Existence exists. Arguing against this statement is self-contradicting as making the argument requires existence.
You exist as consciousness. Your consciousness inhabits a physical body, having exclusive possession and control over it. Your physical body has senses that can be used by your consciousness to detect physical reality external to the body it occupies. This statement is provable by the act of using your senses to view and read this sentence. If your body did not exist then you would have been unable to view or read this sentence. The only caveat to this is that one must assume that their physical form exists in a reality capable of sustaining it, due to the fact that thought experiments such as brain in a jar or artificial intelligence in a virtual simulation may be valid, however cannot be proved empirically, thus one can only exist as they perceive existence.
Reality exists. Through observation you determine that your senses are accurate. The evidence of your senses proves existence of objects external to your physical body. In this process of discovery, you learn that other entities exist with consciousness. This statement is provable by the fact that you did not write this sentence, which means someone else must exist who did write this sentence. If other entities did not exist you would have been unable to read this sentence. From this is derived the concept of the individual, an object that exists in reality which consists of a consciousness occupying a physical body.
It is through these observations of reality that logic is developed. Logic is the set of objective and consistent rules derived from the consistency of reality, of which there are three laws: Identity defines a proposition which states that “an object is that object and not another object” is always true or the statement “A IS A” is true; non-contradiction defines a proposition which states that “something is a thing and not that thing at the same time” is always false or the statement “A AND non-A” is false; and the excluded middle defines a proposition which states that “a thing is either true or false” or the statement “A OR non-A” is true. Continuing from this point, any attempt by the individual to acquire truth about reality necessitates that any statement made about reality which complies with the three laws of logic is considered valid, that such statements confirmed by observable evidence in reality are considered accurate, and that if a statement is both valid and accurate is considered to be objective truth.
Through your interaction with reality and its constituent objects, you will develop preferences. A preference is the level at which an individual places the desire to perform an action in relation to the desire to perform other actions at any given moment in time. Preferences only exist in consciousness, they are subjective. Observable actions are the objective manifestation of subjective preferences. One such preference that all individuals innately share is for existence itself. Existence is universally preferable. By this it is meant that all individuals at all times and in all places will prefer existence over non-existence, or put another way, existence is preferable to non-existence. Arguing against this statement is self-contradicting as making the argument requires existence and is evidence that one prefers existence to non-existence. Additionally, arguing against this statement for one’s self or on behalf of individuals who prefer or have preferred non-existence is self-defeating as such individuals assert a preference for non-existence whilst proving the opposite for as long as they continue to exist, for if one truly preferred non-existence they would not exist to make the argument, nor would they exist for others to make the argument on their behalf. As an individual which does not yet exist, or no longer exists, cannot have preferences nor act on those preferences, their inputs cannot be counted toward universal preferability.
In the course of your existence, you act. Through your interaction with physical reality, your existence mixes and becomes intertwined with the objects external to your physical body. It is in this mixing that such objects become an essential part of your existence. Put another way, they are a property of your existence, or your property.
By establishing the universal preferability of existence and the fact of property, it is possible to form rules to ensure that individual action is consistent with physical reality. These rules form the basis of an objective morality, combining the universal preferability of existence with individual action. Individual action is based on making value judgements to form a hierarchy of preferences, with the most preferred action performed before all other actions.
Value is subjective. For moral rules to be of an objective standard, any valuation of existence between zero and infinity must be rejected, as such value would be arbitrary and based on subjective preferences. As demonstrated by the universal preferability of existence, non-existence has a value of zero. If existence had a valuation of zero it would place existence on par with non-existence, and thus must be rejected, for it would be a contradiction. It cannot be both universally preferred and not universally preferred at the same time. What remains is a valuation of infinity.
Existence has infinite value. From this it is possible to gauge the morality of actions, specifically any action which demonstrates an individual’s valuation of another individual’s existence to be anything less than infinity.
Any action initiated by you against another individual, or any action initiated by another individual against you, which would value existence below infinity is immoral, or morally bad. Such actions are an initiation of force, or an aggression. For an action to be aggressive it necessarily requires that it is the first act of force in a series of forceful actions undertaken by each party in the interaction.
Conversely, any mitigating action taken in opposition to aggression is moral, or morally good. Such actions are defensive, or an act of self-defence. For an action to be defensive it necessarily requires an aggressive action to be in progress, with the goal of defensive action been to ensure the continuation of existence by stopping the aggressive action. Capacity is the necessary precondition for defensive action. In the event that the individual being aggressed against is unable to defend themselves, the individual is considered morally good so long as they would have been willing to defend themselves had they been able to do so.
Any action that is neither morally good or morally bad is therefore morally neutral, devoid of moral content. Put another way, moral neutrality comprises subjective preferences, aesthetics, and opinions. The implication of these moral rules is that depending on the situation, what would normally be morally good or bad actions will change to a different moral category if certain conditions are met.
A morally good action will immediately become morally bad if the defensive actions taken in opposition to aggression exceed what is required to stop the morally bad action, or if the aggression has already been stopped yet force is still used against the initiator of the interaction. An example of the former would be assaulting someone caught in the act of stealing something, while an example of the latter would be assaulting someone after they have already stolen something.
What would be considered a morally bad action by an outside observer can become morally neutral if the individual consents to what would normally be a morally bad action. Consent in these situations would comprise a contractual agreement that provably establishes the bounds of the interaction. As there is no opposing morally good action there can be no morally bad action. Examples of this include contact sports and assisted suicide. Additionally, a morally bad action can become morally neutral if no opposing defensive action is engaged. That is to say, the individual being aggressed against is unwilling to defend themselves. If an individual refuses to defend themselves they value their existence less than the existence of the aggressor. An example of this would be the practice of pacifism. The practice of pacifism is equivalent to assisted suicide, however due to a lack of contract, not as provable.
A morally neutral action can become morally bad if consent is withdrawn or not supplied. An example of this would be when love-making becomes rape.
Consent serves as proof, particularly through more provable forms such as contracts, that individuals engaging in physical interaction do so in a morally neutral way and therefore are excluded from judgements under objective morality. This does not necessarily mean that participants in the interaction value their existence less than other participants, merely that they do not wish observers of their interaction to inappropriately apply moral judgements on their actions. An inappropriate application of objective morality would be to judge morally neutral actions as either morally good or morally bad.
Justice is concerned with the application of moral judgements to past actions and restoring the victims of aggression to a state of being as near as practicable to what existed before the immoral action took place. In most cases, this would take the form of restitution paid by the wrongdoer to their victim in proportion to the damage done. In certain edge cases, where the wrongdoer is unable to repay their victim, either due to lack of wealth on their part or because their victim is dead due to their actions, the wrongdoer would be required to repay their victim or their estate by performing morally-neutral actions which produce value equal to the damage they caused. In all cases, the value to be repaid would be determined by either property damage or by lost productivity, however in the case of murder, due to the fact that all life has infinite value, the wrongdoer would be required to produce value for the remainder of their life.
It is important to note that the argument that murderers should lose their life for the crime not only negates the principle of life having infinite value, it also negates the principle of justice, specifically restoring the victims of aggression to a state of being as near as practicable to what existed before the immoral action took place. The family of a murder victim cannot have that life restored, however they can be repaid in wealth that would have been produced had that life not been taken away. By ending the murderer’s life, that wealth is subsequently destroyed, and society as a whole is poorer than it was if only one life were taken.
The calculation of justice is also concerned with cases where defensive action is not proportional to the aggressive action, specifically, when defensive action goes beyond what is necessary to halt the aggressive action, as it is immoral to act as if the value of the lives of others is less than one’s own. In such cases, the original aggressor may have a claim to wealth from their victim equal to the excessive use of defensive force. This, however, does not completely negate the restitution owed their victim, merely reducing what is owed. In cases where defensive action results in the death of the aggressor, and such action was not warranted by the situation, the original victim has themselves become a criminal, and as such owes restitution to their victim’s family.
Any attempt to enforce justice on wrongdoers will require their consent. There is the potential that some wrongdoers will refuse to abide by the moral judgements and restorative prescriptions made against them. In such cases, these individuals would be considered a threat to life as they, by their actions, prove that they do not respect the universal preferability of existence. It is incumbent on all participants in civil society whom wish to preserve moral neutrality to disassociate and ostracise these individuals until such point that they are willing to demonstrate their ability to practice moral neutrality themselves.
Make use of the following additional resources to expand knowledge and understanding of the topic covered in this unit.
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