Ethics for Force Users Part 3

 

The Emotions

In traditional philosophy the emotions are passions, i.e. passive states, as opposed to actions, which are
behaviors. In life, action often seems to bubble out of strong emotion, but it can be resisted, which seems
to indicate that emotion and will are separate but related sources of action. Action from a purely
detached, "cold blooded," passionless decision is conceivable but perhaps rare, since any matter that
engages the self sufficiently to fix one's attention, and intention, is likely to involve some emotion,
however mild. The "cold blooded" killer seems, and is, more horrible than someone acting out of strong
emotion. Such a person seems inhuman, just because of a sense that he is pathologically detached from
human feeling and operating more like a mere mechanism. Emotional involvement implies that
something means something to the person, and perhaps involves some suffering. The cold blooded
killer thus acts as though he doesn't even care, one way or the other, neither suffering nor aware of
suffering.

Emotions are feelings but not sensations. Sensations are localized in the body and tend to provide
perceptual or physiological information. Sensations can simply be feelings of touch, or of pleasure, pain,
hunger, thirst, satiety, sexual arousal, etc. Emotions are systemic and, while causing physiological
reactions (and so sensations), are not localized -- they are states of the self, not of the body, although
immediately affecting and reflected in the body. Thus, one has a pain in the toe, or pleasure in the
genitals, but happiness or sadness everythere. At the same time, although pleasure is primarily a
sensation, "taking pleasure" in doing something is an emotional state which can be connected to many
kinds of activities. Similarly, although sexual arousal is a sensation, lustfulness can be an emotion
existing with or without any actual arousal.

Since emotions are not acts of will, they are not freely chosen, but occur spontaneously, which is why a
"crime of passion" is less severe than a crime of calculation, as less under control of the will -- and it is,
of course, acts of will that are morally praiseworthy or blameworthy. Cold blooded action, although
simultaneously judged as inhuman, is ironically more open to moral sanction, which is exclusively
human. Nevertheless, the occurrence of emotions is bound up with attitudes, situations, and knowledge,
all of which can change quickly, altering the emotion just as quickly. Thus, discovering that a presumed
enemy was actually acting as a friend can turn anger and hatred quickly into remorse, gratitude, and
affection. Although emotions may accompany attitudes (pride), not all attitudes (alertness, stubbornness)
are emotions. It is noteworthy that of the seven deadly sins, some are vices, i.e. habits and attitudes, with
emotional content (envy, wrath), some without (gluttony, sloth).

The cognitive and situational component of emotion means that emotions are as varied as the
circumstances of life, which means that the range and variety of emotions is great and complex -- as can
be seen in the accompanying tables at left and right. It is unlikely that a system of emotions could do
justice to the complexity, though in general emotions are thought of as positive or negative, good or bad.
The valence may be due to either an inward or an outward circumstance: A feeling of pride may be
vicious, when a person is proud of something wrongful or shameful, while anger, often thought of as
intrinsically negative, may nevertheless be properly directed at something wrongful, shameful, or evil.

Fear and horror are bad, not because of anything in the self, but because of the danger posed by, or the
evil represented by, some object. Wonder and awe similarly refer to objects, often to some sublimity or
surprising complexity in them.

The metaphysical framework for the emotions can be provided by the theory of positive transcendence
in The Origin of Value in a Transcendent Function. There it was concluded that sensation as such was
transcendent (the positive content of transcendence) and that pleasure and pain were intuitive forms of
sensation as value. Sensation, pleasure, and pain, however, are causally conditioned phenomena. Pure
forms of objective value -- right and wrong, good and evil, and the beautiful and the ugly -- were then
examples of "unconditioned" positive transcendence, purposive value, intrinsic to objects. Now it can be
observed that the emotions fit in between these metaphysical extremes. They are, as noted, not
sensations, and so are relatively detached from the body, but they are also in part causally conditioned
and so undoubtedly in and of the body, unlike unconditioned value -- as the heart may begin to beat
heavily with strong emotion, emotion is often felt as seated in the breast. On the other hand, they are
also, as also noted, responsive to and expressive of cognition, and so to purposive value that is
recognized in the self or in objects. Emotions thus bridge the ontological and cognitive gap between
sensation, or pleasure and pain, and purposive value. They combine and bridge the causal and the
cognitive, the subjective and the objective, the immediacy of self and the mediacy of representation.

 

Morality, Justice,
and Judicial Moralism

The worst edict that can possibly be imagined...An edict that permits liberty of conscience,
the worst thing in the world.

Pope Clement VIII on the Edict of Nantes, 1598, by which King Henry IV of France declared that
French Protestants, the Huguenots, were (mostly) free to practice their religion. Revoked by King Louis
XIV in 1685.

...and surely it is better for the world that men should be right from wrong motives than that
they would do wrong with the best intentions. What concerns society is conduct, not opinion:
if only our actions are just and good, it matters not a straw to others whether our opinions are
mistaken.

Sir James Frazer, Psyche's Task [1909]

"...and in daily contact with her without feeling a passionate regard for her. Do you blame
me, Mr. Holmes?"

"I do not blame you for feeling it. I should blame you if you expressed it, since this young
lady was in a sense under your protection."

Sherlock Holmes, "The Problem of Thor Bridge", The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes [Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle, 1927]

The crucial role of self-exaltation underlies the way that those with opposing opinions are
viewed. It is not sufficient, for example, to depict those who believe in preserving peace
through military deterrence as mistaken, factually incorrect, illogical in their analysis, or
dangerous in their conclusions. All of those things, even if true, would still leave them on the
same moral plane as the anointed visionaries and would leave both subject to the same
requirements of evidence and logic, as their arguments are laid before others to decide. What
is necessary, from the standpoint of self-exaltation, is to depict proponents of military
detererence as not "really" being for peace, as being either bloodthirsty or acting as venal
representatives of special interests who desire war for their own ends.

Thomas Sowell, The Quest for Cosmic Justice [The Free Press, 1999], pp. 138-139

If there were a modern Spanish Inquisition in America today, it wouldn't be Bob Jones
rounding up Catholics. It would be liberals rounding up right-wingers and putting them on
trial for hate crimes. The liberal Torquemadas would be smug and angry and self-righteous.
And when they were done, they would proudly announce they had finally banished
intolerance.

Ann Coulter, Slander, Liberal Lies About the American Right [Crown Publishers, 2002], p.196

Morality can be distinguished from law or from justice according to the way in which the latter is
publicly enforced and sanctioned through the power of the state, while the former is regarded as a
private matter where wrongs are to the moral discredit of a person but not such as to allow legal recourse
for those wronged. Complaints are often made about the absence of such a distinction, that virtue or
morality cannot be or ought not be legislated, or about its presence, that the decline of private morality
calls for a public and legal remedy. The distinction is real enough, and its presence reveals another
boundary between polynomic domains of value.

The difference between morality and justice comes not from the difference between actions and
consequences (as between morality and euergetic ethics) but from the difference between motives and
actions. As Kant noted, the worth of moral action is in the intention, not in what is actually done. The
imperative of morality is first of all to act with good will. Even the best of good will, however, does not
necessarily produce right action -- the saying is that the path to hell is paved with good intentions. And
even ill will does not necessarily produce wrong action -- it is really an ad hominem fallacy to evaluate
an action on the basis of an agent's motive. The estimation of justice does not primarily concern
intentions but what actually is done. There is no breach of justice unless some wrong of negligence,
violence, or fraud has been committed (in law the actus reus). Intention then may become an issue in
judging the culpability or severity of the wrong (the mens rea), as between various degrees of murder,
where intention, malice, and forethought progressively increase the severity of the crime (to voluntary
manslaughter, second degree murder, and first degree murder, respectively). If no wrong is committed,
then it is not an issue of justice and motives are irrelevant. Even undoubted wrongs of action may be
"merely" moral if they are not very severe or are intrinsically difficult to prove: willful breach of an
informal, oral promise for no good reason will always be a moral wrong, but only if some serious
financial loss (or damage to public standing) or physical (or even severe enough psychological) injury
results will it be a breach of an actionable "oral contract" and so a judicial wrong. Breach of promise
will always be morally actionable in the sense of voiced moral reproach or damage to personal
relationships.

ethics

 

may be immoral because of the motive. That motive may be difficult for other persons to know. It may
even be impossible for others to know: thus the emphasis (as in the example cited by Jesus of adultery
committed in the heart -- Matthew 5:27) is that morality is morality even if wrongs are known only to
the agent (and to God). The moral sanction of religion, therefore, is a much different matter than the
moral sanction of law. The right of privacy (and the right against self-incrimination, where a judicial
wrong has been committed and the state must prove culpable motive) protects the individual's self-

knowledge of motive from the law and the state. Individuals are properly at legal liberty to pursue
actions that are not judicial wrongs for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reasons; and the morality of
those actions is a private, personal matter, or a matter of interpersonal judgment on a level of "mere"
morality.

The absence of a distinction between morality and justice is a kind of moralism. The principle that all
moral wrongs should be legally sanctioned as judicial wrongs, erasing the distinction between morality
and justice, may be called judicial moralism. Usually this means generalizing the morality of intention
into the morality of action rather than the opposite, which would simply evaluate actions as right or
wrong, without qualifying the judgment by any consideration of motive or intention: although this does
happen --

 

morality actions

 

in tort law it is called "strict liability," and some legal scholars, including Richard Epstein, believe all torts should be interpreted according to strict liability. However, strict liability would also make things much easier for prosecutors in criminal cases, and it is now becoming common for laws to be passed that ignore motives and intentions (the mens rea). Thus, "money laundering" laws, which require reporting to the government the transfers of certain amounts of cash or bearer financial instruments, although supposedly written to catch drug dealers and their agents, are typically enforced against innocent people who are either ignorant of such an obscure law or who do not believe their financial privacy in the course of innocent transactions is any of the government's business. But it doesn't matter how innocent the money or the motives are. This trend in criminal law is, of course, a monstrous and despicable act of tyranny and injustice.

 

Judicial Moralism as the generalization of intentions into all of morality has been much more common. Religions have typically been guilty of such moralism, and have controlled or pressured political authorities to enforce it; but there has been no lack of purely secular ideologies, from the French Revolution to Communism to present Political Correctness, that have tried to enforce their views as a political program apart from any religion.

 

morality intentions

 

Judicial moralism thus tends to be a characteristic of both religious moralism and political moralism. Furthermore, each characteristically becomes a way of morally judging, not just actions and even intentions, but beliefs. That is because good or bad intentions always go with beliefs about what is good or bad. Since judicial moralism collapses intention and act, the actual requirement of justice to act justly is transferred to the mental state. What is the proper moral issue in that state is good or bad will; but for judicial moralism more is required than that, since good will doesn't have anything like the content, structure, or definiteness of a good or bad act. Consequently, judicial moralism focuses on the beliefs that condition the will, something as definite in the mental state as the act was externally. Thus the moral requirement becomes one of correct belief (the actual meaning of the Greek word orthodoxĂ­a -- orthodoxy) as the sign of good will. Incorrect belief then obviously signifies ill will, and all the commendation and reward or condemnation and punishment that should only focus on good or bad deeds instead becomes focused on these correct or incorrect beliefs.

 

In denying judicial moralism we affirm that it cannot be a moral duty to believe any particular propositions. Morality requires us to mean well and to do what is right, but belief in good will and good faith is about truth, which has its own standards of evidence and justification, not about meaning well or doing anything. As Thomas Jefferson said, "The opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds." It cannot be a duty to believe what is true because whatever is believed is already believed to be true, because the evidence, experience, or authority upon which one's beliefs are based are reasonably to be changed, not by some independent act of moral will, but by demonstrably better evidence, experience, or authority, and because it is always a good question just what is true and just what is better evidence, experience, and authority. The only thing that can be a duty is to try and find out what is true and then to be steadfast in the truth as that is understood; but that very steadfastness may be perceived as wickedness by others who are differently persuaded by their understanding. It was because of judicial moralism that the Catholic Church argued it was a moral duty for Galileo to confess that the earth was at the center of the universe, why Pope Clement VIII abhored both the Edict of Nantes (see above) and the whole idea of "liberty of conscience," and how even today some people argue against the Darwinian theory of evolution simply because they think "survival of the fittest" makes for unacceptable moral consequences in society.

 

Furthermore, in denying judicial moralism, not only cannot we say that it is a moral duty to believe propositions about possible matters of fact that are open to question and to rational or empirical testing or determination, but we cannot even say it is a moral duty to believe propositions about matters of value or about the nature or content of morality itself. Thus, although the moral consequences of the views of Friedrich Nietzsche are very bad, he does not seem to have been a bad person himself and cannot be morally condemned just for thinking mistaken thoughts. Martin Heidegger, of course, is another matter, since his actions as well as his thoughts are at issue. A person who means well and whose actions are above reproach but who professes moral views that seem to us mistaken is not to be punished but to be persuaded. That is our duty. We may fear that they will end up doing wrong because of their beliefs, but if only beliefs are in question, the only remedy is the truth as we understand it. If we cannot persuade them, we must even be sensible of the possibility that we are wrong rather than they. If our real duty is to find out the truth, then intellectual complacency and self-righteousness are moral wrongs of negligence -- and anyone who thinks that they are less likely suffer from those failings than their ideological opponents is a fool.

 

If we morally or legally condemn beliefs that are held in good faith and accompany no judicial wrongs, we have created a category of "thought crimes."

morality thought_crimes

 

That is an inevitable result of judicial moralism; and in its terms, loss of freedom of speech is a small thing in comparison to loss of freedom of thought. It is not surprising that the expression "thought crime" began in the context of severe and totalitarian political moralism, although the idea is as old as the concept of heresy. And we don't need to read much history to find that heretics were always regarded as the most depraved and vicious of people, although historically they often seem less cruel and vicious than their persecutors. Interestingly, Jesus says "You will know them [the false prophets] by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16): not by their words, but by their deeds (as he continues at 7:21). The tendency, indeed, of judicial moralism is not only to moralize and legalize beliefs but to demoralize actions: the deed becomes relatively unimportant besides the willingness to confess, affirm, and witness to orthodoxy, whether religious or political. Someone of "sound views" becomes preferable even to someone who refrains from wrong. As Paul Johnson says of Lenin in Modern Times [HarperPerennial, 1991], "He judged men not by their moral qualities but by their views, or rather the degree to which they accepted his" [p.51]. Thus George Orwell wrote:

 

Actions are held good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage -- torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassinations, the bombing of civilians -- which does not change its moral color when it is committed by "our" side. [Quoted by Paul Hollander, The Survival of the Adversary Culture, Transaction Publishers, 1991, p. 123]