Tag Archives: Universally Preferable Behavior

When Ethics Don’t Exist, There is No Such Thing as “Preferential Behavior” (Part 2)

By removing man’s consciousness from the metaphysical equation, which the metaphysical primary of Existence most certainly does, we remove the singular conscious Self from man. And the conscious Self is the means by which man is able to assert that he IS, and by this is able to say what he IS NOT—he is able to make the distinction between himself and his environment, and this is the fundamental definition of Reality, period. Any other definition, and any other reference, is utterly beyond him…he cannot possibly know it. Therefore, by removing consciousness from metaphysics, man’s ability to define his environment and himself is fundamentally removed. And this of course makes it impossible for him to claim any real epistemological understanding (truth from falsehood), and lacking epistemological understanding he necessarily lacks ethical understanding (good from evil), because epistemology and ethics are of course corollary. The metaphysical primary of Existence then ironically removes man from Existence, placing it utterly outside of him, beyond his consciousness, and thus beyond his categorical frame of reference. In which case, man can claim to apprehend no actual ethics, because ethics, like epistemology, are a function of metaphysics…the metaphysics of Existence. And this is the root of the claim that “universal ethics do not exist”. As far as man is concerned, ethics are impossible for him, because his consiousness, being utterly subjective, being exclusive of Existence, is exclusive of not only universal ethics but anything universal at all…be it ethics, or truth, or reality on the whole. Because universality in the philosophical sense, and in the practical sense, is simply another word for objectivity. So the claim “universal ethics do not exist” can be rendered—and more precisely rendered—“objective ethics do not exist”. From this we can follow the logical progression to the claim “objective ethical behavior does not exist”. And this being the case, the idea that it is possible for man to act in a “universally preferable” way is irrational and pointless. Without universal ethics, there can be no standard for universally preferable ethics, because to say that there are no universal ethics is really to say that there are no actual ethics at all. And there can be no such thing as a preference which is rooted in that which does not actually exist in the first place. It’s an infinitely subjective preference, in other words…which makes it merely an opinion, full stop…akin to having a favorite color.

Universally preferable behavior. Well…what is actually preferable? Nothing. Because universal ethical behavior—behavior which is right as opposed to that which is wrong—cannot objectively be defined; it isn’t a thing. Man’s consciousness is removed from reality; man’s consciousness, specifically his conscious Self, is his sole frame of reference for anything which is real and thus true and thus good. And as goes the reference so goes ethics. As goes ethics so goes behavior. As goes behavior, so goes preferential behavior.

Ethics doen’t exist because You qua You don’t exist, and so your behavior doesn’t exist, which means there is no behavior to be preferred. Universal or otherwise.

Holding onto fundamentally untenable and irrational metaphysics (like those of Existence) will lead one down the wrong ethical path all the time, every time.

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When Ethics Don’t Exist, There is No Such Thing as “Preferential Behavior” (Part 1)

A couple of months ago I heard a relatively well-known YouTuber who discusses philosophy from time to time make the claim that “universal ethics don’t exist”. He said this in a video in which he was arguing for the legitimacy and efficacy of something he calls, rather oxymoronically, ironically, and paradoxically, “Universally Preferable Behavior”.

What he means by “universal ethics don’t exist” is that ethics are purely a function of human consciousness, and, by infrerences one can make about his beliefs based upon past assertions, and even open admission, he presumes that consciousness is an epiphenomenon, and this implies that it is fundamentally irrelevant to Reality qua Reality. In other words, the only rational and possible  frame of reference for ethics, both explicitly and implicitly—the individual, the conscious Self, the Thinking Human Being—is completely subjective with respect to Reality and thus Existence (the two are corollary). And if the reference for ethics is completely subjective, and this fundametally so, then ethical behavior is completely subjective. Which means that Universally Preferable Behavior, being a form of ethical expression—ethics, which are again utterly subjective, because they don’t actually exist, (that is, not universally, and by this he means means objectively)—can only ever be subjectively universally preferable.  Which is of course a contradiction in terms.

This person’s root problem, as is the case with…well, everyone who makes an irrational assertion about, well, anything, is the metaphysics.

Boy, those metaphysics are certainly quite wily it seems….they are the rocks upon which everyone’s philosophical ship ignominiously crashes in the end. From Aristotle to Augustine, Kant to Jordan Peterson…you’ll find their flotsam washing up on shore from time to time leaving graceless little trails of “not quite” upon the sand.

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Whenever it is asserted that ethics do not actually exist, it is meant that they are nothing but a figment of man’s imagination, and this a product of man’s consciousness, which is itself considered merely a figment…anathema to Existence. Consciousness, being the source of the utterly conceptual, is itself completely abstract, perfectly ethereal…so it is assumed and asserted. It, like the concepts it inexorably and necessarily spawns, is entirely intangible, and Existence, as the metaphysical primary, demands that only the tangible, the empirical, the physical, the ontic actually are, in any fundamentally objective (which means “meaningful; relevant”) sense. Ethics are not real—they do not exist—because they are exclusive of the senses, and Existence has no frame of reference as a metaphyscial primary for what happens after those concrete things which can be sensed have been sensed. In other words, the application of what is “real”, as Existence defines it, by a conscious frame of reference is irrelevant to Existence. Never mind the unavoidable fact that consciousness is the only means by which meaning can be generated…that Reality can be interpreted and applied.  Existence as the metaphysical primary thus makes its own epistemology and ethics merely folderol…utterly subjective, and utterly inconsequential to the very metaphysical primary from which they are derived. Astounding. If sensing is entirely immaterial and fundamentally irrelevant to Existence—to that which actually exists—because it is inexorably bound to the conscious observer by which it gets the whole of its meaning and purpose, then sensing, itself, is incompatible with Existence…sensing does not actually exist. And thus, how can it be claimed that anything actually exists, since no one can actually see (or otherwise sense) Reality and the things in it, because their senses, being linked inexorably to their consciousness in order that what is sensed can be defined and thus said to actually exist (as this or that), are utterly subjective and fundamentally irrelevant to the metaphysics of Existence? And if it is impossible to sense that which exists, how can Existence itself be claimed to exist? And thus how can it be the metaphysical primary?

At any rate, I digress. Suffice to say that what this YouTube personality is essentially saying is that ethics are are a function of consciousness and thus not observable and thus do not actually exist  according to his metaphysics (Existence) and thus cannot be universal. Of course, this being the case, all he really does in the end is make an implicit argument for the utter rejection of any ethical propositions he might make, and from that the utter rejection of the sum and substance of his philosophy on the whole.

END part 1

(Part 3: Quick and Easy Criticism of UPB) The Multitudinous Problems with Secular Ethics: A critique of Universally Preferable Behavior

 

UPB begs the question: Why should preferable behavior be preferable? Or, said another way: Why is preferable behavior good? If we say: UPB is good because it’s UPB, then we have a circular reasoning (tautology), which is a logical fallacy. If we say that UPB is good because it’s good for individuals, then the individual, not UPB, is the ethical standard. In this case “universality” is an irrelevant ethical concept. Since individuals are individual, collectivizing their actions (demanding or even suggesting universal compliance) contradicts their existence. Which implies that the individual is not actually the ethical standard. Pursuing UPB then demands the collectivization of humanity, and once this happens, “preference” goes out the window. Since preference is a parameter of consciousness, and consciousness is and can only be singular (a function of the Individual qua the Individual), it has nothing whatsoever to do with Universally Preferable Behavior.

Trust NO philosophy from anyone which implies the collectivization of humanity. No matter how warm and fuzzy and peaceful it may sound, it’s all utterly evil. There is no rational apologetic for ethics which demand or imply universal compliance. They are all the spawn of hell. Period.

(Part One: Introduction and Ironic Metaphysical Roots) The Multitudinous Problems with Secular Ethics: A critique of Universally Preferable Behavior

There’s no short way of doing this. At least not one that I prefer (see what I did there?), so I will just get to it. A while ago I was introduced to something called Universally Preferable Behavior (UPB). This, I understand, is more or less a formal apologetic of what is termed “secular ethics”. Which really is simply an Ethic derived from the metaphysics of Atheism (which are the metaphysics more or less of Aristotle…more on that later). There is no God to declare what is good behavior and what is evil behavior. Without such an arbiter of morality, it is assumed, there is no anchor for moral behavior.   Enter UPB stage left. UPB purports to fill the role of Arbiter, and hence the term “universal”. Which is an odd term when coupled with “preferable”. I understand that in the handbook of UPB some attempt is made to address this oxymoron, but the explanation left me pretty unsatisfied. It qualifies itself by claiming that behavior is only universal once a given objective has been defined. Like, IF I want to get to work on time, it is preferable that I drive, not walk. And within that context, it is universally preferable to drive and not walk. Of course the inconsistency is clear. Since the preferable behavior is contextual, it isn’t universal. It is only contextually universal…which is a contradiction in terms.

Here are some links that you can examine to give you some reference for this article. The first is the handbook for UPB (you may have to copy and paste this link into your search bar), by Stefan Molyneux, who purports to be the progenitor of UPB…I have some doubt about this, however. I think most of his apologetic for secular ethics has been around for some time. I could be wrong, and ultimately I don’t really care. Perhaps he coined the phrase and then added his own spin. Whatever. He can have the credit. It’s okay by me. The second source is a very condensed version of the basic assertions and conclusions of UPB. It gives you a good summary of what secular ethics is all about.

http://cdn.media.freedomainradio.com/feed/books/UPB/Universally_Preferable_Behaviour_UPB_by_Stefan_Molyneux_PDF.pdf

https://rudd-o.com/archives/the-twelve-principles-of-universally-preferable-behavior

I was tempted to ask my readers if they could spot the big problem right off the bat, but the more I examined UPB the more I realized that it was so terribly fraught with inconsistencies that this amounted to a trick question. It also makes it difficult, at least for my scatter-brain, to know where or how to begin, so I apologize in advance if this article seems somewhate disconnected. The more I wrote, the more I had to go back and add things to the margins of my notebook. So…I’m going to start and hope that some semblance of order reveals itself. In any case, all my points will here, somewhere. 🙂

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One of the first problems I noticed with UPB was that it doesn’t explain why preferential behavior is good behavior. That is, it doesn’t provide a convenient moral reference. This is a troubling and stark omission for a behavioral code which claims to be a universal Ethic. But I think I understand why the omission is there. A. Because it presumes “Objective Reality” as an ipso facto epistemological primary (that empiricism is proof of itself…which is a contradiction); and B. Because to include it highlights some serious inconsistencies with “Objective Reality”, which atheists and others, like those with Objectivist sympathies, don’t want to discuss (though they love to rant) and never resolve. Ever. And C. Because Atheism simply has no place for Good. It has an Ethic, but this is not the same thing. Behaving ethically does not necessarily equal behaving morally. And that’s the whole disaster of secular ethics in a nutshell. Not that religious ethics are any better. It’s just that they aren’t worse.

We understand that an Ethic gets its moral value from its foundational Metaphysic–metaphysics being the nature of what exists, and ethics being behavior that is ultimately consistent with the metaphysical primary, what I simply call the Metaphysic…and in between them is epistemology, which answers the question “What is Truth?” where Truth must be a necessary and ipso facto derivative of the the given Metaphysic. For example, Aristotelian philosophy essentially assumes that the Metaphysic is Existence, and its Epistemology thus is Objective Reality; it’s Ethic then is behavior which affirms the existence of Objective Reality–and of course one very common behavior is known as “being atheist”…and “being smug” is usually a corollary to this.  Unfortunately Aristotelian philosophy implies that Objective Reality is utterly empirical, which it’s not, and cannot be–which is why I respectfully reject Aristotle’s philosophy–and this presents a big problem for UPB because it implicitly relies upon the Aristotelian Metaphysic for its apologetics.

UPB seems pretty clearly to imply that the individual is the moral reference. That is, that UPB is “good”, or really, ethical, because it serves and affirms the individual. Unfortunately, while this sounds “so far so good”, this is as far as any semblance of rational consistency goes…at least for anyone who then has the intellectual foresight to ask the question thus begged: What is the individual? Or asked another way, what is the root nature of an individual’s “individual–ness”? (What is the nature of “I”?) This question naturally brings us to metaphysics, where atheism–remember, UPB’s roots are fundamentally atheistic–relies upon “Objective Reality”, which itself relies upon Scientific Determinism…which ends up being what is really meant by “Existence”. Scientific Determinism is the causal Platonic offspring of Science…the “why” to science’s “how”. Which is pretty ironic given how atheists love to name drop Aristotle as the philosophical father of their ideology. Ever since science decided to masquerade as philosophy and people decided to worship at the feet of lab-coated priests, we’ve gotten Scientific Deteminism as the Great Transcedant Cause in the Sky. Which is exactly like Divine Determinism. Oh, how the rivers of irony flow deep and thick and wide ’round here.

Part two real soon.