Total Pageviews

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wolves In The Trees: A Moral Myth

Morality is a problem. The concept of morality now creates greater harm than good. Whereas it was once a useful transparent drive---something we are not aware of---now it has become harmfully deceptive. It masquerades as something that is real aside from our instincts and gives the appearance of fact that is not there. It forcibly asserts its own truth and commands its realness apart from the person---when in fact it is nothing more than the person's constitution moving the person and that person's feelings.

Morality requires free-will. If you don't require free-will, then what you call morality is simply a mistake of action no different from turning on the wrong road. For instance, If I kill my neighbor because he was standing in the road and I didn't see him, I haven't done anything immoral. However, if I walk into his front door and kill him by shooting him after planning the assault for days, most people would say I have done something immoral.

In one case I had no intention to kill; in the other I intended to kill. So the immoral act seems to be wrapped up in intention. But, a person who kills another cannot choose their reasons for killing---they simply acted on them. The intention is the beginning of an action. They also cannot will an intention strong enough to stop if they do not have that intention. It is a logical impossibility and a cognitive impossibility that a person wills or intends what they would will or intend. In the case of intending an intention, they would have to intend their first intention.

If I have had no choice in any meaningful sense, because my reasons have been determined, then I have only acted by necessity. If I have acted by necessity, then I have not intended an immoral action; I have simply acted while being aware of an aspect of my own internal causation [This also has drastic consequences for our conceptions of will and action]. If this is the case, then referencing intention is superfluous. The action of killing with or without intent is meaningless in a moral sense because it is no different from an accident. "Moral" simply doesn't exist as anything.

We feel moral or immoral. Things strike us as right or wrong. It seems to be a built in category to people. We see this, it has certain qualities, it gets put into this natural, empty category with a valence of "morality (good, bad)" attached. It is a feeling with a compulsion attached. However, it doesn't exist as a real existant thing qua morality.

There is a problem though. Intention doesn't seem to be a meaningless aspect of what we call "morality" or life. There is something important about it. So why would we have this mechanism---whether built-in, learned or both---that pushes such import on a "moral" agent and on agents intent? Why is there the difference between an intentional action and an unintentional action?

The answer is simple. An intentional action reveals intent which, in turn, reveals the reasons for the action: the stable disposition of the actor. An accident reveals little; an intentional action reveals a complex, thinking entity which is actively seeking harm. It is greater likelihood that Bob, a serial killer, is going to actively seek out a gun and shoot me than it is that Frank, a meek accountant friend of mine, is going to accidentally shoot me because he happend to find a gun in his desk (Bobs prank).

When I go hiking and camping, I'm not afraid of a deer accidentally running me over and breaking my bones. Its unlikely. However, I am concerned about wolves. They are actively seeking a prey. Their internal disposition is to hunt, kill and eat---and eating me is a distinct possibility. Now, lets say that I am a primal man, or a hippy (who hunts), with a wife, children and chickens. If I see a wolf, I am likely to kill it. It represents an active source of danger to my wife (she's petite and weak.The anti feminist ideal), my children and has already killed several of my chickens. My first response is to kill that wolf because I know its dispositions towards violence. Its intent is to kill as a stable disposition. Not only that, but I will probably actively seek to kill wolves, especially the ones that cross my path, because this reduces the likelihood that I will loose a kid, my hot lady or a meal.
We do the same same kind of mental calculations when we see someone who intentionally has done something wrong, like murder. He is fundamentally dangerous, at his core. He is wrong because he is unsafe to let be loose around us and our children.

We condemn any person, or it is adaptive to do so, that reveals such a dangerous character because one we can stop their characters progression towards danger through disapproval or we can end their threat by getting rid of that person.
In addition, you might say that we call lots of things immoral that aren't directly dangerous, like certain sexual improprieties. How does this fit into the development of need for an idea of objectively moral. However, these people still represent dangers for two reasons: they are not social constrained, and they are not predictable. Immorality, as conceived by many cultures, typically revolves around acts which if left unconstrained would result in danger. And they reveal a lack of inhibition. If a person can't keep it in his pants, like he has sex with any one he meets who is willing, he shows that he is not able to regulate his sexual desires---which could lead to incest, rape, hurt emotions (like jealousy) or a break down of certain social constructions, like marriage (which in times past was necessary for raising children and giving the male reproductive rights).

When a person violates social constructions, they reveal this lack of inhibition for one, and they reveal that they might not care about the constraints that the people find safety, reward and significance in. We consider them morally wrong because they break down our ability to make stable social structures. For instance, we may call a liar immoral because he always intends (acts out of his personality) to lie and that lying will be consistant. He is completely unpredictable. He may not directly harm you, but he can indirectly harm you by giving you bad information, violating a contract or slandering you. He is a threat to a stable culture.

This has many implications for justice. We are sentencing prisoners to death or imprisonment because some of us believe they deserve it and this is the natural reciprocity of justice. However, if we saw them as flawed, we might seek to fix the flaw rather than cage or eliminate it. Our methods would be different. If a prisoner is metaphysically immoral in a sense we cannot ever even have access to, because it is part of free will for he is evil, then we will seek to completely destroy him from our midst. If he is not constituted right for the context of the culture and the autonomy of other people, but the reasons for this failure are things we can address, we would look for ways to fix that person and head off others who would develop like him.

Believing in an objective morality was once highly beneficial and adaptive; however, now it may not be. The above example shows that a clear elucidation of what we are talking about when we talk morals can change the ways we look at a situation. If I keep looking wolves in the same old way, I might wipe them out and destroy the food-chain destroy my sustenance; If I see one person as moral or immoral objectively, then I might kill off someone that reveals a solution to the overal problem; or I might accidentally confuse something as wrong and dangerous that is not and destroy it. Many wars have been fought on the grounds of objective morality. This side believes that that side is wrong, vile, objectively immoral and the other side feels the same about that side. They cannot fix the issue, to have peace, because they cannot see the other side as being something that they can integrate: for that side is fundamentally bad. If something is fundamentally bad, in a way that is out there somewhere in free-will-land, and hence not fixable, then the only way to solve the issue is to dominate or destroy the other side.

If we see problems as reconcilable within the objective modifiable world, then we will, given our general human constitution, seek fix that problem. For we wouldn't see a person or nation as fundamentally bad, but, instead, as a problem with reasons that can be fixed. To see our world outside of the moral instinct, allows us to see it in the larger context and solve problems that are problems and ignore what are only apparent problems. We'll seek to understand wolves as wolves and see their greater part of the ecosystem or as our potential and useful pets. And, if it turns out, we simply cannot survive with certain wolves, like serial killers, we can always destroy that threat---but, we need to make sure we are not creating a bigger one.

The problem of placing intrinsic qualities, like morally good or morally bad, is that they are not fixable except by elimination---which could create greater atrocities to human flourishing---because you simply cannot chose to compromise with evil. It is intrinsically bad, completely un-choice worthy. However, if we bring moral down to the level of pragmatic in the context of human empathy, we will see problems that have far more solutions than an either/or choice. Morality presents us with false dichotomies. We need more than dichotomous thinking in a complex society, where we have evolved in or structure and even biology, beyond the day to day living of a simple forager or pre-modern. We simply can't deal with macro problems with micro concepts.

No comments:

Post a Comment