Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Moral Objectivity Extrapolationism

Posted by Michael Dickens on March 21, 2010

“Moral Objectivity Extrapolationism” is what I am calling a moral philosophy that I explained briefly in an earlier post. I will now be further solidifying this moral philosophy.

This philosophy is based upon two primary postulates.

1. If an objective morality exists, then all rational beings are obligated to follow it.
2. In the absence of an objective morality, all rational beings are obligated to follow whatever morality is closest to objective.

Rational beings are obligated to follow an objective morality, but non-rational beings are not. Non-rational beings cannot make moral decisions in the same way, so they cannot be expected to follow an objective morality. This is not to say that they should not be treated as worthy of moral respect; it is entirely possible that this objective morality dictates that rational beings treat non-rational beings kindly. However, that is irrespective of the main point.

An objective morality can be more precisely defined as a morality that applies regardless of perspective. Such a morality would appear true to every rational being, at least after rationally considering it. It is self-evident that such a morality should be followed by all rational beings.

The second postulate may require some explanation as well. First, one may call into question what it means for a morality to be “closest to” objective. Given the definition of morality, the most obvious solution seems to be that the closest thing to objective morality is that which encompasses as many perspectives as possible. So what viewpoint is this?

First, what is the greatest moral goal from an individual’s perspective? All that and individual wants, needs, and deserves can be summed up in something that Kant once proposed. Although I generally disagree with Kant, I do agree on one thing: rational beings should be treated as ends, and not simply as means. This means that their wants and needs should be respected as the wants and needs of an individual.

From this point on, Kant’s and my reasonings diverge. To return to my postulates, let us remember that the closest thing to objective morality is that which encompasses as many viewpoints as possible. Combine this with the logic borrowed from Kant, and we can see that the ideal morality is one that respects as many people as ends in themselves as is possible. Therefore, the ideal morality is one that respects as many people as ends as can be done. This generally means that other rational being should be treated fairly and with respect. We should avoid doing harm to others, as it is harmful to them as an end. But in a situation in which we are faced between letting a large amount of harm come to pass or causing a small amount of harm (letting many die or killing a few), such as in the Trolley Problem, it is better to kill a few as this is more respectful to people as ends. It is not relevant whether I am disrespecting a person as an end, but only that this person is being disrespected.

Soon, I will write a critique of this morality.


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