Sunday, May 28, 2017

How to behave

Can we express a moral system by a set of possessors of rights and judge the morality of an act by the degree to which it interferes with each of these rights.  Rights might  include:
  • Life: i.e. continued physical existence, food, housing, education, health care ...
  • Autonomy: i.e. freedom (to control ones own body, work, vote, assemble, speak, correspond, ...)
A set of possessors is a group of corporeal objects (or collections of objects) whose members may possess rights.  Rights come in two varieties, those that can be assigned and those than cannot.  

  • Exactly how a possessor is defined is extremely important.  The difference between  considering  (1) 'self-aware' beings vs (2) 'potentially self-aware' beings as possessors corresponds to the difference between the most extreme proLife and proChoice positions.

A moral system involves choosing some from column Life and some from column Autonomy and deciding what sets of possessors you recognize.  Different societies and different cultures choose differently.  For example, the EU tends to include more in Life & Autonomy, and less in possessors of right than the US.

In 21st century America, we argue about what group possesses the right to life, i.e. when and in what circumstances is abortion legal, and about what constitutes life and autonomy which God has granted and which the state should therefore respect.

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