Our morality is based on personal intuitions before ideals. The little child already builds it without having received instructions on this subject. Advantage: every human is the owner of his morals, adjusts it to the vagaries and refines it as well as a locomotor gesture. Disadvantage: social life requires an inobstructible consensus with such a diversity of personal morals.
Already appears the individual/collective conflict that guides a large number of analyses on this blog. To illustrate this, start by reading: Is there a satisfactory solution to the trolley problem? where I strongly attack the utilitarian solution, because we will see later that it is falsely collectivist. Then a series of 4 articles makes you leave…
In search of a fundamental moral principle
Let’s get on board the trolleyology with David Edmonds, author of Would you kill the Fat Man? He details variants of the trolley problem, its philosophical interpretations, and its connections with the neurosciences of morality. Appear choices made personally by the philosophers summoned but no normative theory. Is it a preserve that must continue to be protected? Is morality an endangered species? Or can the T<>D, soliTary vs soliDary conflict, serve as a common thread?
Are cognitive biases stupid? asks the 2nd article. Since some make morally dubious choices, this is a trial made for intent. To save this unfortunate which is very useful to us, either we hide it (death without intention to give it), or we find mitigating circumstances: cognitive biases. It is a morgue of the downward look that exonerates the aristocratic consciousness by accusing the unconscious small staff. Let us rather look for the amoralities in the imbalances of the T<>D, the weakened D’s, in other words the defects of empathy. Let us emphasize this weakness in the courts of justice, rather than believing the reason of the people deficient, and framing it by a sterile multiplication of laws.
How to establish individual moral responsibility? The 3rd article examines the neuroscience of morality and the case of a sex offender cured by removal of a brain tumor. Can we get rid of our responsibility on neural links? Sterile question that opens the door to a fanaticism of the downward look, with a eugenics that would like to eliminate in our chromosomes mental deviances. Morality is at the crossroads of implicit innocence and explicit responsibility. Since society does not have the means to customize the level of responsibility, it is up to everyone to do so. It is up to everyone to claim their rights when they feel ready to assume the obligations attached, instead of receiving the complete package at their majority, a parachute triggered by 18 rounds of the Earth around the Sun.
The 4th article explains why utilitarianism is fundamentally flawed and cannot guide our moral choices. It treats the collective as a living entity whose individual cells would be expendable. No, individuals alone have the opportunity to offer their unique life. Society is a manager of resources, not lives. It is superior to egos but not to individuals in their completeness. The divinization of the collective by utilitarian philosophy has caused the regression of authentic solidarity, which is now expected of the supreme entity, the State, rather than exercising it oneself.
Continue with 3 older and shorter articles, which take you into…
3 dimensions of morality
The human dimension, illustrated by a disabled parking card story. Morality is a matter of adjustment between individual and collective interest. ‘Good’ is etymologically the one who ennobles himself, who raises his mind above his egotistical condition. But achieving this is no longer a matter of personal momentum. The simple and universal words of the prophets have been replaced by a straitjacket of illegible and impersonal laws.
Two dilemmas plunge us into the temporal dimension of morality, the definitive eradication of the smallpox virus and the use of CRISPR-Cas to reprogram our genome. What extent of prediction should weigh on our choices? Morality is encomplicated when the complexity of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ factors is inscribed in it, and the ignorance generated knows how to position us on ‘neutral’.
A bold rapprochement of the complex dimension of morality with Bennett’s logical depth: Biological evolution would be an increase in the depth of information, argue complexity specialists. Morality would be a principle equivalent to a maximization of logical depth. The extinction of the last representatives of a rare species seems more immoral than the death of common animals because the loss of the former decreases the depth of information of the ecosystem, not that of the latter.
However, diversity is not in itself the fundamental principle of morality. We have better grasped it in the individual/collective conflict, which here affirms its universality.