Tuesday, October 3, 2017

What Is The Law?

Morality Doesn't come From Government and, by logical deduction, neither do rights


Anytime a person condemns the action(s) of a government, company or private individual that is considered perfectly legal, they do so either purely out of self-interest or they do so because they implicitly assume the existence of a moral law that is independent of and superior to the legislation of the state. We would be in a much worse condition if we relied on legislatures and magistrates to tell us what is right and wrong. If we were to take the history of governments as a model for how people should conduct themselves, mass murder, enslavement, kidnapping, terrorism, forced sterilization, and robbery would all be acceptable behavior if it were done under seemingly noble pretexts. Of course no one with even the slightest intelligence would defend the claim that morality comes from government, but people often believe the equally absurd claim that rights, which are moral precepts, come from governments.

Intuitive moral sentiments


The strongest social instinct in humans is the norm of reciprocity; repaying benefits with like benefits and harms with like harms. Each individual can only maximize their fitness if they maintain a social equilibrium with every other individual, which is to say the give and take is mutually beneficial to each individual in the long run. Voluntary trade between buyers and sellers is the most obvious example of this, but it can also take the negative form of mutual restraint from harming other people's bodies, their progeny, or reducing their capacity to sustain their own existence. In voluntary trade, when one person provides a benefit without compensation from the recipient, the latter incurs a debt. Likewise, when one person or group of people harms another person they incur a debt to that person, but in this case the debt is repaid by the creditor's action instead of the debtor's action, in other words, inflicting an equivalent harm upon the debtor.

Society is analogous to an organism in the fact that it cannot survive (i.e. carry out it's functions) without the cooperation of its members. A society in which initiatory violence is universally permissible must ultimately cause a loss of social equilibrium and collapse, reducing the fitness of each of it's members. If each individual is permitted to aggress against every other individual then each individual will likewise be prone to equivalent acts of aggression from every other individual. The resulting loss of social equilibrium is similar to the loss of homeostasis in the body that reduces an organism's fitness. Of course, some might argue that if only the strongest individuals initiate violence then society might still function well enough to survive, but even for these individuals there will always be someone 'stronger' than them, so even in this case their fitness would be reduced if initiatory violence is allowed. Therefore, we know initiatory violence is immoral since it reduces the fitness of a society as a whole. We also intuitively know that certain actions are only permissible if another person or people are willing to allow said action and know the ramifications of said action. This is the notion of informed consent. Informed consent often makes a difference between borrowing another person's property and theft, consensual sex and rape, assisted suicide and murder; it is also why we consider fraud and other forms of intentional deception immoral, even though they are not violent acts. Informed consent is not necessary for all actions; one does not need informed consent to use their own property or to do what one wants to do with one's own body. Informed consent is only necessary when one's actions involves another person's body, mind or property because we recognize each person's autonomy. The sentiment of justice is therefore ultimately derived from the social instinct for reciprocity.

The moral sense agency


Side Note: Here, autonomy means freedom of action.

People will only protect their autonomy if they have a desire to preserve their autonomy; however, a desire to preserve one's autonomy is a purely selfish desire that comes instinctively without forethought, and therefore is not sufficient to maintain social equilibrium. Most people will value their autonomy above other peoples' autonomy, which would inevitably lead to hostile social relations i.e. maladaptation to social conditions. It is only when a desire for autonomy is coupled with mutual sympathy for each other's desire for autonomy that we reach social equilibrium. Evidently then, an equilibrium must be reached wherein each person's autonomy does not entail reducing any other person's autonomy.

How do we ascertain that the law of equal liberty is the moral maxim that all social relations ought to conform to?


We start with the observation that all evil (i.e. individuals afflicting other individuals) results from the maladaptation of character to social conditions: an incongruity between our faculties and their spheres of action.

Indeed, the findings of evolutionary psychology confirm that mental and social disorder result from a lack of congruity between our psychological adaptations and the social conditions of civilization. In other words, we are psychologically, and as consequence morally, maladapted to our social state.

We move to the next observation that people living in this social state still suffer numerous evils; therefore, their characters are not completely adapted to the social state.

What does the social state require in order for people to completely adapt to it?

It requires that each individual shall have such desires only, as may be fully satisfied without inhibiting the ability of other individuals to obtain like satisfaction. If the desires of each are not thus limited, then either all must have certain of their desires ungratified; or some must get gratification for them at the corresponding expense of others. Both alternatives necessitate individuals afflicting other individuals, implying maladaptation of character to social conditions.

Individuals must have freedom of action in order to satisfy their desires, but since it is requisite that each individual's desires should be limited to the desires that can be fully satisfied without inhibiting the ability of other individuals to obtain the same satisfaction, then each individual should have the freedom of action to do all that they desire provided they do not inhibit other individuals from having the same freedom of action to do all that they desire.

The law of equal liberty logically follows: every individual should have the freedom to do all that he/she wills provided he/she does not infringe upon the same freedom of any other individual.

The law of equal liberty can also be stated as: every person may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberty by every other person.

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