Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Ethics and philospohy

So what do you prescribe to? Learn and comment....

Ethical egoism?

Bentham and Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism?

Ayn Rand's Objectivism?

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard's Existentialism?

Or the all encompassing Individualism or

What about egalitarianism?

Or John Rawl's Theory of Justice?

Why do you believe what you do? Does your moral philosophy conflict with our current political or economic systems? Are we selling Utopias or real world ideology?

The sentiments in Bastiat's "The Law" very closely mirror my own. The trouble I'm still having is where natural rights come from (Bastiat says God gave them to us): Are they in humans at birth? Are they learned? Did God create them? Are they a product of this world apart from God?

I've still got a lot to think about. Bastiat was probably right, but it's kind of an intellectual cop-out to just say God made them.
What is a cop-out? Isn't it an excuse? When I taught school I used to tell my students that excuses are like butts, everybody's got one and they all stink. I got in trouble for that, so I started telling them that excuses are like toes, everybody's got ten and they all stink. Then I read Henry Grady Weaver's the Mainspring of Human Progress whereupon I started telling them the truth.
Excuses are like idols you worship instead of the truth.
A cop-out is an explaination that covers your ass long enough to evade the deeper, more meaningful answers. It is an avoidance of the truth.
Are we concerned about being intellectuals or do we want to join the academic "elite"? Are we being pretentious? Pretense is doing what you percieve is required for acceptance and love from others.
I don't aim for acceptance into the accademic elite. I aim higher. That's why I explore original source materials as often as I can.
It's only a cop-out to say "God made us in His image because He desired relationship, and so He instilled into us those qualities that give us the highest dignity possible and gave us a mandate to take dominion over the earth," if its not true.

It's an intellectual copout because it's impossible to prove or disprove. It's quick and painless and easy to say. Once the assertion that God gave us our natural rights is granted, the arguments do flow nicely.

But if you don't buy the assertion, everything that follows is meaningless. For example, what significance can an athiest place on God-given natural rights?

I consider it a convenient starting point that, although I agree with it, turns out to be a tremendous sticking point.
I think Karl Popper and William Godwin were good philosophers.

It isn't overly important where natural rights come from. Saying they don't exist because you don't know where they come from would be a bad argument. Knowing the source won't change what they say or what real effects and consequences they have in the world.

"It isn't overly important where natural rights come from" It matters where you think NR's come from, because it shapes your understanding of law.
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