Tag Archives: Rationality Rules

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