Individual versus Collectivist Morality

Written by Timo Schmitz. Based on an excerpt of the author’s article “Cognitivism failed!” (2017).

The peak of nonsense is utilitarianism, since the moral quality does not play a role anymore, but the usefulness for the collective. Is it useful to exploit nature and resettle tribes, so that a rich “developed” society can continue its luxury life? For a utilitarian, it would probably be no big deal to resettle hundred people and kill tons of wood, just to please the lifestyle of a whole nation and develop their happiness. Is it okay to shoot an airplane that was captured by terrorists? For a utilitarian, hundreds of dead through the shot airplane would be more useful than a resulted attack endangering thousands of lives. Where is the human honour in this process? It vanished! For a deontologist, it would be a no-go to shoot the airplane, because every life has the same worth, and thus hundreds of lives are same worth than thousands of lives and no life can be sacrificed to save other lives. Not a single life wages more than another. But the problem that a deontologist faces is the following question: Who says that his δέον is right? Who says that the rule which the deontologist offers is really a rule worth to follow?

Again it is subjective! As our view on the world is totally constructed, morality is constructed, too. Even my éthique primaire that I try to absorb out of a higher law is based on my own findings, and since they are found by a human-being, they are still subjective. There is no way to objectively categorise religious law one hundred percent, since one always has to interpret the religious texts and its understanding. And even if one wants to say that something is morally good because people always taught so for thousands of years, who says that we weren’t wrong for such a long time? The éthique primaire is just a suggestion: the try to find objective normative phrases out of subjective moral constructions. These normative phrases can never be the whole truth, but they can be a good basis.

Physical inviolability is a suggestion based on the golden rule (don’t do something that harms others that you don’t want to suffer yourself!) and therefore the absense of killing, stealing/robberies and physical violence are a good that every ethical human-being pursuits. Though it is still a subjective pursuit, we can objectify it by suggesting others to respect these rules. But we will never be able to stop violence in this world, as long as we see violence as means to stop violence.

Human inviolability is a suggestion to make the rank of every human-being equal and give them equal opportunity. Developing more compassion and love in a society is a suggestion to strengthen the social capital. If we enforce love, we will receive hate! But if we suggest love, we can gain sociability!

Social rights are a very subjective construction, but we can assume that there is an objective form of it in the cosmic order, since social rights ensure that all people shall have the same options. Why shall someone have more rights than another person? – And since the earliest societies, as soon as people gathered together, they developed rules for companionship. The Law of Might never existed in the natural order of human-beings, but is a result of inequality.

However, those who accumulate all the money and who can buy everything are more privileged than those who have nothing and starve to death. A utilitarian might ask, how much money does one need to be happy in life? But money is not happiness for everyone! Some people rather want love, others want friendships, and still others want to survive. Money is a means, but not the τέλος. And some things cannot be bought. I considered the éthique primaire to be of necessity, because it is la base de l’humanité. No society can survive if there is no respect, no welfare, and just the power of might. It is the very human basis.

The éthique secondaire, that I based on the very basic worldview of Hannah Arendt, is just a social contract which guarantees that people can satisfy their animalistic, materialistic and individual needs. These secondary ethics are of course very subjective and questionable, but it is my suggestion for a perfect society. It is not a cognition by nature nor by intuition and it gives people the free choice to act responsible.

Published on 10 June 2022.

4 thoughts on “Individual versus Collectivist Morality

  1. Schmitztimo,
    I would like to know what this Schmitztimo name means. Also, if you have studied the book-of-all-books – the Bible and what your philosophy of it is. It would be interesting to know the bare basics of what you consider the meaning of life is, and Who created it (nothing can come from nothing and that is a true scientific statement. You must have “Something” to create something.

    1. It is just my user name which is my family name (Schmitz) follwed by first name (Timo).
      You are right, there must be something to create something and the first cause, the one who started creation is God. I take a divine law as basis, which is revealed to human-beings through thier reason. This means that we receive a divine orientation, yet since human-beings are flawed and not perfect, since perfection is an attrbute which only God deserves, we have to interprete revelation, so we cannot understand revelation in its purest form, but have to act according to how we understand the revelation and try our best.

  2. If you want to develop more love and compassion in society, there have to be role-models that people can follow. We certainly don’t see it in our political leaders (in America). It’s dog-eat-dog, so to speak, and a constant stream of hate, derision, and division. People need to believe in something larger than themselves, and we are losing that in America. It’s all street-level gangsterism and survival of the fittest.

    1. Indeed, though human-beings have a basic goodness as nature, we are not divine beings and actually do have the choice to choose the wrong path. To get back to the right path, we have to undergo a purification, such as proposed in East Asian meditation: we have to clean our mind and get detached from our illusions. In this way, we can find our mistakes and repent. And finally, we all make mistakes, we are all sinners! But we can learn and go ahead.

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