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Objective Morality Isn’t Mystical; Subjective Morality is Mystical

This always comes up eventually, in one of a couple of ways.

  1. Assertions of moral codes based on some belief system, like religious doctrine or democracy.
  2. Assertions that there are no moral rights or wrongs, because all such are subjective (see #1).

For the former, simply admonish them to consult [insert alternative belief system or doctrines]. For the latter, punch them in the face and see how fast they implicitly conclude it was objectively wrong to do so. Actions speak louder than words. It’s primarily #2 that I wish to address, since it came up in a comment thread the other day. But let’s first dispense with #1.

Subjective morality inevitably violates objective morality

Ironic, eh? Subjective morality, simply stated, is a set of moral dos and don’ts based on some authority and their commandments. Some doG, a book with holes, king, president, legislature, etc. It’s subjective because it doesn’t apply to all earthlings, so the only way to enforce it is through initiatory force. Or: ‘my doG is the one true doG; all others are impostors, their followers infidels; their moral codes don’t apply to me, and they must be compelled to obey mine and my doG’s.’ For secularists, this subjectivity generally translates to the ‘political salvation of mankind;’ whereby, morality is a function of bigger mobs: so long as the wolves outnumber the sheep in a decision over what’s for dinner, it’s a moral use of force.

This is all purely subjective; meaning, it relies upon which of differing belief systems one ascribes. It violates objective morality because force must be initiated against those of differing belief systems in order to maintain the integrity of the moral system.

People routinely conflate objective morality with subjective morality

To their credit, those ascribing to #2 recognize that virtually all the “morality” they see spouted round and about planet Earth is of the subjective variety, and [to be generous], “logically” conclude that there’s no such thing as moral rights and wrongs.

They’re wrong, though understandably so, given the observable landscape.

How to derive Objective Morality

It’s actually rather simple, given the foregoing. First, everything that’s subjective—99.9% what most seem to think they know about morality—is out. Since such subjectivity doesn’t apply to all—i.e., objectively—and can only be enforced, because others have other beliefs…it’s not “universal.” It doesn’t naturally apply to all human beings on planet Earth without some force forcing others to compliance.

Humans don’t automatically pursue the values needed to survive (food, water, shelter, even social relationships—we are social beings). This is the absolute root and the only possible foundation for any sense of a universal objective morality that applies equally to all human beings.

Humans must ultimately choose to live and pursue the values necessary to do so, and the fact that they have such choice (fundamentally, moral questions turn on choices; where there is no choice, it’s not the province of morality) is manifest in the fact of conscious human suicide: either by act or omission, fast or slow. In other words, “choose life” is a meme that only applies to conscious, competent human beings.

Since this choice is an observable human attribute, it’s a natural choice; or, stated alternatively, a right. There’s only one natural right: the right to pursue values necessary for survival—the right to choose to live; which, for humans, necessarily implies a right to choose. Everything else is a corollary, the chief one being: ‘at your own expense,’ since true contradictions don’t exist in nature. Pursuing a human life comes with a P&L. If at its end, you’re in the black, you’ve been a natural human being; minimally, one breaks even (dies poor). If in the red, you’ve lived a human life as a parasite, reliant either upon the goodwill of others, or like a sociopath—a minor one as a predator, or a major one, like a politician.

…So, for instance, the right to own possessions is a moral right, because some autonomy over possessions is generally required to non-contradictorily exercise a pursuit of the values necessary to live—if you’ve exercised the natural human choice to live, rather than default to destruction, or off yourself consciously.

Most basically, the moral is simply that which is objectively good for the human organism; the immoral is that which is objectively bad

This is where the conflation with subjective morality typically arises, and so gets dismissed by the #2s. So let’s explore it in the context of objective morality. Keep in mind: for something to be objectively moral, it has to apply to everyone, as fundamentals, and necessary for their pursuit of their natural right to CHOOSE to live.

  1. Food is good.
  2. Water is good.
  3. Shelter is good.
  4. A plot of land to grow food or hunt is good.
  5. An enterprise with which to engage in division of labor and trade is good.
  6. The freedom to associate with other human moral agents is good. We are social beings and while not impossible to live a life as a totally autonomous agent, it’s unlikely to succeed, and humanely unnatural.
  7. Lethal self defense is good.
  8. Lethal defense of those who valuably contribute to your own survival is good.
  9. Drugs, alcohol, risk taking and other forms of slow or fast suicide are amoral. Remember, the objectively moral choice to live subsumes this (e.g., all subjective moral drug laws violate objective morality).
  10. Preferring the color green over blue, beef over pork, or Chevys over Fords, is amoral.
  11. Initiatory predation upon others is bad. Having your cake and eating it too is a natural contradiction. You can’t assert your right to ‘choose to live’, while denying other humans who all have the exact same natural standing the very same choice; denying theirs, to assert yours. This is all the province of the subjectivist moralizers with their authorities in fancy robes and hats, whose essential purpose in life and affectation is to overcome your sense of objective morality by their authoritarian, subjective morality.
  12. Nickelback is bad. 🙂

I could make the list longer, but I hope you get the point a bit. Objective morality is pretty easy and concrete. Since it has to apply to all humans, and all humans to some extent hold different values beyond the raw necessity to survive. As such, people tend to find my formulation less than satisfying. After all, it’s tough to resist violating the prime directive of objective morality: living life at your own expense, dealing mutually voluntarily with others as traders on various levels financial, social, emotional, and intimate.

Virtually everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else, now. They craft “moral” codes to make it seem right, even. These are all subjective. So, again, you see the understandable position of the #2s.

Objective morality does not encompass all values you choose to hold. Brace yourselves.

  1. No: fetuses, infants, and even children or ‘mental children,’ unable to yet consciously live at their own expense, are not party to objective morality. In such terms, they are the property and possessions of those with objective moral agency. Yep, objective morality has absolutely nothing to say about what you do with that property. That’s the province of subjective morality (or simply: good will). Damn, you mean there are limitations to everything, not easy answers to everything and I have to weigh my values, my life P&L? That’s right.
  2. Emergency or ‘lifeboat’ scenarios don’t apply to objective morality. Perhaps, if all humans were in a lifeboat, it would. but we aren’t, so it doesn’t. (Back 23-20 years ago, hammering out my ideas in various USENET forums, lifeboat and prisoner’s dilemma scenarios were all the rage as exceptions. My attitude was always: so let them be exceptions.) In other words, if the situation or resources are such that it’s you or someone else, then what CHOICE do you have? Accordingly, objective morality doesn’t apply. Or, stated as a logical corollary: you are all now faced with the same non-choice. You’re on your own, morally—this is truly valid subjective morality, for once.

If you want someone dead, then kill them yourself

One province of subjective morality is that it necessarily requires pitting some people against other people (while lying about that: i.e., politics). It’s really the whole point, because subjective morality is the craft of authoritarian middlemen and in that realm: War is Good (just read The Bible).

So, when people are pitted against one-another, and in a moral context, this is intuitively— or at least implicitly—threatening to you and yours (your objective moral sense), what do you do? You vote to go to war, kill lots of people, destroy lots of property, render thousands of children parentless, enslave, imprison, and put to death. All because: either, their subjective code differs from yours in ways you deem important (and you want to save their souls or please your doG—always ambiguous, that), or you’ve been scared into believing you’re threatened and an authority is what you need to allow you to feel good about killing others and leaving theirs, destitute.

Call it ‘fuzzy morality,’ in the context of your innate sense of objective morality, in terms of your social agency; your “choice” to live with the mutually beneficial help of others in your circle willing to kill and maim for you.

What objective morality really is

It’s the very same thing as expressing, in terms of competent, conscious human action: Hey, that goes against nature!

So, this is why the formulation: the moral is that which is objectively good for the human organism; the immoral is that which is objectively bad.

Well, that’s easy, right? Well, no it’s not, because other than like the first 3 things on my list, above, the others are fraught with disagreement on various levels. On the other hand, very, very many of the disagreements are founded on subjective morality, such as the democratic idea that the minority is the spoil of the majority.

In sort, it’s nearly impossible to deflate the conflation of notions of objective and subjective morality. So long as people want to live at the expense of others and are happy to hire hit men and enforcers in voting booths, this will always be the case.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

32 Comments

  1. Dan on October 10, 2014 at 15:00

    Great article Richard, written in clear and simple language everyone can understand. It definitely clarified a few points for me.

    A question on subjective morality pitting people against each other. Doesn’t this happen naturally since we live in a world where resources are finite? Lions and other animals kill each other over territory for example, same with human tribes back in the day. They were killing others themselves, no politician controlled army. Why wouldn’t this also be covered by objective morality? Seems securing your food or water supply doesn’t go against nature.

    I suppose this also hasn’t really happened on a large scale for a few hundred years…but I thought it was interesting.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2014 at 08:54

      Hey Dan:

      “Doesn’t this happen naturally since we live in a world where resources are finite?”

      Well, sure it happens, just like lifeboat-style and prisoner’s dilemma scenarios can happen. But my focus is on the vast norm and not the rare exception. The face of vast human migration out of Africa to all corners of the globe demonstrates that in its natural state, humans are more apt to go where resources are not so finite, rather than stay and defend it.

      This is of course complicated by agriculture (and all that goes along with it). Agriculture in fields and livestock was the advent of tangible assets and where there are assets there will be thieves (which later evolved into government, essentially a protection racket).

      So, the first question to ask is: why are the resources finite and the second is, is there a place where they’re not? The state vastly muddies this water and the state (subjective morality based on force and authority) is objectively immoral.



    • Dan on October 11, 2014 at 09:50

      Yeah you’re right. I would rather walk a few hundred miles than decide to pick up a weapon and kill someone for water (and risk having me or my family killed).

      Looks like I’ve been exposed to too much propaganda!



  2. Jew+Lee+Us+C+Czar on October 10, 2014 at 20:44

    Nickelback…proof that god is evil

  3. ObjectiveMorality on October 11, 2014 at 01:28

    This is pretty close to completely correct, but there’s one major problem: something doesn’t have to be universal in order to be objectively moral. Take, for instance, a plot of land to grow food or hunt upon. While it is true that, in a meaningless sense, such plots are objectively good (because they produce food, which everyone needs), it is not good for EVERYONE to possess one. For many people it would be better to rely upon others’ possession of land plots, and to trade with them for a share of the values they produce with the land. This DOES NOT, however, mean that land ownership is subjective. It merely means that it’s CONTEXTUAL. That is: it is objectively RIGHT for some people to own land (because they wouldn’t survive nor prosper as well doing something else), while it is objectively WRONG for others to do the same (because that would constitute less than an optimal use of their talents and time).

    So, in summation, is owning a plot of land objectively good (ie: universally good for everyone)? That’s an invalid question. The only proper response to “is owning a plot of land good?” is another question (“for whom?”). Just because certain values aren’t good for everyone, all of the time, does not mean that they are not objectively good or bad for a particular person at a particular time.

    Speaking about it the way the author has done here, ironically, is exactly what’s necessary in order to conclude that morality ACTUALLY IS completely subjective (ie: non-existent).

    • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2014 at 09:04

      OM:

      “something doesn’t have to be universal in order to be objectively moral. Take, for instance, a plot of land to grow food or hunt upon. While it is true that, in a meaningless sense, such plots are objectively good (because they produce food, which everyone needs), it is not good for EVERYONE to possess one.”

      I agree with this. Probably a limitation of trying to make this post as readable as possible. Clarifications are bound to be needed. How’s this:

      The human technological and productive advancement of natural animal/primate Division of Labor supersedes the need for every ONE to have a plot of land, a sharp spear, a knitting needle, fishing pole, textile factory, etc. It’s now good ENOUGH that SOME one(s) have and maintain those things and trade with others for the product of those things others have but they don’t.

      Does that satisfy?

      “because that would constitute less than an optimal use of their talents and time”

      Agreed, and this is the crucial CONTEXTUAL point. Simply put, everybody can’t be Mozart or Einstein or Tesla, no matter how much they want it or, indeed, have a right to it…IF.

      “for whom” [and for what?] 🙂



    • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2014 at 09:20

      …I’d add one more thing.

      The fact of the finite nature of land and natural resources is no more meaningful than the fact of hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, pestilence, etc.

      These are all natural limitations to human existence to first work within, then around where possible.

      [insert Francis Bacon quote.]



    • ObjectiveMorality on October 11, 2014 at 09:45

      Yeah, I was fairly certain, Richard, that you understood the point I was raising… that it really was just an issue of semantics (“subjective” vs. “contextual”)… but I think it’s an important point to make because if you claim that things have to be important to everyone (at least to the exact same degree, or at the same time) in order to be “objective”, then less thoughtful people – observing the fact that that’s virtually never true (except for obvious things like air and water and food)… they will conclude that EVERYTHING is subjective… and then the distinction between one person’s desire to, say, sleep on a bed of nails as morally okay… and another’s desire to commit mass-murder as not morally okay… it just becomes an arbitrary line in the sand.

      It’s important to emphasize that it’s not moral to murder others FOR THE EXACT SAME REASON it’s not moral to inject oneself with ebola.



  4. Resurgent on October 11, 2014 at 11:33

    Awesome writeup Richard…

    People always confuse morality with religion. Judgment can be moral, but morality has nothing to do with religion.

    A moral person is not necessarily a religious person. An atheist can be moral, perfectly moral. You can find the moral among the communists, the socialists and the anarchists.

    Morality is a creation of society.

    Let me take this discussion beyond morality. Richard, your awareness is exemplary. The person who is aware drops his morality because now he has his own eyes; he need not have any other guides. His eyes are enough. It is as if you were blind and you used to have a stick with which to walk around, to grope your way – and then one day your eyes open.
    Will you still carry the stick? No, You will throw it away. Now it is meaningless, now you don’t need to grope. Now the walking stick is no longer a help, it is now a burden.

    So is morality – it is a walking stick for a blind man. For those who have decided to remain stupid, morality is needed. But for those who have decided to stake everything and become alert and aware, morality is no longer needed.

    A person who is aware is spontaneously moral. He need not carry any morality around him, he is simply moral. Not that he tries to do good – no, not at all – but whatsoever he does is good.

    See the distinction. It is of immense import. An man who is alert to existence, is one who is not concerned with doing good, but whatsoever happens through him is good because he has surrendered himself to the laws of nature. He cannot do wrong. It is not possible.
    It is as impossible as to walk through the wall or to try to walk through the wall when your eyes are open. You will find the door! It is as simple as that.

    But a blind man sometimes tries to get out through the wall. He cannot; there is no possibility. But an aware man is one whose eyes are open and he sees where the door is. For him there is no need to carry any idea that one should always go through the door – one simply goes through the door.
    When you know, that very knowing becomes your virtue.

    Socrates says, “Knowledge is virtue” – a very pregnant statement. To know, is to be right; to know, is to do right. Through knowing, right comes on its own like a shadow.

    Virtue is a by-product of right knowing. It need not be practiced. If you practice it, it is false.

    The practiced morality is a false morality, it creates only hypocrites.

    Morality is that which is not practiced at all, it happens simply because you know – your eyes are open, you can feel, you are sensitive, so the wrong cannot happen anymore.

    Awareness is neither moral nor immoral, it is simply awareness.

    Morality is just an effort to pretend to be religious.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2014 at 13:31

      I agree.

      In fact, the only reason I use the word moral (natural vs. unnatural / good vs. bad for a human is a better way to think of it) is:

      1. I don’t like neologisms as a way to confront erroneous thinking.

      2. It serves to get this who care to think of these deeply a familiar place to start.

      “Morality is just an effort to pretend to be religious.”

      Think of it this way: the concept was invented out of the desire to create force-backed, authoritarian edicts of all sorts, religious and secular.



    • ObjectiveMorality on October 12, 2014 at 02:25

      Uh, morality – TRUE MORALITY – can only be formulated via “open eyes.” All of the untrue moral codes (ie: the immoral ones) have come about precisely as a result of the attempt to formulate morality in lieu of perception.

      Your comment is dripping with Kantian epistemology, Resurgent.



    • Resurgent on October 12, 2014 at 10:21

      @ObjectiveMorality
      Even Kant allows for the limitations of the transcendental and the transcendent.

      Morality is mechanical, awareness is organic.

      Morality is put together from the outside, awareness grows from the innermost core of your being.

      Morality comes out of conditioning, awareness comes out of mindfulness.

      Morality is enforced by others, awareness you have to seek and search for yourself.

      Morality is a social device, awareness is a personal adventure.

      Morality is dominated by the politician and the priest, awareness is a rebellion.

      Rarely is a person highly aware – and whenever there is, there is a great revolution around him. FTA is a living example.

      Moral people are ordinary people, as ordinary as the immoral – sometimes even more ordinary than the immoral. The immoral may sometimes have courage but the moral has no courage.
      The immoral may sometimes have intelligence but the moral has no intelligence. The immoral may sometimes be original but the moral is always repetitive.

      Morality is a pseudo-coin. It pretends and it can deceive people. It has deceived down the ages; millions and millions of people are and have been deceived by morality. And they think that when they have morality they have religion.

      The second thing: morality is always relative. You can have more intelligence than somebody else or somebody else can have more virtue than you. Somebody can be more courageous than you or more cowardly than you. Somebody can be more sharing, more loving, or you can be more loving than somebody else. Morality is comparative.

      Nobody can be more aware than you or less aware than you – awareness is non-comparative.

      Can you say Buddha was more awakened than Jesus? It would be absurd – because awareness is not quantity, it is quality of being. You cannot have more or less. There are no degrees.

      When a person has become aware, his awareness is always total and complete. Awareness comes as a whole, morality comes in all shapes and sizes.



    • ObjectiveMorality on October 13, 2014 at 12:47

      Resurgent,

      You can rephrase your basic premise 100 different ways, and you can describe it until the cows come home, but you still didn’t address my issue with it. You can call morality artificial all you wish, but it doesn’t change the fact that an “aware person” using that “awareness” to understand himself and the world around him, and then formulating values to value and principles by which to operate, *is now operating via a moral code.*

      I agree with you that moral codes should be “organic”, but when they are, that doesn’t automatically make them not moral codes.



    • Richard Nikoley on October 13, 2014 at 13:17

      “I agree with you that moral codes should be “organic”, but when they are, that doesn’t automatically make them not moral codes.”

      Bang.

      I was so hoping you’d get there, and I had 2-3 replies in draft I deleted as unsatisfactory to myself.

      Thing is, I’ve had significant correspondence with Eastern Mystics over the years and it took a long time after dismissing them out of hand, but I finally recognized we were essentially dealing with the same concepts with different perceptual tags–though I always admonish them to read ITOE.

      Check this out, OM. Yasuhoko is a trained Buddhist monk, and a fan of Ayn Rand and well read in western philosophy, ie Big Greek A. I know this on a personal level. Aware of him since ’94, friendly email correspondence some years back.

      Now, see how his talk of ‘set of assumptions’ isn’t premise checking.

      http://youtu.be/RdKLIeRdJsI



    • ObjectiveMorality on October 14, 2014 at 00:41

      Awesome Richard. Thanks for the link. I’ve been an Objectivist since just before 9/11, and meditating (Vipassana style) since 2004, so I’ve been aware of the similarities for a long time now – and I’ve known of a handful of O’ists who are open to the positive aspects of Buddhism, but never a Buddhist explicitly open to O’ism – so that’s awesome to see!



    • Resurgent on October 14, 2014 at 01:29

      Richard, Thanks for your comments and for posting the link to Yasuhiko Genku Kimura. I am sorry to hog so much of your comment space, but I feel compelled to reply to OM.

      @OM – The issue is not whether this is Randian or Kantian.

      Morality comes of its own accord – just as flowers appear on a bush. It is not brought about. The seeds of mindfulness need to be sown, and then the crop of morality is harvested. Morality is not something to be practised. The one who is peaceful within himself becomes incapable of making others restless. The one who has music within him finds the echo of this music reverberating in others in his presence. The one who has beauty within him finds that all ugliness disappears from his behaviour. Isn’t becoming all this becoming moral?

      Morality is an expression of bliss, a spontaneous expression. When bliss flows from one’s inner being it is expressed in good conduct, in morality on the outside.

      Moral behaviour is simply utilitarian as far as society is concerned, but for the individual it is not a utility, it is his joy. Therefore, society’s needs are satisfied even by pseudo- morality, but that is not good enough for the individual. That you behave well towards others is good enough for society but it is not good enough for you, for it is also worth considering whether you are good inside yourself or not. Society is concerned with your personality, not with your inner being. But for you yourself the personality is nothing more than your clothing. Your being begins where this clothing ends. Behind this mask of personality, separate from it, is your real being. And this is where real morality is born.

      From your comment, it seems you consider that I feel it is bad to be objectively moral – No, I do not consider it bad to be moral but I do consider the illusion of being moral bad. It becomes an obstacle to real morality arising in you.

      False morality is an outer imposition. It serves no purpose other than satisfying hypocrisy and in my view there is no state of mind that is more immoral than that of hypocrisy.
      False morality even covers itself up with a display of humility and of freedom from egoism, but beneath it flourishes. Do you not see the truth of what I am saying in our politicians and priests? This ‘morality’ is imposed from outside, cultivated by effort – nothing but an act. And this continuous opposition and struggle between behaviour and the inner being – an unbridgeable gap between consciousness and unconsciousness – divides and makes them schizophrenic. In such persons there is no harmony.

      Let us look at some parts of ‘American’ morality. A lot of the idea of morality is concentrated on sex. Congressmen, Senators and Wall Street regularly lie and nobody thinks they are immoral. They can deceive, They can be insincere and nobody thinks they are immoral. A politician’s promise means nothing. All the conclusions quoted by scientists with insufficient data or with confirmation bias, often criticised in these pages, cannot be relied upon – but that is not considered immoral.

      The whole morality consists of you clinging to your married partner and he/she clinging to you. And behind the scene they remain like detectives, snooping on each other; that is our current sexual morality.
      I think, to live with a woman/man you don’t love is immoral; whether he/she is your married partner or not does not matter. To live with a person, to go to bed with a person you don’t love is immoral. It is prostitution – of course, approved by the society, but approval cannot make any difference.

      Without love, can there be faith? It is only fear, not faith. It is formality, not faith. It is just cowardliness, not faith. The whole idea of marriage, that needs to be ‘registered’ with the state, is immoral.

      A society created by false morality is called a civilization. A society consisting of persons who have inner morality is called a culture.
      Civilization is based on utility; culture is based on inner joy and harmony…

      So, an aware person does not “operate via any moral code” – He is is just spontaneously moral.



    • ObjectiveMorality on October 14, 2014 at 04:14

      Resurgent,

      You conceded my point, and then ended up rejecting it yet again. I agree with you that morality is habituated (even Aristotle – the “father of Western Civilization” and seeming antithesis of Eastern thought – described it as such), but that doesn’t mean that it (ie: the proper principles for maintaining human existence and achieving happiness) can be understood by any other method than deliberate, purposeful, abstract thought. Yes, once understood, they have to be practiced in order to become habituated, but thinking is just as indispensible as practice is to the process of acquiring virtue.

      “To the mystic, as to an animal, the irreducible primary is the automatic phenomena of his own consciousness.

      An animal has no critical faculty; he has no control over the function of his brain and no power to question its content. To an animal, whatever strikes his awareness is an absolute that corresponds to reality—or rather, it is a distinction he is incapable of making: reality, to him, is whatever he senses or feels. And this is the [mystic’s] epistemological ideal, the mode of consciousness he strives to induce in himself. To the [mystic], emotions are tools of cognition, and wishes take precedence over facts. He seeks to escape the risks of a quest for knowledge by obliterating the distinction between consciousness and reality, between the perceiver and the perceived, hoping that an automatic certainty and an infallible knowledge of the universe will be granted to him by the blind, unfocused stare of his eyes turned inward, contemplating the sensations, the feelings, the urgings, the muggy associational twistings projected by the rudderless mechanism of his undirected consciousness. Whatever his mechanism produces is an absolute not to be questioned; and whenever it clashes with reality, it is reality that he ignores [since it comes from “the outside” – and therefore isn’t “spontaneous”].” -Ayn Rand

      You can see, then, how your view of the source of morality NECESSARILY leads to the contention that it’s subjective (which means that your claim that it’s immoral to be in an loveless relationship – simply because it’s contradictory and pretentious – is completely arbitrary. If you reject reason as the source and standard of moral knowledge, what else do you have to appeal to?).

      Incidentally, I agree with you that it is immoral to live with a spouse that you do not love, but again, the reason why people do this isn’t because they primarily think “this is something that is imposed upon me from the outside, and because of that fact alone I know it is moral” (although, thanks to Kant, that is often a later rationalization, meant to maintain the marriage)… rather, they choose to involve themselves in the relationship precisely becasue their moral ideas (ie: altruism) tell them that it’s good because it’s self-sacrificial.

      Also, I completely reject your dichotomy between utility and joy – as well as your dichotomy between society’s needs and the individual’s. I also disagree that the immorality of politicians and priests comes from egoism. I contend that it comes from a lack of egoism. Maybe, for some of them, their ideas are imposed from the outside, maybe not, but that isn’t the essential problem. The essential problem is that their ideas are wrong (ie: unable to sustain human existence and achieve happiness). Having accepted irrational ideas (ie: altruism), when they practice them, they INEVITABLY are forced to contradict them (in order to live) – and the net result is a subconscious nihilism which develops. A belief that morality is indeed an arbitrary social construct – that real human nature means doing whatever one feels like – and then such are capable of committing unspeakable atrocities.



    • Resurgent on October 14, 2014 at 20:45

      @OM
      🙂 🙂
      It is not about conceding or rejecting your views… These are your views and I respect them.

      For me, it is quite simple:

      A morality that comes with effort is immoral.
      A morality that comes without effort is the only morality there is..



    • ObjectiveMorality on October 15, 2014 at 09:47

      “It is not about conceding or rejecting your views… These are your views and I respect them.”

      I don’t want you to respect them. I want you to accept them as true or reject them as false. Do you believe that’s even possible?

      “A morality that comes with effort is immoral.
      A morality that comes without effort is the only morality there is..”

      That’s a vacuous statement. You could mean simply that virtue, to be genuine, has to be habituated (which is true) – or you could mean that it has to be intrinsic (which is false).



    • Richard Nikoley on October 15, 2014 at 10:30

      “That’s a vacuous statement.”

      Consider his point in the context of a small tribe hammering out existence, and not in the context of a massive institutionalized theft machine.



  5. edster on October 11, 2014 at 18:47

    This might be an unwarranted tangent but I’m wondering what your view is Richard on altruism. Personally, I doubt it truly exists, and that which is claimed to be an altruistic act would actually fall under condition #5, i.e. ‘value in exchange’.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2014 at 19:46

      Softball, edster.

      The problem with the concept is that it’s peddled as a moral imperative (those touting primarily concerned with the altruistic display of others, not themselves).

      Without even getting into Rand’s formulations where morally, altruism is sacrifice (of values, i.e., you must take a loss to attain moral virtue), there are simply better ideas, like charity and goodwill.

      I truly enjoy exercising both regularly, but always on my own terms, to encourage or help along values I hold important.

      Altruists are only happy if your pockets are picked for values you abhor.



    • ObjectiveMorality on October 12, 2014 at 02:32

      “Altruists are only happy if your pockets are picked for values you abhor.”

      That’s because altruists have the same Kantian view of morality that Resurgent, above, has. Altruists reject Rand’s rational egoism because it’s based upon the senses – which a person like Resurgent rejects morality AS SUCH because he thinks it’s literally IMPOSSIBLE to formulate objectively valid concepts regarding human behavior (ie: moral principles). He thinks that they instead just come to you – from your “animal nature” or whatever – which amounts to the exact same non-cognitive approach that altruists take (it’s just that his authority is his genes or instincts, while the altruists’ authority is God or society or The Categorical Imperative).



  6. Jack on October 12, 2014 at 00:11

    In this context, does subjective mean rules, and objective mean reactions? Such as ‘Jaime feels pain when placing their hand on a stove (objective), so Jaime mustn’t do that (subjective)’?

    • Richard Nikoley on October 12, 2014 at 13:09

      Not entirely certain what you mean, Jack.

      The subjective is merely matters of opinion, preferences, values not required for survival (pink dresses and bouffant coiffures are subjective, oxygen is objective) and objective is not subject to what anyone or group or majority or fancy hat or robe or book with holes holds forth.

      1+1=2 is objective

      The chief problem in society is that vast swaths of subjective values (such as 100% of all laws) are taken as objective. Even laws counter murder and rape are subjective, simply because it’s not anyone’s objective job to preemptively force or create rules for others.

      There are no kings or lawmakers in nature.



    • Jack on October 12, 2014 at 20:30

      So objective is quantifiable, and subjective is qualifiable?



    • Richard Nikoley on October 12, 2014 at 22:21

      I don’t see why not.

      Take a pile of steaming bullshit.

      One, you could objectively qualitify it; let’s say by weight in pounds. Infinitely testable.

      Or, you could subjectively qualitify it;, let’s say that a doG commanded that doing head stands in it was the true path to heaven.



    • Jack on October 12, 2014 at 22:37

      So rules are not facts, regardless of the truths upon which they are based? Fair enough; it’s a shame more folks don’t properly appreciate this



    • Richard Nikoley on October 13, 2014 at 07:30

      Well, the rules in themselves are objective facts (they exist and there are real penalties, usually), but they are subjective in that they exist on the basis of authority, force, imposition even is they happen to codify objective wrongs.

      They are arbitrary, is another way to put it, enacted by kings and legislatures. True morality is objective because it’s imposed by nature, metaphysical is another way to put it.



    • Jack on October 13, 2014 at 11:02

      So basically, since rules exist only under the actions of an individual or group(s) of individuals, they are arbitrary. However, since laws (laws of gravity, evolution, psychology, etc.) exist as a result of a mindless physical world, they are ‘real’. Is this accurate?



    • Richard Nikoley on October 13, 2014 at 12:31

      You can put scare quotes around the metaphysical all you like.



  7. Regina on October 31, 2014 at 15:35

    wasn’t sure where to post this.

    “The Police Are Still Out Of Control” by Frank Serpico:

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