Monday, July 18, 2016

Morality vs Utility

"If you take a law like evolution and you make it a crime to teach it in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools. And tomorrow you may make it a crime to read about it. And soon you may ban books and newspapers. And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man. If you can do one, you can do the other. Because fanaticism and ignorance are forever busy and need feeding. And soon, your honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we'll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!"
--Henry Drummond (Inherit the Wind)

"Don't impose your morality on me," people often warn. Yet those same people rarely hesitate to impose their own versions of morality, be it religious or secular in nature, on others. Thus we have, for example, some seeking to force others to comply with their views of marriage. And we have some seeking to force their views of income leveling on others.

Here is the problem that many people do not seem to grasp. Durable law cannot be formed purely on the basis of morality. Why? Because there is no consensual view on earth about what is morally good.

Instead, the basis for durable law is utility. Utility in this case is the extent to which a law helps all advance their personal interests, whatever those interests and moral backgrounds may be. A law with high utility cannot be reasonably contested. No new 'contract' need be created with future generations who were not around when utilitarian law was created because it is readily apparent to all that it helps individuals move ahead.

There are few principles that form the basis for utilitarian law. In fact, I can only think of one: the principle of non-aggression. Individual interests can advance only when others do not forcibly interfere with other people's lives, wherewithal to produce, and the fruits of production (property).

Individual pursuits are best realized when others do not interfere. From a collective economic standpoint, non-aggression maximizes productivity and wealth creation that provides the basis for higher standard of living.

The principle of non-aggression is the universal code for durable law.

1 comment:

Zepharia Andres said...

Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith. See the link below for more info.