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July 3, 2013 / Congau

Moral Principles

”There is only one simple moral principle that literally the entire world could live by: you have the right to do as you wish, so long as you don’t hinder the rights of others to do the same.”

No, I don’t think that’s quite what you want to say. As it now stands, it could produce a sentence like this:

You have the right not to wear a seatbelt, so long as (by doing that) you don’t hinder the rights of others to do the same.

Obviously the entire world would not agree on something like that.

I think what you want to say is something like this:

Everybody can agree that it is wrong to do something that, as a consequence, takes away the right of others to do as they wish.

Supposedly that would create the hierarchy of wrongs that you are looking for. It includes some acts that everyone can agree to condemn (like murder) and leaves out the acts which people disagree about (like homosexuality or wearing a seatbelt).

Now let’s see if you are right. Is there really a minimum of wrongs that everyone would agree to call wrongs, and if there are, does this phrase include all these wrongs and these wrongs only?

Well, maybe everyone would agree that murder is wrong. But then, what is murder? Most people probably think that killing someone in a war is not murder. Anyway, what we call it is not so important, but let’s put it through the test. When soldier A kills soldier B during a war, does that as a consequence take away soldier B’s right to do as he wishes? Obviously it does. He is dead and can no longer do as he wishes. But does everybody agree that soldier A did something wrong. Of course not. They would defend him for example by pointing out that he was fighting for a perfectly just cause whereas the dead soldier was not. That be as it may, they would evaluate the act by using an entirely different moral standard than the one you are suggesting.

I’m sure you could find many other examples of acts which as a result take away a person’s right to do as he wishes, but which people would still justify.

One Comment

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  1. EvolvedLove / Jul 3 2013 4:08 pm

    I’d appreciate if you could link back to my post somewhere! Not that I mind your using it for inspiration. (:

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