|Here is a mock round-table discussion to highlight key differences in the 4 basic ethical codes:|
Philosophers, I gathered you here today to testify about what the cost of government should be. Please proceed.
Well, I feel like the purpose of government is to make everyone equal and that that is going to take a lot of work, so I feel like the cost of government should be really, really high -- in order to satisfy my whims (the satisfaction of which being something that is more important than the welfare, or even the very lives, of others or even of myself). And I want to add that what we shouldn't attempt to do here today is to think -- because ethics is supposed to be non-cognitive. Thinking is bad, very bad. Feeling is good. Thinking ... bad ... feeling ... good. Thinking ... boo! ... feeling ... hooray! Okay, I've said what it was that I felt like saying at the moment, and now I feel like sitting down, so that is what I am going to do.
Well, I believe in God and I know what He wants (He wants what I want), and God wants to make everyone equal, so -- because of the specific God I believe in -- that means that Sally was right, though she was right for the wrong reasons. The correct way to get into the position to be able to dictate a moral prescription to yourself or to others is to be able to read the mind of God -- which is something that I can do. God commands equality and so, therefore, equality is right. The cost of government, therefore, should be really, really high. If you don't like that argument, then I'll make slight changes in it, and maybe even water-down the very concept of God -- but I'm still going to be coming up with rules meant for everyone and for all time, so there!
Let me be clear, I'm totally not a subjectivist or a deontologist. Instead, I am 100% reasonable and rational. I'm scientific. I'm all about results, baby. Which results, you ask? Why, I just adopt the current social mores and ...
Hey, you just contradicted yourself! You said you were going to outline a moral prescription while fully abiding by reason or rationality, and then you admitted to unjustifiedly adopting "mores" based on nothing other than their current popularity.
Will somebody shut him up for me?
Eddie, let Ulanda continue.
Anyway, because most people want equality, it's the right goal to aim at -- so the first 2 ethicists were right, but for the wrong reasons. Since I prefer not to ever talk about first principles or final ends, that's all I want to say about that. Let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Now, what we've got to do -- what morality commands us to do -- is seek the Greater Good. The way I see it (the only "way" that counts), the Greater Good is best served by maximum satisfaction of wants and/or needs -- and that is going to cost a lot of money. Look at my flow-chart filled with hedonistic algorithms. [pointing to the start of the chart] We'll use the tax code first because the risk-to-benefit ratio is largest for that option, and, if that doesn't work, we'll try social engineering, and we'll crack the self-esteem of geniuses or others harboring "too much" talent, and, if that doesn't work, we'll empower a communist dictator over the people and ...
... So, yes, the cost of government should be really, really high. Now, some people are going to get hurt -- some may even lose their very lives in the process -- but that's okay, because their loss is just a necessary evil, like sacrificial lambs in honor to the almighty and all-important Greater Good. It's a trade-off you see, you put unpopular people or unpopular values on one side of the ledger, put the popular things on the other side -- and then you sacrifice the unpopular to the popular and ... Voila! ... Greater Good! Yaaaaahooooooo! Oh, I'm sorry, I'm supposed to be completely reasonable and rational. Please forgive my subjective outburst of emotion.
Well, before you ask what's right to do, you have to know what kind of a thing you are -- what kind of creature you are. For instance, it might be right to climb trees if you're a monkey, but it's a terrible moral prescription for a fish. A fish would die trying to climb a tree. It turns out that we are a certain kind of creature that needs principles in order to survive, so there has to be a principle for everything -- rather than basing some of our moral prescriptions on what we personally feel like doing, on what we think God wants, or on what is currently and popularly felt or wanted by 51% of the populace. Because we have and need minds, we need to be free. Because a burgeoning government necessarily impinges on liberty, the cost of government should be really, really low. It is the only way that humans could ever maximize their own well-being.
p.s. You can also create subjectivists, deontologists, and utilitarians who are free market individualists, too* -- but I refrained from that here in order to be as clear as I could about the differences in these 4 ethics.
*Which shows that those 3 ethics are ultimately arbitrary and baseless, as you can use them to argue either for or against any position.
(Edited by Ed Thompson on 12/27, 5:03am)