The Only Moral Principle That Is True

Discussions that deal with moral issues. Key questions in ethics include: How should one live? What is right (or wrong) to do? What is the best way for humans to live?

Re: The Only Moral Principle That Is True

Postby Paradox on August 19th, 2014, 7:53 pm 

ComplexityofChaos » August 16th, 2014, 8:12 pm wrote:To date, the only moral principle that I have found to be true is the following: Everyone has the right to do whatever they want.

This principle is not logically inconsistent, like the moral relativist claim that "there are no universal moral principles." If that were true, then that would itself be a universal moral principle; thus, refuting the relativist's own claim. This principle I stated above, however, avoids that contradiction and seems correct. At least, I have yet to find any fault with it.


You have the right to do whatever you want, however be prepared for the consequences if it is the wrong thing to do.

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Re: The Only Moral Principle That Is True

Postby doogles on August 20th, 2014, 2:19 am 

Yes Paradox: I believe that that is the essence of the fallacy in CofC’s universal moral right, inherent in the wording used in the OP, hence my suggestion to modify the wording.

Thank you Diorde for your comment “It seems to me that the question of 'rights' is redundant just considering choice alone; it's a personal, internal matter. Everyone can choose to do what they want, regardless. The question of rights applies to the choice - i.e. do they have the right to act out that choice? For example, you can choose to kill someone, but do you have the right to kill them? In a social context, it might be expressed as an individual having free will (the ability to choose), but not necessarily having the right to act on it.”
I like to be as positive and constructive as possible when thinking about what others are saying, and in this respect I felt that CofC had something in mind that just needed modification. So I tended to stick as closely as possible to his actual wording, thus using the term “right to choose”.

In one way, I can accept your variation “Everyone CAN choose to do as they want.”
But then again, because NO ONE CAN PREVENT YOU from choosing to do as you want, doesn’t that become a universal law as a “right to choose to do whatever you want”, which is what I believe CofC had in mind.

As I’m thinking more on the matter, maybe it should have two more words added – “Everyone has the right to CHOOSE TO ATTEMPT TO do whatever they want.” I was thinking that there are many circumstances when one may choose to do something, but be thwarted in the early stages. For example you may choose to walk across one of those 8-lane highways during peak hour. My imagination tells me that it would finish up as a failed attempt, with a number of possible outcomes.

Or you may choose to climb Mt Everest without advice and without stopping at the various camps for acclimatisation. I believe it would be recorded posthumously as “an attempt”. In the days of the ‘cold war’, you could have chosen to attempt to scale the Berlin Wall. I can think of many other examples.

But in principle, everyone can choose to attempt to do anything they want. Maybe we should also add “within their geographic and financial limits”. Both circumstances limit choices. If you are already locked up from practicing this right, then your choices will be limited. And of course all of our choices are limited by financial resources.
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Re: The Only Moral Principle That Is True

Postby dlorde on August 20th, 2014, 4:33 am 

doogles » August 20th, 2014, 7:19 am wrote:In one way, I can accept your variation “Everyone CAN choose to do as they want.”
But then again, because NO ONE CAN PREVENT YOU from choosing to do as you want, doesn’t that become a universal law as a “right to choose to do whatever you want”, which is what I believe CofC had in mind.

I tend to regard a right as a moral or legal entitlement that has its value in relation to your impact on the world and others. A choice per se has no impact, but expressing it may do. YMMV.
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Re: The Only Moral Principle That Is True

Postby doogles on August 20th, 2014, 7:00 am 

Diorde: “I tend to regard a right as a moral or legal entitlement that has its value in relation to your impact on the world and others. A choice per se has no impact, but expressing it may do.”
Yes, I agree Diorde that a choice per se has no impact, and that expressing it may do. I endorse that statement. But no one can prevent us from making choices to do what we want – for better or worse. So, if no one can prevent us from making such choices, then in one sense we have a right to make choices to do what we want. Certainly, heavy legal penalties can tend to deter us from making certain choices to do what we want, but no one can prevent us from making such choices. We have a universal right to make choices to attempt to do what we want.
I suppose it’s a bit like ‘free speech’. In western cultures, most people have the right to free speech, with some limitations related to slander, treason and defamation.

If it were possible to prohibit our universal right to make choices, it would be tantamount to my mind to taking away our universal right to ‘think’ about anything we like.
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Re: The Only Moral Principle That Is True

Postby dlorde on August 20th, 2014, 10:31 am 

doogles » August 20th, 2014, 12:00 pm wrote:... no one can prevent us from making choices to do what we want – for better or worse. So, if no one can prevent us from making such choices, then in one sense we have a right to make choices to do what we want... Certainly, heavy legal penalties can tend to deter us from making certain choices to do what we want, but no one can prevent us from making such choices. We have a universal right to make choices to attempt to do what we want.

OK, you clearly have a different working definition of 'right' than mine. For me, the fact that we can't be prevented from doing something doesn't give us the right to do it. For me, your rights are declarations of how others must or must not behave towards you and vice-versa.

I don't know quite what you mean by a 'universal' right, beyond the usual meaning of what an alliance of groups has agreed to (e.g. the UN 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights'). Rights, like morals, differ between cultures.

I suppose it’s a bit like ‘free speech’. In western cultures, most people have the right to free speech, with some limitations related to slander, treason and defamation.
I agree free speech is a right in some cultures, but I don't agree it's like what you call a right to do whatever we can't be prevented from doing; because you can be prevented from speaking freely, and the right to speak freely is constrained (as you mention) by the rights of others.

If it were possible to prohibit our universal right to make choices, it would be tantamount to my mind to taking away our universal right to ‘think’ about anything we like.

I don't think that the concept of a 'right' is any more relevant to thinking any more than it is to choice, except in the broader sense that you could be said to have a generic right to do anything that doesn't impinge on the rights of others. Is that what you mean by 'universal right'?

Otherwise, it seems it just means ability or capability; isn't it redundant to talk of the universal right to think, to scratch my arm, to digest my lunch, to blink, ...etc?

p.s. if you used the 'quote' facility, you wouldn't misspell my name...
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Re: The Only Moral Principle That Is True

Postby doogles on August 21st, 2014, 1:55 am 

Apologies diorde, for the misspelling of your name. As far as I can see, I used an upper case first letter, and obviously you prefer the lower case. Re using the quote facility, I’ve been unable to find any reference on this site as to how this is done. Sometimes the post I wish to quote has a red “quote” box at the top right of the post, and I can highlight what I wish to quote, and then click on that. But most of the time the red “quote’ box is not present within the posts, and I have to just copy and paste. Are you able to advise me with that problem?

Re the post itself, I was sticking as closely as possible to the wording of the original OP in which CofC used the term ‘universal moral right’. Otherwise I may have used totally different terminology to discuss this whole concept.
Obviously you and I just have to agree to disagree on the way in which I have used of the word ‘right’ in this context. You “tend to regard a right as a moral or legal entitlement that has its value in relation to your impact on the world and others”; I’m happy enough to say that “citizens have a right to do anything they want if there is no law or set of dules preventing them from doing so.” If the word ‘right’ had not been used in the OP, I may have just said “citizens CAN do anything they want if there is no law preventing them from doing so”.
The word ‘right’ in the English language has so many connotations that my Macquarie Dictionary has 56 separate ‘explanations’. We can take our pick.

Anyhow, I would appreciate it if you could direct me to a site in this forum where I can receive instructions on “quoting” and uploading JPG diagrams as well.
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Re: The Only Moral Principle That Is True

Postby dlorde on August 21st, 2014, 4:55 am 

doogles » August 21st, 2014, 6:55 am wrote:Apologies diorde, for the misspelling of your name. As far as I can see, I used an upper case first letter, and obviously you prefer the lower case.

Perhaps this will help: diorde is not dlorde (D. Lorde)

Re using the quote facility, I’ve been unable to find any reference on this site as to how this is done. Sometimes the post I wish to quote has a red “quote” box at the top right of the post, and I can highlight what I wish to quote, and then click on that. But most of the time the red “quote’ box is not present within the posts, and I have to just copy and paste. Are you able to advise me with that problem?

The red 'QUOTE' box should appear at the top of every post. If it doesn't, you probably have a software problem; perhaps your browser needs updating. I see the 'QUOTE' on all the browser platforms I use.

Anyhow, I would appreciate it if you could direct me to a site in this forum where I can receive instructions on “quoting” and uploading JPG diagrams as well.

I would suggest asking on the Feedback and Help Desk forum.
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Re: The Only Moral Principle That Is True

Postby Braininvat on August 21st, 2014, 11:50 am 

Not sure we have quite as much freedom of choice as some suggest. Heavy penalties, dire consequences effectively make certain choices unthinkable for most people. In that respect, we aren't free, except maybe to talk big and pretend that we could take certain extreme measures. But, really, we don't, most of us, and that is not a lack of "freedom" that I particularly mind or worry about. Especially in a country where automatic weapons are so easily obtained.

Praise D. Lorde! Spelling issue resolved!
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Re: The Only Moral Principle That Is True

Postby dlorde on August 21st, 2014, 11:56 am 

Braininvat » August 21st, 2014, 4:50 pm wrote:Praise D. Lorde! Spelling issue resolved!

Praise isn't necessary - just send cash ;)
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Re: The Only Moral Principle That Is True

Postby Imperator Phil on May 15th, 2016, 5:43 am 

I apologize for grave-digging, but I have been discussing this very same question, "what are the only true morals?", for quite some time, and I think I have arrived at a proper, logically sound response.

In my years of studying philosophy and science, observing the world, and arguments, I have arrived at the conclusion that strength is the only guaranteed moral. Time and time again, whatever force proves to exert the most strength determines what the actions of inferior forces are. Whether you believe murder is wrong, or that property doesn't exist, ultimately what allows the claimant to practice their doctrine unhindered within realistically practicable boundaries is their degree of defense and, further, offense against non-cohesive forces.

The mighty Romans believed themselves to be superior to the peoples they conquered and enslaved. They had top-notch technology, a powerful army and a decadent culture that bred economic growth and thus potential for conquest, but their fatal weakness was this same mentality. Their arrogance became greed. Greed stretched their capabilities further than they could sustain, causing the demise of their Western half and the birth of divided Europe as we know it today.

But even this is insignificant in comparison to non-living primal forces such as tectonic plate shifts, volcanoes and other natural disasters, and even Cosmic forces such as supernovas. Our solar system's integrity depends on the Sun, an unstable sphere of plasma that can and will eventually die, causing a supernova and destroying the Earth. These forces hold a demonstrable level of power over us, therefore we are inferior to them and what the forces do, we have to live with.

Thanks to all who have spent their valuable atomic energy reading my analysis!
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