According to Sam Harris, objective moral facts exist and can be determined by science. Let us say you are the president and want to decide on whether to drop bombs on ISIS or not. Ideally, you would gather experts to apply complex scientific models to predict the outcome of a considered attack, including how it would affect the well-being of all sentient beings involved. If the overall net effect on well-being is positive, then the attack is morally right; it is wrong if the bombs cause more suffering than happiness overall.
After many, many intellectual struggles with this theory of objective morality, I now accept it as truth that we can scientifically investigate moral facts. Yet does this mean that we are obliged to apply the objectivity principle to all our decisions? Should objective morality guide our every action?
Imagine you are out for a walk and see a runaway train hurtling down the tracks towards three strangers who appear to be working on the tracks, unaware of the approaching train. In this simplified example, you have only two options with predetermined outcomes: either you let the three men die and go your merry way, or you jump in front of the train to derail it and sacrifice your life for theirs. Sacrificing your life to save that of three strangers would maximize overall well-being. Morally, it would be the right thing to do.
Would you do it?
If objectivity and ethics are your highest values in life, then
you should you will commit altruistic suicide. However, and this is my main point here, humans have very complex value systems, and reason qua objective ethics is usually not their #1 priority.
Maybe you value your life over that of three strangers, value your life over maximizing universal well-being, value your life over objective morality, value your life over justice. Does this make you a bad person? Objectively speaking, yes.
Do you care?
Personally, although truth, justice, science, and objective morality are among my most important values, I value my own life and freedom even more. Further, I have been on a ketogenic diet for many years, so I apparently value my strength, health, and vitality over the life of cattle. Objectively, I maybe should be a vegan, but subjectively, I do not mind being responsible for the slaughter of animals (although I don’t support factory farming). While objectivity is important to me, it is not my highest value.
This, you see, is the immorality of the one law I wholeheartedly endorse on this blog: Do your True Will. Know who you are, know what your goals are, know the consequences of your actions, know the reality of human behavior, know your values, and do what you want based on that knowledge. If your actions turn out to be morally bad, this is not irrelevant, but it is secondary—unless your #1 priority is justice.
Objective morality is relevant to the extent that you value truth, justice, reason, and science. Moreover, the better you understand yourself, the more you will find that increasing other people’s well-being also increases your own (the power of kindness), whereas causing suffering in the world also tends to cause suffering in yourself (the power of conscience).
You are not doing your True Will as long as you are delusional about what you really want, mistaken about the factual consequences of your actions, and confused about your value system. To do what you truly want, you must truly know what you want. You must be clear about your personal moral code. The further away your subjective morality is from objective morality, the more you should doubt that your will is true—unless you know in your heart of hearts, know in your ‘blood’ that another value (life, health, freedom, power, whatever it may be) trumps justice in a particular situation.
It is also important to understand the political dimension of what I am saying here. The principle of objective morality, albeit valuable, can be misused to legitimize the power of a certain political class that seeks world domination through globalization:
Aspiring to uninterrupted growth of capital and to the permanent reign of social engineering, this New Class provides the manpower for the media, large national and multinational firms, and international organisations. This New Class produces and reproduces everywhere the same type of person: cold-blooded specialists, rationality detached from day-to-day realities. It also engenders abstract individualism, utilitarian beliefs, a superficial humanitarianism, indifference to history, an obvious lack of culture, isolation from the real world, the sacrifice of the real to the virtual […]. All of this fits in with the tactic of mergers and the globalisation of worldwide domination. (Alain de Benoist & Charles Champetier, Manifesto for a European Renaissance, p. 36)
If we as a European people value objective morality over freedom and culture, we may be able to claim moral high ground, though at the cost of being buried in the physical low ground.
Biological evolution does not further those who have the most objective, most accurate representation of the world. In reality, those with the most relevant, most useful view of the world survive. While objectivity is an important tool for successful behavior, and particularly important to rule over a people that values justice, all that matters in the end is power and survival, not truth.