The Moral Razor- Slashing Moral Nonsense. Part 1/2

The Moral Argument, or, as I call it, the Moral Razor, is a simple but decisive test to be used on any proposed moral principles. The Razor is a major deconstruction tool, as well as a major deconverting tool as well. What is this miracle blade? Simply this:

A moral principle or system (or, by extension, a political principle or system) is invalid if it is asymmetrical in application, e.g. to locations, times or persons.

This Razor uses the concept of universality, i.e. that to be valid a moral principle must apply to all equally. If you state that something is moral or immoral, then your statement must apply to everyone, at all times and places, otherwise you are merely expressing a belief.

For example, you may like strawberry ice cream very much, but that is a personal taste. It does not apply to everyone else. It would be quite absurd for me to state that everyone should eat strawberry ice cream. On the other hand, I can say that everyone should be rational, because reason is our only means to acquire accurate moral knowledge. Given this fact, it is obvious that the principle applies to everyone. We do not all have the same tastes, but we do all have the same need for rationality, whether we like it or not.

How does the Moral Razor help deconstruct collectivist discourse? By making us analyze the universality of a proposed rule or system, and making us judge the latter accordingly. It points out the contradiction in what collectivists say. If a principle which requires universal justification is applied to one person but not to another, this is a contradiction. Some examples may make this clearer. Since the Razor’s original application was to politics, let me start with a couple of political examples.

Taxation. Suppose that a statist claims that taxation is necessary for the maintenance of society. What is taxation? A process by which an armed gang demands that you give them money without prior contract or agreement of any kind, and threatens you with coercion if you refuse, ostensibly in the name of the “common good”.

Now transpose this to a scenario not involving the state. Ask the statist if it would be okay if you came to his home with a gun and demanded that he give you a hundred dollars so you can give it to some vagrants you met. The answer will inevitably “no”. Hence the killer contradiction: if it’s moral for a politician to get armed thugs to extort your money, why it is not moral for you? After all, all of us have an interest in living in a more prosperous and secure society. So how can it be moral for one and not for another?

You can see that the Razor shows you where the contradictions lie in your opponent’s position. Given that it is a moral argument, it is also a tool of deconversion. It helps people to break free from the Special Pleading that they have been brainwashed into, and makes them realize the true nature of what is praised as the “common good” and “democracy”.

Generally, the Special Pleading is enforced by rituals and legitimacy. The only difference between a soldier and a murderer is a uniform, training, and a ritualized hierarchy. The only difference between taxes and extortion, between the FDA and a medical mafia, or between public education and brainwashing, consists solely of the state organization supporting statist crimes with force and legitimacy.

Rituals, hierarchies, propaganda form a coherent whole that diverts people from seeing the actions of the ruling class for what they actually are. People will deny with all their energy that taxation is theft, even though it is a taking of money by threat without any prior consent, because they are quite certain that the thugs who enforce taxation are legitimately chosen by “the people”. This, of course, does not change the nature of the action at all, but it is quite impossible to convince people who Special Plead their admiration for the ruling class and its use of force.

You must get them to look at the nature of the action first, and that is the hardest part. In order to deflect the most obvious evasion, “but it’s for the common good!”, you can add motive to your scenario, like I did.

Go to part 2.

4 thoughts on “The Moral Razor- Slashing Moral Nonsense. Part 1/2

  1. […] Tremblay presents The Moral Razor- Slashing Moral Nonsense. Part 1/2 posted at Check Your […]

  2. […] As for whether I believe “good and evil are objectively real,” that would entirely depend on what they mean by “objectively,” because in my experience that word means five things to five different people. If they mean that good and evil exist as more than concepts, that there are beings that incarnate them somewhere in another dimension, then no, I don’t believe in such nonsense. But if they mean that good and evil is a concept that applies universally, then yes I do agree (in fact, the universality principle is, in my opinion, central to morality). […]

  3. […] because every individual’s values are as important as everyone else’s. Following the universality principle, if one person or a group of people have the authority to issue orders regarding a specific domain, […]

  4. […] equality, that is to say, equality in our social rules. This is also a clear consequence of the universality principle: any rule must be applicable to all people at all places and times, or it is not a valid ethical […]

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