i have a theory that it is possible to root our moral value statements in the soil of reason by identifying one goal that is not just common to all human beings, like hunger (we’re all aiming to fill different bellies), but is actually shared by at least the vast majority of our entire species (with dissent being statistically negligible).

our best options for moving toward this (practically) universal aim could be determined by considering relevant information provided through scientific inquiry, empirical observation, critical thinking, etc. (what i refer to as 'rationally obtained pertinent information' or ropi for short)

the universal aim, combined with ropi, together create a context, within which the truth or falsity (or truth-value) of all moral value statements can be determined. i refer to this unique yet ubiquitous context as the universal moral-value legitimizing context.

i then argue that the biologically inherent impulse of all forms of life to not just survive but thrive wherever possible constitutes just such a universal aim. (it has recently been brought to my attention that this concept of 'the universal aim' is basically identical, to albert schweitzer's concept of 'the will to live' which he employs toward similar--yet sufficiently dissimilar--ends.)

my argument is a direct response to hume's is/ought barrier (as implied by the title) and depends on the philosophically uncontroversial idea that value statements concerning goal oriented behavior can be unproblematically assigned truth value.

i'd really love to get any kind of feedback on this.

note: i wrote an article about this with a very wide audience in mind (not that i have an audience). so if you'd like more explanation of any of this, you can find the article on the front page of my blog, which i've tentatively named 'anomic'.

Tags: harris, hume, morality, sam, science

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Thats essentially my point. I don't have any faith that the human race as a whole will make the right decision, at least not at the point where we are now~ but we have devised some excellent devices to control and regulate ourselves, and to express even the most dissenting opinions. if we can keep up this progress we have made, things should eventually evolve to a point where we are better off as a whole. I think our lack of faith as a whole comes from the inability for a people to have a concensus, and from the incredible disparities between the third world and first world, but consider~ in the U.S. women are no longer second class citizens, neither people of different ethnic backgrounds. We no longer have institutionalized child labor and we have programs in place to help those who cannot help themselves. we recognize patients rights when it comes to mental illness, and there is an immense cooperation between many people to find cures for afflictions that effect a large minority of people. It is our communal government that facilitates these initiatives, but it is we the people to get them through the gov't. sure we still have problems with many things, but there are many things we've also tackled, so I would look at what we have done so far along with what we haven't, as opposed to just what we have yet to do. if you are familiar with radiolab you can find an episode they did on the foxes its called 'new normal' and is at the end of the episode. definately worth listening to.
Good point. The advances you mention certainly meet my definition for social good, but I still get bogged down when I make such judgments. I don't want to make any sweeping generalizations based on my conditioned "gut preferences" for humanity.

If we are saying that equality is the determining factor for social good, we can come up with some pretty distasteful resulting scenarios. Likewise, if we use equity of goods, services and opportunities to be the determining factor, we can again imagine some horrific potential outcomes.
yeah, too true. I'd just leave it at progress being defined as that which advances the rights of the individual, while protecting the rights of others. protecting people from the undue influence of larger bodies ie corperations, churches, gov'ts etc and recognizing certain rights that every human being has, regardless of nationality.
I'd just leave it at progress being defined as that which advances the rights of the individual, while protecting the rights of others.

Hmmmm... pretty good.

I don't tend to be optimistic about our species.... but I always thought that humans could take a giant leap forward in one generation by making one simple overhaul... parenting.
And which nations would that be??? The Swedish Prime Minister who desired a fair society was assassinated and communist idealism is dying. Everywhere else in the world we see a turn towards selfishness, be it group or individual. Cooperation is certainly not the growing force of the 21st century.
let me make this brief.
~Slavery predates the written record, which goes back about 11 thousand years. It is mentioned in the earliest documents of written record. If you like to think of humanity as a hunter gatherer society of which we know very little of, go ahead; I see little benefit to concerning a society we know very little about, and whose cultural relevance to modern society is questionable.
~Proportionally speaking, slavery is likely at its lowest percentage of the human population, ever (27 million the highest stated estimate, out of 6.8 billion)
~Modern indebtedness is NOT slavery. you have no physical obligation to pay ie the will not break your legs for being late on a payment. they garnish wages and ruin credit scores. there is no Paupers prison in the US.
~in fact, if we did not have the current system of debt/income arrangements, the united states would look more like mexico city, as the price of property and construction are more than what almost every american could afford at one time. its a natural monetary progression.
~feudalism in Europe began after the decline of the roman empire, and lasted for about six hundred years; however, it has been prevalent in chinese and japanese culture for much longer, almost three thousand years in the case of the former.
~There is massive cooperation nowadays that hasn't been seen in the course of modern history. you have the European Union that has prevented war in europe for sixty years (consider that europe has been wartorn for over one thousand) You have the United Arab Emirate, which has brought stability to, historically, one of the most violent regions of the world . You have the United Nations, that represents almost 200 nations around the world (192 to be exact) and creates a platform so that disputes can be settled through sanctions and cooperation with neighbors before outright war.
Slavery has not ended, it has only changed its face: estimated 17,000 young women and girls annually who are forced to w...

As I see it, you are correct, the richest nations cooperate in keeping others down, we have found our common enemy.

And feodalism, we have simply never exited that phase, instead of King, just call him Bill Gates.
that, or we call him Governor (I live in the commonwealth of Pa, we have property tax, which essentially equates to renting your land from the gov't.) or president (unconstitutional income tax) but then again, even if we didn't have those issues of ownership and financial servitude, what is the real importance of ownership? Truly we cannot really OWN anything, at least in the sense of having total control over an object... so why is it so important to us anyways? any thoughts?
to elaborate, the concept of ownership is only valid within the context of a society ie a group of people with a set group of rules; and even so, is it not possible to live a meaningful life without ever owning anything? considering that free will is an illusion, can we even own ourselves? we are simply biomechanical mechanisms whose actions and reactions are determined by experience, concluding that we truly have little control over who we are and how we are. If we are in some way fundamentally unable to own our own minds, how do we truly own anything?
If we are in some way fundamentally unable to own our own minds, how do we truly own anything?

True enough. Every behavior is just one more domino falling in a chain reaction determined by the domino behind it.


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