Nick's Journal
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2007-10-07 17:53:15 (UTC)

Disentangling Morality

while going over the seemingly out-of-my-mind boring subject
of a "textualist" interpretation of the Constitution i had
the good fortune of wiping the drool from my chin and
involving myself in a heated debate.
textualism is what it sounds like. people who subscribe to
that doctrine of interpretation essentially "look at the
text" and don't allow anything else to "get in the
way" say reality.
anyhow, somehow i got into this conversation with my teacher
about how textualists have a problem of tying morality to
words. "in other words" a lot of textualists believe that
they can't hold that for example the dred scott decision
(the infamous one where the supreme court ruled that black
people aren't actually "people") isn't wrong because that's
how the text was interpreted at taht time.
i thought that was incredibly stupid and started arguing
that people have a problem with kind of "gift-wrapping"
morality with something else...most notoriously a culture.
if the above doesn't make it abundantly clear i'm a moral
objectivist (not absolutist). i truly believe that there is
one objective moral "avenue" down which people should cruise.
anyhow we started getting off the subject of textualism (cos
it's boring) and got on to social darwinism. and then i
made the mistake of saying something which seemed to say
social darwinism was okay.
for the record...i don't think it's "ok". it's retarded but
i couldn't get my reason out because i wasa already jumped
by the thugs of the law-student police.
"so you're saying that if someone isn't 'fit' they should be
christ. what i had said was that certain traits like
maybe...being a moron or a criminal are genetically
inherited and (while it's not the only factor by any means)
seriously predisposes you towards a certain path in life.
then what i was TRYING to say was that the problem with
taking that thought and molding it into social darwinism is
that people don't SEPARATE morality.
so let's say for example that there's a strong correlation
between people who are criminals and their children being
criminals. does that give us a right to sterilize those
would-be parents as justice holmes was all about?
because even if we acknowledge that there is a link that
does not give us the right to sterilize them because it is
morally wrong.
steven pinkner put it best in "how the mind works" (one of
the best books ever). he was making a case for how you can
tell a lot about people from evolutionary biology. so then
he went on to adress the problems that many people saw with
this approach.
the argument against evolutionary biology is the same i have
above, "well if we KNOW someone is going to be a certain
undesirable way or there's a high chance of it...this could
lead people to discrminate against them."
but you have to make that leap of thought first and its
completely illogical. morality is the barrier between what
science gives us and how we implement it.
it doesn't "necessarily follow" that because in terms of
evolutionary biology girls aren't as good at math so
THEREFORE we should devote less time to them in that area or
think them less capable of a certain job.
you still have to get past the moral factor that you are
depriving someone of their liberty to make their own
decisions about their well-being, and that should be the
ultimate barrier.
that's in large part why i feel so strongly about moral
objectivism. i feel that that whole tenet that pinkner
expounds would seriously break down if morality was let to
be subjective.
people need to disentangle morality from some sort of
"objective" view they have in other areas. morality isn't
something which you package along with some other belief, it
stands firmly alone and is a truth in and of itself.
i hesitate to say that it would come from natural law almost
but that's how i feel about it. it's something which is
"out there" something which can be defined through logical
and rational thought.
like people don't like to live in fear. people don't like
to die. people don't like to be in fear of being killed.
so therefore it seems a logical extension of these
statements is that it shoudl be immoral to kill. morality
is somewhat functional but people make the mistake of always
lookign to whether society functions. its about whether the
individual as an individual can function.
if you deprive someone of their liberty, their life, their
chance to pursue happiness you are taking away what it means
to be human. seeing morality as the barrier against all
that wishes to take away our humanity seems like a good
enough pillar to let it stand on its own.