I am writing this blog for the benefit of whoever practices moral reasoning in their daily life, to encourage you in your pursuits, provide you with support against whatever evil you confront and create opportunities for earnest discussions on morality. All too often in the world, those people who wish to do good find themselves stifled by those who cannot think past their own petty interests, and I wish to help remedy that situation in whatever way I can.
At the present time, the western world is dotted with special interest groups representing various demographic groups, including religious communities, but no groups that promote solidarity and mutual aid specifically among those who wish to exercise morality, for the purpose of enforcing morality, regardless of their religion or lack thereof. I do believe that a movement striving towards these aims is necessary, first because, at present, there are no proposed moral codes for communities of non-religious but moral individuals to employ, so that those of us who desire to treat each other honourably have to approach potential friends, neighbours, lovers, employers and business partners without really having any inkling of whether these people claim to profess any moral principles, and second because we can do far more to oppose corruption as a movement than as scattered individuals.
The consequences of the lack of such a movement should be evident to those who aspire for morality: the world is plagued with falsehood, treachery, malice and disdain, simply because many people lack the capacity for morality and so have allowed these things to seep through all aspects of private and public life. In the private sphere, all too often, people make no effort to intervene when crimes occur and somehow expect the police and the courts to work on their behalf whenever they find themselves in jeopardy. Workers intoxicated with greed and conformity happily join corrupt institutions and look the other way when potential whistleblowers or talented individuals that threaten their bosses’ egos are harassed into leaving, with no serious legal recourse against the perpetrators or callous bystanders. Good men naively fall in love with evil women, then find themselves with no legal recourse to fight against their wives when these commit adultery or paternity fraud; indeed, rather than defend the victims, the family courts are ready to strip them of their assets and income, practically enslaving them in the process of no-fault divorce when the women they loved decide to desert them.
Looking at the public sphere, we see the bankers who led the most recent economic collapse give themselves bonuses to sate their primitive greed while most people look on or at the most grumble quietly about the issue. We see corporations such as Wal-Mart and ASDA sweeping in to destroy local businesses entirely because common people, driven by petty self-interest, are unwilling to make the sacrifice to shop at their usual outlets when the cheaper corporate option becomes available. We see government agencies, such as the federal reserve and intelligence agencies, that exist primarily to further the wealth and influence of their leadership, and “prestigious” universities that routinely act against the truth for the sake of profit. The corruption of these institutions exists because of the inherent evil of the people who work in them – because, in a culture of narcissism, such people and their sycophants are praised, not eliminated.
The most damning evidence of the effects of immorality comes from a research article from 2009, “the desire to expel unselfish individuals from the group”, which shows how more than a hundred psychology students fiercely wanted to remove an altruistic person (really a computer program) from a common investment fund made up of five people (one student and four AIs masquerading as humans) because the person’s generous investment practices were making the students feel bad about their own selfish practices and those of the other AI participants. It should come as no surprise, then, that workplace bullying, whose perpetrators are often fundamentally evil and whose targets are often people of integrity, is rife in such sectors as academia, teaching and medicine – places that good people join in the hope of doing good, and that evil people join in the hope of hiding behind their reputations.
If you wish to devote your life to loving, teaching, learning from and fighting alongside the good, honouring the wishes and beliefs of those around you, you will find yourself in opposition with the current legal and social environment. If people verbally harass you, and you justly fight them for it, with evidence of their harassment to support you, the courts will in all likelihood fine you and let those who harassed you run loose. If you instead bring the evidence to the courts without attacking the culprits, the courts will ignore you, as verbal harassment is not a crime. If you bring evidence that certain people are malicious in nature (for instance, neuroimaging evidence of psychopathy), the courts will likewise ignore you and patiently wait for the psychopath to commit several more crimes before being dragged to their doorstep by the police. If cowardly bureaucrats lie to you and pervert the rules of their institutions in order to cover up for the management’s disreputable though not illegal actions, and you have evidence you can bring to the courts, the courts will, once again, have to ignore you. Indeed, if anyone inflicts even the worst of psychological abuse on you or someone you know, even to the point of driving a person to suicide, their actions will not be regarded as criminal and they will in all likelihood not get any prison sentence. The law is set against, not for, morality, and having faith in people means that, should they ever exploit your good faith or treat it with disdain, acting against you, you have (at present) no legal recourse, while the perpetrators do have legal recourse against you should you choose to physically retaliate.
Imagine, however, if deception, manipulation, adultery, ridicule, harassment and other forms of psychological abuse resulted in criminal penalties (if they could be proven via recordings), or if (more radically) the victim were at any time allowed to challenge the perpetrator to a gun duel for the more serious or persistent of these crimes. In the former case, good people would be able to fight evil on an even footing and oppose the spread of corruption in any institutions they joined. In the latter case, which is certainly far more violent, cowards would be put in their place in the dank corners of humanity, and most evil individuals would be imprisoned or killed as soon as they exposed themselves. If no laws against psychological abuse and moral crimes exist, it is primarily because, as of now, the notion of morality in the private sphere is almost absent from public discourse, and so no one is actually campaigning on the issue.
Any movement that campaigns against corruption as a whole must do so in both the public and private sphere. Institutional corruption is nothing more than the corruption carried out by packs of evil individuals, and the political intrigues that cause institutions to become corrupt can be stopped when the evil individuals who engage in them move into prisons rather than up the corporate ladder. People who wish to expose evil must have a legal right to take recordings of all they observe, and this must be enshrined as a basic human right. Whistleblowers must be protected not simply from the immediate threat of retaliation from the employer, but also from the risk of being blacklisted in their industry, knowing that other people of integrity await them with open arms in institutions and communities that can truly demonstrate their culture of integrity. Good people must have the means to vote not on which elected officials will ostensibly represent them, but on the actual policies through direct democracy, and must come together to solidify their position, as a demographic, in the economy, by working together and refusing to take up employment in immoral institutions. I would much rather work for good people and noble principles than for a high salary and dental benefits, and I know every other moral person out there feels the same way; as individuals who engage in moral reasoning are more determined to immoral individuals and more effective at working together, we can achieve a lot more than our detractors by banding together.
All this serves as a set of arguments that we, as individuals who value morality, need to reshape the corrupt world in which we live so that it facilitates rather than hinders our cultivation and manifestation of virtue. When a good person discovers the truth, the corrupt should be prevented from censoring them. When a good person has pledged to love someone eternally, with all their heart, they should receive justice for the pain of betrayal if their love is mistakenly given to an adulterer or serial monogamist. When a good person, seeking to inspire and aid everyone, finds an evil individual whose nature drives them to humiliate, lie and exploit, they should have the means to destroy that individual for these very reasons – because clear evidence can be given that the individual deliberately humiliated, lied to or exploited someone, as well as because neuroimaging can show that this individual is by nature malevolent, a psychopath.
I understand that, just as there are many people who do not wish to engage in critical thinking, there are those who find no interest in pursuing moral reasoning, believing that their emotions, or the emotions of others (particularly in-group members or authority figures), are the only things that ought to drive their behaviour. Some of these people espouse various forms of liberalism, craving the freedom to do whatever they like while having as few responsibilities as they can get away with, whereas others espouse traditional conservatism, craving the responsibility to make everyone do what certain other people (or deities) like, but assuming, sometimes falsely, that these people’s likes and dislikes stem from a better understanding of morality. Both liberals and traditional conservatives hold a certain degree of influence in western culture. But there are also people who, by nature, are driven towards a deeper understanding of morality, looking beyond mere likes and dislikes, and who find it painful to live in a world in which to give love, act with courage or share knowledge often means squandering them all on those who simply absorb them and carry on living selfishly, with no regard for what they had been shown or given. I would argue that both liberals and conservatives have a voice in western societies (even if some who class themselves as “conservatives” are economically liberal), but it seems that those whom I address are still a disparate group with no real sense of identity – which is perhaps fitting for a group that thinks objectively, but not very practical if we are to achieve the sort of world that we believe is right.
I write this blog, then, in an effort to help create a sense of community among moral individuals, to encourage others to write their own blogs (or other resources) to eventually discuss how we can make the world a haven of justice and noble endeavours, and most importantly, to act on the ideas we develop and actually devote our lives to bring the world into the better state we envision. The biggest challenge, as I see it, is to create a political force working under the banner of morality that is both incorruptible (this is not as difficult as it may seem) and sufficiently populous to have any meaningful political impact (which is really at the heart of the problem). The universal principles we honour can only manifest in the world when we bring them about, and when we prevent others from impeding them. All this can only happen if we become a political force in our own right.
I should note that I am an atheist, and believe that absolute moral principles can be revered, honoured and fought for in the absence of deities or other divine enforcers, but hope that religious people will still find interest in this blog. I believe that at least one true moraity – one that is universal and logically coherent – exists and can be ultimately fully understood and applied, although there might not necessarily be creatures to manifest it, in the same way that the various aspects of mathematics are universal and logically coherent, and can be ultimately fully understood and applied, although the physics of the universe we live in might only rely on part of them. I will also argue later in this blog that if gods did exist, then their volition would be subject to this universal morality rather than this universal morality being subject to their volition, proving that people can reach an understanding of morality without the guidance of a god or priesthood. I will attempt, in parts of the blog, to develop the theory of an objective morality, as well as to elaborate on applications of that theory in designing an AI that can manifest morality (which is not as difficult as it sounds) and perhaps bolster the small population of non-religious moral individuals in the world.