CDZ The Government of No Authority, Part 1: Law and Morality

Discussion in 'Clean Debate Zone' started by Brian Blackwell, Mar 15, 2018.

  1. Brian Blackwell
    Offline

    Brian Blackwell BANNED

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2018
    Messages:
    994
    Thanks Received:
    126
    Trophy Points:
    45
    Ratings:
    +489
    In this thread, I will outline a simple argument that demonstrates the inherent inconsistency between morality and governmental law. Following the formal argument, you will find a more thorough explanation of supporting reasoning. I hope some here will find this investigation thought-provoking, and I look forward to discussing these ideas with anyone who is interested.


    THE ARGUMENT

    1. Morality, to have authority, must be a primary obligatory standard for individual behavior.

    2. Governmental law, to have authority, must be a primary obligatory standard for individual behavior.

    3. Therefore, since only one authority may hold the primary place as a standard for individual behavior, morality and governmental law are mutually exclusive -- where one holds sway, the other cannot.


    THE INVESTIGATION

    Morality, to exist as such, must stand above all other standards of behavior; for its sole function is to provide an authoritative determination as to whether it is right or wrong for an individual to perform a particular action, given a particular set of circumstances. If, at any point, morality is relegated to a secondary position relative to another standard, it no longer holds authority to prescribe or prohibit action, and thus ceases to exist.

    Likewise, governmental law, to exist as such, must stand above all other standards of behavior; for its sole function is to prescribe or prohibit action within the scope of its jurisdiction, independent of all other considerations. Obviously, were governmental law made to abide exceptions based upon moral claims, it could not perform its sole function. If, therefore, governmental law is relegated to a secondary position, it no longer holds authority, and thus ceases to exist as law.

    If governmental law dictates something that is not in accord with the individual’s moral standard, and the law is permitted to act as the primary obligation, the moral obligation is made utterly void. For what would it mean to say “I am personally obliged to perform this action, and also obliged not to perform it.” Clearly, where discrepancies occur, one standard must be chosen to take precedence, and in so doing, the other will be obviated entirely. We may feel torn between two systems of obligation, but where they contradict, we cannot act in accordance with both. A man cannot have two masters.

    If, on the other hand, governmental law is in perfect harmony with the individual’s moral standard, we may say that one of the standards is redundant, and thus irrelevant (or non-existent). If the moral standard is held as primary and dictates that murder is wrong, and governmental law also dictates that murder is wrong, it can be seen that the governmental law was not the authoritative standard that prohibited the action, as the action was already prohibited by the moral standard. The governmental law becomes a meaningless echo, as the individual did not refrain from the action on its authority. The adherence to such a law occurred merely by coincidence.

    In conclusion, we can see that it would be impossible for a single individual to be (as an overarching personal characteristic) both a “moral person” (one who is guided by morality as a primary obligatory standard for behavior) and a “law-abiding citizen” (one who is guided by governmental law as a primary obligatory standard).

    A choice must be made; and if one chooses to be a moral person, it necessarily follows that governmental law holds no authority in their lives. Since it would be in defiance of reason and basic human equality to hold others to a standard of authority which one does not abide by personally, any voluntary acknowledgement or support of governmental law as an authority in the lives of others (such as voting, willingly paying taxes, taking employment funded by taxes, etc.) is both illogical and immoral.

    I welcome reactions and pointed refutations relevant to the above argument and investigation. It should be noted that I did not adopt the above reasoning in an attempt to justify a previously held position; but instead found myself necessarily compelled to adopt the position by the irrefutability of the reasoning. You may find yourself similarly compelled upon earnest investigation of your own moral position, and be freed from the tiresome futile debates concerning the particulars of politics and governmental law.

    *The title of this thread was chosen in honor of Lysander Spooner's lucid examination of the U.S. Constitution titled "No Treason", which can be found in audiobook format on YouTube here:
     
    • Winner Winner x 2
    • Funny Funny x 1
  2. usmbguest5318
    Offline

    usmbguest5318 Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    10,923
    Thanks Received:
    1,608
    Trophy Points:
    290
    Location:
    D.C.
    Ratings:
    +5,778
    You're going to need to address the scenario whereby the two work in tandem. That scenario allows both to be primary and not mutually exclusive.
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  3. 9thIDdoc
    Offline

    9thIDdoc Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2011
    Messages:
    5,267
    Thanks Received:
    864
    Trophy Points:
    255
    Ratings:
    +3,063
    "3. Therefore, since only one authority may hold the primary place as a standard for individual behavior, morality and governmental law are mutually exclusive -- where one holds sway, the other cannot."

    False assumption.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. Brian Blackwell
    Offline

    Brian Blackwell BANNED

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2018
    Messages:
    994
    Thanks Received:
    126
    Trophy Points:
    45
    Ratings:
    +489
    I felt this was adequately addressed in "The Investigation" section as follows:

    If, on the other hand, governmental law is in perfect harmony with the individual’s moral standard, we may say that one of the standards is redundant, and thus irrelevant (or non-existent). If the moral standard is held as primary and dictates that murder is wrong, and governmental law also dictates that murder is wrong, it can be seen that the governmental law was not the authoritative standard that prohibited the action, as the action was already prohibited by the moral standard. The governmental law becomes a meaningless echo, as the individual did not refrain from the action on its authority. The adherence to such a law occurred merely by coincidence.

    Do you feel this does not suffice?
     
    • Winner Winner x 1
  5. Brian Blackwell
    Offline

    Brian Blackwell BANNED

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2018
    Messages:
    994
    Thanks Received:
    126
    Trophy Points:
    45
    Ratings:
    +489
    Do you suppose that two standards can both hold the primary place? Or are you denying the validity of the statement that each must be primary in order to serve their purpose? Please explain your assertion of a false assumption.
     
  6. usmbguest5318
    Offline

    usmbguest5318 Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    10,923
    Thanks Received:
    1,608
    Trophy Points:
    290
    Location:
    D.C.
    Ratings:
    +5,778
    No. That passage is just an amplification of the emboldened inference with which I gook exception. It's not because what that discussion posits to do is obviate one or other driver rather than functioning as in tandem.
    • "we may say that one of the standards is redundant, and thus irrelevant (or non-existent)"
    • If the moral standard is held as primary and dictates that murder is wrong, and governmental law also dictates that murder is wrong, it can be seen that the governmental law was not the authoritative standard that prohibited the action, as the action was already prohibited by the moral standard.
    I think you're construing simultaneity of existence within a given temporal plane, space time, with simultaneity of functionality within a given temporal plane.
    • Your lungs and my heart exist in the same temporal plane, but they aren't functioning in tandem.
    • Your lungs and your heart exist in the same temporal plan and function in tandem.
     
    • Funny and Agree!! Funny and Agree!! x 1
  7. The Sage of Main Street
    Offline

    The Sage of Main Street Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2016
    Messages:
    7,369
    Thanks Received:
    454
    Trophy Points:
    155
    Location:
    All in your mind
    Ratings:
    +2,914
    Authoritarian Doubletalk

    You want each individual to follow whatever authority pleases him, call that moral, and call governmental authority immoral.
     
  8. Brian Blackwell
    Offline

    Brian Blackwell BANNED

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2018
    Messages:
    994
    Thanks Received:
    126
    Trophy Points:
    45
    Ratings:
    +489
    But how can they be working in tandem when one is not working at all? The primary standard is motivating the person to action (or inaction) fully, without any supplementary support from the secondary standard (which is making no contribution at all). The secondary standard had no authority, no effect, and thus does not exist (I understand the words of law may be written on parchment somewhere, but if law does not have authority, it no longer exists as law).
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
  9. Brian Blackwell
    Offline

    Brian Blackwell BANNED

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2018
    Messages:
    994
    Thanks Received:
    126
    Trophy Points:
    45
    Ratings:
    +489
    I never made any statement about what I "want". I am suggesting that the logic of the argument proves beyond doubt that a person cannot be both moral and faithfully law-abiding (as an overarching personal characteristic). If you have ANY personal moral standard at all, regardless of its particular nature or source of origin, you cannot also be personally obliged by law. Your actions may meet both standards in any given instance, but only one can be the primary motivating obligation (which will be revealed in instances of conflict between the two).

    Governmental authority MUST be either irrelevant or immoral to the moral person, as the law must necessarily agree or disagree with their morality (their primary obligation).
     
  10. usmbguest5318
    Offline

    usmbguest5318 Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    10,923
    Thanks Received:
    1,608
    Trophy Points:
    290
    Location:
    D.C.
    Ratings:
    +5,778
    You're going to have to study philosophy (general and political) to understand how ethics and political philosophy can conjoin to form a body of jurisprudence that a polity enacts, enforces, and in turn uses as a framework for evaluating the nature and extent of infractions. In the abstract, when considering them from a theoretical perspective, sure they are distinct branches of philosophy, and they're taught as such. Pragmatically, however, people don't generally use them that way [1]; they draw notions from each, and from other branches of the discipline, to develop a system of jurisprudence.
    I just wanted to call attention to the fact that governance law and moral law are not universally mutually exclusive and insofar as your argument's conclusion asserts that they are, you need revise your argument to account for the fact and incidence of their not being mutually exclusive. [2] Now, insofar as you don't understand by what means they can function collaboratively, you need to explore philosophy to develop that understanding, and, no, I'm not of a mind to be your or anyone else's magister for that. Doing that is beyond the scope of my intentions for participating at all on USMB.


    Notes:
    1. I suppose there are some 100% purists, but they are the exception not the norm. The very point of jurisprudence is to define a society deems as the limits of acceptable behavior. Take a simple limit such as the prohibition of murder and a statute stipulating as much. The basis for that law is as much about governance (maintaining order) as it is about morality (right to life). Other statutes, such as speed limits, are all about maintaining order, governance, and having nothing to do with morality. As goes economic policy and the statutes that support it, pure empiricists are concerned only with whether a given fiscal policy/law maximizes profitability/profits (governance); whereas normativists care not much about costs and benefits, but a good deal about what, in their mind is fair (morality).
    2. I didn't earlier go into this, but in your conclusion you simply declare the mutual exclusivity of morality law and governance law rather than establishing it using a series of premises and intermediate (to the overall argument you presented) conclusions/inferences. That alone invalidates your argument. I didn't "go there" because I wanted to focus on what struck me as the greater gap: the defective declaration that the two types of laws, and motivations for laws, are mutually exclusive.
     
    • Winner Winner x 1

Share This Page