Society 3: The State and You

The purpose and nature of a State is to benefit everyone involved in the State.

The State is prosperous when it acts within its purpose and nature, in harmony with natural laws.

The State is prosperous when it acts within its purpose and nature, in harmony with natural laws.

Introduction

I read a blog post yesterday upon the subject of killing people to harvest their organs.  My blog post deals with the boundaries between self and State.

Purpose of State and the Social Contract

The individual increases their chances of survival by bonding together with other individuals in common accord, sharing the burdens and rewards of their common effort.  The group forms the State with the purpose that the State benefits all participants in the State. The individuals in the State define their liberties and obligations between the State and themselves in the form of a Social Contract, commonly known as the Law.

Principle of ultra vires

In English law is the principle of ultra vires, meaning “beyond the powers.”  The Law in the UK limits the police on when and how they can arrest a UK citizen, if the police go beyond their powers in Law they are in ultra vires, the citizen has the right to sue the police.

Law and You

If the State passes a law that empowers doctors to kill you to harvest your organs, the doctor is within their rights to terminate your life and steal your body parts.  Ultra vires arguments are invalid against laws that the State passes that invades the individuals enjoyment of their life and body.

What is Truth?

A thing is true if it follows its purpose, nature or natural law, all else is an ignorant opinion.  The State may pass laws, and the State may put forward argument for those laws, but the test of truth is if the law and argument follows purpose, nature and natural law, otherwise it is ignorant and hubristic.  The individual or State who has gone beyond truth is in hubris, they are in danger of a great fall.

Natural Law and the State

The individual is a part of nature, so is the State, both individual and State being part of nature are bound to and a part of the natural order and natural law.  Heraclitus calls natural law, the common, the Daoist might call it “the Way,” ancient Romans call it ius divinum, or divine law.  In the mind of the Roman the individual and State are part of the divine order, and subject to divine laws, the good action is to harmonise human laws with the divine laws, to maintain pax deorum, harmony between the divine and humanity, the peace of the gods. Even if the State makes an act lawful, the act is in Roman terms “nefas,” contrary to divine law.  The penalty for nefas, is a monstrum, an event that is contrary to, or exceeds nature, which Seneca beautifully describes as “a visual and horrific revelation of the truth.”

Purpose and Nature of a Thing

A purpose of a knife is to cut objects, it is in the nature of a knife to cut objects.  A good knife is a sharp knife, for the sharpness allows the knife to achieve its purpose and nature better, as opposed to the blunt knife doing the opposite.  The purpose and nature of the knife to cut objects is its common, or Way or its divine law.  To use a knife contrary to the purpose or nature of a knife, is to commit nefas, a monstrum results, which destroys the knife or injures the user of the knife.

If it is the purpose of the State to benefit all individuals who are part of the State, the State and its Law must stay within its purpose and nature to benefit all individuals; that is to act without favouring one individual at the disadvantage of another.  It is zero relevance what human law the State passes or argues for, if the State has gone against its purpose and nature, then the State has shattered the pax deorum, the divine peace; the doctor acting within the Law who deprived an individual of their life to harvest their body organs is committing nefas, going against the nature and purpose of the State, which is to benefit all its citizens rather than one over another.

Monstrum of killing people for their organs

A corrupt doctor murders a poor healthy child, their organs harvested to transplant into a fee paying rich millionaires child.  This unfortunately has already happened around the world.

The State and the Social Contract is void.  Fearful individuals will fight their State.  The State must use force against its own citizens, thus the State is the tyrant benefiting the few against the many.  The State must wage an unsustainable war of control against its own people until it collapses into total anarchy.

Conclusion

The State must act always according to its nature and purpose, to benefit all equally and never to advantage one at the disadvantage of another, to do so results in the negative outcomes as seen today in Syria.  The State is part of nature, thus bound by the same natural laws as any bee or flower.  It is good action to match human laws to the purpose and nature of the State, and to the overall natural order, thus the State enjoys prosperity rather than what befell the Roman Empire when it ignored the spiritual wisdom of its own religion.

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28 responses to “Society 3: The State and You

  1. Oh, what timing! I’m musing about leaving a length comment to a post on another place reflecting on Obama’s speech on the American economy; going to quote your last paragraph. Will leave the link to that post once my comment is posted.

  2. This post is contradictory and inconsistent because it claims that the state cannot put the interests of some citizens over the interests of others but simultaneously claims that the state must uphold natural laws irrespective of outcomes, even when these outcomes result in gross inequities in which one citizen’s interests are put before those of a large group of citizens.

    The appeal to natural law is arbitrary. It violates Hume’s Guillotine, insofar as it attempts to derive moral principles from metaphysical claims concerning the existence of moral entities (i.e. natural laws or rights). This appeal is indefensible. We cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”.

    It also ignores that a good state does not permit the anarchic and arbitrary harvesting of organs by individual doctors, but would instead consider enacting a fair procedure, such a lottery, for this purpose. The way in which you discuss the organ harvesting case misrepresents both it and the argument you criticize. Nonetheless, I thank you for linking your readers to my post.

    • Thanks for your comment Benjamin.

      The great philosopher Heraclitus introduced a number of principles he observed from nature, one being “follow the common.” The common are the natural laws of nature. Each individual has the choice to follow the common or follow their own opinion. It is in the nature of a river to give man fish, water, a way of cleaning themselves and transport, but if it is the opinion of man to throw himself in the river with metal boots on he will be drowned by the river. The common is how nature works, humanity has the choice of going with how nature works or being destroyed by it.

      The State and humanity are all part of nature and are bound by the laws of nature. Everything has at least a nature, and likely a purpose, specifically anything created by humanity. Mankind created the State, and the purpose of the State is to benefit everyone. The moment the State has interfered in any individual by putting them at a disadvantage in favour of another then the State is null and void, since it wiped out its purpose for existing.

      The river discriminates against nobody, it makes no choices over who lives or dies, it provides for all equally, the State if it follows natural law acts like the river. It is not for the State to determine who lives or dies, like the river it lets events follow their natural course. If an individual suffers organ failure, bad luck, they die, the State does not interfere by killing someone to harvest their organs for another.

      Nature has no morality, but it is the ultimate authority. Gravity has no morality, but it would be wise to take heed of what gravity does unless the individual wishes to end up dead. There is nothing mystical or metaphysical about nature, it is concrete and scientific. There is nothing arbitrary about nature, put your hand in a fire, the hand is burnt. Humanity has choice to follow the common or suffer the consequences of going against it.

      You can create any tool or procedure you like on harvesting of human organs, but the moment the State kills an individual to steal their organs for another, is the moment the State ceases to follow its purpose of acting in the benefit for all citizens and becomes void.

      In concluding I would also add that Heraclitus mentions the principle of “panta rhei”, everything flows. The State by following the common allows all things to flow, never controlling. This principle follows the basic principles of sustainability, which requires a constant flow of renewing energy through an energy system, otherwise you end up with entropy. The State is an energy system, by following panta rhei, it acts like a sustaining river. Anything that goes against panta rhei results in entropy, energy systems will collapse because they no longer have the energy to sustain them.

      • In this comment you make a series of assertions about what is natural and extrapolate from those assertions to make moral claims.

        In so doing, you make a two deep philosophical errors.

        Firstly, your assertions concerning the way nature is are themselves unsupported by argument. This makes them arbitrary. It is not necessarily the case that everything Heraclitus believed about the world is true just because Heraclitus believed it, and I am not prepared to accept an appeal to his authority alone. A justification of Heraclitus’ beliefs is required, not merely an appeal to them.

        Secondly and more importantly, by attempting to derive your moral principles from your metaphysical beliefs. This violates Hume’s Guillotine. It is illogical to derive an “ought” from an “is”.

        I wrote a piece on this a while back in which I have cataloged a supporting argument for my second criticism. If you’re willing, I would love for you to read it:
        http://benjaminstudebaker.com/2013/05/16/divorcing-morality-from-metaphysics/

      • @ Benjamin: Thanks for your comments, which gave me food to think about.
        Your first point is agreed. I was sloppy in appealing to authority without arguments.
        Your second point I dispute re: Hume’s Guillotine.

        I consider myself a natural philosopher, the same type as Heraclitus, Leonardo da Vinci and arguably Aristotle, all who I hold in great respect. The natural philosopher is a type of empiricist who finds truth in observation, demonstration and experience in the natural world. The natural philosopher might argue as follows:

        Nature is the ultimate authority; man is part of nature; therefore man follows nature.
        This echos the saying of Heraclitus “follow the common” i.e. follow what nature is doing not your opinions.

        It is further argued that in a fight between nature and man, nature would win. In addition if man chooses to follow his opinion rather than that of nature, bad outcomes result. For example, the people of Roman Pompey held the opinion they would be safe at home under errupting Vesuvius. Nature differed with the opinion of the people of Pompey and killed them, whilst framing their hubristic agony for prosperity, which one can see immortalised in their local museum.

        There is no morality in nature, it cheats, thieves, lies and murders. Only amongst humanity do we enslave ourselves to morality, which we need for there to be any chance of civilisation. However, any study of morality rapidly reveals what a messy subject it is when trying to justify any action or conclusion. Take for example the rule “be honest;” you hide Jewish children in the cellar, nazis at the door asking if you are hiding Jews, are you going to be honest? Morality is a rule, and judgements of good or bad are based upon the rules. When it comes to morality Hume’s Guillotine is applicable, but what if I have rejected morality in favour of teleology? I hate morality, I argue using teleological arguments. Teleology is objective, once you know the telos (purpose, ultimate design) of a thing, such at the State, you have a telos rather than a moral rule by which you can present arguments of good or bad. If the telos of a knife is to cut objects, then good action is sharpening the knife, here you see your is/ought arguments are valid. In teleology we deal in goal-directed arguments rather than rule-directed moralistic arguments.

        In presenting my arguments against your position, I had to work out what the telos of the State was. When a body of people come together to form a State they do so because they believe they will benefit from it. One can infer that everyone in founding a State believed they would be a winner in the deal, and that neither they or their descendants would be placed in a losing situation of being murdered for their organs. Plato in discussing the State used teleology to define that the telos of the State was to benefit the people.

        With the telos of the State defined i.e. to benefit the people, one can then move onto good and bad actions that either support the telos or goes against the telos. It becomes simple, the killing of one citizen to steal their organs to benefit another is against the telos of the State, since this action does not benefit all citizens. It follows that if a State has gone outside of its purpose, then it is hubristic, the pride before the fall.

        The teleological argument as above is straightforward, the second argument based upon nature is complex. The second argument is based upon the ideas nature is the law, humanity is part of nature, humanity is bound by the laws of nature and thus enjoys benefits and penalties based upon if humanity follows or conflicts with nature. Of course there is no God or ultimate judge who sits making rules for humanity to obey, but nature works in a given pattern upon which we can define a set of principles which we call science. One of the scientific theories is systems theory which considers that everything from the human body, to the ocean to the State is an energy system, that obeys Chaos Theory, Complexity Theory and the Laws of Thermodynamics.

        Take for example the Laws of Thermodynamics, an energy system such as the State needs first a source of available energy for work, and second needs a constant input of fresh renewing energy to replace what is lost. It follows that an energy system should be efficient and with no barriers to its energy flow. When the State employs a system to cull its own citizens to harvest their organs by lottery or other method then it is a form of control, which disrupts energy flow. Secondly, the State will have a conflict on its hands as the victims and their supporters fight back against the State, this conflict leads to a huge loss of energy. If a State is running out of energy, it crosses a tipping point, which is when you get your outcomes such as Syria, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and so-on.

        Finally, here are two blog posts on the subject of State which may interest you:
        1.The Need for a State.
        2.The Ideal State.

      • I agree that man is part of nature, but I do not see how this subjugates man to natural laws. This would imply that man is not part of nature but is a servant of nature. It also begs the question of where the laws come from. If not from man, from where? Who writes the natural laws? Typically, I have found that natural rights theorists are themselves the authors of the laws and rights they ascribe to nature. This seems contradictory. How can man write the laws he claims were not man-made? Surely if man is part of nature, then man’s actions are expressions of nature. Man cannot fight what he is himself part of.

        I think you have the wrong conceptualization of the purpose of the state, the wrong telos–the state does not exist so that every action it takes benefits every citizen without exception (this would be impossible), the state exists so as to improve the life chances of the average citizen in a non-prejudicial, fair way.

        I don’t think morality necessarily has to be a series of hard, black and white rules in which certain actions are encouraged or forbidden. Instead of labelling actions as good or bad, we should label outcomes as good or bad, and choose our actions to promote those outcomes. I should be honest where being honest leads to good things, and I should be dishonest where being honest leads to bad things. The interesting question is what outcomes are good and what outcomes are bad, and there’s much room for debate there.

        I agree with the determinist view you express, but I don’t think it leads to any need for man to attempt to subjugate himself to nature. Man is nature, man’s actions are determined by the same natural laws. The way man behaves is a manifestation of nature, the conflict is illusory.

      • @ Benjamin: thanks again for your comment.
        It is my observation that man is of nature, there is no separation of man from nature, no us and them. This separation is a delusion of an egotistical mind, we imagine we are separate, but we are one with nature, nature is us. There is no slavery, no servitude, we are part of nature as a brain cell is part of the brain.

        It is observed by some that the universe appears to be mathematical or musical. Universe-nature is a pattern. This pattern is basically organised energy. When energy particles band together they gain mass, but they also generate energy-force fields such as gravity and electro-magnetic fields. These energy fields cause nature to behave the way it does. In addition there is always a difference between two states of energy causing motion between the two to a state of harmony, which is why we can think. move and breathe. All these energy activities due to forces such as gravity and difference of energy charge gives rise to the appearance of patterns that move and form in certain way. At a certain level of mass energy is stable and can act predictably enough for humanity to create scientific laws and theories. All these laws arise because of how energy works under the influence of forces such as gravity and electro-magnetism. Man writes the laws based upon what is observed, demonstrated and experienced in nature, some refer to a concept called the Scientific Method. At the quantum level everything goes nuts because of entropy, different laws apply to a single electron compared to the moon, the moon won’t teleport all over the place like an electron will.

        Nature acts in X, man observes X, man creates a law X. If man ignores X, creates Y, nature will still act according to X, and kick man in the face for opposing X. An ant will always obey X because it has no choice. Man has imagination, this sets man apart from an ant, which allows man the gift to create Y, but man is still bound by X. When man thinks he is better than nature he is in hubris, this is when man is in danger of being wiped out by nature, because nature runs the show, not man. It is good action for man to use his imagination to better meet X than to hold a delusional opinion counter to X. There are no god setting the rules, gravity is a huge influencer on how this universe/nature behaves.

        There are no rights in nature. If man uses his eyes, and his reason, he will observe the patterns of nature and form the laws that reflect those patterns. It is a good attitude to have humility with nature, to respect, to be in harmony with nature, or in hubris be destroyed by nature. Nature is blind, it cares nothing for human rights or opinions, it will destroy as much as it will benefit, humanity is a nothing, another life form that exists and can easily vanish like the dinosaurs. I am under no delusion what a bastard nature can be, I have seen its ugly side as well as its beauty.

        We may have to agree to disagree upon the telos of the State. Here I know my limit, to give an example, a bee sees colour red as black, and I see colour red as red, we are both right, our truth are relative. If your telos for instance says the purpose of the State is to benefit the top 1% of the population, then the action of culling any of the 99% to provide organs for the 1% is a good action. There is no moral involvement in teleology, action only needs to meet the purpose, good action meets the purpose, bad action does not.

        In teleology the goal, purpose or ultimate design is all that matters. Good/bad outcomes are based on if the telos was reached. Bad/good action is based also if the telos is reached. Morality does not exist in the universe-nature therefore it is a delusion created by man, an opinion which has no basis in nature. Morality is often at odds with nature, for instance “don’t kill”, animals and plants are killing each other all the time. Man moralises that a vegan diet is good since it is in his opinion morally wrong to kill animals or use animal products, the ignorant man puts a kitten on a vegan diet and it dies, the opinion of man clashed against the telos of the kitten that needs meat to live, so the kitten died (true case study in recent media.) These conflicts between human opinion and the telos of anything and everything in nature is why humanity is in serious trouble, the world is slowly falling apart. There is no room for debate with a telos, once the telos is known, the actions either meet the telos or does not.

        Finally, the difference between humanity and the rest of the animal kingdom is imagination, man can imagine himself as separate from nature, the rest of the animal species (with a few exceptions) have no concept of I-them, inside-outside, I-world, nor of abstract inventions like time. The bee has no concept of I from the hive, it is the hive. Man has a gift of seeing an I as separate from nature, but it is also a curse, since the seeds of our extinction is built into the gift as hubris, which arises when man thinks he is superior, above, different from nature. Man is nature, is bound by the same patterns of nature as an ant, thus humility of following the “common” rather than opinion is a good course of action for survival.

      • If natural forces cause us to conceive moral theories, how do you know that the natural forces that cause you to support your moral theory are superior to the natural forces that cause me to support mine? Consequentialist theories that are unreliant on the use of natural rights are also outcomes of nature. The arguments your naturally constructed brain devises are no more or less natural than the arguments my naturally constructed brain devises. My theory is also based on my observations of how the world is, how life, and so on. How do you know that your conceptualization of these things is superior to mine? It seems to beg the question. How do you know which opinions are the delusions? Appealing to nature justifies your position no more than it justifies mine.

        Man is part of nature, so man’s conception of morality is also natural. Man conceives of morality for the telos of improving the quality of his life with his fellow man. Nature caused man to conceive of morality because morality is useful to man’s survival. It is an evolutionary outcome. Also, because man is part of nature, everything man imagines is also natural–nature has caused man to think everything that he thinks. Men are different amalgamations of genetic material interacting with one another based on naturally determined procedures. Man cannot resist this system, he is part of it. Man cannot even conceive of resisting it in a meaningful way–all of his thoughts, even thoughts of resistance, are just as naturally determined as one another.

        We need an alternative way of justifying our moral views aside from the appeal to nature. All moral arguments are equally justifiable under this appeal, because all arise from nature. We need some way of differentiating which views are more justifiable and which are less justifiable. I would suggest consistency–a good moral argument is a consistent moral argument, it is without contradiction. These two ideas are contradictory:

        1. The state should give equal consideration to the interests of all citizens.
        2. The state should prioritize the life of one person over the lives of several in order to avoid violating autonomy.

        Therefore, one of these ideas must be wrong. I suggest that #2 is more likely wrong, because #1 is integral to preventing a vast number of terrible harms.

      • @ Benjamin: Truth is relative.
        Example. Bee sees red as black, I see red as red. We could both be right.

        I appeal to the authority of nature as I am part of nature, I am of nature, nature is the ultimate authority to settle any argument. The test of opinion against nature often reveals the delusion and failings of the opinion. Who do I support in an argument, nature, or an opinion of a man? I have no faith in man, he is ignorant and delusional, I refer to nature for my conclusions.

        If a thing is of nature it must exist in nature. The invented rule by man “don’t kill” does not exist in nature, it is an invention of man, a delusion. Man through evolution gained the ability to imagine, his imagination gives rise to fantasies and opinions that only exist if they have substance in nature, otherwise they are have no roots in reality. Morality is a set of rules, nothing more, and those rules must exist in nature to have any validity. Since morality is a useless foundation to build any objective argument the alternative is teleology which is grounded, objective and clearly defined. The telos is the foundation, one may argue about what the telos is, but action is defined as justified and good dependent upon if it meets the telos in the outcome.

        The difference between a telos and opinion is that it cannot be twisted. Morality is often twisted and turned by the users of the rule to justify their ends, it is worthless. The telos, which is the purpose or nature of a thing cannot be twisted, it either exists or it does not.

        Man can imagine the moon is made of cheese, does not make the moon cheese. Imagination is good when it stays in the reality of nature, bad when it heads off into fantasy. Nature is the ultimate arbitrator of truth because it is the reality. The imagination gives man the capacity of free-will that allows him to move beyond instinct. The wolf in the face of fear has two choices based on instinct, run or fight. Man, due to his imagination is able to determine new possibilities beyond the two defaults of run and fight such as feed chickens to the wolf to avoid himeself being eaten. Imagination is a double-edged sword, it grants man free-will, to imagine novel new possibilities that results in rockets and internet; but also delusions such as a belief in time, a God, or the world is flat. Man starts with a belief, then tests this belief against nature, he finds that belief is either true (common) or false (opinion.) For the record I support the idea that mankind has free-will.

        The problem Benjamin, which runs at the core of all your arguments is the defence of morality. Any argument based upon morality is built on sand, it is too subjective, corrupted and delusional to build any argument with. Morality is useless, teleology provides the stronger foundation to base argument upon.

        You might like to consider that the State is like a river or death.
        1. River and death treats everyone equally.
        2. River and death don’t make judgements.

      • Earlier in this thread, you told me that nature mandates right and wrong and that killing people for their organs is wrong. Now you’re telling me that truth is relative, so for me killing people for their organs is okay but for you it’s wrong? That’s a contradiction. Either my opinion is just as good as yours in all things (in which case, what point is there in arguing?) or one of our opinions is more right than the other.

        I don’t think you’re quite grasping my point with respect to nature–my opinions arise from nature, just as much as yours do. If you believe you have a superior understanding of nature, or that nature works through you in a superior way, you have to justify that claim. Asserting its truth is insufficient.

        You’re continuing to defend the fundamental contradiction that man is part of nature but that man’s ideas are not. This can’t stand, if man is natural, man’s ideas, including morality, are natural. If man is not natural, the entire basis for everything you have argued collapses. Which is it?

      • @ Benjamin: you introduced into the argument a challenge to the telos of the State. Your telos and my telos is different, thus we differ on what is okay. Lets say that the telos of the State is to support the 1% against the 99%, then your conclusion that it is justifiable to kill people for their organs is correct and I won’t argue with you. If the telos of State is to benefit all, then I am right. Humanity created the atomic bomb, which is an abomination of nature, but its telos is to destroy and kill, and I am unable to argue against it based on teleology. I am even unable to argue against the atomic bomb on any grounds of nature because it follows the laws of nature, and nature develops the equivalent of the atomic bomb in the survival strategies in plants and animals.

        In reflecting on my truth is relative statement, I think you are wrong based on the telos, and I do not base any of my arguments on morality. Truth is relative because your truth is sacred to you, and my truth is sacred to me, when we however meet in argument, I will not accept your truth as mine because I think you are in error based on the telos for the State. It subjectively offends me that State takes away life to steal the organs of the individual, but I know I can only come into arguments based on the telos and what is happening in nature.

        The State is not a living entity, it is a collective with decision makers making moral judgements that they can kill people for their organs. I challenge because I would like to know where decision makers get their authority from to justify their conclusions. I see no authority based on State, because in my view the telos of the State is to benefit all. I see no concordance between moral judgements and nature either.

        If something is not of nature, then it is unnatural. The man who thinks the moon is made of cheese is in the embrace of ignorance, when he seeks to force his ignorance onto others he enters into hubris, when others fight against his ignorance he must use control to enforce his ignorant truth, then he is against the common of nature which favours liberty not control.

        I say that your telos for the State is wrong. I also say that your arguments for killing people for their organs based upon moralistic arguments is wrong because those moral truths do not exist in nature. Humanity has imagination, he may imagine what he likes, including any moral rule, but it only becomes truth if it stands the test against something that exists outside of humanity in nature.

      • I never argued that the telos of the state was to support 1% against 99%. If anything, our positions are reversed–I think the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. You think that the individual is more valuable than the group. I would sacrifice one individual to save many, you would place the one ahead of all.

        The atomic bomb is a naturally occurring phenomena because it was produced and conceived by natural forces. It is not wrong because it is “unnatural”, it’s wrong to the extent that it kills people and leads to suffering.

        Your claims about the telos are moral claims. When you say that X exists for purpose Y, you are ascribing a human goal to X on some basis, and that basis is necessarily a moral basis. Why do you prefer your telos of the state? Because you think it is morally better than mine. You have to justify that position, you cannot merely claim that your position is natural while mine is not, because my position is just as natural as yours is. Both of our minds were created through natural processes. You cannot appeal to the process to differentiate epistemic quality because the process is identical, you need some other standard against which you weigh arguments. Once again, I think consistency is apt.

      • @ Benjamin:
        I agree you never argued for a telos of the State in support of 1% against 99%, this was an example on how your argument would be valid. My telos of the State is “benefits all” which means the State can take no action where any citizen of the State is in a state of loss i.e. murdered for their organs. I make no distinction between one or the many, any action contrary to the telos is bad action and unjustifiable.

        There is no wrong in teleology with regards to the telos of the atomic bomb, for it is in the nature of, purpose of, ultimate design or telos of the atomic bomb to inflict large scale death and suffering.

        Teleology dealing with the telos of things is goal-driven rather than moral-driven philosophy. I believe my telos is better than yours because all individuals naturally enter into a collective because they consider they will benefit from it, thus it follows that the telos of the State benefits all. No individual enters into a collective knowing they are going to be murdered for their organs, it is the nature of living things to want life not death.

    • That telos would not support my argument even if true–if the minority is more important than the majority, if the state does not have a duty to show equal concern to all citizens, so there would be no reason for the state to consider killing one person to save many.

      When I argue for my conception of what the state is for, I do so on the same basis that you do–I believe that my conception is better. I justify this belief with an appeal to the good, just as you do. We are both making inescapably moral arguments.

      Your position is an entirely moral position. You claim that your telos is “better” (a term that entails a conception of the good, an inescapably moral item) because you think the procedure by which you reach it is morally good and fair. You think that all people in an original position would consent to the telos you offer and to no other telos, because they think your telos is best–all of this involves moralizing. In choosing your telos, you necessarily make substantive moral claims. Because you believe you are not making moral arguments, you do not feel obliged to defend those claims, and, as a result, you make a series of arbitrary assertions that you cannot defend adequately. In order to use terms like “better” or “worse” we must necessarily acknowledge that we are making moral claims.

      I say your telos is wrong–the state exists not for the purpose of always, in every case, benefiting every person, but for the purpose of improving the average person’s life chances as much as possible in a non-discriminatory way. I say your telos is wrong because, on your interpretation, it leads to bad outcomes and because its practical implementation is impossible. Anything the state does will necessarily harm someone, because the state is a coercive instrument.

      • In a post today I commented how crazy it would be to give a knife morality, in the same manner why give State a morality?, it is a tool nothing more. All tools have a telos, they have zero morality.

        I disagree with you, I work from the basis of goal-orientated decision making.

        We will have to agree to disagree on this subject, to go further is to risk going round in circles. I thank you for an interesting argument, you have assisted me in examining a number of issues concerning the State and morality.

      • It seems perfectly reasonable to say that a knife can do good things as well as bad things. A knife can cut up some food for you or it can stab someone unnecessarily. The former would be a good outcome, the latter a bad one. You seem to believe that morality must inherently involve willful decisions–it’s really just a way to assess the desirability of different outcomes.

      • @ Benjamin: I note the flaw with your position on morality.
        The telos of the knife is to cut objects. The knife succeeded in cutting a person up so it achieved its telos, the action was good, so was the knife. Morality ignores the telos and merely makes judgements based on benefits of outcomes to society, which is subjective and irrational.

        To get to the good or bad of stabbing an individual it depends upon the telos of the person doing the stabbing. If the person is an assassin paid to stab a person, then it is good action, the telos is achieved.

      • The purpose of anything, including people, objects, and ideas, is inherently moral. A telos is chosen on the basis of its moral merits. Knives exist for good purposes–self-defense, cutting up food, and so on. When knives are used for bad purposes–unjustifiable killings, for instance–they are not used for their intended purpose. We have to justify our purposes, it is not enough to simply have them. To simply have them without justifying them is arbitrary and baseless.

      • @Benjamin: I think you fail to understand what teleology is. The nature of the acorn is to grow into an oak tree, this is its goal, purpose, nature, ultimate design. The DNA in the acorn gives it a will in motion to a certain direction. The acorn has no ethics, it is hungry, passionate, fighting entity in motion to grow into an oak tree. The acorn will utilise every strategy it has coded in its DNA to become an oak tree, including forming in-built poison to do harm to certain predators that eat it.

        The acorn is not given a moral nature by external entities, it is what it is, and cares nothing for morality, only the goal of becoming an oak tree.

        The knife has built into it a nature, a design, a goal of cutting up objects, which may indeed include cutting up food, or cutting up people. The knife cuts, it makes no moral judgements about why it cuts, or on the consequences of its cutting. If the knife cuts, and cuts well, then it has achieved its telos.

      • The acorn’s thoughts (or lack thereof) are irrelevant. If the acorn grows into a tree and that tree is struck by lightning in a thunderstorm and falls on someone’s house, that tree harms people. If the tree provides someone with shade or is thought aesthetically appealing, that tree benefits people. Morality is not self-referential, it’s other-regarding. No being is moral or immoral in itself, morality only exists when the interests of multiple beings are involved.

        Morality is not about blaming the acorn or the knife, it’s about assessing whether or not others are helped or hindered by its actions. We use moral arguments to influence one another’s natures via socialization so as to encourage behavior that helps us and discourage behavior that doesn’t.

      • @Benjamin: Thanks for your many comments.
        I have nothing further to add to this conversation without going in circles. We will have to agree to disagree.

  3. Apologies, please replace “by attempting to” with “you attempt to”.

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