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A Theory of Public Morality

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GE Morton
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A Theory of Public Morality

Post by GE Morton » October 9th, 2018, 9:44 pm

A Theory of Public Morality

Definitions:

A Moral Agent is a sentient creature who
a) has interests and some capacity for pursuing them, and
b) is capable of recognizing other qualifying creatures as moral agents who likewise have interests, which may differ from his own, and
c) is capable of understanding and formulating moral principles and rules and acknowledges the need for them in a moral field.1

A Moral Field is a setting wherein there exists more than one moral agent, and wherein it is possible for each moral agent to interact with at least one other moral agent (i.e., a social setting).

An Interest is a good or an evil.

A Good is a thing, condition, or state of affairs which an agent seeks to acquire or retain.
a) A Means Good is a good sought because the agent believes the good is necessary or useful for obtaining an end good.
b) An End Good is a good sought by the agent “for itself,” i.e., because he believes it in se will afford him some benefit or satisfaction.

An Evil is a thing, condition, or state of affairs which an agent seeks to avoid or be rid of.

The Value of a good is given by what the agent will give up to acquire or retain it (positive value), or to avoid or be rid of it (negative value).

An Interaction is an encounter among two or more moral agents whereby an interest of at least one of the agents is affected, either positively (pursuit of the interest is furthered) or negatively (pursuit of the interest is hindered).

A Moral Duty is an obligation upon a moral agent to perform a specific act given specific circumstances, derived from and commanded by a sound moral theory.

A Moral Constraint is an obligation upon a moral agent to refrain from a specific act, given specific circumstances, derived from and commanded by a sound moral theory.

Postulates:

1. Postulate of Liberty: There are no a priori moral duties or constraints. The only duties and constraints binding upon moral agents are those derived from a sound moral theory.
Corollary: Postulate of Free Agency: The agents in the moral field are not parties to nor bound a priori by any universal agreement or compact.
Corollary: Postulate of Autonomy: The agents in the moral field are not related as elements of an organic unity, and are not subject to any external imperatives or constraints other than those imposed by the laws of nature.

2. Postulate of Relativity: All goods and evils, and the values thereof, are relative to moral agents, and are not defined except with reference to moral agent (a valuer). I.e., “X is good (or evil)” is ill-formed and non-cognitive. “P deems X to be good” is well-formed and cognitive. Likewise, “The value of X is V” is ill-formed and non-cognitive. “The value of X to P is V” is well-formed and cognitive.

3. Postulate of Individuality: Goods and evils and the values thereof differ among agents in the moral field.

4. Postulate of Indifference: Agents do not necessarily take an interest in the interests of other agents.

5. Postulate of Equal Agency: All agents in the moral field are of equal moral status, i.e., all duties and constraints generated by the theory are equally binding on all.
Corollary: Postulate of Neutrality: The theory is neutral as between goods and evils, and the values thereof, as defined by agents.2

AXIOM (The “Fundamental Principle”): All agents in the moral field should adhere to rules per which goods can be maximized, and evils minimized, for all agents.

1. Two additional definitions, not required for the present theory, can be derived from these criteria:

A Moral Subject is a sentient creature for whom a), but not b) nor c) is true.
A Moral Imbecile is a sentient creature for whom a) and b), but not c), are true.

2. The rules generated by the theory govern only the acts of agents, and is indifferent to the ends of actions. However, if a certain end should entail a violation of the rules, i.e., it cannot be pursued without violating a rule of the theory, it is effectively ruled out as a permissible end (a malum in se).

Readers are invited to scrutinize and criticize these postulates and speculate as to what theorems may follow if they are true.

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Hereandnow
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Re: A Theory of Public Morality

Post by Hereandnow » October 10th, 2018, 11:00 pm

GE Morton
2. Postulate of Relativity: All goods and evils, and the values thereof, are relative to moral agents, and are not defined except with reference to moral agent (a valuer). I.e., “X is good (or evil)” is ill-formed and non-cognitive. “P deems X to be good” is well-formed and cognitive. Likewise, “The value of X is V” is ill-formed and non-cognitive. “The value of X to P is V” is well-formed and cognitive.
The question is where to start and here seems good enough. To say that 'x is good (or evil) ' is ill formed and non cognitive is something I would take to task. Wittgenstein wrote that an ethical claim is an absolute judgment of value and not a judgment of fact, and he thinks any statement of this kind taken as an absolute is simply trying to break beyond the boundaries of language, which can't be done. Mine is a different thought on the matter: ethical statements, even contingent ones like a person should obey the law which are reducible to something just as foundational as a person shouldn't bludgeon her neighbor, are absolutes, or are reducible to absolutes, and therefore are apriori facts in the world, and therefore are cognitive and well formed (thought tis says nothing about any particular statement and its truth of falsehood). The "deeming" of something being ethically good of bad is significant insofar as judgment is an essential part ethical "presence".

I hold that all value in the world is absolute.

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