James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Individualism and Idealism

My latest at the Partial Observer. Excerpt:

[S]ome people generate moral behavior according to their own preferences, values, and life lessons, and then project them to higher levels of morality. This comes about through discipline and the development of good habits of heart, mind, and body. Experience and examples provide life's lessons. People help their neighbor whose home burnt down first out of compassion, and second because they would want others to offer help if they had the same misfortune. Not out of a feeling of religious obligation, civic duty, or conformity to universal moral law.

But that is where others begin, with philosophical and theological questions like "What is Good," "What is Happiness," and "What is Justice." These are "level 5" questions, and their Answers are universal - they apply equally to every human being. And the resulting moral laws project downward. The role of the State is to shape civil society so that it conforms to these laws, and ultimately to make sure every family and individual does, too.

Level 1 "individualist" morality applies rules of thumb; Level 5 "idealist" morality just imposes Rules. The level 1 individualist honors the soldier as a patriot who will fight and die in defense of his country; the level 5 idealist honors the soldier as a crusader who will fight and die promoting the Causes of Liberty and Democracy. The individualist applies the Golden Rule and treats everyone he meets with respect, courtesy, and kindness; the idealist is committed to Equality and requires the individual to prove that he isn't a Racist.

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