which fulfills these requirements is the categorical imperative which dictates the willed universalization of our individual moral choices:


Morality, then, consists of choosing only those actions that conform to the categorical imperative.

> In anarchy there is no law, in my rationalism, I'll call
> Clintism for the moment, there definitely is law so
> they are different in thought and practice.

Kant's moral system in many ways relies on the same axioms that you use to offer a proof that purely rational self-determination will result in social order.

In this post my personal judgment of these historical arguments, and your own "Logic Morals", is irrelevant. I hope I have shown you, Clint, that your view has impressive historical antecedents; reading Kant and Epicurus might be helpful as you continue to develop your own Moral Philosophy. Dealing with issues of self-control that imply the socialization of aggressive and sexual impulses, and the extent to which they can be subjected to voluntary regulation, are important problems for you to confront and resolve.


Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA