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Friday, May 20, 2016

Moral Anarchy

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was an English philosopher. He was one of the most influential thinkers on liberalism. In his treatise, On Liberty, he argued, "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." Thus, the "harm principle". He carried this principle out to rules of morality in Utilitarianism. He is the source of the currently popular notion that the only viable basis for morality is to prevent harm to others. Indeed, he believed that the good of the individual was not sufficient warrant. Laws should only be passed in order to prevent harm to others. Thus, the harm principle says that adults should be permitted to do whatever they desire as long as they do not harm others without consent.

Does this work? Is it correct? Is it reasonable? It is certainly dominant. We justify euthanasia and pornography and prostitution and drug use because they involve consent and, therefore, no harm without consent. For a new thought, it certainly dominates the realm of moral principles today. Because, you see, we have a hard time defining "harm" anymore. It appears to be "adult" and "consent". No one considers it immoral today, for instance, for adults to consent to divorce without regard to the harm it does the children. "Adult" and "consent" is all that is required today to murder the unborn, so that if there is no consent on the part of the adult, it is murder, but if the adult consents, it's perfectly acceptable.

There are lots of possible scenarios that would call this whole thing into question, but let me just give one that would demonstrate the problem. An adult who identifies as a homosexual goes to a clinic to undergo treatment for his condition. He wants to be "cured". He is informed that the treatments may be difficult, even painful, but he agrees because he wants to change. Which of our "harm principle" advocates would call this "moral"?

The other argument that harms the "harm principle" is the newest outcropping of morality from the left. It is now immoral to make people feel bad. Is this harm? No, not really. But it's immoral. Is it harm to consent to euthanasia? It's hardly reasonable to argue that there is no harm involved, but it's moral. Suicide would fall under the same question, but that's immoral. New York passed a law against sugary drinks because they're harmful but banned bartenders from refusing to serve alcohol to pregnant women because of consent. North Carolina wants to protect women and children from sexual predators (not transgenders) but that's harmful, so the tide of public opinion and government will roll them over because protecting women and children from sexual predators is immoral but hurting the feelings of "transgenders" is harm? This is not making sense.

We have a very hard time defining "harm to others". We have some difficulty defining "consent". Today it isn't really very easy to define "adult". But in the name of "personal freedom" we've decided that "harm to others" modified by "adult" and "consent" constitute the definition of ethics. Or there is objective morality as defined by the Ultimate Lawgiver. But, of course, you can't expect a world blinded by its god to see that as a good thing, so expect an ongoing shift in "moral" as an ongoing shift of "adult" and "consent" make anarcy the moral code of the day.


Bob said...

Stan I commend you for being persistent in your efforts to highlight the drunken mindset of humanity. everything is upside down. it's like we entered Alice's wonderland, which is anything but wonderful. oh it may be wonderful in the sense that we marvel at the staggering depravity of the world's reasoning. Stan you have the Gift of clearly defining the conditions of this broken paradise.however i am weary of this place. please for the love of God, give me fresh water to drink. i am thirsty for the Gospel. remind me of the great promises God has given us. tell me again about the love of God and the new world to come..

Stan said...

Good point, Bob. The goodness of God ought to outweigh the corruption of the world, even as corrupt as it is. So I offered a thanks to God of how blessed I am on Mother's Day, reminded you that we are free in Christ last Tuesday, pointed out how God's version of marriage gives us a look at the Gospel on Wednesday, and pointed out the amazing concept of "chosen before the foundation of the world" this last Monday. I'm trying.

Bob said...

thank you Stan, i am truly blessed by your persistence to share the truth. this world needs more like you.