Tag Archives: Hume’s law

Hume’s Guillotine Has No Blade (Part FOUR): The implicit epistemological contradiction of Hume’s Law—an epistemology both with and without ethics

As we continue our deconstruction and dismantling of Hume’s Law, it is important to examine the intrinsic contradiction found in the relationship between ethics and epistemology as implied by the philosophical assumptions underwriting Hume’s claim. What Hume’s Law does is create an implicit mutual exclusivity between epistemology and ethics. This is a violation of the basic principles of philosophy and philosophical thinking, and is a large part of why Hume’s law is a rational disaster.

I went into the relationship between philosophical categories in part three of this series in some detail, so I will only summarize it here. The five major categories of philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, aesthetics—-do not exist in a vacuum of themselves. They all share a corollary relationship with one another, and the sum of the categories serves to reinforce the metaphysical primary (the nature of reality, itself…the root IS of all that is). However, it can be helpful to simplify the relationship between the categories by arranging them linearly, as follows: Metaphysics implies epistemology, epistemology implies ethics, ethics implies politics, politics implies aesthetics. This fact has profound and inescapable implications for any ethical claim, and certainly for Hume’s Law. What the inseparable and corollary relationship between the philosophical categories demands is that if any one category is deemed objective—and by “objective” we mean fundamental, irreducible, universal, absolute, and infinitely consistent—then all categories must be equally so. If one makes a claim to “objective truth”, which is an assertion that one’s epistemological premise naturally promotes axiomatic distinctions between correct knowledge and incorrect knowledge, then one is necessarily, though perhaps implicitly, making a claim to an objective ethic. This fact is an immutable philosophical attribute. One cannot claim objective philosophical category X and then from that conclude that philosophical category Y is therefore subjective. This is impossible. But this logical failure is completely endemic to Hume’s Law.

For example, “Objectivism”,  as far as I understand, is a label derived primarily from the assumption of the objective nature of “Existence”…Existence being the Objectivist metaphysical primary. This being the case, then any objectivist is bound by intellectual integrity in the form of rational consistency and non-contradictory truth to assume that their ethics are likewise objective. Again, it is a rational impossibility to achieve a subjective from an objective. And interestingly, and ironically, this point is the exact point Hume’s Law makes. This being the case, it is then impossible to obtain a subjective ethic from an objective epistemology (a subjective right and wrong from an objective truth and falsehood). But this is what advocates of Hume’s Law inexorably do, and their intellectual and philosophical failure in this is insuperable. What they claim is “no objective and universal morality”, but what they mean is “no objective and universal ethic” (please refer to the distinction between ethics and morality I spoke of in the last article of this series).

Advocates of Hume’s Law do not seem to understand how profoundly undermining this is to their arguments. Those that do will argue that they are not in fact making a claim that ethics, itself (the category), is completely subjective, but only that moral ethics are. But the fact is that one cannot rationally argue for any objective ethic if one presumes that volitional behavior (conscious behavior, as a function of consciousness) is irrelevant with respect to objective truth (objective epistemology). Meaning that whatever one chooses to do is irreducibly subjective, making volitional behavior completely absent any real and true foundation, which means it can have nothing fundamental to to with the “objective truth” from which that behavior is given meaning.

Remember, one MUST assert an ethic if one is asserting an epistemology. And if one is asserting that the epistemology (fundamental truth)  is objective then that which necessarily follows—the ethic—must likewise be objective. And what is the ethic? The ethic is the application of truth to purpose which validates truth. Correct application of truth validates that truth is in fact true, thus this application is “good”. Incorrect application contradicts and thus does not affirm truth, and thus this application is “evil”. Application of truth is necessarily and inexorably willful…that is, it is the volitional application of truth. A non-volitional application of truth is impossible, because such application cannot be said to have purpose, and without purpose truth is irrelevant. And irrelevant truth is meaningless truth, and this is a contradiction in terms.

What are the ethical options for one who proclaims that truth is objective but volitional behavior in the application of truth is not? There are only two, and each one is as invalid and rationally bankrupt as the other. The fist option is to declare that ethics simply do not exist at root; that their fundamental subjectively gives them no foundation and thus no fundamental connection to objective truth and thus no fundamental connection to objective reality…they are severed from the “Real”, as it were. This fails the rational integrity test because epistemology without ethics is impossible—without ethics, truth cannot be validated as true. The second is to appeal to some non-voluntary ethical system, like legality. But in order for a legal ethic to manifest one must assume and then establish an authority which has the power to compel ethical behavior. Yet only two such authorities can be claimed: human and divine (and make no mistake, Determinism, which is the metaphysical trope of many atheists and agnostics, to which they appeal as a get-out-of-god-free card, is merely an iteration of Divine Mysticism…it appeals to an omnipotent force which infinitely eludes man’s understanding because it infinitely determines all that he does, all that he is, and all that he knows, and thus thinks). The first authority fails because it is comprised of men…men must choose to establish such authority; men in authority then must choose to compel by force other men into the legal ethic. )Without force, law is not law, it is suggestion). So to claim non-volitional ethical behavior in service to one’s “objective” epistemology by relying upon the choices of men to establish coercive authorities and the choices of rulers to enforce legal ethics is a contradiction, and thus fails at being an involuntary ethic, and thus is an invalid alternative to moral ethics. The reason legality is an ethical disaster and inevitably leads to totalitarian misery is due to the inherent contraction which says that ethical behavior shall be compelled in the masses by the ethical choices of the few who rule. Legality is an attempt to ethically synthesize free will and force. It will never work, and for obvious reasons. Thus, legality cannot be considered a valid ethic, let alone an objective one. Thus, to assert a legal ethic is to assert no ethic at all.

The second fails because divine coercion of men’s behavior is a root undermining of men themselves. A man unable to act in service to truth of his own conscious volition is a man for whom truth is utterly irrelevant, thus such a man can never apprehend truth in first place. Truth absent the ability to apply it is truth absent purpose. And purposeless truth is irrelevant truth, and irrelevant truth is meaningless truth—a contradiction in terms. Thus, one cannot simultaneously claim such a thing as objective truth but no objective means to apply that truth via one’s conscious volition. To remove volition from understanding is to undermine understanding entirely, and therefore no objective truths can ever be claimed because they cannot be validated. The appeal to the divine authority (like Determinism) to force ethical action is in reality the assertion that no ethic exists. This violates the philosophical axiom which says that epistemology MUST imply ethics.

The point I am making with all of this is that one either concedes objective moral ethics—volitional behavior in service to truth—or one cannot concede that any ethics exist at all. And without ethics, there is no objective truth. Without ethics, there is no epistemology. What is true and false must be volitionally applied (morality) in order that he who apprehends truth can validate it according to observable outcomes from his own existential frame of reference. A truth which cannot be volitionally applied is irrelevant to the observer, and thus the observer has no way of knowing that truth is in fact true.

In short, epistemology demands ethics; and not just any ethics, but specifically moral ethics.

*

The idea that truth can be known, but never applied, is really the heart of Hume’s Guillotine, and this is both a great irony worth pointing out (because it mirrors the irrational ethical implications of Christianity’s description of man’s fallen nature), and a fundamental failure of logic which collapses the whole idea. One can know truth, but never act in service to it. Truth, absent the ability to apply it in service to a purpose, makes truth infinitely irrelevant to he who apprehends it. In other words, Hume’s Law apologists want their cake and to eat it, too. They want to proclaim the existence and fact of objective truth—the ability to apprehend it and declare it—yet they want to deny any objective application of truth in order to practically, empirically, and efficaciously validate that the truth is in fact true. They would argue that truth is self-evident, but absent any objective application of truth, truth is only really “evident” to itself.  This is circular, redundant truth, which is a logical fallacy in the form of tautology (it’s true because it’s truth; it’s truth because it’s true), not to mention an infinite reduction to zero. Any truth without validation via the objective volitional application of truth by the conscious observer of truth (he who apprehends and declares that truth is in fact true) can never, ever, by any means be known to be true. Truth without application to purpose by the observer is irrelevant truth, which makes it meaningless truth, which is a contradiction in terms.

And the great irony here is that what the advocates of Hume’s Law do is the exact same thing the evangelical Christians they so vociferously deride as irrational fairy tale—worshipping harpies do. These “doctrinally pure” Christians, particularly of the Calvinist pedigree, proclaim that man, though he is capable of apprehending truth from falsehood, is, due to his fallen and depraved nature, utterly incapable of applying this knowledge to any good end, making all his actions evil by default. And thus, it is not that man commits sin and is thereby condemned, it is that he IS sin—meaning that his very will is banished from ethical behavior altogether. Man is death incarnate not because he chooses to act in evil ways, but because his nature precludes him from ANY moral compass whatsoever. He has knowledge, but his will is infinitely irrelevant to that knowledge, making that knowledge useless to him. And thus, he is essentially born dead. And this is why he needs saving…and in comes the opportunistic priest class to rescue him from his existential dilemma. For a price, of course. It will cost him his freedom, his individuality, his dignity, his property, his mammon, his labor, his truth, his self-will, his mind, his family, his future, and his life in general. But hey, at least he is right with God.

The Humean ethical apologists are no different.  They make grand claims to objective truth and existence, but then declare that ethics is dead and morality with it. Via some  impossible and essentially mystical contradiction—like objective epistemology without objective ethics—they bind man to an intellectually bankrupt determinist fate and offer him the bromide of nihilistic scientific practicality, with implicit nods to the psychopathic priesthood of the State; and offer draconian legal controls with State violence and the seizure of body and property (as incentive and punishment) as some kind of ethical answer to their empty metaphysics. The deride morality as a merely the shiny obsession of a fool and offer you the madness of the of infinite separation between thought and action as an answer to their ethical failure. They replace the soul with death and the light with darkness.

But hey, at least you are right with god. Not that the Humean apologists will call him that.

END part FOUR

Hume’s Guillotine Has No Blade (Part THREE): The difference between ethics and morality, why ethics and morality cannot be avoided, and why this is an insurmountable problem for advocates of Hume’s Law

Before we go any future on the specifics of the “is-ought” dichotomy, it is crucial that we understand the distinction between ethics and morality. Anyone not able to clearly articulate the differences between these two philosophical ideas and how they specifically relate has no business discussing Hume’s law, or any other ethical or moral question, for that matter…because they can have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. Understanding Hume’s is-ought dilemma and, more importantly, its complete rational, not to mention ethical, failure is predicated upon knowing the difference and the relationship between morality and ethics. Thankfully, it is quite simple.

“Ethics” is the broad philosophical category. Morality is a type of ethics—an ethical system based upon a specific epistemology, and this rooted in a specific metaphysical description of realty…a metaphysical primary. Moral behavior can be ethical behavior, but only if the ethics being implied are rooted in an epistemology which implies morality, and that rooted in a metaphysics which implies the epistemology which implies the moral ethics.

Not all ethics, therefore, are moral. Legality, for example, is a completely different type of ethics, because legality is rooted in fundamentally different epistemology and metaphysics. Thus, there is for example no such thing as a “moral law”…this is a complete fallacy. “Moral law” is a contradiction in terms, because morality and legality presume completely different epistemology and metaphysics (a comprehensive discussion of this can be found in many previous articles on this blog). Speaking of “moral law”, a third example of ethics might be a hybrid of legality-morality that one might find in western liberal democracies, where the law is said to exist in service to moral truths. This hybrid is fundamentally irrational and observably false, because governments dictate, they do not suggest, and you cannot dictate morality. Morality is rooted in choice. One only acts morally IF they are able to exercise choice. Legality is rooted in authority, and authority is force. And forced behavior is by definition behavior which is compelled, and thus is irrespective of choice.

So, whenever morality is discussed, such as in Hume’s Law, it is important to remember that we are dealing with a specific kind of ethics—morality—and these are rooted in specific epistemology and specific metaphysics. Hume’s Law would be anathema to legality, other than perhaps a tangential affirmation of it, because legality cannot accommodate any “ought”—categorical, hypothetical, or otherwise. Legality tells us what ethical behavior one WILL DO—or else suffer punishment from the external authority in charge—not what one ought do—or else suffer consequences that one has brought on himself.

Hume’s Law only addresses morality, and specifically, it is the explicit assertion that morality is an irrational type of ethics, and thus is not objective, and thus does not actually exist, and thus is utterly inefficacious and irrelevant to reality and truth. Proponents of Hume’s Law are NOT—and this is crucial to understand—denying that objective ethics exist even if they think they are (and I submit that likely most of them do). They are merely denying that objective moral ethics exist.

But the declaration of the utter spuriousness of morality MUST be based upon preconceived epistemological and metaphysical assumptions. In other words, ethical conclusions are an unavoidable outcome and consequence of epistemological and metaphysical foundations and assumptions, and are derived directly from them. That is, those foundations inexorably and inevitably lead to ethical conclusions, and thus cannot lead to NO ethics. They may not lead to no MORAL ethics, but they will lead to some type of ethics.

Therefore, the question which should be routinely posed to proponents of Hume’s Law and advocates of the is-ought contraction is: What are your ethics? What is your definition good and the evil if not in terms of morality? And if they have no answer, or their answer is incomplete, then they can have no real argument against morality. Because it means that their metaphysics and epistemology have lead them either to NO ethical conclusions, which means that they have NO understanding of nature of reality (metaphysics) and NO understanding of what constitutes truth (epistemology), OR their metaphysics and epistemology are false and/or insufficient. In either case, they can make no rational claim against morality, since one can only disprove a given ethics—in this case morality— by providing more logical and consistent ethics, and this by holding a more logical and consistent epistemology and metaphysics.

And this, I submit, is impossible…moral ethics are in fact the MOST rational ethics possible. In my experience, without moral ethics one is left inevitably defending either the idea of “no ethics”, which is impossible because any ethical assertion, even the conclusion that there are no ethics, is based upon metaphysical and epistemological conclusions that MUST and NECESSARILY lead to specific ethics (the conclusion that there is no ethics implies that there is no epistemology and no metaphysics, which means that they cannot assert anything about ethics including that they do not exist; in fact, they cannot assert anything about anything at all), OR they are left defending legal ethics, which are rooted in rationally bankrupt metaphysics.

Just quick word on that:

The metaphysics of legality are unavoidably determinist, which makes them inexorably a zero sum proposition. The assertion of determinism is the assertion of nothing at all. Any determining force must itself be determined, since all of its outcomes, according to the very nature and definition of determinism, could at no time, ever, have been theoretical, hypothetical, unknown, or non-existent—in other words, the determinist force at no time could NOT have determined the outcomes it determined, making the outcomes of determinism as infinite and absolute as determinism itself. This leaves no distinction between the determinist force and the outcomes it has determined. This makes determinism an infinite regression to itself, concluding at nothing but itself, and proceeding from nowhere but itself. Determinism—determinist metaphysics, the metaphysics of legal ethics—is a self nullifying proposition

But enough of that. On to part four.

END part Three

Hume’s Guillotine Has No Blade (Part TWO): What is Hume’s Law as it relates to reality?

In the last article I laid out the basic equation for resolving Hume’s “is-ought” dilemma. Here it is again, slightly modified:

Truth (X) = Purpose (of X) = Application (of X—where X cannot be applied either implicitly or explicitly as IS X and simultaneously IS NOT X)

The objective ought, then, is the non-contrary application of truth.

*

Hume’s “is-ought” dilemma in brief:

Hume asserts that when dealing with the question of morality—what one ought do—there is an inexorable disconnect between the non-hypothetical, objective IS of reality, and the hypothetical, subjective OUGHT of moral imperatives. For example, if God tells us that “Thou shalt not kill”, then, as a moral commandment (as opposed to a legal one, which it technically is, but for this example we will assume it’s moral), it can be more specifically rendered “Thou ought not kill”. The reason that Hume declares the ought statement fundamentally subjective is because what one chooses to do—choice being intrinsic to morality and thus “ought”—can never alter the fact that what IS absolutely and necessarily IS. The IS, you see, of anything observed and declared so, is  rooted in the irreducible and absolute reality which informs choice, and thus the ought implied by choice—or more specifically, implied by volition—must inevitably affirm objective reality, regardless of what it is; and thus whatever one chooses, and whatever one recommends others choose (ought to do), will equally affirm objective reality, making the choices and the oughts themselves purely subjective. IS IS, and always will be, and therefore it is entirely objective. OUGHT is always subjective, on the other hand, because it is predicated on a fundamentally stable and unchanging reality (as said, the objective IS). What one chooses to do may alter how one observes reality, but it does not change reality at its root, because reality is absolute and immutable. It exists outside of one’s wishes and choices and therefore one’s particular morality…one’s  “oughts”. Therefore morality, being rooted in volition and thus on “ought”, is always fundamentally subjective. It has no fundamental meaning beyond the capriciousness of cognition, and the the non-substantive nature of the abstract.

Further, by definition, choice is uncompelled, and thus it isn’t possible to declare what one MUST CHOOSE—or, what one objectively ought to do—because MUST CHOOSE implies “compelled choice”, which is a contradiction in terms (in the strictest sense, I mean…while it is true that one can be forced to choose this or that, if there is no option to not make the choice at all, then the choice itself is a false one). And this is why morality is about what one ought to do, not what one WILL or MUST do, further supporting the argument that morality is subjective.

So the Humean is-ought moral distinction means that one can never presume that one ever objectively ought to do this or that, as though what one ought to do is as objective as the frame of reference—the objective existential “IS”, of reality—to which all oughts are inexorably and naturally obligated. The assumption that oughts can be as objective as the IS of truth—as objective as the reality which is objective irrespective of man’s volition—is, according to Humean moral understanding, a substantial error of logic. What one ought to do must always be entirely subjective, since reality remains reality regardless of the ought-choice. What one ought to do is always hypothetical, and thus any categorical imperative—that one always ought make a specific choice as though it has any objective, immutable, bearing on reality—is impossible. Morality thus is always subjective.

And all of this is fine except for one thing:

It is completely wrong.

Hume’s assertions about morality and the separation between the is of reality and the ought of how the conscious observer shall engage his will in response to reality is, in all honesty, the most egregious relational error with respect to morality that I have ever had the displeasure of examining. And the fact that so many intellectuals—and atheists in particular, who are the most ironic “intellectuals” on earth, and whose apologetics are the most spurious and convoluted you will ever have the misfortune of examining—hang their ethics on such folderol leaves one wondering just where to find the “intellect” in the “intellectual”.

END (Part TWO)

Hume’s Guillotine Has No Blade: Solving Hume’s “is-ought” dilemma is relatively simple and straightforward (Part ONE)

I’ve been sitting on this article series for a couple of weeks, ever since I listened to a debate between Stefan Molyneux and Stephen Woodford, who runs a channel on YouTube called “Rationality Rules”, on Stefan’s theory of objective universal morality, which he calls “universally preferable behavior (UPB)”. This is an interesting debate, and I encourage everyone to look it up and watch it…it was educational, though it failed to ultimately resolve anything, and leaves them both pretty much holding the same ground as when they started. This is because both are a little right and a little wrong. Stefan is right in that objective universal morality exists, but he is wrong because he doesn’t know why or how, and his UPB theory is entirely insufficient; Stephen is wrong because he attempts, through the application of “Hume’s Law”, or the “is-ought” dichotomy, to create a mutual exclusivity between epistemology and ethics (though I’m not sure he fully recognizes how exactly he does this), and he rejects the notion of universal morality; but Stephen is right in that Stefan blatantly violates the is-ought dichotomy in UPB without first resolving it, then Stefan proceeds to ignore that fact. Which is pretty bad form. Further, Steven explains that Stefan creates a circular argument for UPB by putting his conclusion (all arguments against UPB are necessarily invalid) in his premise (that to argue against UPB is to concede it). Stefan seems genuinely flummoxed by this, and doesn’t understand that this completely nullifies UPB before it reaches the runway. Which is not a great look on someone boasting his philosophical and intellectual pedigree by publishing an entire book on universal secular ethics.

At any rate, I have desired to post my resolution to the is-ought dichotomy for while now, but I didn’t know where to insert it…other matters, like the coronavirus panic and political and financial opportunism and profiteering being passed off as “public health” seemed more urgent matters to address. However, since I’ve come to realize that public and government responses to the coronavirus panic seemed to have collapsed the American State entirely, I figured that this crisis wasn’t going to end anytime soon. So…my point is, for lack of a better place or time, here it is the relatively straightforward and simple solution to the is-ought morality question:

I will start with the basic equation for a necessary and rationally consistent objective universal morality, with a little bit of description, and then I will expand on it in subsequent articles.

Truth (X) = Purpose (of X) = Application (of X, where X shall not be applied as though X were simultaneously both X and NOT X, for this shall contradict X (contradict Truth))

The contradiction of truth by failure to accept the necessary application of truth—and this as a function of the corollary purpose of truth (for truth absent purpose is “irrelevant truth”, which is an obvious contradiction, because “irrelevant truth” is otherwise rendered “meaningless truth”)—in a way which does not contradict truth (contradiction being the implicit or explicit assertion that X simultaneously is and is NOT X) results, necessarily, in the nullification of truth, which of course nullifies any arguments criticizing universal morality as being, itself, an intrinsic contradiction.

The “objective ought”, as it were, is imbedded within and implied by “application”, which is necessarily volitional, as “non-volitional application” is merely the effect of a given cause.  Cause indeed implies effect, but this is an entirely separate issue from that of truth, which necessarily implies purpose. Like cause and effect, truth and purpose are corollary, but a cause need not necessarily have a purpose, which makes it a “purposeless cause” with a thus corresponding “purposeless effect”. And, again, this has nothing to do with truth, because “purposelessness” has fundamentally nothing to do with meaning, where truth has everything to do with it. Truth necessarily needs a purpose in order for it to be known that the truth is, in fact, truthful. As mentioned, “purposeless truth” is a contradiction because “purposeless truth” is “irrelevant truth”, or “meaningless truth”. In which case, if a truth is meaningless, then by what standards or means shall we claim that it is true?
There are none.
Therefore, to remove purpose from truth is to declare a truth only true to itself, which is a circular argument and thus a logical fallacy. In other words, “objective truth” without “objective purpose” is a circular, self-nullifying definition of truth. The objective moral ought, then, is a direct function of a truth’s corresponding purpose, and is imbedded and implied in the application of truth, which as I said must be volitional—that is, a function of will—in order for it to be application, and not merely effect.
END