Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

FYI-FTR: 07 demands a list of ten self evident moral truths (answered)


As the ongoing exchange on watersheds and dual mutually polarised slippery slopes continues, 07 has been demanding:

07, 536: I am still waiting on my list of 10 self evident moral truths. If anyone else can help Phinehas out that would be appreciated!

He now stands answered in the very next comment, which I headline:



Your rhetorical wait is over.

There is no material difference between a single self evident moral truth and a dozen, once one exists such a category is non-empty. However, there are in fact several reasonably accessible self evident core moral truths of cumulatively systematic impact:

1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

(This is manifest in even your implication in your question, challenge and argument, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, you imply we OUGHT to do and say the right. Not even you can escape this truth.

Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (You were depending on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to win your point. See what would happen should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally?)

3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.

Plato's Cave of shadow shows projected before life-long prisoners and confused for reality. Once the concept of general delusion is introduced, it raises the question of an infinite regress of delusions. The sensible response is to see that this should lead us to doubt the doubter and insist that our senses be viewed as generally reliable unless they are specifically shown defective. (Source: University of Fort Hare, SA, Phil. Dept.)
Plato’s Cave of shadow shows projected before life-long prisoners and confused for reality. Once the concept of general delusion is introduced, it raises the question of an infinite regress of delusions. The sensible response is to see that this should lead us to doubt the doubter and insist that our senses be viewed as generally reliable unless they are specifically shown defective. (Source: University of Fort Hare, SA, Phil. Dept.)


[youtube d2afuTvUzBQ]

4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.

5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.

6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. if a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT, it fails decisively.*)

7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right. )

8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.

9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.

10] Tenth, this entails that in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. Thus also,

11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.

In short, Locke was more than right to ground his argument in his 2nd treatise on civil govt that founds modern liberty and democracy on this from Canon Richard Hooker:

[2nd Treatise on Civil Gov’t, Ch 2 sec. 5:] . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [This directly echoes St. Paul in Rom 2: “14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . “ and 13: “9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law . . . “ Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity ,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.] [Augmented citation, Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2 Sect. 5. ]

The echoes in the US DoI, 1776 and the US Constitution thence the framework of modern constitutional democracy, are manifest and undeniably effective. A warning to those who now interfere with the system to inject an extreme nominalism and it implication of nihilistic might/manipulation makes right, by warping our sense of equality and right such that conjugal marriage is rhetorically and propagandistically presented as bigotry and oppression and then through manipulation of institutions of government and law, principled stance on conjugal marriage is marginalised and subject to aggressive lawfare. The damage such wreaks on the society as a whole — cf the George lecture and the Gessen tape in the OP — given the crucial importance of natural marriage and family for human thriving, shows the destructive nature of such an agenda.

{Let’s add for record:}


[youtube my_FrkFIwzk]



There are many other cases, and of primary importance is the mass slaughter of the unborn under false colour of law, which deadens conscience through the destructive impact of mass bloodguilt.

And, in a day where the truth is hated and attacked, consistent peaceful testimony to corrective truth is an important and even courageous step towards sound audit and reform of government gone bad.


*PS: After centuries of debates and assessment of alternatives per comparative difficulties, there is in fact just one serious candidate to be such a grounding IS: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. (And instantly, such generic ethical theism answers also to the accusation oh this is “religion”; that term being used as a dirty word — no, this is philosophy. If you doubt this, simply put forth a different candidate that meets the required criteria and passes the comparative difficulties test: _________ . Likewise, an inherently good, maximally great being will not be arbitrary or deceitful etc, that is why such is fully worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. As a serious candidate necessary being, such would be eternal and embedded in the frame for a world to exist at all. Thus such a candidate is either impossible as a square circle is impossible due to mutual ruin of core characteristics, or else it is actual. For simple instance no world is possible without two-ness in it, a necessary basis for distinct identity inter alia.)>>

I see overnight where WJM adds a remark at 558 that is well worth adding to this FTR (snip — 07 and HR not same, let’s deal in-thread ):


  • Zeroseven first asks:

    WJM and those who believe in objective moral truths. Please list 10. All you ever mention is child torture or some variation on that. Put up. What are you guys scared of?

    Note, he/she asked for “objective oral truths”. Later, after Phineas responded that he could, he changes what he asks for:

    Great. This will be the first time I have even seen these self evident moral truths laid out. Looking forward to it.

    Then Aleta picks up the request:

    What you haven’t done is listed 10 self evident moral truths about how a human being ought to behave.

    Apparently, Aleta and Zeroseven don’t understand the difference between an objective truth and a self-evident truth. For moral objectivists, all moral rules are objective in nature. That doesn’t mean they are self-evident.

    As I said before, self-evident truths are those statements which are immediately known as true by any sane person who understands the terms, and to deny them is to render the subject absurd. Statements such as “I exist” and “X=X” are examples of self-evident truths. These foundational truths cannot be proven themselves because they are the bedrock truths we use in order to prove other things; we are required to assume them valid starting points in order to get anywhere.

    Compared to “objective truths”, there are very few “self-evident truths”. An objective truth might be the formula which describes gravitational effects, or E=MC2. Hardly self-evident, they are still what we would call objectively true.

    I often use the statement “it is wrong to gratuitously torture children” as my example of a self-evident moral truth, but I think I can offer something that is more along the lines of a fundamental principle, like ‘I exist” or “X=X”: Cruelty is morally wrong. Here’s another: Love is morally good.

    Once you understand what those terms mean, if you are sane, you know this is true. To deny it as true means you are wrong, not that the statement refers to subjective sentiment.

    Furthermore, all sane people act as if that statement is objectively true, because they will act as if it is objectively true by attempting to stop or speaking against acts of cruelty. You can say all day long that you don’t believe in objective morality, but you still act as if you do.

    Some objective moral truths (some may be general and/or conditional):

    1. Love is good.
    2. Kindness is good.
    3. Generosity is good.
    4. Forgiveness is good.
    5. Honesty is good.
    6. Humility is good.
    7. Cruelty is wrong.
    8. Hating is wrong.
    9. Wantonly destroying the property of others is wrong.
    10. Stealing from others is wrong.
    11. Lying for personal gain is wrong.
    12. Treating others as a means to an end is wrong.
    13. Not helping others you are aware of in need is wrong.
    14. Cheating is wrong.

    Shall I stop there?>>


There being a live thread in progress, discussion may continue there, this is FTR. END

PS: This earlier FTR is also relevant.