No Higher Value Than Survival
by David Sims
I HAVE WRITTEN many times that the only iron-clad and specifically clear version of morality can be discovered by observing what survives as the result of its practice — and what dies off because of failing to practice it. I have said that nothing matters to the dead, and only to something alive may anything else be good:
Because the continued survival of a race is a pre-requisite to any other moral value it might acknowledge, the continued survival of that race is its supreme moral value. Any lesser value must be sacrificed, if it is necessary to keep that supreme value.
Justice is good; but it is only good if the race can continue to survive while practicing it. Freedom is good, but if allowing it in specific circumstances will lead promptly to extinction, then freedom must be curtailed until its dangers are overcome or past.
Whether a specific choice, decision, or action is moral or not can be answered only in context with the prospects for the chooser/actor’s race’s survival. Killing another sentient being absent that context, for example, can’t be said to be either right or wrong because — absent that context — you don’t have enough information to reach an answer.
A critic challenged me, saying: “This does make one presupposition. That the objective of morality must coincide with the objective of life, that is to prolong and reproduce itself. I do not see this as necessary, especially if the value system in question is unique to an individual (which ultimately all of them are).”
I replied: I argue that the objective of morality is the objective of life. I base my argument on two considerations.
First, as already stated, nothing matters to the dead; hence, in order for any other thing to have value, the valuer must first be alive.
Second, we should consider how morality came into being in the first place. The evolution of moral systems involved a form of natural selection. Long before morality was codified in writing, it existed as tradition among prehistoric humans, and possibly among pre-human hominids. Morality was brought into being by the requirements of survival. Any primitive tribe that got it wrong died off. Only those tribes that had morality worked out sufficiently well survived to pass their moral system on to the future.
To be sure, the rise of agriculture and, later, of heavy industry, and the use of many forms of exosomatic power made it possible for humans to get away with moral systems that devalued survival in favor of sentimental and altruistic alternative values. But I think humans won’t be able to continue getting away with that forever.
Sooner or later, humans will discover that their abandonment of non-survival-primary (that is, improper) moral systems will have run up a horrendous cost that they can by no means avoid paying — in loss of wealth, in loss of comfort, and in loss of life.
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