by David Sims
ALL MORAL codes comprise a hierarchy of values. Not only do they define good and evil, but they also specify that some goods are higher than others. By doing this, however, they necessarily engage with nature’s own test of goodness, which is simply whether or not people, by the practice of a particular moral code, can or can’t survive; whether they do or don’t endure. (ILLUSTRATION: How should we distinguish right actions from wrong actions? Should we base that decision on the texts of ancient scrolls? On “revelation”? On majority opinion? Or is there a better way?)
Yes, good and evil do have immanence in the natural world. But nature’s definitions are not necessarily the same as those invented by human beings. And whenever there is a conflict and your life depends on doing rightly, you had better obey nature and do your best to deceive human authority, because you will never succeed in doing the opposite.
That’s why, in all proper moral codes, the highest value is placed on the survival of the practitioner group. If that group becomes extinct, then so does the moral code. Moral codes that lead to their own destruction aren’t proper. I can’t say “aren’t good” because moral codes themselves define good as well as evil. The word “proper” does the necessary semantic duty here.
Let’s come at the question in another way. Why is survival the highest value in the natural moral system? Because nothing matters to the dead. Because neither truth, nor justice, nor freedom, nor comfort have any value to dead things. Because only to something alive may anything else be good.
If a moral system puts anything other than the survival of the practitioner group in first place of value, then sooner or later that group will encounter circumstances in which a choice must be made between their survival and whatever the other thing is. When that happens, the group will either abandon their improper moral code and take up a proper one, or else they will become extinct and their moral system will die with them. That is why any moral ideology that would have people value anything else more highly than their survival is improper.
The most natural groupings of men are biological—the family, the race—and, therefore, the survival of these groups is the highest value from the perspective of nature, of evolution.
Many people have been taught to regard “fairness” as a moral imperative, as morality’s sine qua non. It is no such thing. Rather, fairness is a third-rank value, a moral luxury, a value inferior to truth, which in turn is inferior to survival. One behaves immorally when one is fair—honorable or unbiased—at the cost of his life, except when by his death he gives some sufficiently compensatory benefit to his race. It is evil when someone is “fair” at the expense of his race’s prospects for survival. Mistaking fairness as a moral imperative, when it isn’t, and giving it a rank superior to values that outrank it in the natural moral system, is an error that leads nations to their deaths.