Dec 302013
 

1.  NATURAL LAW AND REASON

AMONG INTELLECTUALS WHO CONSIDER themselves “scientific,” the phrase “the nature of man” apt to have the effect of a red flag on a bull. “Man has no nature!” is the modern rallying cry; and typical of the sentiment of political philosophers today was the assertion of a distinguished political theorist some years ago before a meeting of the American Political Science Association that “man’s nature” is a purely theological concept that must be dismissed from any scientific discussion.[1]

In the controversy over man’s nature, and over the broader and more controversial concept of “natural law,” both sides have repeatedly proclaimed that natural law and theology are inextricably intertwined. As a result, many champions of natural law, in scientific or philosophic circles, have gravely weakened their case by implying that rational, philosophical methods alone cannot establish such law: that theological faith is necessary to maintain the concept. On the other hand, the opponents of natural law have gleefully agreed; since faith in the supernatural is deemed necessary to belief in natural law, the latter concept must be tossed out of scientific, secular discourse, and be consigned to the arcane sphere of the divine studies. In consequence, the idea of a natural law founded on reason and rational inquiry has been virtually lost.[2]

The believer in a rationally established natural law must, then, face the hostility of both camps: the one group sensing in this position an antagonism toward religion; and the other group suspecting that God and mysticism are being slipped in by the back door. To the first group, it must be said that they are reflecting an extreme Augustinian position which held that faith rather than reason was the only legitimate tool for investigating man’s nature and man’s proper ends. In short, in this fideist tradition, theology had completely displaced philosophy. [3] The Thomist tradition, on the contrary, was precisely the opposite: vindicating the independence of philosophy from theology and proclaiming the ability of man’s reason to understand and arrive at the laws, physical and ethical, of the natural order. If belief in a systematic order of natural laws open to discovery by man’s reason is per se anti-religious, then anti-religious also were St. Thomas and the later Scholastics, as well as the devout Protestant jurist Hugo Grotius. The statement that there is an order of natural law, in short, leaves open the problem of whether or not God has created that order; and the assertion of the viability of man’s reason to discover the natural order leaves open the question of whether or not that reason was given to man by God. The assertion of an order of natural laws discoverable by reason is, by itself, neither pro- nor anti-religious.[4]

Because this position is startling to most people today let us investigate this Thomistic position a little further. The statement of absolute independence of natural law from the question of the existence of God was implicit rather than flatly asserted in St. Thomas himself; but like so many implications of Thomism, it was brought forth by Suarez and the other brilliant Spanish Scholastics of the late sixteenth century. The Jesuit Suarez pointed out that many Scholastics had taken the position that the natural law of ethics, the law of what is good and bad for man, does not depend upon God’s will. Indeed, some of the Scholastics had gone so far as to say that:

even though God did not exist, or did not make use of His reason, or did not judge rightly of things, if there is in man such a dictate of right reason to guide him, it would have had the same nature of law as it now has.[5]

Or, as a modem Thomist philosopher declares:

If the word “natural” means anything at all, it refers to the nature of a man, and when used with “law,” “natural” must refer to an ordering that is manifested in the inclinations of a man’s nature and to nothing else. Hence, taken in itself, there is nothing religious or theological in the “Natural Law” of Aquinas.[6]

Dutch Protestant jurist Hugo Grotius declared, in his De Iure Belli ac Pacis (1625):

What we have been saying would have a degree of validity even if we should concede that which cannot be conceded without the utmost wickedness, that there is no God.

And again:

Measureless as is the power of God, nevertheless it can be said that there are certain things over which that power does not extend. . . . Just as even God cannot cause that two times two should not make four, so He cannot cause that which is intrinsically evil be not evil.[7]

D’Entrèves concludes that:

[Grotius’s] definition of natural law has nothing revolutionary. When he maintains that natural law is that body of rules which Man is able to discover by the use of his reason, he does nothing but restate the Scholastic notion of a rational foundation of ethics. Indeed, his aim is rather to restore that notion which had been shaken by the extreme Augustinianism of certain Protestant currents of thought. When he declares that these rules are valid in themselves, independently of the fact that God willed them, he repeats an assertion which had already been made by some of the schoolmen.[8]

Grotius’s aim, d’Entrèves adds, “was to construct a system of laws which would carry conviction in an age in which theological controversy was gradually losing the power to do so.” Grotius and his juristic successors—Pufendorf, Burlamaqui, and Vattel—proceeded to elaborate this independent body of natural laws in a purely secular context, in accordance with their own particular interests, which were not, in contrast to the Schoolmen, primarily theological.[9] Indeed, even the eighteenth-century rationalists, in many ways dedicated enemies of the Scholastics, were profoundly influenced in their very rationalism by the Scholastic tradition.[10]

Thus, let there be no mistake: in the Thomistic tradition, natural law is ethical as well as physical law; and the instrument by which man apprehends such law is his reason-not faith, or intuition, or grace, revelation, or anything else.[11] In the contemporary atmosphere of sharp dichotomy between natural law and reason—and especially amid the irrationalist sentiments of “conservative” thought—this cannot be underscored too often. Hence, St. Thomas Aquinas, in the words of the eminent historian of philosophy Father Copleston, “emphasized the place and function of reason in moral conduct. He [Aquinas] shared with Aristotle the view that it is the possession of reason which distinguished man from the animals” and which “enables him to act deliberately in view of the consciously apprehended end and raises him above the level of purely instinctive behavior.”[12]

Aquinas, then, realized that men always act purposively, but also went beyond this to argue that ends can also be apprehended by reason as either objectively good or bad for man. For Aquinas, then, in the words of Copleston, “there is therefore room for the concept of  ‘right reason,’ reason directing man’s acts to the attainment of the objective good for man.” Moral conduct is therefore conduct in accord with right reason: “If it is said that moral conduct is rational conduct, what is meant is that it is conduct in accordance with right reason, reason apprehending the objective good for man and dictating the means to its attainment.”[13]

In natural-law philosophy, then, reason is not bound, as it is in modern post-Humean philosophy, to be a mere slave to the passions, confined to cranking out the discovery of the means to arbitrarily chosen ends. For the ends themselves are selected by the use of reason; and “right reason” dictates to man his proper ends as well as the means for their attainment. For the Thomist or natural-law theorist, the general law of morality for man is a special case of the system of natural law governing all entities of the world, each with its own nature and its own ends. “For him the moral law . . . is a special case of the general principles that all finite things move toward their ends by the development of their potentialities.”[14] And here we come to a vital difference between inanimate or even non-human living creatures, and man himself; for the former are compelled to proceed in accordance with the ends dictated by their natures, whereas man, “the rational animal,” possesses reason to discover such ends and the free will to choose.[15]

     Which doctrine, natural law or those of its critics, is to be considered truly rational was answered incisively by the late Leo Straus, in the course of a penetrating critique of the value-relativism in political theory of Professor Arnold Brecht. For, in contrast to natural law,

positivistic social science . . . is characterized by the abandonment of reason or the flight from reason. . . .

According to the positivistic interpretation of relativism which prevails in present-day social science . . . reason can tell us which means are conducive to which ends; it cannot tell us which attainable ends are to be preferred to other attainable ends. Reason cannot tell us that we ought to choose attainable ends; if someone ‘loves him who desires the impossible,’ reason may tell him that he acts irrationally, but it cannot tell him that he ought to act rationally, or that acting irrationally is acting badly or basely. If rational conduct consists in choosing the right means for the right end, relativism teaches in effect that rational conduct is impossible.[16]

Finally, the unique place of reason in natural-law philosophy has been affirmed by the modern Thomistic philosopher, the late Father John Toohey. Toohey defined sound philosophy as follows: “Philosophy, in the sense in which the word is used when scholasticism is contrasted with other philosophies, is an attempt on the part of man’s unaided reason to give a fundamental explanation of the nature of things.”[17]

 


[1]The political theorist was the late Hannah Arendt. For a typical criticism of natural law by a legal Positivist, see Hans Kelsen, General Theory of Law and State (New York: Russell and Russell, 1961), pp. 8ff.

[2]And yet, Black’s Law Dictionary defines the natural law in a purely rationalistic and non-theological manner:

Jus Naturale, the natural law, or law of nature; law, or legal principles, supposed to be discoverable by the light of nature or abstract reasoning, or to be taught by nature to all nations and men alike, or law supposed to govern men and peoples in a state of nature, i.e., in advance of organized governments or enacted laws (3rd ed., p. 1044).

Professor Patterson, in Jurisprudence: Men and Ideas of the Law (Brooklyn: Foundation Press, 1953), p. 333, defines the natural law cogently and concisely as:

Principles of human conduct that are discoverable by “reason” from the basic inclinations of human nature, and that are absolute, immutable and of universal validity for all times and places. This is the basic conception of scholastic natural law . . . and most natural law philosophers.

[3]Supporters of theological ethics nowadays typically strongly oppose the concept of natural law. See the discussion of casuistry by the neo-orthodox Protestant theologian Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics 3,4 (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1961), pp. 7ff.

[4]For a discussion of the role of reason in the philosophy of Aquinas, see Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (New York: Random House, 1956). An important analysis of Thomistic natural law theory is Germain Grisez, “The First Principle of Practical Reason,” in Anthony ed., Aquinas: A Collection of Critical Essays (New York: Anchor Books, 1969), pp. 340–82. For a history of medieval natural law, see Odon Lottin, Psychologie et morale aux xiie et xiiie siècles, 6 vols. (Louvain, 1942-1960).

[5]From Franciscus Suarez, De Legibus ac Deo Legislatore (1619), lib. II, Cap. vi. Suarez also noted that many Scholastics “seem therefore logically to admit that natural law does not proceed from God as a lawgiver, for it is not dependent on God’s will.” Quoted in A. P. d’Entrèves, Natural Law (London: Hutchinson University Library, 1951), p. 71.

[6]Thomas E. Davitt, S.J., “St. Thomas Aquinas and the Natural Law,” in Arthur L. Hading, ed., Origins of the Natural Law Tradition (Dallas, Tex.: Southern Methodist University Press, 1954), p. 39. Also see Brendan F. Brown, ed., The Natural Law Reader (New York: Oceana Pubs., 1960), pp. 1014.

[7]Quoted in d’Entrèves, Natural Law, pp. 52–53. See also Otto Gierke, Natural Law and the Theory of Society, 1500 to 1800 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957), pp. 98–99.

[8]D’Entrèves, Natural Law, pp. 51-52. Also see A.H. Chroust, “Hugo Grotius and the Scholastic Natural Law Tradition,” The New Scholasticism (1943), and Frederick C. Copleston, S.J., A History of Philosophy (Westminster, Md.: Newman Press, 1959), 2, pp. 330f. On the neglected influence of the Spanish Scholastic Suarez on modern philosophers, see Jose Ferrater Mora, “Suarez and Modem Philosophy,” Journal of the History of Ideas (October 1953): 528–47.

[9]See Gierke, Natural Law and the Theory of Society, p. 289. Also see Herbert Spencer, An Autobiography (New York: D. Appleton, 1904), vol. 1,p. 415.

[10]Thus, see Carl L. Becker, The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1957), p. 8.

[11]The late realist philosopher John Wild, in his important article, “Natural Law and Modern Ethical Theory,” Ethics (October 1952), states:

Realistic [natural law] ethics is now often dismissed as theological and authoritarian in character. But this is a misunderstanding. Its ablest representatives, from Plato and Aristotle to Grotius, have defended it on the basis of empirical evidence alone without any appeal to supernatural authority (p. 2, and pp. 1–13).

Also see the denial of the existence of such a thing as “Christian philosophy” any more than “Christian hats and shoes” by the Catholic social philosopher Orestes Brownson. Thomas T. McAvoy, C.S.C., “Orestes A. Brownson and Archbishop John Hughes in 1860,” Review of Politics (January 1962): 29.

[12]Frederick C. Copleston, S.J., Aquinas (London: Penguin Books, 1955), p. 204.

[13]Ibid., pp. 204–05.

[14]Ibid., p. 212.

[15] Thus Copleston:

Inanimate bodies act in certain ways precisely because they are what they are, and they cannot act otherwise; they cannot perform actions which are contrary to their nature. And animals are governed by instinct. In fine, all creatures below man participate unconsciously in the eternal law, which is reflected in their natural tendencies, and they do not possess the freedom which is required in order to be able to act in a manner incompatible with this law. It is therefore essential that he [man] should know the eternal law in so far as it concerns himself. Yet, how can he know it? He cannot read, as it were, the mind of God . . . [but] he can discern the fundamental tendencies and needs of his nature, and by reflecting on them he can come to a knowledge of the natural moral law. . . . Every man possesses . . . the light of reason whereby he can reflect . . . and promulgate to himself the natural law, which is the totality of the universal precepts or dictates of right reason concerning the good which is to be pursued and the evil which is to be shunned (Ibid., pp. 213–14).

[16]Leo Strauss, “Relativism,” in H. Schoeck and J.W. Wiggins, eds., Relativism and the Study of Man (Princeton, N.J.: D. Van Nostrand, 1961), pp. 144–435. For a devastating critique of an attempt by a relativistic political scientist to present a “value-free” case for freedom and the self-development of the person, see Walter Berns, “The Behavioral Sciences and the Study of Political Things: The Case of Christian Bay’s The Structure of Freedom,” American Political Science Review (September 1961): 550–59.

[17]Toohey adds that “scholastic philosophy is the philosophy which teaches the certitude of human knowledge acquired by means of sense experience, testimony, reflection, and reasoning.” John J. Toohey, S.J., Notes on Epistemology (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University, 1952), pp. 111–12.

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May 072013
 

Surveillance in the Police State

IRS to Spy on Our Shopping Records, Travel, Social Interactions, Health Records and Files from Other Government Spies.

U.S. News and World Report notes today:the IRS tools will be able to track all credit card transactions, for starters. The agency has also instructed agents on using online sources such as social media and e-commerce sites including eBay, as well as the rich data generated by mobile devices. In one controversial disclosure in April, the ACLU showed documents in which the IRS general counsel said the agency could look at emails without warrants, but the IRS has said it will not use this power.

While the agency has declined to give details about what third-party personal data it will use in robo-audits and data mining, it has told government and industry groups that its computers are capable of scanning multiple networks at the same time to collect “matching” comprehensive profiles for every taxpayer in America. Such profiles will likely include shopping records, travel, social interactions and information not available to the public, such as health records and files from other government investigators, according to IRS documents.

The Truth About Cartels

 

Cartels…What Are They?Titanian octologue

Up until about ten years ago the only cartels I’d heard of were oil cartels and drug cartels. Then I ran across a wonderful 45 minute recording by Ed Griffin explaining that the Federal Reserve System is a privately owned banking cartel. After checking out his facts I realized that our entire society is built around cartels of various kinds – and that they are really bad news for our societal culture.

A cartel is simply a shared monopoly within an industry. The purpose of a cartel is twofold:

  1. To maximize the profits of the cartel’s members and
  2. To maintain the monopoly status of the cartel in its particular industry – thereby limiting competition from non-members.

In examining this definition it is important to note that a cartel has no other priorities. It cares nothing for the well being of non-members. It has no conscience. All non-members are considered expendable in the interests of the cartel. In this regard cartels are characterologically psychopathic. It’s no great surprise then to find that most of them are run by psychopaths.

How Do They Operate?

The only reason cartels can operate in the modern world is the fact that cartels invariably form partnerships with governments that enforce their anti-competition rules. When this happens, a would-be competitor must either join the cartel and obey its rules or suffer the risk of being hauled into court for doing something deemed illegal. When this occurs the prohibited behavior can be something highly ethical, creative, innovative, and good for everyone – but because the victimless crime has been prohibited, it will be punished nonetheless.

How Are They Unethical?

The most valid ethic of which I know states that: An act is ethical if it increases creativity, objective truth, awareness, love, or personal evolution for at least one person, including the person acting – without limiting nor diminishing any of these resources for anyone.

As an example, suppose someone discovers or invents a way of curing certain kinds of cancers – a way that isn’t on the AMA’s approved list, nor on the FDA’s. I know of two specific examples to which this applies. In each case the government attacked the “perpetrator” and all but destroyed his life. The folks with curable cancers were not considered – and many died. In this example the AMA represents the medical cartel and the FDA represents their government partner.

I hope it’s obvious that the AMA/FDA partnership had an unethical and devastating effect on the creativity of those who died and those will die in the future – not to mention the effect on the medical practitioners whose lives were ruined.

It is interesting to note that Louis Pasteur was almost drummed out of medicine when he proposed that many serious illnesses were caused by invisible little things we call bacteria. This just shows that cartels were not well established in France in Pasteur’s day and age. Had he done his work in today’s highly cartelized society, his expulsion and punishment would have followed inexorably.

How Pervasive Are They?

Once you understand the nature of a cartel, you will see them all around you. The quick way to recognize cartels is by the need for licenses and permits. Every activity for which one requires a license, a permit, or some other form of permission is controlled by a cartel. Every doctor, lawyer, dentist, psychologist, social worker, optometrist, veterinarian, building contractor, tradesman, insurance salesman, small business owner, hairdresser or service provider who has a license on their wall is a member of a cartel.

Now you might wonder how this applies to such things as fishing, hunting, and driver’s licenses. Where is their cartel? In this case the answer may surprise you. The fact is that governments are themselves cartels – and their industry is best described as power brokerage. Power (the use of force to coerce and control others) is a commodity – and governments do everything they can to establish and maintain their monopoly – even though the exercise of power over others is only ethical in self defense. No wonder despotic governments work so hard to disarm their citizens.

Can We Combat Them?

The short answer to this question is, “Yes, we can” – but doing so takes some conviction, preparation and courage. Here is a list of a few things one can do to diminish the power of cartels:

  • Study the ethics. Decide not to participate in unethical organizations.
  • Practice cartel recognition. It’s much easier to combat their influence when you can easily spot them.
  • Forgo the benefits of membership. In the healing arts, for example, you have to be a cartel member to be paid by insurance companies. So charge out-of-pocket fees for your service and don’t bill insurance.
  • Avoid licensed practitioners. Use Angie’s List to know whom to trust, and give your business to honest, reliable, but unlicensed, business people.
  • Avoid paying taxes and stop supporting governments. They are all unethical.
  • Avoid banks. They are all shills for government. In fact the biggest banks own the government.
  • Don’t use credit cards – they are all fraudulent.
  • Challenge “authority”. Except in self defense, no individual has the right to tell you what to do, what not to do, or how to live your life. Therefore the “authority” claimed by all government agencies, from the president of the country to the TSA stooge, to the cop who pulls you over for the busted tail-light, to the black-robed judge in the courthouse is BOGUS. Read Marc Stevens “Adventures in Legal Land” for guidance in doing this.
  • Learn to use BitCoins to protect your financial privacy. Used with proper precautions, they are unassailable by thieves, hackers, and government bureaucrats – and that makes them the best currency available in today’s world.
  • If you are an employer, start paying your employees with BitCoins – without withholding taxes, social security, etc. The average employee will experience this as a 100% raise.

Conclusion

Because cartels are run by psychopaths whose depredations are parasitic – and because parasites often kill their hosts – our species is currently at risk of more-or-less immediate extinction. Our only chance to survive, let alone thrive, in the future is to withdraw our support from them. This is something you can start doing right away. Yes, there are risks involved – but the risk of NOT doing it is far greater. Come to our meet-ups to learn more.

Live Free!
Cronus

Apr 042013
 

BitCoin Poised to Change Society

Bitcoin Morpheus Titania

Bitcoin

There is a bitcoin craze at the moment, with prices of bitcoin skyrocketing. Bitcoin is still far from ready for prime time, but as it matures, it will change society’s fundamental operations much more than the Internet did. The net, after all, only allowed people to talk and shop more efficiently. By comparison, bitcoin eradicates the government’s ability to operate.

Let’s begin by looking at what a bitcoin is. It is money. It is a new form of money that isn’t issued by a government. Governments don’t have a monopoly on coming up with things you can trade and barter with, and bitcoin is one such non-governmental barter instrument. The difference between bitcoin and all other such tokens of value that have been invented over the years is that nobody is in control of the money supply, and nobody is in control of the money flow. This means that nobody can start the printing presses to eradicate your savings, and nobody can seize or see your wealth or income. You can think of it as an open-source currency compared to proprietary, state-issued currencies.

There is no central bank. This is a revolutionary concept. People can trade cash at a distance without going through an intermediary. The first time you send the value of a cup of coffee to a friend in India on a Sunday, without any transaction fees, and they have the money instantly, without anybody but you knowing of the transaction, your jaw drops.

This would have been but a curiosity, if it weren’t for the ridiculously strong business case to cut banks and credit card processors out of the sales loop for corporations, which could roughly double the profits in retail sales. This means that there’s a very strong force for universal uptake of this new currency.

As nobody is in control of the money supply (it is set to grow predictably at a slowing rate until 2140), and demand increases with a limited supply, the price for each bitcoin increases. This is what we’re seeing now, as more and more people realize bitcoin’s business potential. Also, there is value in the concept that you don’t have to trust any single person to store or to transfer bitcoin – not your government, not your bank, not Western Union – is something completely new.

Erik Voorhees writes, “Bitcoin is thus the only currency and money system in the world which has no counter-party risk to hold and to transfer. This is absolutely revolutionary and you should read the preceding sentence again. […] Never in the history of the world has an individual had this ability. It is unprecedented.”

So why does bitcoin have value? How is it, strictly speaking, money? People who ask this tend to be stuck in the idea that only states and governments can issue money, but that’s not the case. What we see as money has changed many times, and when Marco Polo came back to Europe from China in the 13th century, people were mocking him for bringing home banknotes. “This is not money”, they would say, and burn the Chinese banknotes. Money was coins. If you dismiss bitcoin just because you’re not used to seeing sequences of rare prime numbers as money, make sure you’re not scoffing at banknotes as people were in the 13th century. If people use it as money to trade, it’s money.

Jon Matonis has an excellent piece over at Forbes where he challenges the notion that money must be state-issued, and explains that a transactional currency can compete on its own merits and its own market.

It is important to realize that while the Internet has changed life in the IT industry tremendously, from a government standpoint, the net hasn’t changed much at all. If anything, it has reinforced existing structures: consumers spend their state-issued money more efficiently, credit is borrowed more and better from state-regulated banks which expands the money supply and keeps people happy, and it has created new industries that can fuel the economy. Oh, and it also lets citizens submit governmental forms more efficiently.

The only flip side to the net, from a government angle, would be that some people use the Internet to violate state-issued monopolies on entertainment distribution, which has been seen as a problem that needs to be dealt with swiftly and harshly, but other than that, the internet really isn’t much new from a government standpoint. Think about that the next time you see a politician who doesn’t appear to get the net: for them, if they’ve been in government too long, there is nothing much to get.

So we essentially have four different types of players that keep the economy going, and by extension, the government funded and operational. One, there is the government itself, which issues money and regulates banks. (For this exercise, I include the central bank in “government”.) Two, there are commercial banks which are in complete control of the money flow, in exchange for sharing that insight with the government and letting it siphon off as much as it likes to operate itself. Also, commercial banks expand the money supply when people ask for credit, so credit is good as the economy is measured today (“growth”). At the bottom of the food chain are, three, corporations which are tasked with using this system, running all its operations through these banks, and four, the ordinary citizen, who is supposed to be doing actual work and actually produce something that fuels the entire ecosystem.

What bitcoin does is cut the banks out of the loop, and by extension, the government’s ability to operate.

Those wars you have seen on TV? They are all fueled by this mechanism – the ability for banks to keep people happy in letting them spend imaginary money, while simultaneously giving the nation-state the ability to control as much of the money flow as it likes (and siphon as much as it likes off for itself).

Now, bitcoin isn’t going to drive its adoption just because it is impervious to state control and insight. Rather, its adoption is going to be driven by the strong business case for corporations to cut banks out of the loop – more specifically, cut bank profits out of their own profits.

The normal reaction for a government would be to use its entire arsenal of force against any phenomenon that threatens the government’s ability to function to this degree. But bitcoin is resilient to that. There is no central point to shut down. You can’t point a gun at a prime number and expect things to change. And we all know how effective governmental attempts to shut down peer-to-peer networks have been (even if it has been a low-priority issue so far that they haven’t really cared about).

A while back, I wrote that bitcoin is “The Napster of banking”. Perhaps there is a better analogy – perhaps it is the Skynet of banking. There is no central mainframe to shut down, and the intelligence in bitcoin is completely distributed with the single goal of obsoleting central banking.

In this regard, people at Business Insider who compare the bitcoin trade and its current price spike with the bubble around Beanie Babies in the early century come across as dangerously shortsighted and ignorant. Bitcoin is not a plush toy, it is not a commodity. It is an economic agreement, and as such, has value like any other contract that improves your business. This particular contract improves every business except banks.

So is bitcoin ready to take over the world? Far from it.

There are many problems with bitcoin today, but they are becoming less severe than the problems that plagued it one, two, and three years ago. In short, we’re seeing kinks being worked out, scratches being polished, and dents being straightened. But there are many reasons why bitcoin couldn’t take the place of state-issued money today, even if it is on a strong trajectory to do so in the next decade or decades.

The liquidity to state-issued money is one thing that strikes me immediately. In any economy, you need bridges between payment systems that are in use. Today, the vast majority of such bridging is handled by a Japanese bitcoin exchange known as MtGox. This is an unacceptable single point of failure in an ecosystem (proven by two hours of outage today). Further, lags of 10 minutes are common with MtGox’s trading engine (I’m seeing 400 seconds of lag right as I type this), which is just ridiculous when the financial world at large is dealing with micro- and nanosecond trading.

Bitcoin is getting there. But it’s not there yet. When it gets there, expect governments to panic and society to be reshaped into something where governments cannot rely on taxing income nor wealth for running their operations.

That is a bigger change to society’s fundamental structure than the ability to seek and share culture and knowledge we got with the net.

by: Rick Falkvinge

http://falkvinge.net/2013/04/03/why-bitcoin-is-poised-to-change-society-much-more-than-the-internet-did/

Mar 192013
 

After I read “The Four Agreements”, by don Miguel Ruiz, my life has been forever changed.  It was an eye opener and a game changer.  I realized that everything in life is a sum total of all the agreements every human being has ever made.  So now is the time to make new ethical agreements and learn to live that way.  Below it says Living The Four Agreements can be one of the most difficult and the same time the easiest habit to keep.  I agree.  Once I committed to doing it it became easier and easier.  This is why I dislike the word “t-r-y” so much it is impossible to be impeccable with your word using it.   T-r-y implies failure and when I say I am going to do something there is no t-r-y.  Like Yoda said in Star Wars “there is no t-r-y either do or don not”.

I love how The Four Agreements integrates with the concept of Titania so beautifully.  By living The Four Agreements makes living the Titanian Ethic so much easier.

Be impeccable with your word.
Don’t take anything personally.
Don’t make assumptions.
Always do your best.

Living your life with these ideas in mind will only aid one in being more ethical and creative.  I know  it has for me.  See how it works for you.

Living the Four Agreements: A life changing Journey

In the best selling book The Four Agreements don Miguel Ruiz gives four ethical principles to practice in order to create love, truth  and personal evolution in your life. Adopting and committing to these agreements is simple. Actually living and keeping these Four Agreements can  be one of the hardest things  you will ever do. It can also be one of the most life changing things you will ever do.

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As you practice living these four practices your life will dramatically change. In the beginning these new habits will be challenging and you will lapse countless times. With practice these agreements become integrated into your being and every area of your life and become easy habits to keep.

The Four Agreements are:

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Understanding how to Integrate and Live the practices

Upon reading don Miguel’s wisdom many people have their eyes opened to a new possibility for living life. They get excited when they see the potential for happiness, love, and respect with themselves and their relationships. What they fail to see is the challenges and resistance the mind will have to living just one of the agreements. Don Miguel briefly mentions these challenges in his book, but people fixate on the four chapters with the agreements and seem to miss these other important points. This is often the set up for expectations that lead to disappointment and frustration.

Domestication

During our early life we began making agreements. Our parents rewarded us when we did what they wanted and they punished us when we didn’t. We also learned behaviors and habits in school, church, and from other adults and children on the playground. The tools of reward and punishment were often emotional and sometimes physical. The impact of other people’s opinions and reactions to us became a very strong force in the habits we created. In this process we created agreements in our mind of who we should be, what we shouldn’t be, who we were, and who we were not. Over time we learned to live our life based on the agreements in our own mind. We learned to live according to the agreements that came from the opinion of others. In this process of domestication it turns out that the choices we make and the life we live is more driven by the opinions we learned from others than one we would choose on our own.

Why Living the Four Agreements Is Such a Challenge

We have out of years of habit not paid attention to how we express our self. The responses that come out of our mouth are often automatic. They were learned from years of habit living by the agreements we learned. We do not consciously choose our words, or the emotion, tone, and attitude that we express.

Over years our mind has filled with beliefs that generate incessant thinking. In all that thinking we have many assumptions that we are not aware of. We even make the assumption that what we think is true. We imagine and assume what others think of us and how they will react. We also assume that the judgments and self criticisms we have are true. We have learned to make so many assumptions that we aren’t aware of. These assumptions are not the truth. These assumptions and the faith we express in them is just one way that we are not impeccable with our word.

Through our domestication we have also learned to take things personally. We assume that when someone has an opinion about us that their opinion is valid.  Their opinion becomes our belief about our self.   We end up having an emotional reaction to our own belief because  we assumed their opinion it is true.   We can also take personally our own opinions. We take personally our own self judgments. These self judgments are nothing more than an assumption. Over years the mind has developed many habits of making assumptions and taking them personally.

Just because you adopt the Four Agreements doesn’t mean that all these habits in the mind will stop with that commitment.

When you decide to change your life and adopt the Four Agreements you are challenging the beliefs you learned and the habits you practiced since your childhood domestication.

Adopting the Four Agreements creates a conflict in the mind between expressing your self Impeccably with love and your existing fear based beliefs.

Avoiding Double Jeopardy

One of the hidden assumptions that people often make when adopting the Four Agreements is about time. Without awareness the mind makes the assumption that they should immediately be able to keep the Four Agreements 100% of the time. The mind completely ignores that there are already existing agreements and habits of taking things personally that have been in place for years.

With the expectation of the new agreement that we will not break any of the Four Agreements we are set up for failure. We have an emotional reaction and take something personally which feels bad. (but is completely normal part of our old habits) But then the inner judge reprimands us for failing to not take something personally. Now we feel twice as bad. The inner judge tells us that we failed and the voice of the victim in the mind accepts this proposal.

The result is that we are not only upset, but we also feel like a failure. If you just look at your emotional state at this point it will seem like things are getting worse instead of better. It can seem like attempting to keep the Four Agreements is causing more problems and making you feel worse.

If you are aware that you are judging your self for taking something personally, you can feel even worse.  Your inner judge might use that awareness to judge and reject your self for judging your self for taking something personally. In the beginning the myriad of voices in your head are likely to use your new found awareness as material for self judgment.  This is when the fourth agreement, Always Do Your Best, is most important.  It gives you immunity from self judgment.  Your best isn’t perfect practice of these agreements on day one.  Your best will include a lot of stumbling in the beginning and  improve over time as you practice.  Just like walking, learning a language, or playing a sport, you can’t play at top level on your first day learning.

Awakening

In actuality the problem is not that you adopted the Four Agreements. Nor is the problem that you are a failure. What is really happening is that you are having an awakening. You are waking up to how your mind makes assumptions, has emotional reactions, and is so quick to make self judgments. These realizations about the belief system in your mind are not usually pleasant but are part of an awakening. It is usually uncomfortable realization, but through it your awareness is growing.

With some more awareness and practice you can move beyond this uncomfortable awakening about the mind. You will come to see that it is not You that is judging your self for failing. It is the inner judge. With practice you will see the ridiculous expectations and assumptions for what they are and not feel like a failure when you lapse in your journey to impeccability. This comes as you gain more awareness and gain more personal power over your agreements.

The Challenge of a Spiritual Warrior

Don Miguel refers to some of these challenges throughout the book. However, in the excitement of the Truth in what don Miguel writes, people often overlook where he points out that this endeavor is not easy. The agreements may be simple, but he never says they are easy to keep.

At the same time living the Four Agreements has taken me on the most rewarding and profound journey of happiness and fulfillment beyond anything I could have imagined. The hard work in the beginning is rewarded to me in every interaction every day of my life. This is a very big return for a small investment of time and effort.

Don Miguel refers to people who decide to adopt the Four Agreements and create love and happiness in their life as Spiritual Warriors. It is Spiritual because it is about living your Life. It is also referred to as a war because you are challenging the old fear based beliefs in your mind. It will take more than a week and a half to break free of fear, the tyranny of the inner judge, and old emotional habits. There will be some battles lost along the way, but that is of minor concern in the longer term strategy of creating happiness in your life.

The Quest for Personal Freedom

The quest of a Spiritual Warrior is for Personal Freedom. Personal Freedom means freedom from fear, illusions, and the fear based beliefs in the mind. In essence it means to win the war over the beliefs in the mind. It is with Personal Freedom that we are free of the human condition of emotional suffering. Spiritual traditions around the world have their own names for this state of awareness including nirvana and heaven. It is a state that is simply described as living your life with unconditional love, gratitude, and respect, for your self, and for others.

The Opportunity

I’ve spent many years personally studying with don Miguel Ruiz. After my life and relationships were completely transformed I asked him if there was anything that I could do for him in return. He said, “If you want to, share with others what you have learned and how you live your life so they can be happy as well.”

That help has taken the form of material on my web sites, personal coaching guidance, online audio course in Self Mastery, and Spiritual Intensive Journeys. I am also working on a book about my experiences.

There are many practical actions you can take to speed up changing your life and live more impeccably.  In my years of study with don Miguel what he has written in his books is a small fraction of his teachings.

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While don Miguel is no longer teaching, you can still learn the practices, process, wisdom and insights from those he trained.   You are invited to take advantage of the material in my web sites, my personal coaching services, and the workshops and Power Journeys I lead.

The best place to start is the Self Mastery Audio Series.   It is a self paced program of mp3 audio files that you download and listen to.  Each session has very specific practical exercises to help you implement aspects of mastering the Four Agreements.  The first four sessions are free so that you can sample the material and see if it will work for you.  The next 10 sessions are only $99.

As an alternative you can listen to many of the free mp3 audios that I have placed on line that deal with issues like, How not to take thing personally, Changing Core Beliefs, Free Will,  Feeling Not Good Enough, Hidden Assumptions, Do We Have Free Will, and others.

I wish you much Love, Joy, and Laughter in your Journey,

Gary van Warmerdam

Ethical Means and Ethical Ends

 

ETHICAL MEANS AND ETHICAL ENDS

By Robert E. Podolsky
I distinguish here four categories of unethical acts and note that the most harmful in our society are those in which the decision to act unethically is the result of ignorance or misunderstanding concerning basic ethical principles.  In particular I examine the most harmful and widespread fallacy that ethical ends can be attained by unethical means.  This simple mistaken notion is arguably the single greatest source of evil in the world today.  When this fact is generally understood the world of humanity will be a far better place in which to live.

Types of “Sins”

At any given time a person wishing to act ethically must choose a particular action over other possibilities knowing that the information on which the decision to act is based is incomplete.  Therefore the individual making the choice must estimate the probabilities of various consequences that are foreseen as possible results of the choices available knowing that unimagined consequences are possible and that yet-to-be-imagined choices may exist with still more unforeseen consequences.  Sometimes the moral individual makes these choices in full awareness of their personal limitations and sometimes not.  But no one can know with certainty all the outcomes of their acts, not even after the action has taken place.

For the reasons given above, we all make mistakes in choosing our actions; and sometimes our actions, made in moral good faith, have results that we deem unethical.  Knowing this is humbling to us all.  When it happens we say, “Oh, if only I had known; I would have acted differently”.   For lack of a better name, let me call these unintended lapses “Type One Sins” or T-1s for short.  Such moral lapses are literally unavoidable no matter how committed we are to acting as ethically as possible.  They are made with the least possible awareness that the outcome will be unethical.

Now let us consider unethical acts undertaken with more awareness on the part of the one acting that the action will have destructive results. At the other end of the spectrum from the T-1s are actions that are taken knowing full well that they are hurtful and destructive; yet they are taken nonetheless; the actor often enjoying the knowledge that someone is being hurt. Such actions are sadistic at best and unmitigatedly evil in their more extreme manifestations.  Let us call such actions “Type Four Sins” or T-4s for short.

Enacted in the absence of malice are those hurtful actions taken with regret on the part of the one acting; believing that circumstances render it the most ethical choice available.  For instance, consider the medic who administers an emergency tracheotomy to save the life of a person choking to death in spite of the fact that there is some pain inflicted in the process.  The medic takes no pleasure in the infliction of this pain; recognizes that the infliction of pain is unethical and does so anyway seeing no other way to save the patient’s life.  Let us call unethical acts of this variety “Type Three Sins” or T-3s for short.

And finally I come to the subject of this article; namely those moral lapses that result in unethical outcomes because the person acting lacks a fundamental understanding of ethics.  This category, which I shall call “Type Two Sins” or T-2s for short, is, as we shall see, the most serious challenge on the planet to humanity’s long-range survival.

How so?  Consider the following.T-1s are unavoidable; but are never carried out systematically and are never institutionalized.T-4s are only committed by psychopaths, sociopaths, and other persons who are devoid of conscience.  Such people are in a very small minority, are easily identified, and are rarely tolerated in human society, the majority finding their way into our “corrections” systems at a fairly early age.

T-3s are usually mitigated in their harmfulness by the thoughtfulness and reluctance of the person acting.

But T-2s are another story altogether.  As we shall see, their destructive scope can be systemic; they have the potential to make humanity extinct; and, what is more, they are often institutionalized by governments, businesses, religions, and other powerful interest groups whose resources make them far more destructive than T-1s, T-3s, and T4s together.

Defining the Good Act

For an in depth discussion of ethical principles the reader is referred to EPILOGUE: The Bloodless Revolution that begins on page 53, and the Bill of Ethics given in Appendix A preceding.  Most of us have no problem understanding that an act or behavior that benefits someone and harms no one is clearly ethical.  Similarly we understand intuitively that an act or behavior that harms someone and benefits no one is clearly unethical.  Our difficulties with ethical concepts begin when we contemplate an act or behavior that has both beneficial and harmful consequences. So, for purposes of the present discussion, consider the following two definitions as candidates for the foundation of a system of ethics.

1.       An ethical act is one that benefits at least one person (even if only the person acting) while harming no one (including the person acting).

2.       An ethical act is one that causes more benefits to people than it does harm.

For the present I put aside the task of defining what constitutes a “benefit” or” “harm”.  That part is comparatively easy.  Just assume for the moment that adequate definitions of these terms are in fact available.  The hard part is the choice between the two definitions.  The first definition asserts that to be ethical an act must harm no one; and that therefore an act that harms someone is unethical.  This definition therefore forbids the achievement of ethical ends by unethical means.

The second definition, however, allows the use of unethical (harmful) means if the act does more benefit than harm.  Let’s assume for the moment that it is possible to quantify benefits and harms (this can in fact be done) and notice that this definition would lead us to believe that ethical ends can be achieved by unethical means.  This has in fact been the ethic, which most human societies have adopted.  Opinion to the contrary notwithstanding, this is the preferred choice of governments, corporations, and religious institutions worldwide. It is historically what we have actually done.

As similar as these definitions seem, the outcomes produced by the choice of one or the other are as different as night and day.  One choice leads to the maximization of peace, love, and prosperity and the other leads to wars, genocide, poverty, cruelty, exploitation and slavery.  There are at least three distinct and essentially independent proofs of the preceding assertion.  I call these the “Historical Proof”, the “Golden Rule Proof”, and the “Logical Proof”. These are presented in the following.

THE HISTORICAL PROOF

Values and Beliefs

To help understand the distinction between the two definitions of a good act and its significance I review the concepts of values and beliefs.  I have personally interviewed over a thousand people asking questions about what they want more of in life; what they really value.  The similarity between people’s answers is pretty amazing.  Health, basic comforts, spiritual peace of mind, love, freedom, mobility, good relationships and time to enjoy them; access to truth; mental stimulation, work that feels meaningful, growth stimuli, pleasure, happiness, and opportunities to enhance the lives of others are among those frequently mentioned.  It is not hard for most of us to agree on what is “good”; what we value.  In this respect humanity is pretty homogeneous. We have little disagreement about our basic values.

Far more difficult it is to reach any kind of agreement on what will actually bring us what we value.  What we believe is needed in order to attain what we want we refer to as our individual belief system.  All living things have values and belief systems.  Even a plant that has just enough awareness to value sunlight may turn its leaves perpendicular to the rays of the sun in the belief that this will increase its access to that which it values.

When it comes to belief systems we tend to lose our objectivity; to trust faith over truth even though reality consistently demonstrates the fact that objective truth is repeatable, verifiable, and pragmatically irrefutable.  In other words we tend to believe what we want to believe even if our collective experience contradicts us.

Let’s go back to the example of the plant that turns its leaves perpendicular to the rays of the sun.  In situations where plants compete for sunlight those that have this awareness, belief, and ability enjoy a competitive advantage.  Other things being equal, they do get more sun than their less phototropic counterparts.  This fact has been thoroughly established by many experiments by many different experimenters using a wide range of techniques.  So in the plant’s case the belief that phototropism maximizes sunlight reception is correct.  One might say that plants that believe otherwise are wrong and that many of them suffer for lack of the correct belief.  In fact, some have probably become extinct for lack of the correct belief.

Similarly when we choose the basic definition of our ethics, that which we define as a good act, we may or may not choose correctly that which will optimize our chances of getting what we most value in life.  If we choose incorrectly we too may become extinct for lack of the correct belief system.  In this way we can compare the values of various belief systems. Definitions, like other statements are composed of information that can either be “true” or “false”.  True information is that which when believed increases the intelligence of the believer. “Intelligence” in this context is the ability to predict and control events in the observable universe, or equivalently to initiate and sustain causal relationships between such events.  This definition of true information is the basis of science and in many ways can be seen as defining science.  That is to say any discipline that uses this definition of truth may be said to be a science.

Now let’s review the two definitions stated previously which I from now on refer to as E1 (Ethic 1) and E2 (Ethic 2) respectively:

1.       An ethical act is one that benefits at least one person (even if only the person acting) while harming no one (including the person acting).

2.       An ethical act is one that causes more benefits to people than it does harm.

These two definitions are similar in that both value “benefits” while seeking to avoid “harms”.  But each of these definitions, when accepted, yields a dramatically different belief system. In other words while sharing the fundamental values inherent in each definition, people adopting one or the other of these definitions as the basis for their behavior will behave very differently.  As in the case of plant phototropism, there have been enough “experiments” with these two definitions for us to know how individuals and groups develop when one or the other of these two ethics is adopted.  One of these definitions is “true” and yields a belief system that maximizes the intelligence of the believer; and the other is “false” because it substantially diminishes the intelligence of its believer.

The true definition is the first: “An ethical act is one that benefits at least one person (even if only the person acting) while harming no one (including the person acting).” Individuals and groups adopting this definition are universally better off than those who don’t.   We’ll have more to say about this later.

The second definition turns out to be one of humanity’s greatest stumbling blocks.  It often seduces us into forgetting that the choice of the “lesser evil” is still a choice of evil. Governments, corporations, and religious bureaucracies throughout the world have long given in to the temptation to adopt this definition and the belief systems that result from its adoption.  The unacknowledged prioritization of the desires for power, money, and self-righteousness lead the adopters of this definition to think that if they benefit from their decisions, that harm done to others is acceptable.  It is easy for such people to see that they benefit more than they are harmed by this ethic (at least on a short-term basis); and therefore not so easy to see that the ethic itself is flawed and that it causes them and others enormous harm on a long-term basis.

Let’s examine some of the historical consequences of this false belief system. One common theme that results from the adoption and institutionalization of E2 is the idea that the well being of some people (sometimes referred to as “the few”) must be sacrificed for the well being of others (sometimes called “the many”).  Hence:

  • All instances of slavery throughout history are based on this premise, resulting in the suffering and annihilation of millions of people.
  • Religions that condoned or required human sacrifice were based on this premise; which is part of the reason that most such religions are essentially extinct today.
  • Marxist-Leninist regimes have always been based on this premise, resulting in near-universal poverty for those living in such countries.
  • The government practice of taxation is based on this belief, resulting in the financial enslavement of billions of people today.  I would go so far as to assert (Podolsky’s theorem) that every time a government seeks to solve a societal problem by levying a tax that in the long run the society is harmed far more than it benefits.
  • The rise of corporate power and its concomitant partnership with government is the result of this belief; and results in the disenfranchisement of billions of people worldwide.
  • The power-ascendancy of religious organizations is the result of this misconception, and has been the basis of pogroms, jihads, crusades, holy wars, inquisitions and similar large-scale atrocities for thousands of years.
  • Many activities seen as normal components of war are based on this idea; not the least of which is the concept that civilian casualties are an acceptable price to pay to win a war.

These are just a few examples of institutionalized T-2 sins as I have defined them here.  Each and every one of them has at one time or another been justified by adoption of E2 as the prevailing ethic.  This historical perspective tells us that these evils occur in spite of our wish to cause more good than harm; and in fact happen in large measure because we chose to define a good or ethical act as one that creates more benefits than harms without placing a limit on the amount of harm that is permissible. How can this be?

To answer this question let’s go back and take a closer look at the consequences of Ethics Definition Number 1.  It states: An ethical act is one that benefits at least one person (even if only the person acting) while harming no one (including the person acting).  Note that this definition logically implies that any act that is harmful to someone is unethical…by definition.  Acceptance of this definition precludes all the harmful consequences listed above as resulting from Definition 2.  It means it is not acceptable to sacrifice the one for the benefit of the many.  It is not acceptable to take away people’s resources by force no matter who benefits; so only voluntary “taxes” are ethical and Marx’s redistribution of wealth is unethical.  Control of government by institutions that place a highest value on power or profits is unethical; so public disempowerment by corporations and organized religions is necessarily unacceptable.  And of course, warfare that harms non-combatants is also unethical, as are business practices that degrade the environment.

To put it bluntly, our society is in a mess today because we don’t have an institutionalized understanding that ethical ends cannot be achieved by unethical means.  If our institutions incorporated this awareness and committed themselves to Ethics Definition 1 (E1) all the aforesaid T-2 sins would be abolished and a far more successful society would have a chance to evolve.  This is the most important issue that humanity faces today; yet here in the United States, one of the most successful and enlightened countries in the world, we don’t address this issue publicly; our presidential candidates give no hint of being aware of it; and the media for all their investigative expertise are oblivious to it.

At this point I have one unfinished item to deal with.  How are we to recognize “benefits” and “harms”?  The best definition I have seen is that an act is beneficial if it increases someone’s creativity or any of its logical equivalents.  A resource is a logical equivalent of creativity if the increase or decrease of that resource necessitates a corresponding increase or decrease in creativity and vice versa.  Some examples of creativity’s logical equivalents are awareness, love, objective truth, personal growth, and evolution.  Similarly, an act is harmful if it limits or diminishes creativity or any of its logical equivalents for anyone.  It should also be noted that creativity might be thought of as the product of ethical awareness and intelligence as symbolized by the equation C=EI, where C can be positive or negative; and negative creativity is the equivalent of destructiveness or entropy maximization.  In this sense “evolution” and “entropy” are logical equivalents of “good” and “evil”.

In the first paragraph of this chapter I said that the single greatest source of evil in the world today is the idea that ethical ends can be achieved by unethical means.  Subsequently I have shown that this mistaken notion historically generates unethical deeds of the T-2 variety and that such misdeeds are widely institutionalized and wreak great harm on all humanity.  One of these Type Two sins I have not yet mentioned; and it is arguably the most destructive.  It is called “bureaucracy”.  “Bureaucracy” is often thought to be a synonym for “organization”; but it is not. It is not even a logical equivalent of organization.  As John David Garcia first pointed out to me, bureaucracy is the systematic elimination of corrective feedback; and at its worst is the elimination of feedback concerning ethics. It is this phenomenon that brought down the Soviet Union and the Roman Empire and many other regimes throughout history. It is gradually destroying the United States and its allies even now.  Unless we reverse this entropy-increasing trend we too will go the way of earlier fallen regimes and quite possibly we may destroy all humanity in the process.

When employees the world over can go to their “superiors” and criticize their employers’ ethics without fear of reprisals, bureaucracy will no longer be a major problem for humanity.  When those same employees can reveal their challenges to those same “superiors” and receive helpful feedback that makes them better at their jobs we will have little to fear from the depredations of bureaucracy.  Until that day the insistence by so many that ethical ends can be achieved by unethical means will continue to eat away at our species’ potential. Which force will dominate our lives in this new century; evolution or entropy?

THE  “GOLDEN RULE PROOF”

Many people claim to live by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. But I shall prove now that choosing E2 as one’s operative ethic is in contradiction to the Golden Rule.

One obvious implication of the Golden Rule is the admonition, “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you.” This is a corollary of the Golden Rule, as it follows from it by logic alone.  Of course both admonitions could be contained in one by stating the rule: “Do unto others only as you would have them do unto you.”

Now consider what happens when one takes an action that is constrained only by the E2 ethic.  In general such an action has consequences that produce both beneficial and harmful effects where the harms are constrained to be less than the benefits. In some instances the benefits and harms will be sustained by the same individual; but in general the benefits and harms are permitted to apply to separate people, whereby one or more persons are benefited and one or more are harmed.  Now I ask, “Did the people harmed volunteer to be harmed?  Did we do unto them as we would have them do unto us?” In all honesty we can only answer “NO, OF COURSE NOT” to these questions.  Therefore the E2 ethic is an insufficient constraint to prevent its adherents from doing unto others as they would NOT have others do unto themselves.  The E2 ethic therefore unequivocally violates the Golden Rule and should be unacceptable to anyone who esteems the Golden Rule as their highest ethic.

THE LOGICAL PROOF

In this section I shall prove by logic alone that the E2 ethic is unacceptable if we are ever to have universal peace and prosperity.  I do this because some of us do not give any special credence to ethics such as the Golden Rule because it derives from biblical lore.  No matter.  We can show in effect that the E2 ethic contains its own contradiction; that an act sanctioned by E2 must be unethical if it is not also sanctioned by E1.

To understand this proof one must first consider the fact that in general an act sanctioned by E2, unless also sanctioned by E1, will have as consequences both beneficial and harmful effects. Observing those effects we recognize a principle of separability: An act or behavior, which has both beneficial and harmful effects, is logically and ethically indistinguishable from two acts, one having beneficial consequences and the other having harmful consequences. This fact is apparent when you consider that after the consequences have been manifested you cannot tell whether the cause of those consequences was one act or two.

Now I go back to an earlier statement.  An act that has only beneficial consequences is clearly ethical; and an act that has only harmful consequence is clearly unethical.  From this we deduce that in general an E2 sanctioned behavior is the logical and ethical equivalent of two acts, one of which is ethical and the other unethical. But a behavior cannot be both ethical and unethical.  Any behavior that encompasses an unethical act must be unethical.  Therefore I conclude that any act sanctioned by E2 that is not also sanctioned by E1 must be unethical.  Therefore adoption of E2 must lead to unethical behavior.  This is how the institutionalization of E2 causes so many serious societal problems (T-2 sins). If we have any hope of success as a species, humanity must come to grips with this issue by institutionalizing E1 in place of E2.

SUMMARY

The choice of an ethic determines the quality of the values and belief systems that derive therefrom.  As we have seen, the ethical definition that leads to a healthier society is the E1 ethic that defines an ethical act as one that benefits someone without harming anyone.  I believe I have proven unequivocally that adoption of the E2 ethic (which defines as ethical any act that results in more benefit than harm) must lead to unethical outcomes; and in particular has led to wholesale evils through the attempt to achieve ethical ends by unethical means.  The “Historical Proof” shows that human experience is a clear demonstration of the failure of E2 to limit the harms done in the name of benefits for the many.  The “Golden Rule Proof” validates this empirical observation by showing that the E2 ethic violates the Golden Rule. And finally the “Logical Proof” shows that E2 contains its own contradiction; so that any institution defining its ethics by adoption of E2 is likely to create more harms than benefits in spite of its intention to do otherwise.

Based on the above, one might well ask how the E1 Ethic is adopted by Titania. So lets talk a bit about Titanian Organization.

Titanian Code of Honor

 

Titanian Code of Ethics,

also known as the

Titanian Code of Honor,

is a set of four simple affirmations containing the most prominent logical consequences of the Titanian Ethic. These affirmations and a brief explanation of each are shown below. I strongly suggest that you learn and honor this code.

  • We do no harm.
  • We do good at every opportunity.
  • The CODE always applies – no exceptions
  • Everyone knows the CODE.
  • DEFINITIONS:
  • An act is good if it increases creativity, or any of its logical equivalents, for at least one person, including the person acting, without limiting or diminishing creativity for anyone.
  • Logical equivalents of creativity include: love, awareness, evolution, the availability of objectively true information to ethical persons, and possibly many other resources.
  • A second set of creativity-enhancing resources are sometimes necessary, often helpful, and never sufficient, for the maximization of creativity; however they are not logical equivalents of creativity and their maximization in lieu of creativity can result in unethical outcomes. These resources include, but are not limited to: freedom, privacy, honesty, empathy, conscience, energy, wealth, profit, and even happiness.

EXPLANATIONS: Logical Consequences of the Above Definitions

  • We never attempt to achieve ethical ends by unethical means.
  • We never lie – except in self-defense, in which case lying may be mandatory.
  • We never coerce – except in self-defense.
  • We never steal, destroy, limit, or diminish anyone’s physical, tangible, mental, intellectual, temporal, or emotional resources.
  • We never invade another’s privacy.
  • We never excuse our own ethical lapses.
  • We never destroy, limit, or avoid corrective feedback.
  • We never attempt to delegate authority that we do not possess as individuals.
  • We never employ “majority rule”.
  • We never perform (act) as a group in a way that would be unethical if performed by an individual.
  • We never support, nurture, or augment the abilities of anyone whose actions are predatory, parasitic, or generally unethical. Nor do we permit such acts when presented with a choice in the matter.
  • We never obey rules/”laws” that forbid ethical behavior or require unethical behavior.
  • We always seek to maximize creativity, love, awareness, personal evolution, and their logical equivalents above all else and at every opportunity.
  • We commit to those actions which fulfill this mission.
  • We commit to using only those means which are ethical ends in themselves.
  • At every opportunity we help and augment the freedom, independence, autonomy, privacy, knowledge, courage, and other creativity-enhancing resources of those whom we trust to act in accordance with the CODE.
  • We ask for and accept the help of others.
  • We ask for and accept the corrective feedback available from others.
  • We offer our own corrective feedback to others, especially where ethical decision-making is concerned.
  • We augment one another’s strengths and compensate for one another’s weaknesses.
  • We maintain security and confidentiality.
  • We celebrate all individual and group success.
  • We share expenses and profits as agreed.
  • We are paid for our creativity and productivity – not for our time.

We Do No “Harm”

We Consistently Do “Good”

The Code Of Ethics Applies At All Times – Not Just When It Is Easy Or Convenient.

All Titanians Know The Titanian Code Of Ethics – Now you do too.

For a more formal explanation of the Ethics – one that can be incorporated into an organizations bylaws – let’s look at the Bill of Ethics.