Author Topic: The Moral Argument (Does it work?)  (Read 5425 times)

Galen Ross

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The Moral Argument (Does it work?)
« on: April 26, 2016, 02:17:09 AM »
Hello! I'd like to share with you all one of the biggest philosophical dilemmas I've ever faced:

I'm sure that most of you are familiar with the non-aggression principle. Basically, it's a belief that states that "infringing upon property rights is immoral, and should be avoided". This belief, essentially, is the foundation for the libertarian belief system. Us libertarians, because of this principle, live our lives without initiating violence.

Of course, there are some situations in which most of us would abandon the non-aggression principle. For example, stealing food from a store when you are starving is something that most people would do. Would that be immoral, though? I would say yes. (Some people disagree with that, and I would be happy to defend my position in another post.) Technically, you ARE stealing property that's not yours. Of course, in that situation, your life is more important than your moral integrity, so while it's not moral, it's practical.

A socialist then, might say, "So, you would choose to be immoral if it was more practical?"

I would say, "Yes, in a life or death situation."

"Well, I deem poverty to be a life or death situation. Therefore, a welfare state is the better choice, even though it's technically immoral. You know what? I deem transportation to be a life or death situation! Free cars for everyone! I also think it's more practical for everyone to receive free candy. Woohoo! Practicality rules!"

As you can see folks, lifeboat scenarios open up the objectivity of the non-aggression principle to subjectivity, therefore allowing any statist/socialist/leftist to disregard it if they deem it to be "impractical".

At first, I thought, "That's a bummer. I guess I'll have to stop using the moral argument against socialists and liberals now. I'll have to start making the economic argument, or the practical one."


I realized that some issues can ONLY be solved with the moral argument. For instance: Rape. You could never convince a rapist to stop raping on the basis of practical reasons, but you'd have a fighting chance if you made the moral argument. What about 1800s slavery? The abolitionists wouldn't have been able to abolish slavery on economic grounds. (Yes, I know that some people believe that slavery wasn't economically feasible, but just set that idea aside for the time being, for the sake of example)

To simplify my WHOLE philosophical dilemma: If there are some situations in which breaking the non-aggression principle is the better choice, it's application becomes subjective, which prevents us from using it as an argument. If that's the case, though, we also wouldn't be able to use the moral argument to convince rapists to stop raping, or murderers to stop murdering.

What do you all think? Is the world nothing more than a jumbled-up mess of ethics?

« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 02:30:58 AM by Galen Ross »
"I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery." - Thomas Jefferson

Adam Kokesh

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Re: The Moral Argument (Does it work?)
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2016, 02:09:45 PM »
Is it a violation of the non-aggression principle to give someone the Heimlich maneuver? Answer that, and you'll have your answer.
Just read the book.


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Re: The Moral Argument (Does it work?)
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2016, 02:29:40 AM »

Does your argument presume that the thief has no intention of making the store owner whole after the fact? This would be unacceptable in my opinion. While I can think of many ways that stealing food can be avoided - after all, it grows out of the ground and can be found in abundance in trash cans, road kill, insects, etc., I believe that if someone is truly starving, it is not immoral to steal food so long as the thief confesses and offers recompense - perhaps in the form of labor.

My position is that while morality is often a binary thing, this isn't always the case - especially in situations of survival where an isolated incident of petty theft may be a life-saving act.

Slow poke

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Re: The Moral Argument (Does it work?)
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2016, 02:51:02 PM »
Why not talk to the store and offer to work for him in exchange for some food. Voluntaryism at its finest


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The Moral Argument Does it work
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2016, 03:10:00 AM »
What other should have said the president who took his nation into a world war?


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The Moral Argument Does it work
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2016, 05:29:27 AM »
Hi, I am new to this forum and never got the chance to look at the other stuff on this webpage.
It's nice that the forum works, but I was wondering if you know what is going on at the moment server problems? and when to expect the site to work again.