I have always believed that the ideal society is a meritocracy.
A meritocracy is a society in which each individual gets what he or she deserves. Anything less than this is unjust.
But that’s not saying very much. In fact, it’s not saying anything at all, unless accompanied by an account of what it is that each individual deserves. Preferably such an account will be a full-fledged moral theory, but let’s go pre-theoretical, and assume, just for the sake of my argument here, that each and every member of society deserves at least a roof over their head, a bed to sleep on, clean running water and enough to eat. Even our worst criminals are guaranteed this. (Oh, and ultra-fast broadband, of course, that most fundamental of all human rights.)
There are two main types of moral theory, viz., deontological and consequentialist. (Or three main types, if you count virtue ethics.)
Deontology (or Deontological Ethics) is an approach to Ethics that focuses on the rightness or wrongness of actions themselves, as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of those actions (Consequentialism) or to the character and habits of the actor (Virtue Ethics).
(It’s all much more complicated, of course. Consequentialism is almost synonymous with utilitarianism, and as we all know utilitarianism is wrong, wrong, WRONG! Because Ayn Rand said so! And so did the man whom she described as “the most evil man who ever lived”! And so say I! Woe to him who creeps through the serpent-windings of utilitarianism. But, again just for the sake of my argument here, let’s not damn utilitarianism. Notwithstanding that it’s damnable.)
There are two main types of political ideology, viz., capitalism (by which I mean free trade without government intervention) and socialism (by which I mean free trade plus progressive taxation).
Now oversimplifying (somewhat more than) somewhat, capitalism is a deontological political ideology (whereby you get to keep everything you earn) and socialism is a utilitarian political ideology (whereby you get to keep a proportion of what you earn, the rest is redistributed by the state, ostensibly on the basis of need).
Capitalism basically says that you deserve to keep the fruits of your own labour, and to hell with the consequences. So capitalism is deontological in theory. And it can be considered as a species of voluntaryism. So it is virtuous in that sense. But it makes no explicit provision for caring for the poor and leads to ever-growing wealth inequality so is vicious from the point of view of utilitarianism.
Socialism, however, isn’t any better in practice. In fact, it is worse because its attempts at wealth redistribution (to achieve a more just distribution of wealth as per whatever measure of desert is used) only serve to achieve a different unjust distribution of wealth, usually by overtaxing the middle classes. (Let’s face it, the ultra-rich do indeed have more wealth than they can possibly need so are not actually any worse off if they pay a higher tax rate, and I am who to say.) So the middle classes get doubly screwed by a mixed economic system, first by unfettered capitalism and then by capitalism’s fetters.
So capitalism wins the day but it is still a badly flawed system.
Which is why I am neither a socialist nor a capitalist. I am an anarchist looking for a flavour of anarchism that has both the virtues of capitalism (it must be an entirely voluntaryist system) but yet serves to more or less guarantee that there is at least an adequate (albeit perhaps very basic) standard of living for all.
Footnote. Non-utilitarian versions of consequentialism are less vile. What if the moral basis of property rights is rule-consequentialism? Food for thought would be a great way to make a living.
Jesus is the Word, and the Word clearly says that the most important rules in life are to love God and to love others.
Then one of [the Pharisees], which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (KJV)
I’m an abject sinner. Nonetheless, I do try to do what’s right. In fact, I’ve mostly always tried to do what’s right. Even before I turned to Christ. You see, I have an inbuilt moral compass. A God-given moral compass. God is the font of morality.
Just as we all have an inbuilt knowledge of God, so, too, we all have an inbuilt moral compass. What is a moral compass, exactly? The term ‘moral compass’ is shorthand for a set of moral sentiments, certain basic moral beliefs and the ability to engage in moral deliberation. And empathy. Hence the Golden Rule.
Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them. (ESV)
Your moral compasss is kind of like a speedometer in a car. If you’re trying to keep to the speed limit (as, of course, you should) then respect what your speedometer tells you.
We’re all supposed to have a God-given moral compass, one that points due moral north. Just in case it’s a bit broken and wavery, our parents are supposed to teach us right from wrong.
Not all parents are perfect, however. As a result of imperfect parenting, sometimes our children turn out to be gluttonous, stubborn, rebellious drunkards, who curse us.
Sometimes our children even commit heinous crimes and end up in jail.
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them. (ESV)
As parents, we stand by our children. We love them, no matter what. At least, that’s what most parents do or would do and it’s what my moral compass tells me is how parents should treat their prodigal offspring. (I’m lucky in that my own children are model citizens. 🙂 )
But certain passages in the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch) tell an entirely different story.
For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him. (ESV)
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (ESV)
Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (ESV)
I wish that others wouldn’t batter me with rubble.
I was once a stubborn and rebellious son who didn’t obey the voice of his father. Had I been stoned to death with stones by all the men of the city I wouldn’t be writing this here today. Luckily all that happened was an interview with my school headmaster. Hang all the Law and the Prophets!
When my moral compass and the Torah collide, I follow Jesus.
“And God made man in his own image….”
When God made Man he not only formed his body out of matter, He breathed ‘spirit’ into him and he became a living soul… a freewill moral agent capable of making real choices… not a robot slave of Materialistic determinism.
Atheist delusions leave mankind not only without any Objective morality, but also renders him incapable of making moral choices… whether Evil, or Heroic.
Atheism has no explanation for consciousness.
Heroic deeds like that of John Shear only deserve praise because they stem from the heart… ie He chose to endanger himself for the sake of someone else *when he could have just stood by* in safety and watch the Horse do it’s worst.
What is truly shocking is that there are many so-called ‘Educated’ Modern Christians who are embracing this anti-free will Atheist Materialism!
They must have rocks in their heads not to appreciate the fact that Monist Materialist Determinism is absolutely incompatible with Biblical/ Christian morality!
God cant judge sinners who had no choice but to sin.
William Lane Craig makes this point clear.
The Bible is Dualistic…. it is emphatic about the greater Non-material Spiritual Reality.
The Morality Of God and Bible is built upon these Truths.
Free will is a testament to our inner Spiritual Being…. and proof of God almighty!
This is because Freewill is inexplicable in materialistic terms and conditions.
And Libertarianism is utterly dependent upon free will… voluntary acceptance of the Justice of the philosophy of equal God-given inalienable Rights and liberties.
Atheism is fundamentally corrosive to the Philosophy of Liberty.
It is deterministic and Nihilistic… whereas Libertarianism is not Lawlessness, but depends upon Objective moral absolutes.
False belief? Could be a simple mistake. You don’t know any better.
But what if you act on it? Then it’s a false pretext. Could be a sin of ignorance. You should know better than that.
What if I tell that you’re wrong and tell you why you’re wrong—but you persist in the error of your ways? Then you commit a sin of culpable ignorance.
Let’s be clear. We’re not talking Lutheran trifles here. A sin of culpable ignorance is a mortal sin. (‘Mortal’ as in brain death. Yours.) Your offending isn’t at the lower end of the scale. It’s at the other end of the scale. You haven’t merely offended, you’ve blatantly violated. You have declared yourself an enemy of Reason and an enemy of God. Blasphemy! You have taken the name of Reason—the Lord thy God (or, if you prefer, your Only Absolute)—in vain and broken the Third Commandment.
Thomas Jefferson got it.
Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.
It’s a shame that Jefferson didn’t read this before he put pen to paper. To *say* in your heart, “There is no God,” is foolishness. But to *argue* God’s non-existence is in its very nature an act of worship! (And thereby self-refuting!) Gobsmack!
What about Ayn Rand? She said she got it. She paid a fortune in lip service. But flattery gets you nowhere. Inference takes you places! So is Objectivism the road to nowhere or are Objectivists on a hiding to nothing? Yes, indeed.
I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.
This—the supremacy of reason—was, is and will be the primary concern of my work, and the essence of Objectivism. Reason in epistemology leads to egoism in ethics, which leads to capitalism in politics.
Did you just feel a puff of air? That was Satan spreading his wings. But this time it ain’t no laughing matter. The greatest intellectual saboteur of all time, operating deep within Reason’s inner sanctum, is now exposed as traitor to the true Royal cause. Objectivism is the philosophy of reason all right – reason with a silent ‘T’.
^^^^ YEAH RIGHT!
Many Modern Atheists are Pompous White horse Riding ‘Moralists’!
They are Religious Zealot’s on a Righteous Crusade, fighting the ‘Evils’ of Religion, and vigously propagating and defending their Faith.
They often get extremely vicious against declarations of Faith in the Christian God, which led one Blogger to inquire…
” I mean, if you truly believe there is no God, why get all worked up over what a bunch of delusional Christians think?”… Valley Girl Appologist.
Pondering upon a post on Richard Goode’s Face book page discussing this Atheist Mentality in respect to why many of them are so militantly Anti-Christ, and so strongly desire to deny God’s existence… I made the following comment…
“There is a psychological reason Richard, They Hide from God in the Dark so as to delude themselves they can do as they please, and yet Pesky Christians keep reminding them that there is a God, and that He sets the Moral Laws… not them, and that one day they will stand before him and answer for their sins. *This is a message they HATE* … to the very pit of their self deluded souls! They simply don’t want to know about God *End of story*
Which Solicited the following response from ‘Atheist Greg’
^^^ Now Greg has expressed an opinion, not a counter argument.
It is no doubt a very common ‘opinion’ among Atheists, yet I don’t think my position as stated above can be so easily dismissed.
Atheist Greg has actually provided me with further opportunity to discourse the arguments for the Theistic vindication for Objective Morality vs Atheist Nihilism, and the origin of Mans innate sense of Good and evil.
Here I employ the basic argument used by the Late great C S Lewis.
If You Greg, and your kin, are nothing more than ‘Space Algae’, well *then* my arguement would be ‘Garbage’, yet you are a Conscious Moral being with a sence of Good and Evil, and you appeal to the ‘Moral law’ governing human actions every day… eg when you get a bill in the mail which overcharges you, you immediately feel a pang of ‘injustice’… and experience emotions of sorrow, and anger…. And begin to make self righteous determinations to see justice is restored. Now this sense of injustice at ‘wrong’ is more than simply being upset that an agreement was broken (social compact)…ie that a mere human convention was violated, It is a sense that *A Real Moral absolute… binding on all humanity has been broken* and that you are within your right to seek justice for your injury.
You are in fact appealing to an objective Moral absolute… a ‘higher Law’ which you implicitly believe underpins all ‘conventional’ human agreements as moral duties/ obligations to fulfil.
Thus I say that You Greg do not/ cannot live as a human being consistently with your claim that the universe is nihilistic/ A moral, or that Mankind is merely ‘Space Algae’.
To do so you would have to loose all sense of moral duty. You would have say to yourself that a person steeling your car… was not doing anything wrong… that even saying the car is ‘mine’ is a moral irrelevance… the universe caring nothing for your claims to ownership.
And you certainly have no basis to think that when a school bus full of children plunges over a cliff that any ‘cosmic injustice’ has occurred… no basis to shake your fist at heaven… the only reason you would do that is if deep within you believe in Moral absolutes, and know that Children *don’t deserve* to die, and that you are angry at God for allowing this sort of thing to happen.
The people who come the closest to the embodiment of Atheism are the Tyrants, Mass murderers, and Serial killers…The Hitler’s, the Ted Bundies… the Hannibal Lecters… The Sociopaths and Megalomaniacs who… like Wild beasts devour and enslave their fellow human beings *as if they are mere Space Algae* .
These are the Atheist ‘Realists’, who live under the conviction that all Morality and Law’s of society are merely Human conventions…and that there is no Real ‘Higher moral Law’ than their own Will.
They are God’s unto themselves.
Thus unless you (Atheist Greg) are prepared to accept that these Killers are absolutely right, and are prepared to drop any sense of Moral consciousness you have, I say
‘Garbage!’… to you!
I say deep within you know there is a real Higher Moral Law… you know that you are a Moral being… and these things all point to the notion of *Universal Justice*… God will judge!
…and as I was saying Atheists hate this Knowledge and seek to hide themselves from it.
They despise Christians for their ‘Pesky declarations’ which puts a tourch light on them…reminding them of their flight from Reality and their knowledge of the Truth.
Thus We witness the Ironic spectacle of Atheists who insist they are Moral, yet deny all Moral Obligation! They are ‘moral’ in their own eyes, and ‘holy’/without sin according to their own standards.
*How Convenient!* 🙂
What Basis is left for Morality if God… the Divine Lawgiver is Obliterated?
Atheist Materialists in the 1800s admitted that Materialism was the end for objective morality, yet the Modern atheist is not so bold, nor so rigorous as to where their premises ultimately lead, and instead pretend that their Atheism makes them *more moral than theists!* and they attempt to utilize Historic atrocities committed in God’s name as evidence that ‘religion is evil’… forgetting they have no ‘higher ground’ upon which to stand to make any such moral judgments, and that in doing so they are applying standards which are not theirs to use!
Such a one eyed approach which only looks at particular negative historic events does not succeed in knocking all religion off it’s perch, or by default add one ounce of objective moral reality to Atheism.
While defending God’s Divine right to execute judgments upon Mankind, Christians themselves are just as rigorous as any atheist in their condemnation of atrocities like 911, or the Salem witch trials…committed in God’s name.
I attended a Debate in Auckland a Few years ago between Matthew Flannagan and Prof Bradley on the topic ‘Is God the source of morality’ in which Dr Flannagan presented the God Command Moral theory, and the atheist Prof Bradley made the statement that he believed that because God does not exist that therefore he cant be the source of morality.
Instead he argued morality can only be founded upon ‘sentiment’!!!
Now ‘sentiment’ is an absolutely pathetic, subjective, and culturally relative foundation without any authority to impose Moral obligations! (and I criticised him for it at question time!)
This is really the subject fit for another Blog post, yet what is interesting about the modern Atheist is that they cannot bear the reality that their belief system is definitively Amoral and De-humanising.
To avoid this they attempt to change the game as to what morality really is.
Important End Note:
The Genesis story of the Fall of Mankind into sin declares that we were transformed from a child-like innocence into a ‘Knowledge of Good and Evil’, and It is this inner knowledge of Good and Evil which makes all mankind, in all times and places, accountable and Guilty before God and deserving of Judgment because they all have a knowledge of their own moral responsibilities. Thus I am saying that the Savage whom tortures his neighbor to death *knows he is committing Evil*… even if he has never herd of Jesus Christ. And God will Judge him for it. So too with the Atheist who does not believe Jesus Rose from the dead. This denial does not negate the Atheists own knowledge of sin, and guilt for his immoral actions for which God will hold him accountable.
Thus contrary to what Many atheists assert: The Bible does not deny Atheists cant have any sense of Morality… it insists that everyone does!
What We Christians say is that the Atheist position cannot justify their morality…. That Atheism itself is Amoral, and that it leads to mere cultural relativism, and social arbitrary law.
When Atheists claim to be moral, they a contradicting themselves.
King James Bible Believer, Dispensationalist, Libertarian, Christian.
Elsewhere, my co-blogger Tim is arguing with commenter Terry about Objectivist ethics.
The key to their dispute is the following brief remark by commenter Matt (quoting Terry).
“It’s not rational to accept a value from another without giving a value in return” why not, on standard means ends accounts of rationality that’s perfectly rational, some argument for this conclusion is needed.
Matt refers to “standard means ends accounts of rationality”. David Hume, the greatest philosopher who ever lived, gives such a standard account in the following passage.
[P]assions can be contrary to reason only so far as they are accompany’d with some judgment or opinion. According to this principle, which is so obvious and natural, ’tis only in two senses, that any affection can be call’d unreasonable. First, when a passion, such as hope or fear, grief or joy, despair or security, is founded on the supposition or the existence of objects, which really do not exist. Secondly, When in exerting any passion in action, we chuse means insufficient for the design’d end, and deceive ourselves in our judgment of causes and effects. Where a passion is neither founded on false suppositions, nor chuses means insufficient for the end, the understanding can neither justify nor condemn it. ‘Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. ‘Tis not contrary to reason for me to choose my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. ‘Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledge’d lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than the latter.
— David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature
Let’s be clear. The Objectivist account of rationality is not a standard means-ends account.
Rand stuffs all manner of rabbits into the Objectivist rationality hat. This enables her to pull all manner of rabbits out of the Objectivist rationality hat. It’s sleight of hand! Here‘s an example.
“The Objectivist ethics holds that human good does not require human sacrifices and cannot be achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone. It holds that the rational interests of men do not clash—that there is no conflict of interests among men who do not desire the unearned, who do not make sacrifices nor accept them, who deal with one another as traders, giving VALUE FOR VALUE. [ Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,”The Virtue of Selfishness, 31] (emphasis mine)
“It is only with (other men’s) mind that I can deal and only for my own self-interest, when they see that my interest COINCIDES WITH THEIRS. WHEN THEY DON’T, I ENTER NO RELATIONSHIP” [Galt’s speech, Atlas Shrugged] (emphasis mine)
How much more explicitly could Miss Rand state the case?
The above supports without contradiction the fact that a rational man who identifies that it is not in his customer’s interests to deal with him (regardless of his customer’s protestations to the contrary), he will not deal with him. Why? Because it is not rational to accept a value from another man without giving a value in return.
If you define ‘reason’ as being such that the rational interests of men do not clash, then you may conclude that when the interests of men do clash, the interests of one or more parties are not rational. But this is just pulling a rabbit out of a hat. If your account of rationality is such that it is not rational to accept a value from another man without giving a value in return, then you may conclude that it is not rational to accept a value from another man without giving a value in return. But this is just arguing in a circle.
The Objectivist’s code of ethics is fine insofar as it goes. An Objectivist will not take from his fellow man without giving in return. But none of the injunctions of Objectivist ethics, such as “Thou shalt not steal,” flow from a standard means-end account of rationality. Rand simply incorporates such injunctions into her own account of rationality and then claims that it is irrational to steal!
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”