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L&FP, 48g: Is a child the moral equivalent of a fish we catch and eat for lunch?


Here, we follow up from the yardstick case of a child kidnapped, sexually tortured and murdered. No 60 in L&FP48a:

>>Compare to such, a fish, that we lure to bite on a hook, then land, kill and eat for lunch without compunction. (And even for those who object to so treating a fish, they will do so by extension of the protective sense we have about say the young child — not the other way around.)

But, unless there is a material difference between a young child and a fish, that sense of wrong is frankly delusional, it is just a disguised preference, one that we are simply willing to back up with force. So, already, once we let radical relativism and subjectivism loose, we are looking at the absurdity and chaos of the nihilist abyss, might (and manipulation) makes for ‘right.’

At the pivot of the skeptical objections to objective moral truths such as MY1, notwithstanding persistent reduction to absurdity [see algebra in OP], is the pose that since we may err and since famously there are disagreements on morality, we can reduce moral feelings to subjective perceptions tastes and preferences, dismissing any and all claims of objectivity much less self evidence. So, the objector triumphantly announces: there is an unbridgeable IS-OUGHT gap, game over.

Not so fast, as there is no better reason to imagine that we live in a moral Plato’s Cave world, than that we live in a physical or intellectual Plato’s Cave world.

That is, we consider the imagined world of Plato where the denizens, having been imprisoned from childhood, all imagine that the shadow shows portrayed for their benefit are reality. Until, one is loosed, sees the apparatus of manipulation, then is led outside and learns of the reality that is there to be discovered. Then he tries to rescue his fellows, only to be ridiculed and attacked.

Where, given its importance, let us observe how worldviews shape community life:


Such are the matches we are playing with.

The sound approach is to recognise that MY1 is a test and those who object or evade its force reveal their moral deficiencies.

From this, we may proceed to outline a moral framework (of course, taking a side glance at Cicero’s summary):

1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought, leading to first duties of responsible reason.

(This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial. Expanding slightly, as this has to be hammered home: our rational, responsible intelligent behaviour is inescapably under the moral government of known duties to truth, to right reason, to prudence [so to warrant], to sound conscience, to neighbourliness [thus, the Golden Rule], to fairness and justice, etc. Thus, we find morally rooted law built into our morally governed nature, even for our intellectual life. Thus, too, the civil law extends what is already built in, to our social circumstances, turning on issues of prudence, justice and mutual duties; if it is to be legitimate. Notice, this is itself a theory on what law is or at least should be. And yes, all of this is fraught with implications for the roots of reality.)

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.

(Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong/duty on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit. Where, this is no mere emotive appeal to feared consequences, it is an argument by exposing self-referential incoherence. Conscience, when sound, accurately points to duty; accordingly to violate it damages one’s soul, and therefore there is a right to follow sound conscience that is integral to the person and to the civil peace of justice. To be coerced in violation of conscience, is a violation of the person; e.g. rape. But this is as opposed to the need to correct warped, unsound or benumbed souls. This means, conscience must align with morally tinged truth, and must seek wisdom, prudence, right reason and humility to recognise differences, doubts, errors, risks and uncertainties.)

3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, given how pervasive these are, 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. That is, we here expose further self-referential incoherence.)

4] Fourth, as the algebra in the OP 48a indicates, it is true that we are objectively under knowable, warranted 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, independent of particular biases, errors, delusions or the like of individuals or groups. 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-understanding 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 — so that IS and OUGHT are inextricably fused at that level, 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; usurping the sword of justice to impose a ruthless policy agenda in fundamental breach of sound conscience and so too that civil peace which must ever pivot on manifest justice. To justly claim a right, one must first manifestly 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 one’s neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity. (This helps us frame just law.)

9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes ever more clearly 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. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. (In Aristotle’s terms as cited by Hooker: “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 .”) Thus also,

11] Eleventh, that as the US DoI, 1776 notes in what is the charter of modern constitutional democracy, government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly. For preference by regularly scheduled, free, fair, honest elections held every several years.

(NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an insitutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases. Where, too, the manifest integrity of electoral systems is equally an imperative. Otherwise, it matters not who votes, but who cheats and who counts, as Stalin notoriously suggested.)

12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. 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.

From this we can construct a sound framework for civilisation.>> END