Sketchy Morals – Revision 1

I was just sitting around reading some works of Galileo. I took a break, and after reading a play review my sister wrote, decided to look up the Wikipedia article on morality. Then I started to think about that, and decided to sketch a few of my moral ideas down… for something I’m planning to write later. I will not address the why behind these thoughts just yet. So, here goes:

  1. Morality does not stick. You may be moral some times and not moral other times. You are immoral only while you are breaking some moral stipulation below.
  2. Enforcing any contract is immoral. A man cannot be bound to what another man said he would do. This includes marriage. A man may be constantly changing.
  3. It is immoral for any man to involve himself in the free decisions/actions of others without invitation. An invitation can come from any directly involved person.
  4. It is immoral to not preserve one’s own mind, body, and moral way of life by any means required.
  5. It may not be immoral to kill another immoral human being. It is immoral to kill a moral human being.
  6. It is immoral to tell a lie that would not preserve the mind, body, and/or moral lifestyle of another individual. This is the only case when honesty enters into morality.
  7. It is immoral to distribute any information as true or false without understanding why it is true or false. One should not claim to know/believe what one does not truly think they understand.
  8. Any action involving only non-cognizant entities is amoral, so long as it does not interfere with the preservation of  the mind, body, and/or moral lifestyle of another individual.

There, my preliminary work on morals. A fairly accurate portrait of my own moral system, though I may be neglecting a few ideas. More work to come on these statements and their implications at a later date.

3 Responses

  1. Martin says:

    Let me give this a shot. Most individuals live within groups of people who have beliefs about how the people within the group should behave with respect to the members, their conduct. So, what sticks in one group may not stick in another. Chemists have not to my knowledge solved this problem either. To have free will allows one to make choices about accepting or rejecting the moral standards of the group of which one is a part. But until such time as the individual can convince the larger group to change their moral expectations, he is in a situation where he might be forced to accept the consequences for his lack of adherence to the moral standards of the group. Another options might be for the individual to somehow insulate himself from the larger group or remove himself from the group completely. Morality, ethical behavior among and between group members is the lubrication that keeps the societal machine running. When people begin to abandon their morality and ethical behavior toward each other the whole thing starts to grind to a halt. Contracts, laws, regulations are those attempts by the society to maintain adherence to those standards of the society. That’s why a handshake deal has largely become a thing of the past. It’s also why true friends are a precious commodity. I thought you would like Illusions. Given where you’ve gone with this topic I would again recommend that you seek out the writings of Joseph Campbell, if for no other reason than their provocative nature. Here are two links to discussions with and about Campbell and his beliefs.

    http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC12/Campbell.htm

    http://www.answers.org/cultsandreligions/campbell.html

  2. Martin:

    You mention the possibility that a man may be able to leave a society if he feels at odds with their moral system. Plato suggested the same thing, and used that fact as support for the authority of a society over its members. But, years ago, exile was an option to forgo punishment. That option does not exist in the United States today. Worse still is the fact that in some cases one society can reach into another to punish you for past offenses! Not only this, but with borders “tightening up” – the very society you are trying to leave behind must grant you permission to leave! It seems a bit “off” to me that a society can exercise both the right to contain you and the right to punish you for not abiding by its moral codes.

    This post, for me, was a real illumination that a moral system is a very personal code of conduct. One that cannot really be replaced by an imposed system. The strong intrinsic incentives I have to abide by the implications of my own moral system are not truly replaceable by lesser external incentives (ie. punishments for breaking laws, or the wrath of God). You mention that common moral ground is the lubrication of the societal machine, but I question how necessary it is. Most would not be without some moral system in the absence of laws, surely they would employ it. Am I truly to believe that a man respects externalities more than himself, or that imposed authority is more powerful than the guidance one feels is a part of himself? (Surely you’ve heard that the laws are only to keep the good people in line anyway.)

    No wonder the machine falters so.

  3. Martin says:

    Can not one live in isolation as a hermit, recluse, misanthrope? What about an expatriate seeking societal change? Then you’ve got Donne’s observation that “No man is an island.” That, like it or not, humanity makes one part of something larger than self. There has also seemingly always been some form of the adage “if you don’t like it you can leave.” But then you get the “if I don’t like it I’ll change it” proposition. The latter position would be much more difficult to achieve in a totalitarian state. Exile is a form of punishment often utilize as a measure to forego execution. There is today the problem of where a country might exile someone. Might not exile be viewed as an extreme form of house arrest? Is incarceration a form of exile? As for the permission to leave, that may be a problem in a totalitarian state. I’m not aware of the USA preventing people from leaving that are not attempting to escape justice, punishment under the law or to escape some financial responsibility. A pass port is a document that identifies someone as a citizen of a particular country with rights to protection by the country of origin while traveling. It also allows the traveler to return home.

    Is man inherently good or inherently evil or neither? Were you born with your particular moral code in your genetic structure? Intrinsic, did the society in which you grew up and the moral values and teachings of that society play no part in your present, personal, moral code? If you were born out of contact with any social structure what-so-ever, would you have an innate moral code? I did not mean to suggest that morality is not personal. Nor did I intend that laws and morality were the same. Laws are not about what’s right and wrong necessarily, but what is legal and illegal in a society. Take Jim Crow Laws for example, right or wrong they were the law with all of its implications. Contracts, laws, regulations are those attempts by the society to maintain adherence to those most accepted standards of the society. Note the word attempts in the previous statement. The laws, contracts, and regulations may also serve other purposes as well. When people have a common morality and ethical behavior among and between group members it is indeed the lubrication that keeps the societal machine running. That faltering machine situation is the result of not having a common morality. It may be possible for a society to live without codified ethics or morality but history has not shown us that. Then again all of that structure and codification, going back to Moses and Hammurabi, may just have been a power grab.

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