Even thought this quote doesn't sound like Epicurus,
since he was a Greek polytheist of the second century B.C.,
it demonstrates the futility of logic alone.

The Dilemma of Logic
in Ethics

Dialectic idealism, dialectic materialism, and dialectic whatever, without a firm foundation in Nature leads to a free floating philosophy: a logic without a foundation of facts. Anyone who has read the traditional, logical philosophers may conclude that a well developed argument in which a statement and the contrary statement are equally logical; and, without confirmation of evidence, eventually leads to a "stagnant center" where the intellect is frustrated and paralyzed, and everything appears as "relative" with no comparative importance. This is false complacency. Under such conditions one's judgment is seldom strained by the actions of other people. This is very good when one cannot do anything about the human condition anyway, but it may leave one with out direction when one is required to act.

There is also no way to guarantee that honesty and
fair results will come from dishonest and unfair people,
no matter what laws are enacted.

Protagoras and Euathlus
A good example from the classics of pure dialectics is evident in the dilemma of two ancient Greeks: Protagoras and Euathlus. Protagoras taught Euathlus rhetoric to become a lawyer. The agreement was half of the large fee down on starting and the remainder when Euathlus won his first case in court. Euathlus put off going into practice to the extent that Protagoras sued him for the remainder of his fee. In court Protagoras summed up his case as follows:

"Euathlus maintains he should not pay me, but he is absurd. Suppose he wins this case. Since this is his first appearance in court, he ought to pay me because he won his first case. On the other hand, suppose he loses his case. Then he ought to pay me by the judgment of the court He must pay me, win or lose!"
Euathlus had been a good student and was able to answer Protagaras' argument with a similar one of his own: "Protagaras maintains that I should pay him, but this is absurd. Suppose he wins this case. Since I will not have won my first case in court I do not have to pay him according to our agreement. On the other hand, suppose he loses the case. Then I do not have to pay him by the Judgment of the court. Since he must either win or lose, I do not have to pay him!"

This is but a hypothetical example of the futility of pure logic. There are more practical examples. For instance, there is the problem of the conscientious objector. One might ask how he differs from another man who has just as good objections to killing, but realizes that he is in an imperfect world where a wide spread passive attitude might very well lead to another country overrunning his homeland. How can we support one and let off the other?

Altruism and Egoism
A good example of a clash between logic and reality is exemplified in a consideration of altruism and selfishness (egoism). The dictionary defines altruism as the unselfish concern for the welfare of others: opposed to egoism. Selfishness is having such regard for one's own interests and advantage that the welfare of others becomes of less concern than is considered right and just. From the dictionary these two terms obviously deny each other. I remember wrestling with this problem in my high school days. I thought I detected some selfish aspect to all altruism and developed a cynical attitude toward it. It wasn't until I read Dr. E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology in 1976 that I was enlightened on this subject. Dr. Wilson started with social insects such as ants and bees. He showed that large classes of sterile helpers were developed to serve the queen of the colony with her enormous quantities of eggs to efficiently promote a genetic line to which all the helpers belonged. He went on to give evidence of thousands of similar cases in Nature.

One of the most charming cases relates to Florida Scrub Jays in which we see parents feeding nestlings assisted by other jays in the neighborhood. This raising a nest full of young was a cooperative effort involving as many as four and five other jays which did not have nests. At first it was suggested that the helper jays did not have territories and had evolved the helping behavior to fill in the time. Further insight into the situation was not evident until an in depth s tudy involving a thorough banding with color codes of all the jays in a locality had taken place. After some study over several years it became clear that the helpful jays were always older siblings of the nestlings. By their helping their parents raise the nestlings, they were promoting their own genetic welfare. Throughout Nature this is the case. After considerable study, it becomes evident that in all cases of altruism if one does not find a selfish aspect involving a genetic line, one is missing the point. One only has to comprehend a much more complex evolution of human altruism along identical genetic lines as the concept of relationships in a family spread to other relatives and finally fictive relationships of the entire world. As could be expected in humans the purely genetic expectations have been compounded into all human behaviors. These genetic lines have intellectually evolved and been generalized. The local charity, the Red Cross, and Save the Whales are examples of active altruism. In these examples, the identification extends to the immediate genetic family and local community, then the world community, and finally the entire community of all life on earth. No longer should we mentally separate altruism and egoism. By saving the Whales, argue its members, we are saving ourselves.

Altruistic behavior is always combined with egoism on a continuum, sometimes toward altruism, sometimes toward egoism. The ultimate altruism is the sacrifice of one's life for the life of another. In the animal world such sacrifice is only for a genetically related individual. A honey bee will sacrifice its life at the entrance to the hive to destroy and invading enemy. Dominant male baboons will jump onto the back of a tiger stalking the troop: a maneuver to delay the attacker while the rest of the troop escapes. Among human beings, we find people who will commit self-sacrifice for a group expanded beyond their genetically related group. Cross examination of a hero usually reveals a conceptually developed relationship between himself and this expanded group. An example would be the "brotherhood of mankind". These relationships are conditioned (learned). In the absence of such conditioning, relationships are rarely recognized outside of an immediate tribal group or genetic race. However, the degree to which this conditioning can take place is ultimately limited by factors of learning capability, intelligence, and availability of ideas. On the other end of this continuum, the individual thinks of their genetic lineage as no more than self-maintenance: egoism. This promotes parasitism. An example of this in nature is the ants which tend nymphs as food gatherers. Humans have pets. Is it possible that pets are exploiting their masters? How about the alcoholic who regularly buys "drinks for the house" at four. On this end of the continuum, altruistic acts are designed to improve the donor's lifestyle, mental stability, or social security.

Conflict of Interest
This relationship of altruism and egoism, derived from nature, will help us determine ethics in the application of government. A practical and daily example of the ambivalence of logic may be found in an analysis of the laws of conflict of interest in authoritative positions, whether they be in politics or industry, though the logic pertains more to politics where the obsolescent dialectic materialism still holds sway.

Our consideration of "conflict of interest" concerns itself especially with pecuniary gains of the proponents in regulatory positions. Public officials are required to avoid even the appearance of a conflict between private interests and public responsibilities, especially where there is a possibility of unfair profit. Let us compare "conflict of interest" with its diametrically opposite "compatibility of interest". We might grade them as follows:

(A-) "Conflict of Interest" refers to the interest of a person who has an inside position and possibly might be able to influence matters in such a fashion that he might personally benefit from the action. This should be guarded against, and if possible eliminated.
(B-) In this case, the interest of the participant would not benefit along with others of the considered interest. This would eliminate greed as a motive for dishonesty.
(C-) Participants without "conflicting interests" could possibly make impersonal judgments which could be fair to all persons inside and out of the organization.
Let us now outline the arguments of the logically opposite idea: We begin with a contradictory premise.
(A+) "Compatibility of interest" refers to the interest of a person who is in an inside position and possibly might be able to influence matters in such a fashion that his practical experience would be reflected in the actions. This should be encouraged.
(B+) In this case, the interest of the participant would benefit along with others of the same interest. This would be a motive for good work, since any poor work would result in his personal loss.
(C+) Participants with "compatible interest" would be able to make adjustments with understandable sympathy and experience understanding which could be fair to all persons.

We have now come full circle in our political and economic philosophy with regard to "conflict of interest". In this discussion we have been able to take approximately identical ideas and make them either of positive or negative value in our thinking. The original framers of our Constitution felt a relationship between responsibility and vested interests. They felt that the only people who should be allowed to participate in making laws were people who owned land and property, since the laws referred to such matters. Over the years "compatibility of interest", unfortunately, became subordinate to "conflict of interest".

Somehow, with conflicting interests, the problem of fraud has been mislaid and the two concepts have never been separated. All the laws attempting to prevent fraud by eliminating conflicting interests have eliminated motivation. Understanding that such is entirely against all of Nature, as yet, has not appeared over the political horizon. If one wants good work, one must allow the workers to benefit by it. This has been suspected since early times when we were advised not to muzzle the oxen which trod the corn (Deut. 25:4). It was not until Dr. Wilson in 1975 that we had definite indication of which way to go from Nature.

These studies have not been applied to the political process to make more effective rules, ordinances, and laws with less dishonesty. It is very possible that the outcome depends on the type of people involved.

There is also no way to guarantee that honesty and
fair results will come from dishonest and unfair people,
no matter what laws are enacted.

Right of privacy
A clear example of the pitfalls of dialectic thinking are the laws of the "right of privacy" which seem to protect the law-breaker more than they do the law-abiding citizen. An honest man has no fear in having his honesty investigated. An honest man cashing a check does not mind revealing his identity. A check forger certainly wants rights to privacy. Likewise a policeman can tap the phone of an honest person and will soon be bored. A problem only seems to arise when the police are dishonest. People seem to think that a judge, whether he is honest or dishonest, can only issue an honest warrant.

We have just touched on two instances in which we have operated under concepts of "conflict of interest" and "right to privacy" without Scientific validation. No thought was ever put to the question of whether there would be a better way. In the meantime we have had massive litigations, ruined many honest lives, and wasted time and energy of thousands of people to an effect that is completely predictable: Dialectics matures to a state of intellectual paralysis and such results are to be expected. Dialectics originated as an art and practice of articulating logical ideas in a disputation and discussion of a thesis. Dialectics is a form of argumentative logic with the clear stipulation that it is purely abstract and metaphysical. This means that it is only in the minds of the protagonists. Ancient proponents of dialectics disdained the use of experiments and observations which they felt were denigrating. They felt that they were the masters of reason and to give in to observations was giving up control. On the one side there is an arrogance in which philosophers allow themselves to be overwhelmed by their own sense of self-importance. On the other side there is a proper humility to give in to scientific observation and develop a new philosophy around it. True philosophers must give up arrogance and adopt a humility in the presence of Nature.

The dilemma of democracy
We must be wary that we posses primitive fears that other people will pass us by. Due to these fears, there are times when politicians have imposed crippling legal stipulations, such as have been discussed here, so that nobody can get anywhere. There is no valid reason to give the ignorant and inexperienced an even chance in making decisions for us due to their political success. It is time we insured that this success should fall on those that are qualified in their field of expertise. We have arrived at a position in our present laws that certain scientific and comparative studies may be very difficult and even illegal. Examples of this will be evident throughout the book. Law-makers are good people, but, being users of mature logical philosophies, they tend to create ridiculous logical complications. Using a mental process by which it is impossible to arrive at a decision of right and wrong, they inevitably crippled their own business of constructing a successful society. There is possibly another dialectic argument here as to whether it is the dignity of the law or the arrogance of the law that is at stake.

General concepts about morality or ethics
In order to create, or alter, or judge a structure of moral and ethical concepts, one has to first decide: what are the objectives of that structure of prescriptive behavior. Is the objective to have as many children as possible? Is the objective to rid the land of a particular tribe, or culture, or people? Thankfully, in western culture, the most common concept of a generalized rule of ethics and morality may be traced to the "Golden Rule" by Jesus: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." (Mat. 7:12) St. Paul wrote a positive moral gauge in his letter to the Philippians (4:8): "Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, and if there be any virtue and praise, think on these things." Evil is the negative of this same statement: "What so ever things are not true, honest, just pure, lovely, and of good report, and if there be no virtue and praise, think not on those things." Due to the thinking that has been discussed in this book, it is possible to add further insight to these goals of the prescriptive behavior. For the realistic idealist, to an extent, a modern, but still inclusive delineation of objectives for morality consists of four parts:

(1) If an act decreases morbidity for the most people, it is good.
(2) If an act increases the Love, Beauty, Work and Freedom (discussed in chapter nine) for the most people, it is good.
(3) If an act does neither of the above, it is neutral.
(4) The measure of social units (for the most people) is as follows: self, family, relatives, tribe, clan, friends, acquaintances, local people, city, county, state, country, and world (discussed in chapter seven).
In general, the further one moves to the right in statement four as to the welfare, health, and life of the social units, the greater is the act. An act for the good of the world is the greatest. An act that threatens the welfare, health, and life of one's self or certainly one's family is truly the most evil. It is difficult to find a neutral activity. An example might be reading novels for pleasure.

Hammurabi's stele in the Louvre Museum
Morality and the exceptions to the rule
Hammurabi's Code, written in cuneiform in 1750BC in Babylon, was unearthed in 1901 by French archeologists. The stele, or stone, on which the code is carved, is an obelisk-like block of black diorite measuring 7 ft. 41/2 in. in height and 6 ft 91/2 in. in circumference at the base and is now in the Louvre Museum. The Code contained 285 "commands of Hammurabi". These are on all sorts of subjects from sex, religion, inheritance, to rental agreements. Hammurabi saw no difference between morality, ethics, and law, they were all embodied in his ultimate wisdom. The document ends with a blessing for those who will obey the laws and a long series of curses against him who will give no heed to the laws, or interfere with the word of the Code.

Probably the best known ancient code of ethics and morality has survived as the book of Deuteronomy from the time of Moses. The code of Deuteronomy was from the Lord and founded on the desire to please the Lord. Some sources claim there are differences between morality, ethics, and law, while others do not. One could say the term "morality" is attached to a theocracy and is comprised of specific behaviors. "Ethics" is attached to the abstract reasoning of fairness in commerce and war; while, "Law" is specific, secular delineation of judgment based on the history of the law. All three of these terms are similar in that they refer to a code of behavior, and, in some cases, all three relate to theocracy.

Among the ancient writers of morality, there was often no knowledge of the exact chain of events between a particular behavior and it's disastrous results. They could only explain that everything related to the gods or to God. Certain types of sexual behavior, for instance, resulted in disease or an early death. They didn't know why the two were connected, but they were able to make the association. To help understand the nature of codes of behavior, we will consider the "unmarked intersection" (where there are no traffic control signs) to illustrate how the complexity of moral codes can become problematic. If the ancient people had traffic, there would have been a moral code regarding this subject. The naive driver is not aware of the mortal consequences of passing through an unmarked intersection and collisions would have been due to the "will of God". Some sort of punishment. The most conservative behavioral code in regard to these intersections would be to avoid them completely using only the main roads. For a happy life, "do it not". This is similar to the code of alcoholics: "do not consume alcohol". If no alcohol is consumed, one would never experience becoming an alcoholic. However, some people will ignore the driving code, saying they "must" drive through the intersections; and, they are often amazed to find nothing bad happens. This will lead them to question the code's wisdom.

However, in this case, occasionally collisions will occur. This observation may then cause them to alter the code to something more reasonable: "at unmarked intersections yield to the vehicle on the right". The assumption would be that one would not drive through the unmarked intersections at full speed while only checking to see that it is clear to the right, disregarding vehicles on a collision course coming from the left. Due to this oversight, collisions still occur. After study and consideration, the code may become even more specific and alert the drivers that they should "approach these intersections with the understanding that they will need enough visibility to see another vehicle approaching on a collision course, at 40 mph, with no intention of stopping, from either direction. This may require a complete stop at the intersection; or, with enough visibility, may not even require slowing down."

Now the code is much more elaborate and may fail due to it's complex nature. There may then be interest in reinstating the original code. With all these swings from conservative to liberal and back, the point remains that the physics of colliding vehicles and the resulting mortality leaves no room for debate. Another problem to consider is the language of moral codes. To simply illustrate this we consider the quandary of engineers who build long tunnels for highways. If they place a sign at the beginning of the tunnel saying, "turn on your lights!", should they have a sign at the end saying, "turn off your lights". If it is at night, or there is fog, one would not want the drivers to do that. They finally settled on a sign with the question, "Are your lights on?" The most conservative code would be to have one's lights on at all times while driving.

As we develop a greater and greater understanding of the chain of events between behavior and the resulting consequences we have the ability to develop codes that balance human needs and dangerous, or unfair, practices. Although these codes will require a level of understanding in order to be followed. To the intelligent man, codes based on evidence are far more convincing than codes based on just reason, or even theocracy.

Copyright©Alden Bacuzmo

Chapter 6: The Language of Nature is Science

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