July 27, 2006

Moral philosophy clarified

A libertarian in Istanbul writes:

Actually, Steve, Cowen's logic is flawed right from the outset. How does #2 not follow from #1?

If I call you my brother, and then turn around and call the whole world my "brothas", then the word brother - due to the absence of 'scarcity' in its usage - loses its meaning. If, that is, the very stranger right at the other side of the world is morally equivalent in value to my brother, then they pretty much become interchangeable. The trouble with this is, there's no discriminant left to oblige me to be morally committed towards one or the other.

This is the universal moral conundrum that egalitarianism always falls into: when everybody is equally valuable, everybody is equally valueless.

The very nature of economic scarcity and choice defies the notion of universal equivalence.

He thinks he's pushing the Kantian "categorical imperative" but - like all who get dizzy with the nuances of the sage of Königsberg - he confuses two things here: categorical imperative in no way requires that all categories be equal in moral value. All mothers may more or less be valuable to their relative offspring, and we cannot treat the bond between a Bantu mother and her children as less valuable than our own - which, in fact, conservatives like you don't to at all - but that doesn't mean that every mother has an equal obligation to every child on earth. Such would be the total nullification of the categorical nature of the mother-child bond.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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