Good As We Are or Good As We Discover It
An interesting point of discussion I want to merely raise is whether we define Good from our default behaviour as humans, or is it something that we discover, something other than how we are naturally? Do we look around and govern using ethics as law on what is agreeable behaviour, or is ethics something which is discovered that is beyond our current way of being and exterior to human nature. The way in which these questions are answered rests largely with how morality is seen and whether it is intrinsically subjective or somehow objective and independent of ourselves. How it is answered bares greatly on how we are governed.
In the past, has it been true that we look around and determine what is best for human flourishing will be what is right and ethical and just? Was it through some guise of religious dogma used to govern for centuries that we came to understand morality as that which we find agreeable in what will make society prosper as social animals. Or is there legitimacy in divine natural law as being objective to our nature and that which raises us above the other animals.
Today, many atheists and agnostics would side with the use of morality as a way to govern and natural law simply being hocus pocus justifications. This seems to have increasingly wider acceptance as the reflective truth on what happened in the past. For the sake of intellectual discussion though, it is important to examine natural law theory and the notion that ethics and morality are objectively found through reasoning, and are external to our natural behaviours as social animals. This discovery through reasoning guides us to a better future existence than our current state of being.
If we assume that we discover what is Good through reasoning, the next question of course is whose reasoning? Can we arrogantly say that the reasoning of one individual is superior to that of another? Is there any objective determination that someone has become capable of reasoning to the degree that it is truth in some external way to our nature? Can there ever be anything external to our nature or is that a concept left behind in humankinds history? Those that are educated would arguably be positioned to reason in a way that is different than those who are not, however how that difference in logical reasoning merits greater understanding of a normative claim is unclear. There is a tendency to think that the reasoning performed after it has been structured by education is superior to an unstructured reasoning. However, this discrepancy itself is based on value statements, biased opinions, and other subjective elements that are used in a hierarchy of thoughts and opinions. Increasingly today, it seems that there has become a schism of what constitutes a valid opinion with education no longer being a defining determinant.
If we cannot assign individuals to reason “better” for others, does it mean that we no longer have direction? Does it mean that societies direction has become diffuse with societies path no longer a collective path but a selection of individualized options as if in a restaurant making the selection of the main course. Do liberalized nations offer this selection effectively and that being the distinguishing characteristic of itself from foreign authoritarian governing apparat. Is this fostering of liberalized selection, true recognition of the subjective nature of morality and the individuals right to autonomy and liberty? It seems so.
The subjective nature of morality is increasingly taken as a concedence of thought for moralities foundation. This is arguably the driving factor behind the rise of individual rights and freedoms with recognition of true equality among people respecting their values and opinions. Morality is not an objective fact to discover. It has always been a view by those wielding power on what is best for society to adhere to in daily life. A look back at history will show anyone that the application of moral law was not evenly applied and was done in part to benefit interests of those in power. How much that has changed is debatable with many likely saying not enough. In Western liberalized society today, the environment is rightly protected and nurtured for equality of rights and freedoms which in time will shift power increasingly from a few, perhaps a many few, to the individual.