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Essay:If there is indeed no objective morality...

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This is an excerpt of an essay "The Abolition of Man" by C. S. Lewis. I changed it a bit so as if the essay was directed to you. The real and full essay can be read here. This ought to be in the public domain, since Lewis has been dead for a really long time now, but even if it's not, I may use it because it falls under the fair use. And oh, why am I doing this? I thought maybe it provokes some of you into actually reading the real essay. --Idiot number 59 (talk) 16:19, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

However subjective you may be about some traditional values, there must be some other values about which you are not subjective at all. For example, you run this website in order to produce certain states of mind - if not because you think those states of mind are intrinsically just or good, you certainly think them to be the means to some state of society which you regard as desirable. If there are no real values, your website must be written to no purpose. To abstain from calling it good and to use, instead, such predicates as 'necessary' or 'progressive' or 'efficient' would be a subterfuge. If I was to force you to answer questions like "necessary for what?", "progressing towards what?", "effecting what?", you would have to admit that some state of affairs is in your opinion good for its own sake. And you could not maintain that "good" simply describes you own emotion about it. For the whole purpose of your website is to condition the reader that he will share your approval, and this would be either a fool's or a villain's undertaking unless you hold that your approval is in some way valid or correct.

In actual fact you hold the whole system of values with complete uncritical dogmatism. Your scepticism about objective values is on the surface: it is for use on other people's values; about the values current in your own set you are not nearly sceptical enough. And this phenomenon is very usual. A great many of those who 'debunk' traditional or (as they would say) 'sentimental' values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process. You claim to be cutting away the parasitic growth of emotion, religious sanction, and inherited taboos, in order that 'real' or 'basic' values may emerge.

Oh, you might say that the real value lay in the utility of the community. Good means what is useful to the community. For example, firefighters, soldiers, police etc. are very useful to our community. Sometimes they must die, of course. And the death of some men is useful to other men. That is very true. But on what ground are some men being asked to die for the benefit of others? Every appeal to pride, honour, shame, or love is excluded by hypothesis. To use these would be to return to sentiment and your task is, having cut all that away, to explain to men, in terms of pure reasoning, why they will be well advised to die that others may live. You may tell them that unless some of us risk death all of us are certain to die. But that will be true only in a limited number of cases; and even when it is true it provokes the very reasonable counter question 'Why should I be one of those who take the risk?'

At this point you may ask why, after all, selfishness should be more 'rational' or 'intelligent' than altruism. By Reason the answer must be that a refusal to sacrifice oneself is no more rational than a consent to do so. And no less rational. Neither choice is rational—or irrational—at all. From propositions about fact alone no practical conclusion can ever be drawn. This will preserve society cannot lead to do this except by the mediation of society ought to be preserved.