How to Tell True Philosophy from False Philosophy in 30 Seconds
by David Sims
I HAVE noticed that philosophers almost continually speak as if they could create morality by making their preferences known; i.e., as if the truth about morality were something to be decided, rather than something to be discovered.
I think that the reverse is the case. Morality evolved among men as an aid to their survival, just like other animals evolved specialized body parts and specialized behaviors. Even primitive peoples had moral codes — which were moral codes, even though they sorted actions into the good and the bad categories differently than our moral codes do today.
What is moral isn’t dictated by anyone’s preferences in human action. Instead, morality is defined by what it aims at, and a proper moral system (defining a sense of “proper” here) is one that puts the survival of the practitioner group in first place of value. Always. That is the meta-characteristic that applies to all moral systems, by which you can judge the better ones from those that are worse.
Why is survival in first place of value? Because nothing matters to the dead. Because neither truth, nor justice, nor freedom, nor comfort have any value at all to extinct peoples. Because only to something alive may anything else be good.
As the survival of the practitioner group is in first place of value — and stands all alone there — so does truth stand alone on the second rank of value.
First Rank: Survival.
2nd Rank: Truth.
3rd Rank: Justice, Freedom, etc.
Why does truth outrank justice or freedom? Because before you can act justly, and before you can accurately judge whether or not you really are free, you must first know what the truth is.
Justice is a good thing, but it isn’t the best thing, for reasons of logical dependency and causation.
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