An Introduction to Philosophy Part 5 Ethics 4 - Definitions - Transcript

Introduction to Part Three: The Juicy Stuff

[0:03] Hi everybody, it's Stef. Hope you're doing well. It is time for part three of ethics, wherein we really do start to get to some of the juicy stuff.
And let's have, again, the blinding recap, because we've done quite a bit in the realm of ethics over the last few podcasts.
So, with your permission, I will give you a quick recap over the questions that we have talked about.
So, we have defined ethics or morality as universally preferred behavior, and we have also, I think, taken a fairly good swing at proving that preferred behavior exists universally, and you simply can't oppose the existence of preferred behavior without claiming that you prefer some other form of behavior.
So, we can take it as pretty much an axiom that preferred behavior exists.

[0:58] And then we can look at the question of is there generally better universally preferred behavior in other words is there behavior that people should choose over other forms of behavior and, what we can do in that in those circumstances we'll start to get into now and i'm going to to lean rather heavily on the analogy of nutrition, or to some degree medicine, to sort of help make the case for a universal system of ethics.
And we will also run a few common ethical questions through our ethics machine, so to speak, and see if we can't come up with some rational ideas or rational things that sort of make sense at a gut level.
As I mentioned in the last podcast, Aristotle is quite keen on the idea that if you come up with an ethical system that can prove that rape and murder are moral, you might have missed a certain syllogistical step that would make sense, because it would be very tough to come up with something like that and have it kind of feel right.
Now, I know I've talked about logic so far, but I think that if I come up with an ethical system that says murder is the most moral action, you might have a certain amount of problems with it.
So, let's have a look at this question of, are there behaviors that should be universally preferred by people or not?

[2:28] Now, the first thing that I would ask is, how would we define what would be universally preferred or not?
And again, we're going to lean on the scientific method, we're going to lean on the science of nutrition to help us out a little bit here, just so we don't have to reinvent the wheel from the ground up, so to speak.
So the first thing that i would ask is is the theory that would propose or define universally preferred behavior it is is it required to be logical or not right and of course the moment we use universal we're in the scientific method we're in empirical reality we do have a requirement for logic and consistency.

[3:10] So if I say murder is most foul on Tuesday and most fair on Wednesday, then I'm going to have a problem with consistencies, like saying water flows downhill on Tuesday and flows uphill on Wednesday.
That would be a scientific theory that would have some pretty fundamental flaws or problems with it.
So we do, I think, have to have the idea.

[3:36] And follow the rigor to say that any moral philosophy that we put forward has a requirement to be at least internally consistent and logical and universal across human beings and again we'll get into some sort of minor exceptions down the road but we're just talking in general here so So, if we accept that as a standard, that any ethical theory has to be at least, at the very least, it has to be internally consistent.
And this we do for scientific theories as well. For a scientific theory, the first thing that is required is internal consistency.
So, again, if I say that all other things being equal, water flows downhill on a Tuesday and uphill on a Wednesday, then what happens is the scientific community does not immediately rush out and start testing water flows on Tuesday versus water flows on Wednesday they don't do that and they don't have to, because the theory is internally inconsistent.

[4:42] So, a mathematical theory, when you sort of go down to the basics and it turns out that it relies on the assumption of 2 plus 2 is 5, once you understand that, right, so let's just say that a mathematical proof starts off with a miscalculation at the very basis, which says 2 plus 2 is 5, you can stop right there.
I mean, this is a very important thing to understand when it comes to logic.
When you find a logical inconsistency, a self-contradiction, a premise which contradicts another premise, an axiom that is not universally valid, the moment you come across that, you can stop.

[5:18] You can stop. You can stop. In the same way, if you're trying to go west to get to a particular town, and you're in fact going east, the moment you see that on the map, you don't have to keep going east to find out if it's the case.
You go, oh, I'm going the wrong way, I turn around. at, right?
So the moment that a theory that is put forward, independent of any kind of empirical observation or corroboration from experimentation, or in this case it would be the examples both across the world within your own life and throughout history for, you know, certain kinds of ethical theories, the moment that a theory that is put forward is internally inconsistent, self-contradictory, illogical, based on false premises, self-contradictory axioms or axioms which aren't universal, the moment you come across one of those logical problems within any proposed theory, that's where you stop.
And you say, you know, excellent try.
And of course, this may be the case for me as well. I'll do my best.
But of course, you may come across faulty premises, in which case, please feel free to let me know.
I will praise you to the skies and post the corrections here.
Because as I mentioned in the very outset of this series on ethics, this is the last thing in the world that anybody should be wrong about.
So I recognize the danger danger of what it is that I'm doing and the problems that will accrue if mistakes end up being made.
So please let me know if I'm making these faulty, if I'm making faulty arguments.

[6:38] So, the moments that you come across a logical inconsistency in a proposed theory, that is the very moment that you can simply abandon that theory.
You don't have to go into empirical validation or empirical testing.
This is rather bright, isn't it? Let me... How's that? Any better?
Ah, the forehead. Anyway, so from that standpoint, we must say that any ethical theory, it must at least first and foremost, or at its very basis, have internal consistencies, be logical, have premises that are founded on universal principles and general human experiences and the nature of reality and matter and energy and physics and so on.
And if a moral theory fulfills all of those requirements if it at least is internally consistent and consistent with, its axioms and premises then we can start to bring in examples from history and see if if the moral theory explains that right and we've we've talked about some criteria by which a moral theory can be evaluated according to the let's just for the moment call them the facts of history and so on and there are some which we can relatively well accept And so...

The Importance of Logic in Ethical Theories

[7:52] That's the number one consideration. The number one consideration is it has to be logical. And if it's logical, then we can test it against the facts of reality.
But the moment that we come across an ethical theory that is illogical or inconsistent, then we can dismiss it without going any further.
So if we're going to talk about universally preferred behavior in any way, shape, or form, then either it exists or it doesn't. So let's take a look at the premise that universally preferred behavior does not exist.
There is no such thing as universally preferred behavior.

[8:28] We can generally say that if an organism has a goal called survival, that eating and drinking and sleeping would probably be pretty high on that list, right?
Because if you are a human being and you neither eat nor drink, you're probably dead within, you know, 48 to 72 hours.
And dehydration, I think, comes before starvation.
At least it would for me. But we can at least say that if an organism's goal is life, then there is universally preferred behavior.
You have to at least eat, drink, and sleep. sleep so from a biological standpoint this is not a philosophy really this is more just receiving the observed and fairly rigorously defined facts of biology from that standpoint there is such a thing as universally preferred behavior if the organism wishes to live right there's lots of ifs in biology right because a rock falls down whether or not it wants to because it has no no consciousness or willpower or mechanism to impede its flight, but an organism, particularly human beings, has the choice to survive or not, right?

The Consequences of Rejecting Universally Preferred Behavior

[9:34] So, logically, if you want to survive, eating, drinking, and sleeping is a good thing.
If you don't want to survive, then, you know, throwing yourself off a bridge or eating cyanide would be the preferred behavior.

[9:46] Now, what certainly does seem to be the case in human life, is that since we have this requirement for consistency among ethics, if we accept the proposition that there is no such thing as universally preferred behavior, if there is no such thing as universally preferred behavior, anything goes, whatever you want.
We could just call this radical hedonism or radical moral skepticism, and whatever you want to call it, but basically it's the idea of anything goes, anybody can do whatever they want, that there is no universally preferred behavior.

[10:26] Well, let's take that and see if we can't come up with any problems with it, and of course if we do find that in its basis it is logically self-contradictory, then we can, you know, pretty much dismiss it without any real real further ado so let's just say okay i put forward the proposition that there is no such thing as universally preferred behavior that universally preferred behavior is a fundamental conceptual error and that preferred behavior is is whatever people want it to be so i'm putting forward a theory i'm not saying it's an opinion because it's if it's my opinion that universally preferred behavior is invalid then my opinion has the truth value of the statement that says I like red it may be true that I believe that but who cares right it's not something it doesn't mean that you have to like red right if I say two plus two is four and that's consistent with the facts of reality and the logic then it is incumbent upon you to accept that proposition if you want to be logical if you want to have truth value and what it is that you're arguing for and of course if you're arguing it is totally incumbent upon you to inject truth value into what you're saying otherwise you're just yelling opinions across the breakfast table and doesn't really mean anything thing, although it would probably get you some good shows on CNN. So...

Subjectivity vs Objectivity in Beliefs

[11:42] If you say there's no such thing as universally preferred behavior and it's just your opinion, that's fine.
You know, you like Red, you like Cap'n Crunch, go have a nice day.
It's not a philosophical argument and nobody else is bound to believe it, right?
Nobody else is bound to believe it. If I say rocks fall down, then you are sort of incumbent, it's incumbent upon you to believe that because it's actually true.

Challenging the concept of universally preferred behavior

[12:08] And you don't need to get all fussy about the concept of down, I'm aware that, you know, Einstein says that's not the case, and I guess even Newton would as well.
So, if you are going to put, if I put forward the proposition that says universally preferred behavior is invalid, is invalid, then of course I'm putting that forward as a universally preferred behavior is that everyone should believe that universally preferred behavior is invalid.

[12:34] If I believe that there is a truth value in my statement, in the same way that two plus two is for and rocks fall down and i exist then you can't put forward a truth value statement that says universally preferred behavior does not exist it's exactly the same as we talked about before when we talk about i'm going to use your hearing to convince you that the senses are invalid i mean that's a complete logical contradiction we actually can we can stop right there and dismiss miss it we can go on a little further if we like but basically if i say that universally preferred behavior does not exist then i'm putting forward the proposition that it is universally preferable that people believe that universally preferred behavior does not exist this is a complete self-contradiction i can say universally preferred behavior does not exist that's my mere opinion and it has no truth value that is at all required for other rational people to believe leave, like I like blue, then...

Personal opinions vs. universally preferred behavior

[13:39] It's not a debate. It's merely a statement of opinion, right, as we've talked about before.
So, we can immediately say that if somebody is arguing for the proposition that universally preferred behavior does not exist, that that person is contradicting themselves already.
Now, let's go one step forward, right, because the great thing about logic is that if there's a mistake at the root in the premises and axioms, then there's mistakes all the way along, and the contradiction doesn't exactly resolve itself next step, right?
It's like if you're heading getting east when you should be going west, the further you go east, the further you're getting away from your destination, right? It's not like you hit the next town and suddenly you're west.
So when you're going in the wrong direction in terms of logic, anywhere you stop is going to be lots of contradictions.
So let's just say that the principle that universally preferred behavior does not exist.

Individual Freedom vs. Universally Preferred Behavior

[14:31] If universally preferred behavior does not exist, then everybody should be able to to do whatever it is that they want to do.
Universally preferred behavior does not exist, so everybody can do whatever they want to do. Well, that's fine.
Now, let's suppose that we accept that as a premise. What happens then if I wish to become the dictator of the world, right?
What I want is to rule over six billion human beings with an iron fist and the rule of law and my own little Gestapo and NKPD and someone, my own little secret police and torture chambers and I want to be the all-shiny dictator of the world, well, that's my preferred behavior.

Contradictory Preferred Behaviors and Moral Philosophy

[15:10] Well, if it is universally true that preferred behavior that is common to all human beings does not exist, what happens when one person's preferred behavior interferes with another person's preferred behavior?
So let's say that you prefer to be free and I prefer that you be my slave.

[15:29] So we have contradictory preferred behavior here.
What are you going to do as a moral philosopher to resolve this problem?
Because if everybody just wants to go live in the woods and do their thing, independently of everyone else then you have a fairly decent i think argument or at least consistent argument with the proposition that universally preferred behavior doesn't exist but if i want to enslave you lock you in my basement make you cook my meals maybe we'll withdraw a little from the six billion slave scenario and just walk on a more personal level, if i want to enslave you then my preferred behavior is that you be my slave and your your preferred behavior is that you sort of not be my slave.
Irrational though that may be.

[16:15] So how do you resolve this from a logical standpoint? If there's no such thing as universally preferred behavior, then for one person to impose preferred behavior on another is wrong.
Because there's no such thing as universally preferred behavior.
So if I put forward the argument that says, you have to be my slave because it's a good thing, it's a moral moral thing it's a great thing i am your country you should be a patriot right then i'm putting forward the proposition that you should want to be my slave but you don't want to be my slave so here we have that if universally preferred behavior does not exist then it is completely irrational for one person to impose and wrong for one person to impose standards of behavior on another.
Parent to child, jailer to prison cell, whatever, however you want to call it.
For any human being to impose any values on any other human being.

The Problem of Imposing Values on Others

[17:10] Is totally illogical. And so you have a problem, a logical contradiction, even if we accept the base premise that universally preferred behavior does not exist, we then end up with the contradiction that if universally preferred behavior does not exist, it is universally preferable that human beings not impose their values on others, because that would be a violation of the subjectivity of preferred behavior.
So, we then end up with another logical problem.
So, I think it's safe to say that there is no argument that can be put forward that says universally preferred behavior does not exist, without invoking universally preferred behavior, unless you state it as a mere opinion that has no truth value. It's not binding upon anyone else.
Nobody else would be required to believe it.

The Existence of Universally Preferred Behavior

[18:01] So that having been said then the question is not does preferred behavior exist the question is not does universal preferred behavior exist and is it a valid concept the question is only i say only in the loosest sense of the term the question is only what can be considered universally preferred behavior what can be considered universally preferred behavior, behavior so we've come an enormous and we've come an enormous amount here uh we've we've come all the way from the nature of reality through the questions of knowledge through the questions of truth value we've defined morality and we've actually i think fairly logically come to the place where we're not saying does morality exist we're not saying does preferred behavior or universally preferred behavior exist we know that it does we know that there are valid concepts the The only question is, what can be considered, in a logical and consistent way, universally preferred behavior?
Now, take a moment.
Let's have a toast to our journey. We're making great strides.

Exploring Universally Preferred Behavior

[19:10] All right. So, given that we know that universally preferred behavior exists, and the only question is what could be considered universally preferred behavior, now we have a sort of two-fold task, and we'll obviously divide this into two podcasts. cast.
The first fold, the first fold task is, let's put forward some propositions and see if they conform to universally preferred behavior.
And secondly, let's say that we come up with a set of universally preferred behaviors, then we at least have that is logical and consistent and can be considered universal and so on.

[19:46] If we can come up with those as a theory, and of course, we're trying to use and follow the scientific method as an outgrowth of philosophy, it seems is only valid and so once we come up with a universally consistent theory we've proved the existence and requirement of something and we've got a theory that is at least internally consistent then what we need to do is we need to compare our theory against testable reality to find out if the theory holds true right so if you have a theory that says a steady diet of only ice cream is um and is bad, then you can prove the internal consistency.
You can say, here's how it works within the body. Here's what it does to the pancreas and the kidneys and the liver and the fat cells and blah, blah, blah.
And then what you do, once you've got an internally consistent theory, of course, is you go out and you convince somebody or a whole bunch of people, if you're lucky, to eat nothing but ice cream and measure the results.
I mean, this is, once you've got the internally consistent theory, then you can go out and test it.
And of course, there are times when you notice things in the world, like everybody on a steady diet of only ice cream, tends to get a little pudgy, then what you can do is you then abstract and try and find out the root causes from a biological standpoint, and then you go back and retest to make sure that you've come to the right conclusions and so on.
So we're just talking about working from theory to practice, but you can of course boomerang from practice to theory to practice again with a test at the end.
But let's just work from this first standpoint to begin with.

Murder as a Universally Wrong Act

[21:15] So, let's put forward a proposition that says murder is wrong, right?
And this is something that we're all fairly comfortable with.
We're all, you know, I doubt there's too many people out there who say, no, no, no, murder is right.
Although there are a disturbing number of people who believe that under certain circumstances, which we'll get to later.
But let's just say in general that we can agree with the proposition that murder is wrong.
Now, if we say that murder is wrong as a proposition of universally preferred behavior, in the same way that we would say as a doctor, eating a balanced and healthy diet and exercising is good, right, that murder is wrong, again, it doesn't mean that everyone's going to follow the proposition that murder is wrong any more than people eat their vegetables because a nutritionist tells them to.
But the fact that human beings deviate from an ideal as we talked about in the last podcast does not mean that that ideal is subjective and irrelevant and so on so if we put forward the proposition that says that murder is wrong then can we make it universal and sort of the first question can it be universal independent time space and so on and we'll define murder as the initiation of the use of force not a self-defense which we'll get into at another time so if i say say that murder is wrong, can I universalize it?
Yeah, I can universalize it. I can say that murder is wrong on Tuesdays and on Wednesdays and in San Diego and in San Francisco and in Syria and in the.

[22:39] Andes and on Mount Everest and so on, that murder, the initiation of the use of force against an innocent victim, is wrong, right? I mean, so we can at least universalize it.
We talked about murder before, and if I come up with a proposition that says Whereas murder is the most moral action, then we can't universalize it, right? A person in a coma can't be virtuous.
A person who has no arms and legs and can't go and kill anyone can't be virtuous.
Anybody who's currently not in the act of killing someone can't be virtuous.
If you have two guys in a room, the only virtuous action that they can have is to both stab each other, that the fulfillment of the virtuous commandment, thou shalt kill, would be to end all human life.
You shouldn't have children, because that's quite the opposite of killing life, it's creating life.
Life so anyway there's lots of logical problems with the proposition thou shalt kill we also came up with logical problems with the proposition thou shalt steal which we talked about in other words if i say you must steal then i'm saying that um you must take other people's property in other words they have no valid property rights but that you must also keep the property that you've stolen and so you have property rights but the people that you're stealing from don't so i'm both both simultaneously denying and affirming the existence of property rights.

Logical Problems with "Thou Shalt Steal" Proposition

[24:00] If I say thou shalt steal, we face the same problem as we do with murder, which is that it's an active positive action, and therefore a toddler who doesn't understand the concept is evil because he or she is not stealing.
That somebody in a wheelchair who is currently disoriented or has Alzheimer's or something is evil because they're not actually out there stealing, and two guys in a room are just snatching back and forth goods from each other, and that doesn't really seem to conform to any rational idea of morality.
Morality, thou shalt not steal, is universal, right?
We can universalize that very easily. We can say that at all times and in all places, theft, which is the initiation, not the recovering of property that's been stolen from you, but the initiation of a property transfer from another human being against their will with either force or deception involved and so on. We can get into the complications of fraud.
Actually, I've done that in a number of podcasts, but we can at least begin that process of beginning to define some logical propositions that would make sense.
Because if you say whatever morality you come up with right if you say a theft is good because you should take whatever you want because you should satisfy your own desires right theft is good because if i see something in a shop window that i want i should just grab it i should satisfy my desires i should act to maximize my pleasure.

[25:25] That would be sort of the principle behind it, or sort of one possible principle behind it.
Well, I can certainly make that case, but the problem that I'm going to have in terms of universality, is it's going to be rather tricky for me to say that all human beings should satisfy the desires that give them the most pleasure, should maximize their pleasure, and so on, and therefore that justifies stealing or rape or murder or whatever, because, of course, it's not universal.
If I see something in a shop window and I want to maximize my pleasure, and maximizing my pleasure is the greatest goal, then the problem that i'm going to face in justifying that is that by stealing i am maximizing my pleasure but the person who i'm stealing from is having his pleasure automatically diminished right so i can't just i can't just make up a rule for myself right because we're talking about universals here which means it has to apply to all human beings at all times under all circumstances you know again minor exceptions is people who are mentally deficient and and people in people people in comas, maybe, or whatever, right?

Moral Rules and Universality

[26:23] But we're just talking about the vast majority of human beings in the same way that the vast majority of human beings have, you know, sort of four fingers, two thumbs, five toes, and so on.

[26:32] So, if I'm making up a moral rule, I can't just have it apply to myself any more than I can make up a rule about biology and have it only apply to one tsetse fly, right?
I mean, if it's a tsetse fly, it's all the tsetse flies. You can't just make up a rule for one. You can't just make up a physics rule and have it apply to one rock.
It has to to apply to everything. Otherwise, it's not a rule, right? It's just a nonsensical opinion.
So, if I have a theory which says hedonism is the thing, you just go out there, man, and you just satisfy your own wants and desires, and maximizing your own pleasure is the primary goal of life, then it's not universal.
Because whatever you do to maximize your own pleasure that diminishes somebody else's pleasure...

[27:12] Would automatically contradict the moral theory, right? So you're going to have a real problem with putting forward an idea that says you should steal because, right?
So if you say you should steal because there's no such thing as stealing property rights don't exist, well, that's fine.
But in taking property from other people, you are establishing property rights, right?
You're saying if I see a Rolex in your store window, when I grab it and I want, because I want to wear it, it's going to give me pleasure, then I'm saying I should be allowed to own the Rolex that I have have stolen, right?
I mean, if the moment that I steal the Rolex, it gets stolen from me, I'm not going to steal the Rolex, right?
So if the moral theory is consistently applied, moral actions cannot resolve, right? This is a very important thing.
If the moral theory is consistently applied, then moral actions cannot result, right? So that really wouldn't make any sense.
If I'm only going to steal the Rolex from the store window because I imagine or I want or I believe that I'm going to get to keep the Rolex, right?
I'm not going to bother stealing, breaking the window, maybe getting myself cut or whatever, setting off those loud alarms, maybe drawing the ire of the security guard, I'm not going to do all of that if the moment that I grab the Rolex, somebody else grabs it from me.
So if it's moral to steal, it's moral for everyone to steal at all times under all circumstances, right?
Then, of course, the Rolex could never be assembled because that would require that somebody transfer property from somebody else.

[28:31] So, like in a sort of coercive or deceptive manner, because stealing is good, right? Trade would be bad.
If stealing is good, then voluntary trade is bad or evil.
So, a moral proposition should not directly result in immoral actions.
If it's moral to steal, then nobody's going to bother stealing, because everybody who steals is going to get stolen from immediately, right? Then the store owner is just going to steal it right back.
And so, if stealing is moral, nobody's going to bother stealing.
So, you have a contradictory system wherein you're saying that universally preferred behavior, if consistently applied would deny the existence or the possibility or the motive for that universally preferred behavior. It's a total contradiction.

Contradiction in Universally Preferred Behavior

[29:14] If you were to say the same thing about rape, if you were to say that a man must rape a woman, it's moral to rape a woman, or another man, if a man rapes a woman, he is justified in doing so because, I don't know, the sexual gratification is immediate and should be open to the whim of the human being, that the pursuit of sexual pleasure or whatever, I know that there's lots of arguments that rape has nothing to do with sex.
But just for the moment, let's even say it's about dominating another human being.

[29:45] If a man rapes a woman, then he is justified in doing so because the pursuit of sexual pleasure and domination of others, blah, blah, blah, is the highest good, the highest virtue.
Well, it can't be universalized. because while a man is raping a woman, let's say he is maximizing whatever perverted sexual pleasure he gets out of it, he's maximizing his own pleasure, he sure as hell is not maximizing the pleasure of the woman, right?
Quite the opposite, he's exposing her to a moral horror of possibly just about the worst kind.
So if you say that human beings should act to maximize their pleasure and therefore men should rape, well, you have immediately a contradictory moral phenomenon wherein the man is maximizing his sensual pleasure or whatever pleasure he's getting out of it, but the woman simultaneously is not maximizing her pleasure quite the opposite, right?
So you have a moral action creating its exact opposite.
If the pursuit of pleasure is good, then rape is justified, but at the same time, rape does not maximize pleasure for the woman, so you have a moral action based on the moral imperative to maximize your pleasure, creating immediately an immoral action, which is a minimization of pleasure and a maximization of pain for another human being.
So, these are just some sort of examples that we can put forward.

[30:59] That seem to be sort of consistent, right? I mean, I think that's good.

Building a Framework: Property Rights and Morality

[31:03] I think that we can come up with things like, and, you know, this is all radical, radical stuff.
When you think about it, it's absolutely basic. It's totally how you live your life.
I don't assume I'm speaking to a lot of rapists and murderers.
It's totally how you live your life.
So what we've got is sort of some of the basics, right? So property rights are valid, and there's lots of reasons as to why that is the case.
Basically, the first property right that you have is over your own body, right? I can wave my hands. You can't wave my hands for me.
Even if you zap me with electricity, they're just going to jump around.
They're not going to do some sort of particular thing.
I own my vocal cords. I can use them to communicate. And so the first ownership that we have is our own bodies.
And that's why rape, of course, is an invasion and a use of somebody else's property, i.e.
Their body, as is murder, as sticking a knife into somebody's ribs is a form of trespassing on their property, which is deleterious to their health, bad for their health.
So, property rights exist because, as we mentioned before, if property rights don't exist, then nobody can eat or drink, or I guess even breathe to some degree, because that is the making of property your own, which of course would be totally invalid.
So, if everybody, some moralist puts forward the idea that property rights don't exist, then nobody can eat or drink, and therefore, again, moral behavior, which is not using any property, results in no further morality because everybody's dead, right?
It's kind of a self-contradictory statement. Thank you for watching.

[32:27] And, of course, there is no such thing as rape or murder if you don't own your property, like if you don't own your own body.
If you don't own your body and I need a kidney and I can just go and saw your kidney out of your side because you don't own your body, then that would be sort of perfectly moral in a non-ownership situation.
But, of course, in a non-ownership situation, I can't actually use your kidney.
So it all becomes very silly and very self-contradictory. so property rights are valid as a theory right as a logically consistent theory we'll get into sort of the proof through empiricism uh in the next podcast or two but at the very sort of minimum a property rights are a logically consistent and valid theory they don't self-contradict themselves they don't require contradictory principles they don't have one person doing the exact moral thing at the same time as he's inflicting the exact immoral thing on another human being they can can be consistent across time and place and space and so on.
So, property rights, as a theory, are consistent.

[33:25] Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not initiate force, is logically consistent, valid, does not produce contradictory behavior, does not, then people can be moral simply by refraining from that, whereas if thou shalt kill, it's the imperative, of course, you are creating and destroying moral behavior.
Morality is to kill. To be killed is immoral because you should actually be out killing.
So you have these contradictions. The person being killed is immoral.
The person killing is immoral, but it's moral. So all of this doesn't really make any sense.
And of course, it can't really be universalized because then everyone would kill everybody else and we'd all be dead.
So thou shalt not kill, logically consistent. Yes.

[34:05] Thou shalt not rape. We've already gone over that one. Logically consistent, universal, and so on.
Thou shalt not steal. Perfectly follows from property rights.
So we're starting to build a very useful framework, in my opinion, here that we're saying, yeah, preferred behavior exists.
Universally preferred behavior has to exist because it's logically impossible for it not to.
Or at least it's logically impossible to make any argument that universally preferred behavior does not exist.
So given that universally preferred behavior exists, then the next step in terms of defining a rational morality is to say, okay, well, any definition of universally preferred behavior, at the very minimum, has to be logically consistent, independent of time and space.
You know, like any theory of science, it has to be logically consistent and has to be based on valid premises.
It has to not result in ridiculous things, right?
If you have a physics theory that says, okay, for this physics theory to be true, my hands have to be able to pass through each other like two ghostly appendages.
Well, it's a ridiculous thing. You don't need to sort of test everybody's hands to find out if that's true.

[35:08] So we've come up with some very useful things. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal.

Universally Preferred Behavior: Thou Shalt Not Kill, Steal, Rape

[35:13] Thou shalt not rape. Property rights are valid. that property, the ownership of her own bodies is valid, which means that you can't own other people, which means slavery is not moral, and all these sorts of things.
So, this is sort of the good news, right? The good news is that you can define rules that are logically consistent of universally preferred behavior.
We're going to do two things over the next two podcasts. The first is that we're going to look at some empirical verifications of these sorts of principles, right?
So we're going to look at what happens if the universally preferred behavior of property rights is not followed in a society.
Are the results good or bad, right? Because we've got a theory that says eating all ice cream is bad. In other words, having no property rights is bad.
Or at least having property rights that aren't universal is bad.
Well, let's have a look at history and have a look at societies that have tried to institute systems with no property rights or few property rights and see what happens.

[36:09] We've got a theory that murder is bad, so let's look at societies that have lots of murder and so on and see what happens, if they're good or bad.

[36:17] So we're going to have some empirical tests towards our conceptual theory which is of course very very important right again conceptual theory has to be logically consistent the behavior of matter and and uh and energy is logically consistent through the evidence of our senses so we should be able to validate these theories to some degree right somebody who eats nothing but ice cream uh is probably not going to do so well but the degree to which people do badly is It's going to be different depending on everybody's persons, right?
Somebody who's lactose intolerant is going to get sick a whole lot quicker from eating nothing but ice cream than somebody who's not.
And so there are variations, but there's a general trend which we can work out within the evaluation of the premise that we should only eat ice cream.
It's going to be some variations, but we can still see the general trends, and the same thing will be true when we look at society.
Society and after that let's say that we then end up with some empirical validation of the premises that we've put forward the major ones the major universally preferred behaviors thou shalt not kill thou shalt not steal thou shalt not rape thou shalt you know thou shalt respect property rights or whatever let's say that we can find some empirical validation for that then we're going to move forward to uh the next step which is to look at the exceptions that everybody believes to these fundamental moral rules and the consequences of those which i think are the greatest evils that that are currently in the world.
So there's quite a carrot, I guess, at the end of the stick.
I hope that you'll stick around for it. Thank you so, so much for listening.

[37:41] I hugely appreciate the attention that this is getting. And I think that we're doing an enormous amount of good to bring clarity to a debate that unfortunately is all too often very obscured. Thanks again for listening. I'll talk to you soon.

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May 2024

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