Are There Objectively Moral Statements?

“There is no such thing as objective morality only preferences and demonstrated preferences.”

I’m not sure that’s true.

[I]n every society, the portfolio of norms consisting of maners (signals of fitness for voluntary transfer), ethics and morals (prohibitions on involuntary transfer), vary considerably. But all of them are signals of fitness, signals of contribution to a commons, and prohibitions on involuntary transfer.

Some of these suites of property rights produce superior economic outcomes, and some inferior. That’s true. But they aren’t preferences. Norms are not preferences they are artifacts of the process of evolutionary cooperation according to prejudices (pre-judgements).

Given that human beings universally eschew involuntary transfer, in every possible culture and circumstance, and will act twice as hard to punish it as they will for their own interest, its clear that it’s not a purely subjective phenomenon.

And in fact it is a necessary phenomenon which genetics must eventually enforce. So while the arrangement of property rights and obligations in any set of norms may vary, the fact that humans observe norms out of prohibition on involuntary transfer is entirely objective.

So, moral actions are only a preference in those cases where normative codes, like laws, are general proscriptions, and where for specific circumstances, one’s actions do not create an involuntary transfer.

Moral codes may correctly or incorrectly constituted at any given moment (because they are intergenerational habits and must be constantly re-tested by each generation). But as long as they are prohibitions on involuntary transfers, then they are in fact, objective.

If members of a group observe a set of norms, and by observing those norms, forgo opportunities for gratification or self interest, then they have in fact paid for those norms. If others do not pay for those norms, and constrain themselves to signaling, then that’s not an involuntary transfer.if however, others choose to sieze opportunities created by the normative sacrifice of others, then that’s theft, plain and simple.

This is a quick treatment of one of mankind’s most challenging topics, but hopefully it will at least give you a few ideas.

– Curt

a) an action is a demonstrated preference.
b) a preference is a demonstrated bias
c) a bias may or may not be subject to cognition
d) a habit is not subject to cognition, thats’ the value of them. They’re cheap.
e) a normative habit is rarely understood, but almost universally practiced. Which is the reason we even have this conversation in the first place.
f) a metaphysical bias is not subject to cognition, it’s almost never understood by anyone in any culture.

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