And I thought I would go to bed early!

October 23rd, 2005 by MrLuxuryFashionGuru

As I wrote to Will later:


“There’s no way I expect to be able to come up with a unifying principle for morality that’s universal and absolutist, secular and humanist but also convincing and flawlessly prescriptive (not to mention in some ways very different from theories we’ve studied so far).  I can try though 🙂  And I think I’m intuitively right, but of course don’t we all?”


Yes, this is definitely part of why I love being here.  (Aim screennames have been edited, very very slight other content editing has been done as indicated.)



j (4:05:45 AM): [Telling] the truth would [in all cases] be the moral course because you cannot be *expected* to compromise morality in the name of morality.  I say that is a logically/morally false claim.

W (4:06:49 AM): what if there were a situation in which by telling a lie, you would ensure that no one else ever told a lie

W (4:07:22 AM): but by telling the truth you would ensure that the world devolved into a mass of people who had no regard for truth

W (4:07:27 AM): then

j (4:07:30 AM): As a head of state you are supposed to do everything within your rightful power to achieve your society’s goals.  I do not think society can delegate the right to lie to the president, so it is not his right to do so.

W (4:07:52 AM): assuming that is the situation

W(4:08:33 AM): is it the moral course to tell the truth and by so doing cause the moral downfall of the whole world? […]

j (4:12:07 AM): I know this is interesting to you, but my answer is going to be the same, again and again.  You, as an individual, as president, as imperial dictator for life over all the universe, do not have the moral right to lie, cannot be delegated that right by others who do not have it either.  You are hence not morally responsible for any situation that arises from something that could not have been stopped save by lying (or any other action you do not have a right to).  Referencing my email conclusion, if a doctor arrives on the scene and the victims could only be saved if the doctor did something morally wrong (eg. kill one to use for parts for the rest), s/he cannot be morally expected to do so.  It is as if the doctor arrived too late to save anyone.

j (4:13:21 AM): In other words, you did not “cause” anything by not lying, in the moral sense.

j (4:13:58 AM): Yes, there are things you could have done, but they are not moral actions, you cannot be expected to do them, you have no right to do them.

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