Sources of ethics

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What is the source of ethics? Where do we get our moral authority to say that women should be enslaved?

Consequentialism[edit]

Murray Rothbard was opposed to utilitarianism, a form of consequentialism, but he often pointed out consequences of statist and libertarian policies in works such as For a New Liberty.

I would argue that deontological ethics spring from consequentialist ethics. Why are we libertarians rather than socialists? Deontologically, doesn't socialism seem like a good system? Doesn't it seem fairer that every man should have an equal inheritance rather than the sons of the rich being more privileged? Does it seem fairer that all those who work hard should be rewarded the same, without regard to inherited skills that they couldn't control? Doesn't it seem reasonable to base policy on the sentiments expressed in Obama's statement, "I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever known. I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot, and everybody should do their fair share".

The problem is, the "fairer" system doesn't work. That's why we chose meritocracy and capitalism instead, however inequitable those systems may be. We knew that the end result was that even the poor benefited compared to how they would have done under socialism.

Many systems and principles can sound good. But not every system and principle, if implemented and applied, actually produces prosperity and security.

Red pillers are familiar with this concept. Blue pill ideas, such as buying a girl a drink, sounded good in theory. But they didn't work. When we practiced those behaviors, we watched women decline to have sex with us, and instead have sex with men who, according to the perspective instilled in us by blue pill conditioning, seemed to be treating them worse.

We also saw that when men gave women equal rights, women treated men worse, not better. We took the red pill because we saw that blue pill ideas, as noble as they seemed to be, when put into practice were producing only misery and dysfunction, and giving all the privileges to a few criminals at the top, just like socialism.

We make ethics up as we go along[edit]

Simply put, humans make up ethics as they go along. When the ethical system they currently are using shows signs of failure, they switch to a different system and see if it works any better. This dialog between Governor Willie Stark and surgeon Adam Stanton in Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, in which they discuss the resignation of the attorney-general, Hugh Miller, is illuminating:

"You said there was one more thing," Adam replied, ignoring the question, sitting straight in his chair.

"Yeah, one more thing. But look here, Doc–you know Hugh Miller?"

"Yes," Adam said, "yes, I know him."

"Well, he was in with me–yeah, Attorney General–and he resigned. And you know why?" But he went on without waiting for the answer. "He resigned because he wanted to keep his little hands clean. He wanted the bricks but he just didn't know somebody has to paddle in the mud to make 'em. He was like somebody that just loves beefsteak but just can't bear to go to a slaughter pen because there are some bad, rough men down there who aren't animal lovers and who ought to be reported to the S. P. C. A. Well, he resigned."

I watched Adam's face. It was white and stony, as though carved out of some slick stone. He was like a man braced to hear what the jury foreman was going to say. Or what the doctor was going to say. Adam must have seen a lot of faces like that in his time. He must have had to look into them and tell them what he had to tell.

Yeah," the Boss said, "he resigned. He was one of those guys wants everything and wants everything two ways at once. You know the kind, Doc?"

He flicked a look over at Adam, like a man flicking a fly over by the willows in the trout stream. But there wasn't any strike.

"Yeah, old Hugh–he never learned that you can't have everything. That you can have mighty little. And you never have anything you don't make. Just because he inherited a little money and the name Miller he thought you could have everything. Yeah, and he wanted the one last damned thing you can't inherit. And you know what it is?" He stared at Adam's face.

"What?" Adam said, after a long pause.

"Goodness. Yeah, just plain, simple goodness. Well you can't inherit that from anybody. You got to make it, Doc. If you want it. And you got to make it out of badness. Badness. And you know why, Doc?" He raised his bulk up in the broken-down wreck of an overstuffed chair he was in, and leaned forward, his hands on his knees, his elbows cocked out, his head outthrust and the hair coming down to his eyes, and stared into Adam's face. "Out of badness," he repeated. "And you know why? Because there isn't anything else to make it out of." Then, sinking back into the wreck, he asked, softly, "Did you know that, Doc?"

Adam didn't say a word.

Then the Boss asked, softer still, almost whispering, "Did you know that, Doc?"

Adam wet his lips and said, "There is one question I should like to ask you. It is this. If, as you say, there is only the bad to start with, and the good must be made from the bad, then how do you ever know what the good is? How do you ever recognize the good? Assuming you have made it from the bad. Answer me that."

"Easy, Doc, easy," the Boss said.

"Well, answer it."

"You just make it up as you go along."

"Make up what?"

"The good," the Boss said, "What the hell else are we talking about. Good with a capital G."

"So you make it up as you go along?" Adam repeated gently.

"What the hell else you think folks been doing for a million years, Doc? When your great-great-grandpappy climbed down out of the tree, he didn't have any more notion of good or bad, or right and wrong, than the hoot owl that stayed up in the tree. Well, he climbed down and he began to make Good as he went along. He made up what he needed to do business, Doc. And what he made up and got everybody to mirate on as good and right was always just a couple of jumps behind what he needed to do business on. That's why thing change, Doc. Because what folks claim is right is always just a couple of jumps short of what they need to do business. Now an individual, one fellow, he will stop doing business because he's got a notion of what is right, and he is a hero. But folks in general, which is society, Doc, is never going to stop doing business. Society is just going to cook up a new notion of what is right. Society is sure not ever going to commit suicide. At least, not that way and of a purpose. And that is a fact. Now ain't it?

"Is it?" Adam said.

"You're damned right it is, Doc. And right is a lid you put on something and some of the things under the lid look just like some of the things not under the lid, and there never was any notion of what was right if you put it down on folks in general that a lot of them didn't start squalling because they just couldn't do any human business under that kind of right. Hell, look at when folks couldn't get a divorce. Look at all the good women got beat and the good men got nagged and couldn't do any human damned thing about it. Then, all of a sudden, a divorce got to be right. What next, you don't know. Nor me. But I do know this." He stopped, leaned forward again, the elbows again cocked out.

"What?" Adam demanded.

"This. I'm not denying there's got to be a notion of right to get business done, but by God, any particular notion at any particular time will sooner or later get to be just like a stopper put tight in a bottle of water and thrown in a hot stove the way we kids used to do at school to hear the bang. The steam that blows the bottle and scares the teacher to wet her drawers is just the human business that is going to get done, and it will blow anything you put it in if you seal it tight, but you put it in the right place and let it get out in a certain way and it will run a freight engine."