Purism: Logic as the Basis of Morality
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Abstract: In this article I attempt to overcome extant obstacles in deriving fundamental, objective and logically deduced definitions of personhood and their rights, by introducing an a priori paradigm of beings and morality. I do so by drawing a distinction between entities that are sought as ends and entities that are sought as means to said ends. The former entities, I offer, are the essence of personhood and are considered precious by observers possessing a logical system of valuation. The latter entities – those sought only as a means to an end – I term ‘materials.’ Materials are sought for their conditional value: Important for achieving sought ends, they are not considered precious in and of themselves. A normative system for how this dichotomy of entities should interact is consequently derived and introduced. This paradigm has applicability for modern humanism and beyond. Assuming societal technological progression whereby human bodies and their surrounding infrastructures continue to evolve and integrate, the distinction between beings and their supporting materials, and a moral code for their interactions, will become ever more relevant.
Keywords: personhood, posthumanism, purism, logic, moral rationalism, morality, humanism
If one projects logic forward, the past becomes vastly more surreal than our prosaic future.
An objective and logical definition of ‘humanness’ – the fundamental nature of what it is to be a human – remains elusive (Tasioulas, 2012; Wilson & Haslam, 2009; Badmington, 2003). It is perhaps not surprising then that humanistic theorists have encountered systemic issues when attempting to derive objective and logically deduced answers to moral questions concerning humanity, such as how humans should live and interact with each other, the nature of fundamental human rights (and their corresponding responsibilities) and why human rights should be considered universally sacred (for examples of these attempts, see Cruft, Liao & Renzo, 2015; Nussbaum, 2011, Liao, 2015; Rawls, 2009; Griffin, 2008; Tasioulas, 2012). I propose that those seeking to objectively and logically answer these questions must first provide a corresponding definition of what it fundamentally is to be human. In this article I introduce an a priori paradigm of personhood and morality which I believe provides this definition, and thus allows for a morality to be logically deduced. Whilst I propose that this definition of personhood captures what is intuitively known to be the underlying value of humans, it also applies to non-human beings – including some, but not all, animals – and posthumans in whichever forms they may take. Importantly, the a priori nature of this definition allows for the moral component of the paradigm to be logically1 and objectively2 deduced. The result is a moral rationalism which ultimately serves the interests of each individual, based on their subjectively valued ends, and which is absent of the deontological ‘universalizability’ or ‘generalizability’ found in other notable paradigms, such as that of Immanuel Kant (1785) and Marcus Singer (2003).
This paradigm is derived from an examination of the intrinsically different value systems that logical observers place on the ends (i.e., final goals) that they seek, compared to the means (i.e., immediate and intermediate goals) used to achieve these ends. The term ‘logical observer’ is used herein to describe an agent with a sensical value system, which values ultimate goals (i.e., ends) above proximate goals (i.e., means), and apparently useful proximal goals above apparently less-useful proximate goals. Accordingly, a logical observer is capable of recognizing that:
- entities sought solely as an end (i.e., for no higher purpose) will – or should (i.e., assuming the seeker of said end is logical) – have intrinsically greater value to the seeking entity than the respective means which are sought to achieve their sought end; and, that:
- entities sought solely as a means should be sought (i.e., selected) for their specific properties which, of all the known means considered, would appear to most efficiently achieve the ends which are sought.
If the reader agrees with the above definition of logicality in terms of the valuation of entities, then they essentially agree with the broader argument contained within this article. My argument progresses as follows: I observe that a want or a desire is, by definition, a state which is sought as an end. That is, desires are unconditionally sought, for the sake of being sought – as ends, in and of themselves – as distinguished from those states which are conditionally sought to satisfy need – as a means to an end. I subsequently propose that our wants or desires, whether realized or purely conceptual, form the essence of personhood. I do so with cognizance that, in the context of any framework attempting to attribute status of personhood upon entities, it is logically implied that persons or beings (i.e., entities which are sought to be protected by rights) are considered to be intrinsically more valuable than those entities which are not thought to deserve the status of personhood granted upon them. I further propose that all other aspects which are incidental to the desires of beings (i.e., entities sought on the basis of perceived need and entities which are unsought) should be considered as materials (i.e., resources), which either do, or could, serve as a means of realizing the states of beings. The residual category of ‘materials’ includes, but is not limited to, the functional aspects of human bodies.
It is on the basis of this argument that the moral component of this paradigm is founded: Logical observers should always consider any being – each sought as an end – to be more valuable than any material – each sought as a means, if sought at all. The reader will note, however, that the material aspects of a person and broader society are still considered highly relevant in the context of this paradigm. The moral discussion within details how each person is morally due these aspects, even though they are not conceptually considered a part of their person. Rather, they are merely an expendable resource, in a similar way that the money in one’s bank account and the oxygen in one’s lungs is generally considered to be the property of each respective person, but not necessarily an aspect of their person.
I have titled this paradigm ‘Purism.’3 A key application of this framework will be its contribution to the discussion of which rights and responsibilities are fundamental, that is, parsimonious and unconditional. With this paradigm I challenge the relatively conditional4 nature of purportedly fundamental human rights in contemporary literature (see for example, Cruft, Liao & Renzo, 2015; Nussbaum, 2011, Liao, 2015; Rawls, 2009; Griffin, 2008; Tasioulas, 2012). This article consists of three parts. I firstly define beings through logically (I argue) contrasting them with their material surroundings. I secondly present what I offer to be a logically derived moral framework for this being-material dichotomy. I thirdly introduce how both fundamental and conditional rights and responsibilities can be deduced from this framework, and how these rights should apply to the material aspects of human beings in contemporary society. This introduction is a starting place for further discussion, noting that a full extrapolation of the potential changes that this paradigm should bring to political, social and economic structure is beyond the scope of this article.
Part One. Beings and their Materials
This paradigm recognizes two irreducible categories of value: 1. Beings (i.e., forms), and 2. materials. I define a being herein as (a) state (or collection of states) whose nature(s) and (non-)association(s) are desired, i.e., sought for arbitrary, if any, purpose(s). By ‘state,’ I simply mean any entity, whether a structure, thought, emotion, sensation, or action, and whether real (i.e., purely physical), digital, or purely conceptual. In less formal terms, a being is a state or group of states that is wanted, as differentiated from entities which are either needed (for other states to exist) or unsought (i.e., neither wanted nor needed).
Notably, even if a being does not yet possess a realized version of their desires, or no longer possesses a realized version for reasons beyond their control (e.g., they cannot afford the resource to possess their desires, or they did possess them, though they were stolen or damaged), their desire is still considered to be a part of their being (i.e., person or ‘self’). Desires, even if yet unrealized, can be considered to define their respective beings on the basis that, given a more-ideal set of conditions, their desires would (and perhaps will) be realized. In other words, any being’s less-than-fully-realized state is owing to material inadequacy, not personal identity.
Beings, while they exist, can be considered to exist unconditionally, due to being sought for arbitrary or nil, rather than logical (i.e., functional), purposes. The term ‘unconditionally’ denotes the potential for such states to be sought indefinitely, existing independently from external material conditions across times and space. This term does not indicate that such states necessarily will be sought indefinitely. For example, an individual might desire to wear a white suit for aesthetic reasons (e.g., they ‘like white,’ or because they believe that it ‘looks good’). These sought aspects are a part of their being or person – in this example, specifically the white suit itself, not necessarily the mind which desires such, nor necessarily (all or any aspects of) the body wearing the suit. The suit, along with any other arbitrarily sought states whose association with each other is desired is the extent of that being’s ‘self.’ This may include the desire for states of desire emanating from the same source, or ‘mind,’ to be conceptually associated together as a single entity (i.e., a person). For the purposes of this example, I will call the being wearing white, ‘Person A.’ Because person A’s decision to wear white is an unconditionally defined state, it is not influenced by contemporary material conditions, such as the choice of white for the need to absorb less heat from the sun or to appear more visible to other road users; the decision to wear a suit, and the value of the suit to A, is not dependent or influenced by changes in contemporary material conditions (e.g., weather or economics) as it would be if it were also sought for material purposes (e.g., as a means of keeping warm, visibility or for its potential commercial resale value). Rather, A’s decision to wear white, if it is truly and purely desired, could potentially be sought in any world and forever into the future. I synonymously refer to the states of beings as ‘formational states’ or ‘forms,’ in recognition of their finality of purpose.
The unconditional nature of desire or forms appears to have not been realized in the literature, nor proposed as an exclusive definition of beings, self and personhood. Graham Oddie, in his book Value, reality, and desire (2005) argues for a value-realist approach for “desire,” whereby humans each assign moral value (e.g., “goodness”) to the entities that they respectively “desire.” However, Oddie does not discern desire which is unconditionally sought (i.e., ‘wanted’) – which, I argue, is true desire – from “desire” which is merely conditionally sought (i.e., ‘needed’) – that which, I argue, is false desire. This leads Oddie to encounter problems when he attempts to extend positive moral value (e.g., “good”) to what he terms as “perverse desire.” In part two, I overcome this problem by categorizing all desire – the ends that minds seek – as amoral (i.e., neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’), whilst assigning moral values to materials – the means used to achieve these ends – in accordance with the manner in which they enable or hinder the realization of states of desire.
I negatively define materials within this paradigm as entities which are not beings. Every state is categorized as a material, by default, unless sought for arbitrary, if any, purpose. Returning to the previous example, all aspects of the white suit which are not (explicitly or implicitly) desired by person A are not considered a part of their being. This would include the aspects of A’s condition which A needs for the realization of their form, for example, A’s bodily infrastructure and organs, the ground upon which A walks, the oxygen-rich atmosphere, the aspects of the suit which offer protection from the weather, the tag with instructions for washing, or the micro-fibers from which it is constructed which allow for its form and its white appearance. This would also include aspects which A neither wants nor needs, for example, the dirt and other impurities which may discolor A’s white suit, and the properties of A’s suit which work against the purposes of A’s body, for example, which make it hot, heavy and restrict A’s bodily movement. Each of the above aspects, as per the molecules, atoms and sub-atomic structures from which they are made, are materials.
This framework therefore groups-together entities which actively serve beings on most occasions (e.g., human functional anatomy and technological infrastructure, barring illness or malfunction) with entities that either passively, or do not at all, serve beings. This category also includes those entities that may hinder the lives of beings (e.g., inanimate objects, viruses, weather phenomena). Everything other than beings – that which usually does serve beings and that which could serve beings – has been categorized together into the one group – ‘material’ – because these aspects, by definition, are not sought as an end in themselves. If they are sought, they are so as a conditional means of achieving sought ends – the aspects that beings desire. In contrast to the unconditionally precious nature of the desires of beings, material states will possess degrees of conditional value. At any moment, materials possess a degree of importance to beings, in proportion to the degree, and for the duration, that they serve beings. A material in one condition (e.g., the use of ‘fins’ while scuba diving) may not be useful, that is, valuable, in another (e.g., the use of fins while running). This conditional value will be subsequently explored further as the notion of morality, in conjunction with the notion that all materials have responsibilities associated with the properties for which they are sought.
I propose that it would be arbitrary to distinguish human bodies within an enduring theory of beings and morality. Human beings need many other entities beyond their respective bodies to survive (e.g., the nutrients they consume, the atmosphere they breathe, the ground they walk on), and these aspects are rapidly changing and evolving (e.g., terra firma has been redesigned to propel them forward – escalators and travellators; autonomous vehicles drive them to their destinations).
At this juncture, I will clarify that beings are always theoretically distinguishable from their materials. The terms ‘arbitrary’ and ‘logical’ are antonyms of each other and thus must be conceived to be mutually exclusive in any theoretical (i.e., conceptual) space at the same moment time (Primus, 2019; 2020). However, whilst any (conceptual) purpose assigned to any state (i.e., structure or action) cannot logically be both arbitrary and logical in nature at the same moment, any state can logically be sought for multiple purposes at any moment. For example, a being may be appreciating the ambience of candlelight – an arbitrarily sought purpose and thus an end in itself – whilst its material body uses the same candlelight to write a work-related letter – a material purpose, serving a means to other purposes. In the instance of the latter, specific outcomes must be achieved through logical application of thought and action. The candlelight is a singular entity which is simultaneously sought for two, conceptually exclusive purposes – both of which are sought in their own right and exist in isolation from each other.
Whilst the theoretical distinction between beings and their materials is an objective and simple process, the practical delineation of these states across various times and spaces may be exceedingly difficult, if not unviable, in this contemporary era. I will briefly discuss the fundamental structural components by which a desire might be recognized by (material) observers seeking to identify a desire. Noting that there appear to be no extent examples in the literature, I offer that any state of desire has four structural requirements, with a fifth component being optional:
- a structure (e.g., a collection of neurons in a brain, transistors in a computer chip, alphanumeric symbols on a page, or words spoken in a phrase) which apparently symbolizes any state (e.g., object or action, feeling or sensation; any symbol at all) – this structure represents the state that is desired (e.g., the structure might symbolize the concept of ‘car’ or ‘blue’);
- a structure that apparently symbolizes that structure 1 is sought. This may be directly stated (e.g., with a structure symbolizing the concept of ‘sought,’ ‘want,’ ‘desire,’ ‘obtain,’ or ‘seeking’). It may, however, be indirectly stated, for example, through a symbol depicting the concept of stasis (e.g., ‘keep,’ ‘retain,’ ‘no change’) or which represents self-identity, ownership, or personal association (e.g., ‘me,’ ‘self,’ ‘my,’ ‘identity’);
- the (spatial or temporal) presence of a connecting structure (e.g., neural synapses, computer circuitry) or positioning (e.g., alphanumeric characters in spatial proximity or words spoken in temporal proximity) which indicates a deliberate association between structures 1 and 2. I explain what I mean by ‘spatial or temporal absence’ in the example below; and,
- the (spatial or temporal) absence of connecting structure or positioning which would indicate a deliberate association with a structure that resembles a material (i.e., functional, logical) reason for the relationship between structures 1 and 2 (e.g., a symbol depicting the concept of ‘work’ or ‘need’).
- There may be an association between structures 1-3 and a structure that resembles an arbitrarily sought symbol, such as ‘fun,’ ‘enjoyment,’ or ‘love.’ The inclusion of this structure is optional.
The above five components (1–5) align with the definition of a being as (a) state(s) sought for arbitrary, if any, purpose. The fifth structure, being both optional and arbitrary in nature, accounts for the ‘if any’ component of the definition. That is, a state of desire will be sought for an arbitrary purpose if it is sought for any purpose, noting that a state of desire need not be sought for any purpose. Examples of these components are visually depicted in figure 1.
Figure 1. depicts two expressions of desire and two material expressions (of perceived need). The numbers in each diagram correspond to the aforementioned five types of structural components.
The examples in figure 1 are rudimentary by necessity, serving as an indicator of the minimum structures required to gain moral recognition as a desire. For example, if the first two expressions in figure 1 were uttered by someone on their deathbed or found written in shorthand in a will, logical observers might assume that the author desires to keep their car and that such car would be a considered a part of their person (i.e., being) for moral purposes. The desires of human beings, as biologically encoded within their brains, would obviously be vastly more complex in terms of the number of structures and their sought natures and (non-)associations. Consequently, it is inevitable in this era that material and formational states will be structurally entangled together, within human brains and across society more generally. For example, the latter (material) expression in figure 1 could be considered to be both an expression of desire (i.e., ‘car’ associated with ‘me’) as well as a material expression (i.e., ‘car’ associated with ‘me’ and ‘work’). Whether or not this structure is recognized as a material state or a state of desire entangled with a material state would depend on the temporal relationship of these structures; a logical observer would question, for example, whether the structures of ‘car’ and ‘me’ first existed in association with each other prior to them being associated with the structure of ‘work’ (i.e., whether the structure symbolizing the notion of ‘work’ was temporally absent even though it is now spatially present). If so, it would be treated as a state of material and desire entangled into a singular structure (see figure 2 for an alternative example of entanglement).
Figure 2. depicts entanglement between states of being and material, whereby the concepts of ‘work’ and ‘fun’ are concurrently associated with the same concept of ‘car’ by the same mind.
I emphasize that the definitions provided herein at least enable us to theoretically distinguish between beings and materials, even if it is presently difficult or impractical to distinguish and physically separate many of their states in this era. It is not only plausible but, I argue, inevitable, that future technology will be able to efficiently disentangle formational and material states, conceptually and physically – thus allowing in the examples above that the being’s car would remain as a part of their personal identity indefinitely, long after their need for the car has subsided.
The delineation of human beings and their societal structures into separate components based on their purpose may at first appear to be counterintuitive and unnecessary, though it is morally vital, now and into the future. In the contemporary era it is important to draw a clear conceptual line between aesthetic expressions – those which should be protected from moral consequence under the auspice of freedom (e.g., free speech) – and expressions which necessarily carry moral consequence (e.g., right and wrong behavior). This distinction forms the basis of the argument in part two, whereby the states of beings are considered to be entirely protected from moral consequence, and the states of all materials are viewed to possess moral value. The notion that beings are protected from moral consequence may further appear counterintuitive at first, however, this notion will also be examined in part two.
The definition of beings as a cluster of desires does not render human or other material bodies unimportant or unrelated to the beings they serve. Rather than simply viewing Purist beings as more-narrow versions of human beings, it is more accurate to view that this paradigm separates human beings into two aspects – the being and material – based on the purpose of such aspects in any moment. Furthermore, this conceptual separation of human beings into categories of being and material need not occur at the same moment in time – as it did in the candlelight example earlier – if the priority of a human being in any moment is clearly apparent (e.g., if their duty is explicitly and unambiguously designated, such as via their job title). Human beings may be considered to be acting overall in a capacity as either a material or as a being, based on the primary purpose towards which they strive (or should strive) towards in any moment. A human who is on duty as a police officer would be primarily considered to be a material because their primary purpose at that moment is to serve the public. This is despite the officer also possessing desires (i.e., personhood) at the same moment; they may, for example, desire their appearance, their possessions and various activities that they plan to enjoy when not on duty. When the officer is off duty and acting as they enjoy, they would primarily be considered to be a being. This is despite their person concurrently being composed of multiple materials – their body’s functional anatomy, knowledge and skills. Consequently, in this era – where beings and their human materials are bound together into a single body, whereby neither can be readily practically distinguished from the other – it is still possible to make a provisional delineation of beings and their material based on the primary purpose of a human in any moment of time. We can and must distinguish between people primarily working (i.e., serving, as material resource) in society, and those that do not serve as a resource but simply exist as the (final) forms that they are. As will be discussed in part two, each possesses a different set of social (i.e., moral) responsibilities. Beyond this, the aforementioned distinction of ends and means will become increasingly relevant into the intermediate and distant futures – posthuman eras, where the traditional human body has blurred with technological enhancements and automated technologies.5 In such futures, beings will presumably take many varied forms beyond the human body; it is vital that they are distinguished from material resources, lest they be consumed or discarded.6
I should clarify that the being-material dichotomy of Purism is not a distinction between ‘private’ and ‘public’ entities, nor between ‘individuals’ or ‘citizens’ and the ‘State.’ The discussion in parts two and three will conclude, among other outcomes, that: Whilst any State or nation will (and should) invariably exist for a material purpose (to serve the needs of citizens); and whilst any material entity, according to this paradigm, should alternately serve the ‘public’ – that is, potentially alternate between the service of all citizens, whilst being conditionally allocated to, and owned by, no more than one ‘individual’ citizen at any one time, where and whilst they need it; and whilst any entity, according to this paradigm, should be permanently allocated and owned as a part of their ‘private’ person or being if they want or desire it; these distinctions are not clearly delineated in the contemporary era. As it empirically stands across contemporary societies, citizens and private, public and individual entities exist as various iterations of material and formational purposes (and often serve both purposes across times and spaces). The (im)morality of these iterations will serve as the discussion of parts two and three, along with a discussion of how society should be structured.
Furthermore, Purism’s being-material dichotomy does not equate to a mind-body dichotomy. The distinction between beings and materials discussed herein is a logical taxonomy for the moral purposes of societies. In contrast to the mind-body separation of Cartesian dualism, I am not arguing for a metaphysical distinction between the substance or matter from which beings and materials are composed. Rather, and despite its conceptual ‘duality,’ this paradigm metaphysically subscribes to materialistic monism – the notion that all entities are reducible to a single material (for further details of this monism see Primus, 2019, 2020). In a future article I will, however, argue that the intuitively perceived need to treat beings and materials as fundamentally different entities stems from a metaphysical origin: The relative consistency that we expect in societal interactions conceivably originates from the consistency we observe and expect between physical interactions of objects, and the consistent nature of the universe more generally.
While many contemporary beings would consider their mind as a part of themselves, a being does not need a mind (i.e., a mind need not desire itself) for its states of desire to be recognized accordingly as a being. This paradigm classifies a mind – a structure capable of creating, and potentially changing, desires – as either a material or part of a person’s being, depending, in each instance, on whether or not it desires itself. Nor does a mind need to continue to exist post-creation of its desires for its desires to be recognized (indefinitely) as a being. The only inherent difference between a being with and without a mind is that the former possesses an ability to change its desires. In other words, the only way a(ny) mind’s desires can have their moral status of personhood revoked or forfeited is if their desiring mind explicitly ceases to desire these states. I propose that these assertions are logical: There can be no logical reason why any state of being should require the possession of a mind, nor why any desire should be invalidated on occasions that its desiring mind ceases to exist – whether this cessation of mind is due to material reasons, beyond one’s control, or due to one’s desire. Many contemporary societies appear to recognizes the ‘will’ of deceased persons as limited to a distribution of their material and formational states which were realized and owned by the deceased person at the time of their death. It should appear intuitively logical that all the desires of deceased persons – those which are realized and those which are not (e.g., due to material deficiency) – should be indefinitely recognized and granted morally protected status. This entitlement exists irrespective of the state of available resource, requiring that desired forms are fully realized when and whilst there is the resource and logical possibility to do so.
Consequently, a being is neither required to be ‘living,’ nor possess ‘agency,’ nor ‘intelligence,’ to be classified as a being according to Purism. A desire need not be a sensation or an experience; a desire at its most fundamental level is an expression of intent for an unconditional outcome. The assertion that there is no requirement for agency within states of personhood is incongruent with the status quo in moral theory. James Griffin (2001; 2008), for example, views that at the core of personhood is “human dignity,” comprised of “autonomy” and “liberty” – “our capacity to reflect on, to choose, and to pursue what we ourselves decide is a good life” (Griffin, 2001, p.319). Martha Nussbaum (2011) lists ten human capabilities which she believes constitute the basis of human rights within modern democracies. I will not list them here on the basis that their labels are perhaps too reductive to provide justice to the nuance within her descriptions, however they are each centred around the capabilities required to enable individual agency within most contemporary humans. Similarly, S. Matthew Liao’s (2015) Fundamental Conditions Approach considers that humans are morally due three types of fundamental conditions: 1) “fundamental goods” such as “food, water and air,” 2) “fundamental capacities” such as the capacity to “think,” “be motivated by facts,” “know,” “choose an act freely ([i.e.,] liberty),” “appreciate the worth of something,” “develop interpersonal relationships,” and “have control of the direction of one’s life ([i.e.,] autonomy),” and 3) “fundamental options” such as the availability for “social interaction,” to “acquire further knowledge,” “evaluate and appreciate things,” and “determine the direction of one’s life.” Although Liao concedes that these conditions do not guarantee a “good life,” he argues that they enable humans to pursue a “minimally decent life.” Furthermore, Kant (1875) and Alan Gewirth (1978), each separately, provide some of the most logically compelling examples to date of how rights and responsibilities can be logically derived from a priori definitions of personhood. They assert that personhood is fundamentally tied to the equivalent notions of ‘a rational being with a will’ and ‘agency,’ respectively. Whether arbitrarily selected or logically derived, the flaw in each of the above conceptions of personhood is that they are centred on agency – a characteristic which appears to offer no logical basis for logical observers to categorize as a precious state, to be protected by moral rights.
Agent-centric definitions of personhood are inadequate in providing a logically grounded moral paradigm. All conditions being equal, there can be no logical reason why the desire of a person who wants to exist forevermore in the form of a static state, without agency (e.g., as a marble statue), should not be entitled to the same material-support (i.e., resource) as a being who seeks to continually change their form (e.g., a living human being). Proponents of agent-centric theories cannot cogently counter that it was or is the agency of the person who desired the marble statue – rather than the desire itself – that provides it with ongoing moral value from the perspective of logical observers – those who intuitively believe that they should seek to protect the wishes of its creator by preserving the statue, even after its creator has departed. This is because the notion of desire as I define it herein exists as a sub-characteristic of agency according to the definitions of agency adopted by the aforementioned authors. That is, agency includes the ability to perceive (e.g., recognize and choose) and pursue states of both unconditionally sought value (i.e., desire) and conditionally sought value (i.e., need, whether real or perceived). If agency were the underlying characteristic of moral value that logical observers intuitively deemed to be precious, then the ability to perceive the need for, and pursue the satisfaction of, perceived need(s) should be valued (rather than merely the ability to have need satisfied via any means – which I argue, is the case for logical observers). If agency is precious, logical observers should consider that it would be intuitively wrong were the perception and pursuit of needs be removed (as opposed to merely satisfied).
Imagine, for example, if the technology were available for humans to undergo an operation to remove all their needs with a 100% success rate: Those who had the operation need not worry about individual or collective security because they were suddenly rendered indestructible; they need not breathe oxygen or sleep or intake vitamins and calories because they no longer need the effects that these aspects once provided their body (and whilst they no longer needed to breathe or sleep or pursue and consume food, they still could do these things if they desired to). Imagine further that a government determined that it was mandatory for its citizens to have these needs removed on the basis that there were insufficient resources to satisfy them and that conflict about how these needs should be satisfied was responsible for a large proportion of the world’s ills, including disease, famine, assault, murder and war. Citizens could still simulate experiencing these needs if they desired, however the actual need to pursue them (and for the government to provide them) no longer existed. The removal of these needs should feel intuitively wrong to observers who value the ability, that is, the agency, to perceive and pursue the satisfaction of their need(s) as an intrinsic value. With Purism, by contrast, I offer that this hypothetical government is justified and that these operations should occur – it should feel intuitively right that the need to pursue and satisfy need is removed – if and when it is safe and logically possible to do so. As will be discussed in parts two and three, this paradigm places a moral imperative for technological advancement towards this ultimate goal.
Compare this example to another world in which the technology is available to render humans such that they no longer have the capacity to desire, though they retain the ability for agency regarding material ‘choices’: Upon undergoing this operation, all the desires that humans previously pursued were removed, such as the desire for friendship, love, companionship, reading, watching theatre or anything that was purely for enjoyment. The government argues that the removal of these desires will allow each human to spend more time ‘choosing’ which needs to satisfy and pursuing the satisfaction of these needs, such as eating, sleeping and working.
The government of this other world – noting how much its citizens value agency in their lives – goes further and offers them the ability to undergo an additional medical operation to provide them with greater agency over the internal material processes or functions within their human bodies; each human would gain more ‘choices’ to make in the course of their daily lives. Processes that once occurred autonomously, often subconsciously – such as agents’ digestion, breathing, heartbeat and other complex processes – would be transferred to humans’ conscious minds such that they could now micro-manage the execution of these processes within their respective bodies (e.g., a human could choose when their heart beats on each occasion and authorize each of their cellular divisions).
I imagine that the first hypothetical medical procedure relating to the other world – involving the removal of the ability to desire – will seem deeply unsettling and counterintuitive to logical observers.
I further imagine that some readers may initially sympathize with the additional operation of the other world were it conducted in isolation from the initial operation (and thus allowing citizens to desire as normal). That is, in this contemporary era, it may superficially appear that there are occasions where humans would benefit from gaining additional agency over material processes in their bodies, as described by this further hypothetical medical operation – especially if they are each granted agency to determine the degree of agency that they possess over each of their material processes. It would appear, for example, that humans should be able to initiate the process of sleep on command, allowing them to bypass (outdated) evolutionary systems which keep them alert despite them being in a safe environment. Similarly, it may appear that humans should, in some instances, be able to deactivate or numb the sensation of pain on command, such that they do not needlessly suffer beyond the point in which an injury is registered in the minds of medical professionals. However, it is the nature of material processes themselves that requires (continual) rectification: Agents cannot logically object to material processes occurring autonomously – beyond the realm of their agency – if these processes are occurring within ideal parameters. As will be subsequently discussed in parts two and three, the nature of material processes – those which are perceived to be needed – is such that they are not true choices; they are responsibilities; they are work. Material processes are objective requirements, to be executed within specific parameters, rather than choices to be chosen by agents. In the context of any environment, in any moment, there is only one set of parameters in which any material process should operate within for optimal welfare and performance. These parameters will inevitably be opaque to different observers to varying degrees though they will conceivably be revealed with greater fidelity using future technology. It is logical that these processes are ideally initiated and governed autonomously – beyond the realm of material agency – exactly as, and when, they are needed (though people may still desire to observe and/or simulate their control over these processes).
Upon further consideration, I expect logical observers to reject the extension of human agency to include deliberation over routine material processes, rather than optimizing and automating these processes, or removing the need for these processes to occur altogether. The striving for conditionally sought (i.e., material-, that is, needs- based) outcomes should not be accepted by logical societies in the context of fundamental and universal (i.e., enduring) moral rights. As this paradigm will conclude in parts two and three, the satisfaction of the needs of people should occur, not only in conjunction with the removal of unnecessary needs, but with the avoidance of people having to attentively or consciously consider their needs – let alone pursue or work to satisfy them. Every time that a human right is framed as fundamental or universal, let it be remembered that the goal of every advanced society is to forge a world where people are granted everything they want, when they want, without having to execute a single duty or responsibility born of need, and without possessing awareness of their needs – unless they explicitly desire such. This is the ideal that any society should be striving towards, and nothing less. It is not the ability to choose, nor the ability to pursue that which is chosen, that is precious to logical observers; that which is precious is exclusively that which is unconditionally chosen (i.e., chosen as a state of desire). Logically – and, therefore, intuitively in the minds of logical observers – it is not the notion of agency that is fundamental to personhood, but rather desire – including the desire to possess agency (or not).
Until the human being is theoretically dissected into being and material, the conceptual issues with discerning ‘liberty’ from ‘anarchy’ will continue to plague moral theorists, politicians, and the general public alike. Ryan Davis, in his support of constitutivism, concludes that “we are rationally required to treat the liberty of persons as sacred” (Davis, 2016, p.28). The Purist would respond: ‘The liberty of beings – if they desire such – yes; their materials – no.’ The notion of morality – what ‘should’ or “ought” to occur (or not occur), as opposed to the “is,” (Hume, 1740) – necessarily invokes a prescription for an entity to either change or not change in order to exist within specific parameters: The aspects of an actor, object or society which are considered immoral are expected to change to become moral; the aspects that are considered moral are expected to remain unchanged. Accordingly, the being-material distinction proposed herein recognizes a fundamental difference between the purposes of entities: Some entities – specifically, materials (i.e., those entities which are perceived to be needed) – are expected to not only exist, but to act, adapt, and improve, in accordance with specific parameters dictated by contemporary conditions. Materials are intuitively viewed by logical observers to possess responsibilities, to both their respective beings and to society in general. The proposed being-material distinction recognizes that the states of materials – and only materials – should be universally expected to operate within strict parameters, requiring each of their aspects to either change or not change in any moment. Materials that are directly relied upon in any moment must not significantly change whilst fulfilling their function (e.g., humans must not violate the technical specifications required of their job, nor the broader rules of the society within which they operate; atoms must not suddenly collapse in on themselves; a human heart must continue to beat; a good government must continue to govern). And yet, all materials must also change: If a material is not assuming a state by which it could best execute its function in any moment it must immediately change to assume a (dis)position in which it is (e.g., when a human being is at work, acting in a material capacity – for a purpose of need – a logical treatment requires them to be productive, efficient, and conform to specific regulations, relating to their job and broader society; a human heart that has ceased beating must be restarted; a bad government must be rendered to become good or replaced). Beyond any immediate requirements to change their (dis)position, all materials must continually, whether immediately or later, improve or be improved (e.g., human bodies – each not designed for repetitious, precise and continuous work – must be replaced by materials which are; atoms should eventually be replaced by materials which are more stable, autonomously-acting and willing to serve beings; the structures of human hearts and good governments must continually become more decentralized, reliable and efficient).
Conversely, logical observers will intuitively recognize that other entities – specifically, states of beings (i.e., those entities which are wanted) – need not change, nor assume specific parameters, nor even exist. These unconditionally sought entities are ends themselves and thus possess no higher responsibilities and have no moral duty. For this reason, beings – whose states, by definition, are not needed to serve any higher purpose – are ideally able to assume any form. When a human being is acting in a capacity as a being, they can ideally assume any set of characteristics. This notion aligns with the well-worn concept of ‘liberty’ or ‘freedom’ (see, for example, Davis, 2016, Rawls, 2009, or any of the multiple theories and organizations espousing ‘liberty’ or ‘freedom’). By use of the term ideally, logical observers recognize that there may need to be temporary and localized limits imposed by materials, which will prevent the realization of beings’ desires from impacting others’ ends. This would involve material regulation (e.g., by individual and government bodies) of the times (i.e., when) and spaces (i.e., where) various states of beings can and cannot be expressed. This would not involve regulation of their natures (i.e., what types of being can or cannot exist in ideal conditions). Therefore, unlike Levinasian ethics (Levinas, 1998) – which precedes and is entwined within the self, and defined in relation to the ‘other’ – Purist morality is completely divorced from the ‘self’: The recognition that a desire cannot be fully realized in any moment is not an indication that the desire itself is ‘too different’ to be moral. This is so even if a specific state of desire may be too different from its contemporary societal norms to allow it to be peacefully realized at any moment. Rather, it is an indication that the contemporary materials of that particular condition are too inadequate in that particular moment to be considered moral (i.e., acceptable to society).
The aforementioned reasoning makes a small but important adjustment to Kant’s (1785) notion that human beings in their entirety should be treated as (precious) ends – a notion which has been echoed by Robert Nozick (1974; 1989) and Gewirth (1978; 1996). Rather, it is the aspects that each human respectively seeks as an end – whether these states are real or purely conceptual – that is the extent of their preciousness. In other words, it is not that human beings should be treated as ends, but rather it is that their aspects which meet the definitional criteria of beings are ends. Desires are ends, by definition – whether recognized as such by observers or not.
In addition to the notion that not all aspects of humans should be considered precious, the reasoning within this paradigm confirms the intuition of many (for example Kelly, 2014; Schwartz, 2014; Riddle, 2014; Oriel, 2014; Jürgens, 2014; Davis, 2014; Cordeiro, 2003) that there are entities beyond human beings which should be considered precious. This framework recognizes the preciousness of the desires of animals, where applicable, as differentiated from their instinctual strivings (to satisfy need). Whether or not these rights could be realistically realized in contemporary conditions is another matter, depending on the material ability to perceive and pursue the realization of these desires. The Purist definition of beings also allows for an a priori provision of rights to yet-unencountered beings (e.g., extra-terrestrial and/or Advanced Intelligence (AI)7 existing upon synthetic bodies; for examples, see Dvorsky, 2014; Cordeiro, 2003). As alluded to earlier, this framework recognizes that static forms of beings (e.g., a building with historic or personal value) may be considered as or more precious than living beings, depending on the strength by which such desires are sought.
Part Two. Purist Morality
I will now examine the unconditional value (i.e., the preciousness) of desire and the conditional value (i.e., the importance) of materials in the context of the moral8 paradigm of Purism. Within this framework, all states of beings are viewed as amoral – neither right nor wrong. I argue that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – respectively, the “ought” and “ought not” (Hume, 1740) – exists only within material conditions, and in all material conditions.
A. The amorality of beings
Believe that which you desire…
It may initially seem counterintuitive to consider that any state of any being is necessarily amoral – neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ – especially in relation to intent for violence towards or oppression of other beings. The summary response to this concern is twofold.
Firstly, there is the innocuous nature of beings themselves: The natures of the states of beings, by their definition, do not necessarily affect other states – whether these other states are material or formational in nature; and if they do, their effects are subjective.
In terms of non-necessary effects, I ask the reader to consider that it is the realization of any desire that necessitates the expenditure of resource – and, resource being a finite entity in any moment, thus objectively effects any society (i.e., all others who require resource) – not the perceived nature of any desire or form itself. An ice cream artisan will necessarily expend resource as they produce any flavor of ice cream, however each of their flavors could, in theory, potentially require the same amount of resource to produce and will eventually require negligible amounts of resource to produce as society progresses and becomes more technologically advanced. Accordingly, it is the material act of producing ice cream that necessarily effects society – and which possesses a moral value – not which types or natures of flavors the artisan desires to make. Accordingly, if an observer were to criticize the artisan for producing ‘rum and raison’ or ‘mint’ flavors of ice cream, they can only logically do so on the grounds that they believe the resource required to produce these flavors should be directed towards other flavors (e.g., strawberry or vanilla) or other desires altogether; they cannot logically object to the nature of these flavors themselves. Any objection which is made on the basis of resource expenditure is a temporary argument, noting that societal technology will eventually be able to concurrently produce all flavors of ice cream – and realize other natures of desires – with negligible expenditure of resource.
In terms of its subjectivity of effect, what may be enjoyable for one observer (whether being or material) may be frustrating or even nightmarish for another; other observers may not register any type of emotional response and just view the nature of the state analytically (e.g., in terms of how it might be objectively described in space and times). Any flavor of ice cream may illicit different responses in different observers, providing it is consumed as a formational state (i.e., for an arbitrarily sough purpose, such as for its ‘taste’ or ‘nostalgia’); the material properties of ice cream and its various flavors will, of course, illicit objective responses in observers (e.g., the nutritional profile of each flavor will provide different types of biological reactions and bodily performance compared to other flavors of ice cream and other food in general), however this is separate from the nature of their formational states (and any negative material effects can, again, be overcome or negated through technological advancement).
It is important to note that the subjective and non-necessary effects on other states relate to the natures of beings themselves, and not necessarily their (material) realization; it matters, when, when, and in some instances, to which extent, a state of desire is realized, in terms of which effects follow. My point here is that no ideal is inherently harmful. The worst desire that the observer could imagine is perfectly harmless in the mind of its originator (i.e., in relative isolation from other states); it is only once this desire is materially realized that considerations of moral (i.e., actual and objective) harm must arise.
Secondly, if the realization of any desire does objectively cause negative effects to society (e.g., if it is determined that the resource given to an artisan to make ice cream should have instead been directed to provide medical facilities in the town hospital), observers should note where the accountability for immorality lays – with materials, rather than with the natures of desires. This moral accountability may appear to be obscured in instances where there is direct incongruence between the desires of agents (e.g., person A wants to do activity ‘X’ to or with ‘person B,’ but person B either explicitly does not want X, or X is implicitly incongruent with the desires of B). This obscuration might be especially apparent in the instance of violent or morbid desires. However, logicality demands that it is the materials realizing the desires of beings in any moment which are morally accountable, not the desires themselves. More specifically, the occurrence of immorality between agents, such as the violation of beings against their desires, is always due to a failure of material(s) to limit or vary the realization of desire prior to the point in which it interferes with the realization of other beings’ desire; it remains that the natures of desires themselves cannot be ‘harmful,’ ‘wrong’ or ‘evil,’ though their natures may be spatially incompatible with each other in times and space. For example, assume person B views person A walking with their white suit and, for whatever arbitrary reason (e.g., for enjoyment, or because they subjectively find the suit to be ‘distasteful’), desires to cover A’s suit in red paint. If B is able to splash A’s actual suit contrary to A’s desire, it is the materials which both allowed and enacted this – namely, the human body of B, its sub-materials (i.e., the muscles and central nervous system), and technically even the passive nature of the materials within the red paint itself – which are morally accountable. The argument for viewing that inanimate objects can possess values of (im)morality will be discussed subsequently.
Observers will be able to conceive conditions whereby even desires which significantly deviate from contemporary social norms could be realized within limits that do not contradict the desires or material functioning across society. This may necessitate that some desires are never fully realized (e.g., limited to remain in their respective minds). In either case, the onus is on moral absolutists to argue why any state, realized in a condition of isolation, should be considered ‘immoral’ or ‘unethical’ (e.g., ‘harmful,’ ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’) in and of itself. All attempts to do so will foreseeably take one of two paths: They may consist of linking the nature of a desire to the subsequent effects which arise from the improper material realization of a desire – effects which necessarily and objectively affect others. In other words, opponents might highlight the material consequences which might arise from an ill-considered realization of desire. If so, they are no longer considering the nature of the desire itself in isolation, but rather considering the desire in the context of specific, non-universal conditions. Alternatively, these attempts may include a subjective evaluation of the state of any given desire itself: Desire A is [insert adjective] because [insert arbitrary reason]. As will become apparent, this paradigm asserts that it would be actually morally wrong, on the basis that it would be an arbitrary limitation of desire, for one to assert that any desire – a state which, by its definition, neither necessarily nor objectively affects others – should be universally prohibited or altered. The caveat to this would be if one desired to assert that another’s desire is morally wrong – that the arbitrary limitation of another was, itself, sought for arbitrary or nil purpose(s) – in which case, it too is a subjective expression of art, rather than an objective appraisal of moral truth. Whilst it is convenient to blame the source of B’s act in the example above – person B’s desire to splash A with red paint – there is nothing inherently right or wrong about B’s desire itself. In conditions where materials actively prevent the realization of desire that would violate the peace of others, there is no logical reason why B should not be able to possess the desire to splash paint on another. Such desire is a part of the identity of person B, just as A’s white suit forms part (or all) of their identity. B’s desire, as per any desire, is harmless in its own right and can be peacefully expressed if its realization is logically limited or varied to accommodate the contemporary material condition – the nature of the desire itself should not be limited or varied. The peaceful realization of B’s desire may be expressed in various forms, depending on the material resource available (e.g., the degree of societal technology). At any moment it may range from thoughts or fantasies within the mind of B, be realized as a play, movie or (re-)enactment, or realized as a simulated occurrence where B splashes a replica of A whilst believing it is the original form of A. Furthermore, there is always the possibility that A (or another being) may want to be splashed with paint in future occasions.
The notion that beings (i.e., desires) should be considered amoral – void of (im)moral value – is reinforced by the nature of what I will assert does constitute (im)moral value: I will subsequently argue that logical observers intuitively sense that morality directly relates to the probable efficiency of materials achieving a logically prioritized end (i.e., a moral material is one which pursues logical ends via logical means). If this is true, beings do not qualify to possess a moral value by their definition – they are specifically sought for an arbitrary purpose (or nil purpose), not a logical purpose. The absence or arbitrariness of the purpose for which they are sought ensures that their states are neither right nor wrong, that is, neither efficient nor inefficient at achieving an end. Rather, beings are ends themselves – even if their states are sought as means to other ends.9 On the basis of the absence or arbitrariness of purpose for which they are sought, the value of any being can only be evaluated subjectively by other beings, if evaluated by other beings at all. Desire which appears repugnant to one being may be welcomed by another. A being’s desire to wear a white suit for arbitrary purpose is neither right or wrong, moral nor immoral; it may however be perceived and judged by the subjective standards of other beings (e.g., ‘ugly’ or ‘attractive’). By contrast, the value of any being can and should be evaluated objectively by any material, as I will discuss in the following sections.
Let us now consider if the action sought by person B in the above example – to splash person A with red paint – were sought by B for a material purpose, rather than being desired as an end in itself. As such, the same act would not, by definition, be sought by actor10 B for arbitrary or nil purpose (e.g., enjoyment), but rather, the act would occur either as an (unsought) accident, or as a perceived means of rendering the world in the image of how the actor (B) believes it needs to be. Let us assume that it is not an accident and that actor B believes that they need to splash person A with paint (as a perceived means to some other purpose, such as ‘making the world a better place’). For example, B is an activist, protesting against A’s white suit, which they perceived to be constructed from animal fur. In this instance, both the thought and action of splashing A with paint would each serve a material purpose and B would be acting overall in a material capacity, or specifically, the components of B which embody these purposes would be considered to be materials. In the spirit of Levinasian ethics – whereby merely existing has an ethical value – both the act and the plan to act for such a purpose can be considered to possess a moral value because each necessarily and objectively affects other states.11 There are only a finite number of materials at any moment, and a fewer number which are capable of actively working to realize the desires of beings. When someone possesses beliefs and/or actions of one nature, they are reducing their capacity to concurrently believe and/or act in another capacity; there is a finite quantity of beliefs that any actor can hold, and finite actions that they can take, in any moment – especially if the actor refuses to hold incongruent beliefs and/or take actions which are incongruent to their beliefs. Accordingly, because material thoughts and actions are a finite resource – a means of realizing desire – the nature of each material thought and action affects each member of society, not just those directly involved (in this example, actors A and B). Society benefits when material thoughts and actions are appropriate (i.e., moral), and it suffers when they are inappropriate (i.e., immoral). I will explore the concept of ‘(im)morality’ subsequently, yet for now the reader can recognize the objective and necessary affect that each (finite) material action or thought has on society – each either will or will not maximize the benefit or ‘good’ within society. If a material thought or action of covering another in paint is immoral (i.e., inappropriate or ‘wrong’) then no one benefits. In this example, one actor (A) gets covered in paint against their will, which will require societal resource to rectify,12 and the actor completing the act (B) gets no personal gain (noting that they did not want to complete their material act). Society misses out on the benefits of a ‘right’ action, as the time and energy used to think and act in this instance could have been directed so that beings A, B, C or D could have had their desires realized; society also pays for the consequences of the wrong action, expressed as the material cost to rectify the condition.
I will conclude this section by reiterating what is perhaps the most counter-intuitive aspect of this proposed paradigm. Irrespective of the nature of each desire, in any condition, it is the materials which realize (i.e., support and enact) or fail to realize (i.e., limit or vary) these desires that are morally accountable. All desires are amoral – neither right, nor wrong.
B. Material (im)morality
…but that which you believe is needed must be logical.
In the prior discussion I have offered that materials are important – from the perspective of logical observers, and should be considered so, by all observers – to the degree, and for the duration, that they each satisfy the needs of beings. Because material states (e.g., atoms, molecules, government, human bodies, and other infrastructures which serve our contemporary needs) are needed to serve as means to an end, all materials can be viewed to possess objective requirements that they must satisfy at any moment. These requirements relate to both the purpose that a material is striving to achieve – whether they are consciously aware of this purpose or not – and the means that they use to achieve their purpose. I argue that logical observers intuitively recognize that materials must employ logical means towards realizing a logical purpose. It is this requirement (i.e., duty or responsibility) – for materials to act logically, to possess logicality – that is viewed intuitively by logical observers as the notion of ‘morality’ – what should occur in any given condition.
There is no universal definition of ‘logic.’ Rather, there are many various types (e.g., modal, mathematical, philosophical; Ayer, 1946; Maddy, 2012; Putnam, 1972, Dauben, 1990; Carnielli & Coniglio, 2016, Aristotle’s Metaphysics). Some (e.g., Schick, 1966; Coons, 1987) have argued that the various types of logic are broadly connected by the notion of consistency. I (Primus, 2019, 2020) view the two terms – logicality and consistency – as synonyms. The elusiveness of universal or widely accepted definitions of these concepts is largely inconsequential to the success of this paradigm. I use the terms ‘logicality’ and ‘consistency’13 synonymistically in this paradigm to describe the essence of objectivity – a natural, default state that exists when arbitrariness or subjectivity is absent. In the spirit of Coons (1987) and Schick’s (1966) indirect definition of consistency, I negatively define logicality (i.e., consistency) – the property of being logical (i.e., consistent) – as the absence of arbitrary, if any, difference (i.e., variance and/or limitation) within a condition.
I will now briefly detail the requirements of a logical material purpose and means, noting that they are characterized by an absence of arbitrariness.
B.1. Logical purpose
For the purposes of this article, a purpose is defined as the ultimate (i.e., most distal or final) state towards which a material strives. A purpose might otherwise be referred to as an outcome, endstate or goal. A logical material (e.g., government or human body) recognizes that the unconditionally sought nature of beings is intrinsically more valuable than the conditionally sought nature of materials, and strives to realize the states of beings without arbitrary limitation or variation of their desired state(s). In other words, it should seem intuitively logical that states of greater definition should be prioritized beyond states of lesser definition – states which are temporarily sought as a means to more-defined states, if sought at all. Similarly, it should seem intuitively illogical (i.e., arbitrary) if any material were to strive to limit or vary the realizations of the desires of beings as their ultimate purpose, that is, for the sake of doing so in the absence of a higher, logical reason to do so.
I offer that a material (e.g., government or human body) is immoral to the degree that it arbitrarily limits or varies the states of beings, and specifically, it is immoral in purpose to the degree that it strives to do so. A government possessing an immoral purpose, for example, may strive to universally and permanently prevent their citizens from wearing brightly-colored clothing, for arbitrary reason (e.g., because “they say so” or because of a “sacred” text). This is not to be conflated with conditions where a moral government needs to conditionally prevent some of its citizens (e.g., military members) from wearing brightly-colored clothing as a logical means of achieving its purposes (e.g., due to the need for uniformity or to be camouflaged).
In striving to serve the ideals of beings, therefore, the realization of beings’ desires may need to be conditionally (i.e., locally14 and temporarily) limited or varied for logical reasons. These logical reasons may be purpose-related, that is, relating to the ultimate conditional (i.e., a posteriori-derived) outcome or endstate that a material is striving to achieve in any moment (e.g., if the wants of person A conflict with the wants of person B, it is logical that the realization of A’s wants should be limited prior to the point that they interfere with B). They may also be means-related (e.g., if there is insufficient resource to realize the wants of all beings at any moment, it is logical that the realization of the wants of beings must be limited or varied).
In addition to striving to realize the states of beings without arbitrarily limitation or variation, I propose that a material pursuing a logical purpose will logically prioritize its service to beings (in conditions where prioritization is needed). If prioritization between or within beings is required to occur (e.g., due to a shortage of resource or where beings’ desires are incompatible), a logical material will prioritize resource to the greater strength of desire. For the purposes of this article, the strength by which a state is desired or wanted is a product of the intensity and the duration of a desire. All other conditions being equal, I offer that it would be illogical for any material (e.g., government) to allocate a person something they do not want, especially when there is another person who does want what is being offered. This same principle is extended to degrees of desire when multiple people desire the same entity: All other conditions being equal, it would be logical to allocate the entity to the person who has wanted, and likely will continue to want, the entity for the greatest intensity, for the longest duration of time. In other words, for the same reason that the unconditionally sought states of beings should be viewed as being intrinsically more valuable than materials, observers should recognize that states of desire which are sought with a greater degree of desire (in space), over a greater duration (in time), exist with greater (metaphysical) definition across times and space.
Not only should it intuitively seem more logical in a prescriptive sense to prioritize states which are more defined across space and times, it should intuitively seem more logical in a conceptual sense, in terms of possibility. A sought state which is relatively undefined across space (e.g., desire for a ‘squarish-circle’ or a ‘circleish-square’) is difficult to realize in the absence of a clearly defined purpose to strive towards. In attempting to realize the former, a material must decipher whether a ‘squarish-circle’ is a square with rounded vertices or a square and a circle integrated together in some other way. Similarly, a desire which is relatively undefined across times (e.g., a ‘square in the process of changing into a circle’) also presents difficulties for materials attempting to objectively realize its state(s) in any moment. Factors affecting the metaphysical definition by which desires exist shall be explored in subsequent articles.
Finally, a material embodying a logical purpose recognizes that any state of desire should be morally attributed to (i.e., conceptually owned and alterable by) a maximum of one mind at any moment. If two or more minds desire to co-create a state of art, then ideally each aspect of their contribution should be recorded and designated to their respective minds, such that each mind has the exclusive moral authority to change or retain what they have contributed. Alternatively, the entire state of desire should be replicated to exist for each of the co-creators, such that each mind can take a divergent direction of creation as they desire. This is logically necessary to avoid moral impasses in which one co-creator wants to change or retain one aspect of a shared creation whilst another seeks a divergent or opposite outcome, each potentially with the same strength of desire.
B.2. Logical means
For the purposes of this article, a means is defined as the immediate and intermediate states that an entity assumes in order to achieve a purpose. A logical material will continually assume states which will probably most efficiently achieve its purpose. A material state which will probably most efficiently achieve a given purpose is necessarily void of arbitrary variance or limitation within its structures and actions (whether real or conceptual). Any such arbitrariness – whether expressed through material action or within a material’s structure – would produce inefficiency.
B.2.1. Logical action
Logicality of means is partly the function of the action (or inaction) taken by a material in any moment. Accordingly, even a government or human body which has a logical purpose (i.e., they strive to logically prioritize realization of the desires of beings without arbitrary limitation or variation) can act immorally (i.e., illogically) “towards” (or away from) their purpose on account of their means. Such a body should be considered to be acting with a degree of immorality to the extent that their actions “towards” their purpose would probably be arbitrary, and thus a waste of resource.
Whilst the specific nature of logical action will vary depending on the purpose and the immediate conditions of any material, all logical actions possess properties which are relatively indifferent, that is, consistent, whilst interacting with other logical material action(s) and structures possessing the same purpose. More specifically, the properties within any logical act are not of too greater difference across too lesser period of time within the space of any interaction, lest they prevent the properties of other logical state(s) of the same purpose from adapting to such change during such interactions. In addition to being relatively indifferent towards other logical acts of the same purpose, a logical act may possess properties which produce states of relative difference (i.e., too much difference too soon) whilst interacting with states possessing opposing or divergent purposes, or states employing illogical or less-logical means whilst striving for the same purpose. Put more simply, a logical material may need to generate an action whose force (e.g., quantity and/or velocity) creates change within (the structures of) divergent states which is too much too soon for their (structures within these) states to adapt, forcing their capitulation. The ability to act to produce sudden change is necessary to realign or destroy states that are enemies of, or which pose a threat to, logicality.
The recognition that logical materials will necessarily possess the ability to assume states of relative indifference – during interactions with allied or supporting materials – and relative difference – during interactions with enemies or unsupportive material (i.e., entities with a divergent or indifferent purpose) – recognizes the practicality of materials interacting whilst entangled together to varying degrees within any condition. It would not be realistic to prescribe, for example, that a material should not interact with another without a logical reason on the basis that materials in proximity with each other are continually interacting (e.g., ‘contacting’ each other) to varying degrees. Human bodies will routinely interact with each other with exhaled breath or through the emission of their bodily heat signatures – it is only that the contact occurs as a very small quantity and velocity of change at any one moment in time that renders it to be considered innocuous. A similar standard of acceptability applies to other acts within a societal condition. The deliberate discarding of a tree-branch in natural forest, would probably not be considered littering because it is not too different from its natural surroundings in type and quantity (i.e., there are other branches in the forest); the discarding of one thousand tree branches or one metal pole in a forest in any moment would probably be considered an act of littering, on the basis of this quantity and type being too different from their conditions (i.e., the forest), respectively.
In addition to the ability to generate relative difference in relation to potential enemies and relative indifference when interacting with allied entities, a logical (re)action requires:
a) a clearly defined and objectifiable purpose to strive towards;
b) that the action (i.e., means used) must probably tangibly – whether directly or indirectly – contribute to the achievement of said purpose;
and – in order to determine if the purposes are/were tangible and reasonably achieved their purpose –
c) a method of observing the effects and/or the outcome – lest another entity or effect be spuriously attributed to the effect, or lest it be unknowable whether the required outcome was achieved (and consequently there being no indication of whether the act was logical or not, as a guide for future actions).
The aforementioned requirements for logical material action – to be a) toward a clearly defined purpose, b) of probable ability to tangibly affect their purpose and c) observable in outcome – may bring resolve to contemporary moral queries: The moral distinction between terrorism and legitimate violence; the moral distinction between torture and the legitimate use of pain to gain compliance, and the relationship between “intentions” (i.e., will or purpose) and moral permissibility (see for example, Quinn, 1989; Heuer, 2015; Liao, 2012; Scanlon, 2008; Lillehammer, 2010; Markovits, 2010; Kolodny, 2011; Wedgwood, 2011a, 2011b). Purism’s contribution comes as a deconstruction of “intention,” in terms of an actor’s purpose (Quinn, 1989; Scanlon, 2008), and closer examination of “logicality” or “rationality,” in terms of their means (Quinn, 1989; Heuer, 2015; Liao, 2012).
As discussed, the framework herein offers that a true intention – a desire, sought for arbitrary, if any, purpose and void of perceived need – has no bearing on the (im)morality of an act, nor any value of (im)morality itself. Conversely, the determination or “will” to execute a material act – specifically, the selection of a material purpose by an active material (e.g., human or government) – is morally accountable, as is the efficiency – the selected means – of the action itself. Each are immoral to the degree that they are probably arbitrary for the purposes of peacefully realizing the desires of beings.
There is, therefore, a discernable difference between the degree of probable arbitrariness of the means of the ‘Terror Bomber’ in comparison to a ‘Strategic Bomber’ in Warren Quinn’s (1989) hypothetical example. Quinn’s notion of a Strategic Bomber is a pilot whose chosen means of warfare is to bomb a civilian arms factory during a conventional war; in doing so, he will incidentally, yet knowingly, kill ten civilians, for a ‘good’ purpose (i.e., to end the war). Quinn’s Terror Bomber, by contrast, is a pilot whose chosen means is to deliberately and primarily kill ten civilians in order to ‘demoralize’ society and put pressure on their government to end the war, also in pursuit of the same (‘good’) purpose – to end the war. The difference is the generally unobservable primary effect of the Terror Bomber’s means – ‘demoralization’ – combined with the probable intangibility of achieving its secondary effect – the notion that ‘demoralization,’ even if achieved, may not apply adequate or any pressure (i.e., leverage) on the government, meaning that the civilian deaths would probably be for naught. The effect of ‘demoralization’ is an ambiguous and difficult to observe outcome. It is difficult to know if the raid has been successful (i.e., efficient) – especially compared to the Strategic Bombing, whose destruction is observable and whose success more objectively calculable. In the case of the Strategic Bomber, future acts can be rendered more efficient based on each bombing (e.g., future bombings can be completed more precisely – and potentially with less wastage of life – through modifications to the bombing process after observing their impact), and the bombing campaign can be swiftly halted if or when it is deemed to have achieved its purpose. Furthermore, the destruction of an arms factory will very probably tangibly degrade the enemy’s war effort, whereas – as per Nazi Germany’s bombing of British civilian targets in World War II – even a sustained campaign of Terror Bombing is unlikely to cause a large, established government to surrender, let alone an isolated bombing causing ten casualties. This unobservability (i.e., lack of verifiability) and intangibility of means to affect their purpose, renders the Terrorist Bomber’s act to be less-logical than the Strategic Bomber’s act. Logical observers viewing Quinn’s (1989) hypothetical should intuitively view the Terror Bomber’s act as a waste of life on the basis that it will probably not achieve their outcomes, and because its outcomes are ill-defined and difficult to observe and thus verify if they were indeed logical (i.e., successful in achieving their purpose of ending the war).
The requirements implementing a logical means – clarity of purpose, tangibility of means and observability of outcome – may also explain why torture is intuitively considered immoral by logical observers. It is not the infliction of “great pain,” as offered by Liao (2015), nor the loss of agency, as offered by Griffin (2008), but rather the lack of an objective and clearly defined purpose, an intangibility of the torture method or selected victim(s), and a lack or absence of verifiability of the success of the torture. Police officers, for example, routinely apply techniques to create “great pain” and/or deny agency in the course of their duty, and yet these acts cannot reasonably be considered torture. A police officer could, with moral justification, inflict great pain (e.g., the contorting of an uncooperative detainee’s finger backwards or the use of pressure points) if it were probably the most efficient way of gaining compliance that would result in a clearly defined and observable outcome of peace (e.g., forcing the suspect to drop their weapon during a struggle). The dropping of a weapon is a clearly defined and observable goal by which the officer can cease inflicting pain; the officer could not legitimately use the same pain infliction techniques towards an ambiguous, unobservable or less urgent purpose (e.g., “tell me everything you know about your criminal empire and the pain will stop”). Furthermore, the infliction of pain on the suspect holding the gun is a tangible use of pain as leverage; the police officer could not legitimately apply the same techniques on one of the relatives of the suspect holding the gun in the hope that it will indirectly put adequate leverage on the suspect to comply. To do so should instill the same intuitive response that accompanies acts of terrorism – that any pain and damage inflicted is senseless because of the inadequate or non-existent leverage between the targeted victim(s) and the goal for which they were targeted.
B.2.2. Logical structure
In addition to logical action, logicality of means is also partly the function of a material’s (organizational) structure. Whilst the forms of future beings are difficult to predict, I assert that we can predict the structural evolution of societal material as it undergoes logical, technological progression to be rendered more efficient at achieving its (need-based) purposes. I argue that to improve at executing their purposes in accordance with the expectation of logical observers, the logical path of materials is to perpetually become more adaptive (i.e., active15 and variable) in function, smaller in size, more plentiful in quantity, and more simplified, stable and homogenous in structure (i.e., composed of fewer levels of sub-materials16 and of greater independence17 from, and interoperability with, each other, in terms of their structural design). Due to space restrictions within this article, and perhaps the sheer simplicity and obviousness of each assertion itself, I will not thoroughly defend here why I assert that it is logical that this, and only this, structural reform leads to greater efficiency. As an example of this self-evidence, it should appear intuitively logical that: Multiple bodies can produce more work than a single body of the same nature; more bodies can operate in any one space if they are smaller; bodies, even if serving a shared purpose, should not be structurally entangled with, or dependent on, each other by nature of their means, wherever possible – allowing each to continue operating if others fail and/or change their structure and (dis)position in space to meet the demands of revised purposes and dynamically changing conditions.
The natural design of human hearts, for example – categorized as materials, because they are needed (i.e., a means to the higher purpose of pumping blood around the human body) – logically should not remain as they currently are: Singular to each human body, passive in nature, and relatively complex (Hill, 2020) and unstable in structure (heart failure is an epidemic in this era; Groenewegen, Rutten, Mosterd & Hoes, 2020). They are comprised of many sub-materials (e.g., arteries, valves, cells) which are each prone to malfunction, and they have no self-reboot backup system should they suddenly cease pumping (n.b., most ice cream shops across society are fitted with backup generators to preserve the temperature of the ice cream in case the power supply is unexpectedly cutoff, as are many other businesses in many other industries; and yet, human beings do not each possess integrated backup hearts or defibrillators to preserve themselves). Each heart could also be continually redesigned to pump more efficiently. If we follow a logical path of progression, for the duration that blood is needed to circulate throughout human bodies, the future cardiovascular system of humans should be continually redesigned such that they are ever-more decentralized; there should be multiple hearts throughout the body (e.g., first there was one, then perhaps two, then five, then eventually ten, and so on – each becoming smaller as more are added); hearts should also become ever more active – automatically sensing how much blood they should pump and where; they will be more efficient (i.e. pump more blood using less energy); they will be more-simply designed (i.e. composed of fewer layers of sub-materials and working-components, e.g. less valves and chambers) and thus will be less prone to sudden stoppage; they will be able to restart or self-repair themselves if they do suddenly malfunction. Beyond this, we can anticipate that there will exist a time when hearts are unnecessary because blood cells themselves can be redesigned to actively propel themselves around human bodies to where they are most needed (whilst in communication with each other and other organs in the body).
The moral requirement for logicality within the states of materials – resulting in the prohibition of material alteration or limitation of the natures of beings – necessitates that beings and materials exist and operate in concerted, yet parallel, realms. Materials must be structured such that the nature of beings – especially including their culture, ideology and political views – is unable to interfere with the required logicality (i.e., impartiality or apoliticality) of their operation, and vice versa. Materials must not be able to change or interfere with the nature of beings, unless such is explicitly desired. The need for parallelization of beings and material is already intuitively recognized by modern societies with the contemporary notion of the need for separation of ‘church’ and ‘State.’ This concept, extended to its fullest conclusion, entails the need for separation of politics (i.e., opinion, subjectivity, culture) from the morally mandated apoliticality (i.e., logicality, consistency) of materials. This imperative necessitates that governments be properly structured with sufficient transparency to identify, rectify and safeguard against not just isolated instances of corruption, but systemic occurrences of politics (i.e., opinion concerning governance); every government policy and action should be logically justifiable.
In conforming to the need for parallelization, media and social media organizations must decide whether they are to be material or formational in nature, that is, a logical source of information in service of the public need or a source of entertainment serving the public desire – each either a means to the free society that we are trying to build, or an end that is an expression of freedom in itself: The ultimate reason why all the rules and laws in society exist, and whose successful expression serves as an indicator that the materials of society are operating within moral parameters. In the immediate interim, whilst these organizations exist as entangled hybrid states, they should clearly classify the nature of their individual outputs. Media outlets, publishers and individual authors should classify whether each program or article is for material or entertainment purposes. Social media organizations should facilitate and mandate that all users classify the nature of their posts, whilst regulating the content of users’ posts according to their classification. Programs, articles and posts of a material nature must be logical in content and presentation, striving to efficiently assist people’s needs. They might be restricted to contain information from verified experts in their subject matter fields (e.g., scientists, educators and officials from government agencies), and must be void of false or inflated news, clickbait, politics or propaganda. Formational programs, articles and posts, by contrast, can include all these aspects and should ideally be vessels of free expression – on the condition that said expression does not arise for a purpose of perceived need (to change or influence the material nature of the world).
The need for parallelization is not limited to separation in a figurative sense (i.e., it is not limited to the conceptual organization and structure of society, in terms of government, organizations and corporations); it must also occur in a literal (i.e., physical) sense, such that material and formational structures are clearly discernable from each other and do not directly interfere with the nature of each other’s states. In this era, for example, the human larynx is a structure capable of both material and artistic expression at various moments in time; when an individual makes a provocative statement, it is not always apparent for which category of purpose said expression exists. In a future of (techno)logical progression, it is inevitable that beings and their materials will each be (re)designed to communicate via different and incompatible pathways. This will prevent information in their respective expressions from directly interacting with each other, thereby reducing the possibility for confusion and influence between these categories of expression. In such a future, the human mouth would be only used for formational expression, along with the remainder of the human form; human bodies – if their forms are desired – would exist purely as (aesthetic) art forms, unburdened with no need to execute material functions as they do in this era. Material communication between and within bodies would occur below the threshold of beings’ perception. There is no need for beings to speak the same language as, nor even be consciously aware of, the materials communicating with each other in support of their forms. This is similar to the way in which information subconsciously transits throughout the human bodies of this era to enable the operation of their internal bodily functions (e.g., via electrical and chemical signaling which is automatic and imperceptible to the conscious human mind).
C. Provisional and absolute morality
The concepts of provisional and absolute morality recognize and address the aforementioned expectation for states of material to act within specific parameters in the immediate moment and yet also eventually change (or be changed) to better execute their functions in future moments. Accordingly, the above examples of logicality – of government policy not arbitrarily limiting citizens, of government and human bodies not wasting resources – each concern what I describe as ‘provisional morality.’ Provisional morality encompasses the states that active (i.e., autonomous or agential) materials (e.g., human and government bodies) should immediately assume within any given condition to render said condition provisionally or relatively moral. That is, the condition is still recognized as being imperfect (i.e., it is less than an absolutely moral, ideal world) though logical observers would view that the condition is as moral as is logically possible in that given moment considering the resources available within said condition. Put more simply, ‘(provisional) morality’ describes a disposition which can and should be adopted by a material entity possessing agency in any moment to produce the most moral outcome possible, given their limited means. Because the term ‘provisional morality’ aligns with the general concept of morality (i.e., what an agent must do or not do in any moment) it can be used synonymously with the term ‘morality’ in general discourse.
Concurrent to the need for autonomous material entities to act morally in any immediate condition, this paradigm recognizes that it is the presence of an imperfect world in the first instance which necessitates that autonomous entities must make moral decisions and actions which prioritize the states of beings against each other. Materials, if they were perfectly logical, would efficiently serve (e.g., perform, protect, progress) the states of beings with no residual (i.e., wastage) of resource and without needing to prioritize the state of any one being over the state of another due to material deficiency. The nature of a less-than-perfect reality is particularly impactful when materials are forced to hastily and crudely prioritize the realization of beings’ desires because of vastly inadequate or insufficient resources. In a perfect or near-perfect world, such decisions are unnecessary. Accordingly, in addition to the requirement for agents to assume provisionally moral states to decide upon immediate material direction (e.g., which material should be prioritized or which policy should be adopted in any moment), there is logically also a continual and ever-present impetus for materials to make broader improvements to the moral fabric of their society. These improvements will inevitably occur at various points in time as provisionally moral acts (i.e., when it is deemed logical for a material to improve the broader condition of their society, this will be the provisionally moral state for that material in their immediate moment). As per the progression described above, materials must gradually and eventually render both the inanimate and active materials in their society to be increasingly more abundant, proactive and efficient in their nature. These changes will ultimately create a material condition which reduces the societal need to react to and hastily decide upon moral impasses between the bodies of beings, and which is more conducive for making optimal moral decisions (e.g., by ensuring that any moral decisions that do need to occur are informed by the input of more timely, accurate and relevant data, actively supplied by entities within the condition).
For example, there has been much debate as to what the human actor should do in Judith Jarvis Thomson’s (1976) ‘Trolley Problem.’ A trolley is out of control and headed towards a group of five people, while a human bystander has the option of intervening and diverting the trolley towards an individual person, or not intervening and letting the five people die.18 In the (Purist) paradigm that I am offering, each material action (or inaction) possesses a value of provisional (im)morality, as does the process of considering what (in)action should be taken, as do the beliefs that are formed as a result of said process. However, much less discussion has focused on the moral requirement for humans to (eventually) improve the degree of absolute morality within the broader condition. The condition in this example would include the nature of the trolley itself, the road, the weather, and all observers, including their decision-making ability. Recognition of a moral onus to change any state, whether immediately or in the future, begins with recognition that the state itself is not ideal (i.e., less than absolutely moral). The trolley should not be out of control; this is a societal failure. Whilst it may have seemed counter-intuitive to earlier categorize the passive materials within the red paint thrown by person B (which allows it to splash person A) as ‘immoral,’ these materials are more accurately considered to be ‘provisionally moral’ though also ‘less-than-absolutely moral’ (i.e., immoral according to absolute standards). This distinction acknowledges that the paint could not have acted with any greater degree of morality in that moment – it is a passive entity after all. However, the state of the red paint thrown by person B and the body of person B are still recognized as inadequate and thus non-ideal. In comparison to absolute morality, they each exist as and in an immoral condition which must be improved eventually (i.e., when it is logical to do so). It is logical that the materials within the red paint of person B and indeed other passive materials can, and should, eventually be improved such that they are active in nature. In a far distant future, they would hence possess the ability to recognize, and logically prioritize, the desire of beings A and B. This would allow them to potentially prevent B from splashing A with paint in the earlier example, or limiting the action at the last safe moment, to maximize the net realization of desire. Thomson’s (1976) passive trolley, the passive tracks that it travels on and the passive switchbox which controls the changing of tracks are each no different; assuming they are not first rendered materially obsolete, they each have an eventual moral responsibility to have multiple fail-safes incorporated into their design in case of emergencies and to actively make informed moral decisions should those fail-safes fail.
A notable implication of this paradigm is the notion that a lack or absence of determinability of individual agency presents no obstacle to the imposition of moral values upon the material world, towards which material entities are expected to strive. The same treatment applies to both agents and inanimate objects who deviate from their moral responsibilities – no blame is assigned. Rather, the label of ‘immoral(ity)’ indicates the existence of a non-ideal state – an absence of absolute morality – which must be improved, rehabilitated, destroyed or controlled. Thus, for as long as there is a nail that needs to be hammered, a tool manufacturer has a responsibility to design and manufacture a hammer that will probably most efficiently hammer in a nail when used according to its design; a hammer and its sub-materials have a responsibility to maintain their structural integrity when used according to the hammer’s design; the body of the person using the hammer has a responsibility to employ it logically (i.e., efficiently) towards their purpose; there is a societal responsibility – resting with the most logical material (e.g., the largest coordinating material, such as a government or not-for-profit organization) – to eventually oversee the manufacture of nails that automatically drive themselves into the materials that they need to bind, or to invent materials that need not be hammered together – whichever invention it determines is the most logical to create at that moment in time. If any of the above events do not occur – including if society continues to use hammers and nails beyond the time at which safer, more efficient technology is available (noting the need to drive in nails in this example, not the desire to do so) – logical observers should consider it to be wrong. Anything less than the occurrence of these outcomes is a state of immorality, representing a material failure. The use of the term ‘immoral’ does not assign blame to the hammer, nor its maker, nor its user; it merely denotes that the state is non-ideal and must be changed (e.g., repaired, re-skilled/educated, technologically improved) at a time, and in a method, that is logical to do so.
The recognition of an absolute moral value for all materials and an operational (i.e., provisional) moral value for those with agency relates back to the fundamental differentiation between the purposes of beings and materials. The former need not change – each is ideal as they are; the latter need to continually change (i.e., improve), to better serve the former. Materials will always fall short of the transcendental ideal of absolute efficiency (i.e., achieving their purpose with nil residual wastage of resource). That is, all materials – whether government or human bodies, conventional trollies, automated trolleys, or the passive red paint described earlier – will always be immoral by absolute standards (i.e., less than absolutely moral) to the degree that they are inefficient (i.e., less-than-ideal) at achieving their purposes. An implicit consequence of the expectation for materials to maximize the realization of beings’ desires, through efficient service, is the requirement for all materials to gradually and eventually be advanced technologically. This is to ensure their continued existence (and the existence of the beings they serve), and to excel at their purpose (and excel at serving beings).
Part Three. Fundamental and Conditional Rights and Responsibilities
The expectation by logical observers that materials should logically strive to serve the states of beings – as detailed in part two – can be viewed in terms of rights and corresponding responsibilities to realize rights. For the purposes of this article, a right is a moral entitlement to the realization of a particular state. A responsibility or duty is a moral requirement to facilitate (e.g., oversee or work towards) the realization of a particular state. In accordance with the discussion of part two, all materials possess responsibilities – irrespective of whether or not they are conscious of these duties in any moment. Some may possess rights over (i.e., to the exclusion or detriment of) other materials in order to enact these responsibilities. All rights granted to materials are necessarily conditional – dependent on the degree to which their willingness, ability and (dis)position in space enables them to serve beings and other materials in their environment, in any moment – rather than being intrinsic or fundamental in nature, across times.
The amoral nature of beings – discussed in part two – grants that beings intrinsically possess rights and no responsibilities. The rights which are fundamental to any state of being – each logically necessary, due to being derived directly from the definition of said state – are unconditional (i.e., universal) in their entitlement across times and space. Beings further possess conditional (i.e., transient or nonuniversal) rights. These rights, although ultimately derived from their fundamental rights, are localized across space and times (i.e., applicable to the present and immediate moments in time and relating to particular beings’ desires across space). In congruence with part two, beings may possess conditional rights over other beings, based on a logical prioritization of their desire in that moment (e.g., the right for a being to be provided resource, to the exclusion of another being’s access to resource, based on a greater desire). Similarly, beings may possess conditional rights to specific materials (e.g., the right to the biological materials within their respective human body or the right to metamorphic rock, commonly known as ‘marble’) on the basis that these specific materials will, in the present moment and/or into the near future, probably most efficiently realize the needs specific to their desire (e.g., to live in the form of a human or to possess a marble statue). These rights are necessarily conditional; in future eras, assuming the logical progression of societal materials, the right to be served by specific materials will inevitably disappear as they become obsolete and counter-productive in the context of an integrated, peaceful material society (i.e., as their human and statue forms are eventually rendered using more advanced materials which can simulate human features and marble as one of their many functions, and which can actively integrate with other materials across society).
A. The right to peace
The moral responsibility for material to assume logical states – to embody logicality in structure and action, purpose and means – can be alternatively viewed as a fundamental or unconditional right of beings. As discussed in part two, the embodiment of logicality mandates that materials assume states which will probably most efficiently realize the maximum quantity of beings’ desire, with prioritization to states of greatest definition across times and space. Extrapolating this requirement, beings, therefore, can be viewed to possess the right, granted by logic, to have (the maximum quantity of) their desires realized (where such realization is prioritized according to the greatest strength of desire, and where such realization is autonomously and discretely performed by materials operating parallel to (i.e., whose logicality is unable to be affected by) the forms of beings, and where such realization is only limited or varied for logical, if any, reasons). Put more simply, beings have the right to have their desires realized. This – as highlighted through the use of text remaining outside parentheses – is the purpose of the right. Within parentheses I have explicitly outlined the means by which this outcome would be logically achieved. I succinctly describe this material requirement as a beings’ right to ‘peace.’
Peace is an a posteriori-derived, idealistic state towards which the materials of any society must strive to provide in any moment. All agents in any state of peace will necessarily assume states of provisional morality in any moment (lest they, by definition, fail to achieve peace). Despite being an idealistic or ideal-like state, each iteration of peace will by no means be a ‘perfect’ state – each may be far from ideal, depending on the material (in)adequacy in any condition. A state of peace in the deep future – assuming that contemporary societies continue to progress logically – would be near-perfect. Such a state would exist with an abundance of technologically advanced resource. The abundance (i.e., quantity) and level of technological advancement (i.e., quality) of materials would significantly overmatch the quantity and complexity of beings’ desires. Only a small proportion of the available societal materials would be performing (i.e., directly realizing) the desires of beings at any one moment, whose needs would essentially be fully-catered for. Beings would generally consider that their desires were fully realized in any moment, though the quality (e.g., the speed and the resolution) by which their forms are rendered would continue to be improved across times. The majority of materials, not involved in the performance (i.e., direct realization) of beings’ desires, would be dedicated to the continual progression (i.e., technological advancement) of their own structures. Each material would preserve the internal order of their physical structure (e.g., by resupplying their own energy needs, and executing internal repairs and maintenance of their structure), independently and autonomously (e.g., without reliance on external structures, or the sharing of materials between materials – as is unfortunately required by the materials of the contemporary and past eras). Each material would provide and receive continual direction to and from each other material, maintaining social order through use of a structurally homogenized, decentralized means (i.e., multitudes of near-identical individual cells, each autonomously) acting towards a centralized, singular, clearly defined purpose (i.e., peace).
Griffin (2008) objects that there can be a right to everything necessary for a good or happy life, on the basis that a right to ‘everything’ would supposedly render the notion of rights redundant (Griffin, 2008; Tasioulas, 2010; Liao, 2015). On the contrary, the right of beings to have everything they desire, when they desire, for as long as they desire is a moral entitlement which transcends times. Peace should be considered a fundamental right of beings on the basis that it is wholly encapsulated by the definition of beings themselves. Beings, by definition, exist exclusively as states of desire; peace, by definition, merely provides for the maximum realization of beings across times and space. The inclusion of the term ‘maximum’ overcomes Griffin’s (2008) ‘redundancy objection’ by explicitly detailing that the provision of the purpose of the right – beings getting what they want, when they want, for as long as they want – must only occur to the highest degree that is logically possible in any moment. Future societies will conceivably create material conditions in which, across the best of times, everything necessary for a good or happy life can be simultaneously provided to all beings. Across other times, as per this era, everything necessary may be unavailable to all beings – though without a material ‘ideal’ to strive towards, these rights might never be fully or partially realized for those who are morally entitled. It is a mistake to view the inherently universal nature of fundamental rights through the lens of contemporary conditions.
From beings’ unconditional right to peace, more tangible rights can be derived – of both conditional and unconditional natures. In the following discussion I have included some examples of key rights and responsibilities to demonstrate how they can be derived from the right to peace and ultimately, beings’ right to logicality (i.e., morality) within the material states of their environment. The following listed rights and responsibilities are by no means exhaustive, and nor logically could they be – there is conceivably infinite various ways in which they could each be expressed, despite being derived from the same principle. The reader will note that similar rights and responsibilities have been derived from different perspectives of the same underlying principle. For example, the responsibility to assist and the responsibility to contribute are essentially derivatives of the same right – a being’s right to be served by logical materials; the inclusion of these rights demonstrates how multiple, nuanced rights and responsibilities can be extrapolated to meet the requirements of specific material conditions.
B. The right to protection
This right grants the intuitive entitlement to physical security of beings and their material states against arbitrary interference, whether by states of material or being. Beings have the right to non-association with, and non-limitation or variation by, the realization of desires of other beings. This right ushers the requirement for materials to provide protection from the realization of states of desire which would fully or partially interfere with the desires or forms of others. The right to protection therefore creates the corresponding responsibility for materials to limit, vary or preserve (e.g., postpone, to be realized in other times and spaces) the realization of beings’ desires wherever, and to the degree that, they would limit or vary the desires of other beings, all other conditions being equal (e.g., assuming parity of strength of desire).19 Put more simply, desire for association should ideally be mutual (i.e. reciprocated) if it is to be peacefully realized – noting, that in ideal conditions any person would not be required to associate with any other person or material that they do not desire to associate with and yet that, in this contemporary era, there is the conditional need for human beings – via their material bodies – to associate with each other for work purposes. This right also brings a corresponding responsibility for materials interacting with materials possessing a peaceful purpose to do so without generating too much conditional change in too soon of a timeframe (such that the peaceful material would need to adapt – e.g., in terms of adjusting their actions, structure or (dis)position – lest they waste resource adapting or, worse, cannot adapt and are damaged or destroyed). Sudden conditional change might occur within the physical structures which underly society (e.g., an explosion or sudden movement) or amongst its social structures (e.g., significant, sudden deviation from social conventions or customs).
On the basis that any two human bodies in this era cannot telepathically communicate the desires of their respective persons prior to interacting, it is necessary that human bodies striving for peace do not generate too much change too soon while interacting with each other – such that they can each (re)act according to their respective beings’ desires. For example, if person A desires to make physical contact with person B (e.g., give them a kiss or a hug), the body of A should make a reasonable attempt to determine whether person B has explicitly signaled their desire for general association with other persons. The presence of a person amongst the general public is not a valid indicator of this desire, noting that person B’s association with other people may be forced (i.e., needed) due to material purposes (e.g., the need to work and contribute to the material community, or due to material entanglement, which forces beings to interact with each other in the course of their lives). The presence of person B in a social venue reserved for formational purposes (e.g., a park or social club), whilst acting in capacity as a person (i.e., not working in these venues in a material capacity), may be sufficient evidence of their desire for general association with other people. And yet, if the specific desire of person B in relation to the desires of person A is indeterminable to the body of person A within a reasonable degree of surety, and yet it is determined within a reasonable degree of surety that the mind of B is aware of A’s presence and able to respond to gradual changes in A’s form which may reasonably indicate (i.e., signal) their desire (e.g., slowly leaning in for a kiss), the body of A could lean in towards B in a manner which is not too rapid, such that the body of B can verbally rebuke them if their person desires. The advance should not be so rapid so as to force B to move from their position in space in order to move out of the path of A, or worse, not allow B to move before contact is made. Increasing further in terms of immorality – as taken from a reference point of person B desiring for non-association with A – the advances of A should not be so rapid as to forcefully dislodge B from their position in space (e.g., push them back or knock them over), or worse, damage or destroy (e.g., cut or bruise) the material structures which support B’s form.
Similarly, if person A desires to make physical contact with a state, ‘B/X,’ which is determined within a reasonable degree of surety to be either a form (B) or material (X) belonging or allocated to another person, and if it is determined within a reasonable degree of surety that the mind of B/X has not explicitly signaled their desire for general association with other persons, or is absent or unaware of A’s presence – and, thus, unable to respond to the gradual change in A’s form, which may reasonably indicate their desire to associate with B/X – the body of A should not initiate physical contact with the state known as B/X (i.e., any incidental contact which is made by the sub-structures of A should be of such minimal quantity and velocity that the structures of B/X are negligibly affected).
The right to protection includes the right to parallelization of beings and materials, thereby bringing the responsibility for the provision of protection against arbitrary interference or influence between states of materials and beings. Material organizations (e.g., government) – in (infra)structure and action – must not be capable of harboring personal or political opinions or expression.
The right to protection from organizational oppression brings the corresponding responsibility for material organizations to provide logical parameters of transparency, oversight, and an ability to rectify illogical states within their purposes and means – including in relation to their processes of determining which means, and which degrees of transparency, oversight and rectification of illogicality, are deemed to be logical in any moment. This protection is especially necessary in this contemporary era – an era where the highest organizational-level (e.g., government-level) decisions across society are determined by humans (acting in a material capacity). Understandably, readers may be skeptical that these accountability measures described above – mandated to occur within parameters which are deemed logical by the most logical material in any condition – may be abused by corrupt yet powerful organizations seeking to conceal the true nature of their purposes and means. These concerns justifiably exist in relation to contemporary governments and so it is logical that this skepticism should persist when considering future iterations of government – contemporary citizens should (continue to) question whether a Purist government would offer more-effective safeguards against abuses of power than modern democracies. Readers should note that the highest, or most powerful, organization in any condition is not necessarily the most logical – a more powerful organization merely has the potential to be more logical if it structures itself logically. The solution to improve the accountability of organizational power, accordingly, is to strive to ensure that the highest or most powerful material organization in any condition is also the most logical of all materials across society; citizens – and particularly the structures of their highest organizations – must be rendered to become increasing logical in nature over time. If we follow this evolution – as discussed in part two – Purist governments will eventually transition from democracies – whose appointments are politicized and whose power is centralized to individuals and their factional ‘parties,’ albeit elected by eligible citizens – to pureaucracies: Bureaucracies which automatically govern according to Purist principles (which, I argue, are logical), using real-time data processed by Advanced Intelligence, whose power is increasingly decentralized (in terms of their means – each material within a Purist society would still operate under a centralized purpose of peace).
The right to protection further necessitates a responsibility upon the most logical material in any condition to proactively ensure that the purposes and means of the various sub-materials within society are, and remain, (provisionally) logical. In contemporary society, for example, this might require governments – i.e., those organizations which direct the provision of material services to society (e.g., government-level infrastructures and services) – to provide transparency, oversight and rectifiability of illogicality across not only each of its own infrastructures, but to all levels of sub-materials within society – down to the micro-organizations (e.g., groups of biological cells working together for a common purpose, functioning as bodily organs) in the human bodies of each of its citizens. For example, governments should be striving to provide proactive medical and psychological health screening and examination services to all its citizens, to promote health (and public safety) and prevent illness – rather than merely reactively treating illness, or worse still, commercializing health and failing to treat citizens if they do not possess ‘health insurance.’
C. The right to preservation
Beings’ desires should be recorded and protected by the most logical material in any condition (e.g., in this era, a not-for-profit organization striving to instill logical governance; in future eras, a logical government) such that their states can be prioritized and realized as and when material conditions allow. Contemporary governments are horrendously inept at recognizing, let alone recording, the enduring moral status of the desires of beings. Contemporary governments should strive to continue to recognize the desires of human beings as moral entities (e.g., as citizens) beyond the death of their biological bodies. If governments cannot afford to provide their deceased citizens with an ongoing entitlement to resource in order to directly realize their citizens desires – on the basis of the high demand for material resource across society and on the basis that the deceased can no longer actively contribute to society’s material capability – the desires of the deceased should still be preserved (e.g., digitally recorded or cryopreserved) as a minimum, and realized when and as material conditions permit.
D. The right to progression
Beings have a right to be served via materials which are continually, if not continuously, progressing themselves (or being progressed, if they are passive in nature). A technologically stagnant society disadvantages its citizens by denying them the future – the material capability – that they are rightfully entitled to. Concurrent to their materials executing the routine essential tasks which keep their society ordered and functioning at its current technological level (e.g., soldiers, emergency services, health professionals, trade workers, teachers, primary industries), it is a right of beings for their materials to continually strive towards the progression of their states (e.g., research and development in all areas of society, such as security, medicine, mental health, science and technologies such as AI and nanotechnology). In a general sense – as per the logical direction of material evolution, which I offer in part two – it is a right of beings that their materials are rendered more consistent over time: Structurally-simplified, structurally-stable, structurally-homogeneous, active in nature, numerous in number, efficient and dynamic (i.e., variable) in function, smaller in size, structurally-independent from each other and yet more interoperable and interchangeable with each other.
Materials therefore have a corresponding responsibility to progress themselves and/or other materials in their environment wherever they are illogical in structure and action, purpose and means: Unnecessarily complex, unstable, passive in nature, few in number, relatively inefficient, limited in function, large in size and situated externally to (i.e. not discreetly concealed within) the (art) forms of society, dependent (i.e., shared, entangled with, and unnecessarily reliant) on other materials, or are significantly different from, or lack interoperability with, other materials. These inconsistent or ‘impure’ material states – comprising most materials in contemporary society – cannot realize the states of beings as efficiently as is possible, as viewed in absolute terms, in any moment.
The material responsibility to progress inadvertently answers questions such as whether humans as a species, in the context of the rise of post- and trans- humanism, retain the right to (resist societal technological changes and) continue to exist indefinitely as humans (Fiala, 2019)? In form – yes; materially – no. The materials of humans – e.g., human bodies and their surrounding infrastructures – have a responsibility to progress and be progressed; there can be no logical defense for illogicality throughout material states. Individual humans (Fiala, 2019, for example) may argue that they are content with the inadequacy of their bodies and are happy to live lives of limited enjoyment and frequent suffering until the death of their mortal bodies. However, these humans cannot determine with reasonable surety that they will not change their minds – especially as biological aging, illness and death approaches nearer. The gradual progression of human bodies will, unfortunately, likely not vanquish undesired human suffering in the near future. It is illogical (i.e., an unnecessary, and thus arbitrary, limitation of material ability to realize desire) for the technological advancement of human bodies to not occur eventually, at some point across times. In more prosperous material conditions, a properly progressed societal material would be able to fully simulate the human condition, such that beings can experience their lives as a traditional human – with all the limitations that their bodies currently provide – while retaining the option of not dying should they desire to live on or experience their life again. Furthermore, the responsibility to progress is not merely centered around the ability for human bodies to serve their respective beings’ desires – it is also a requirement for interoperability between materials operating in the context of a broader society. Pluralism between material bodies permits the potential for divergence of purposes (e.g., cancer, conflict and war) and produces inefficiency between materials of aligned purposes attempting to work together.
E. The right to performance
Performance – the direct realization of desire – is the ultimate purpose for which all materials are sought to exist. A titanium atom in the chassis of a vehicle; a human body whose form is dancing; a government creating and maintaining public parks for its citizens to enjoy; each are performing their primary functions as materials. Whilst the right to performance ideally grants that beings have the right to have their desires realized without arbitrary limitation or variation of their states, the natures of desires and material conditions will determine the extent to which this right can be logically (i.e., realistically and/or morally) realized in any moment. As per conditional limitations imposed on other types of material actions (e.g., protection, preservation, progression), a state of peace in degenerate material conditions may preclude resource-intensive states of desire from being partially or fully realized. Consider a state of peace for a small group of travelers in the current era whose plane has crash-landed on a desert island: The leader(s) of the group would – or should, if they are logical – direct that the majority of their materials are utilized to protect and preserve the states of their beings (i.e., attempting to maintain order in their new, micro-society; hunting, gathering, building shelter, looking for a means to be rescued from the island, while attempting to keep their biological bodies alive). In this micro-society, minimal, if any, materials should be dedicated to exclusively performing the desires of beings (e.g., there should be no professional artists or sports teams) on the basis that the group cannot spare these materials – their more immediate concern is preservation, being their bodily survival and getting rescued to rejoin their former, more advanced society. The desires of group members which require minimal resource to perform might be realized as an adjunct to their bodily preservation (e.g., singing and dancing around a fire which is primarily used for warmth or cooking).
Modern societies, and in particular, so-called ‘advanced democracies,’ are more abundant in terms of the quantity and quality of available resource in comparison to the micro-society example and the societies of previous eras. This greater abundance has both permitted and necessitated the concurrent progression (i.e., technological advancement) of societal materials. It has also – realistically, if not, morally – permitted the performance of extravagant desires. However, despite their comparative resource abundance, modern societies are still vastly inadequate when viewed objectively in terms of their inability to serve the tremendous quantities of intricate desires that exist across societies. It appears to me – in my capacity as an individual material, noting that I am not informed by organizational-level data on the wants and needs across modern societies – that we are still in a crisis of material ineptness in this modern era. The vast quantity of contemporary societal needs, stemming from the vast quantity of desires, appears to vastly outweigh society’s material ability to provide for these needs. Accordingly, it is my intuition that the standard of material across contemporary ‘developed’ societies – let alone developing societies – is insufficient to allow human bodies to be dedicated exclusively to the performance of desire. That is, it may not be logically justifiable to allow citizens to solely pursue full-time formational (i.e., aesthetic) professions (e.g., professional athletes, artists, actors, entertainers) when there is apparently so much material work required to reach our societal potential in any moment; there appears, rather, to be an overriding need to improve and maintain social order (e.g., security) between, and preserve the functioning (e.g., health) of, human beings. Human bodies are arguably the most adept materials for preserving the precious states of their beings and progressing (themselves and other) vital infrastructures within society as rapidly as is logically possible. Despite acknowledging the epistemological ‘veil’ imposed by my individuality,20 I can be confident in my assertion that the societal materials of advanced democracies in this contemporary era are neither being fully utilized nor optimally coordinated to serve the desires of beings. Human beings in this era must be aware that material conditions are vastly insufficient in comparison to the potential which is logically possible and should adjust their expectations of their right to contemporary performance accordingly.
The right to performance is, in these times, also threatened by undue social censorship. Some elements within contemporary society (e.g., those seeking social justice) are unable or unwilling to distinguish between formational states (i.e., beings and their expressions – the end for which all material society exists) from the means used to achieve these societal ends (i.e., materials and their expressions). It is admirable that these elements should strive to remove harmful content from material states, however this must not be extended to the states of beings, as it often inadvertently is. For example, Hollywood movies, social media posts and blogs, comedic routines, interest magazines and articles – assuming that each is an expression that their author desires to share, and their content is not of a nature that they believe they need to share21 – are often, but should not ever be, criticized, censored or ‘cancelled’ on moral grounds (i.e., on the basis of their content or lack of particular content).22 Viewers who – in their subjective opinions – find particular expressions of art to be distasteful or unpleasant can ideally avoid exposure to them.
F. The right to logical direction
The most logical material in any condition possesses the responsibility to logically direct, that is, coordinate, guide and oversee – through the use of orders or directions – material society towards a state of peace in any moment. The most logical material in any condition is one whose direction will probably most efficiently achieve peace (i.e., realize the maximum quantity of desire); this material possesses the right to direct the allocation of all resource in such condition. This right is granted on the basis that said material has the highest moral or logical authority, that is, the greatest ability to determine and direct which purposes and means are logical in any moment. Whilst an individual and an organization which are each striving for peace may be considered to be of equal logicality with respect to their ultimate purpose, they will inevitably differ in their degree of logicality in terms of the means that each can employ towards this purpose. An organization – all other conditions being equal, assuming that both are provisionally logical in structure and action – can employ greater resources towards its purpose than any individual entity. This is logically true, by virtue of an organization being, by definition, a group of individual entities working towards the same purpose. Accordingly, an organization working optimally is able to gather and process more information from its environment and better determine which immediate actions are the most logical for the purpose of achieving peace than any optimized individual attempting to execute the same functions. In this era, the most logical material might be a not-for-profit organization seeking to change the structure of government – such that it is logically optimized in the service of beings. In immediate and intermediate eras, this will be a government bureaucracy, existing externally to the forms it serves, whose policy and law(s) are directly derived from logical principles, and whose practical implementation is informed by empirical research and real-time data. This right will provide governments and their delegates (e.g., public officials) with the moral authority and responsibility to exert power over their citizens and direct their materials how to act.
Despite the veil imposed by individuality, individuals are currently in the best position to know the natures of their individual desires. Individuals – whether voter or elected politician – are not in the best position to determine and direct how government should posture to most efficiently serve the a posteriori needs of society. Consequently, it is logical that in immediate and intermediate eras, citizens should only be able to vote for, or have recorded, their preferences of desire: Informing their government of what they want in any moment – preferably with the ability to update these desires in real-time. Governments should record the nature and strength of beings’ desires and then autonomously (i.e., bureaucratically – without input from politicians, citizens or lobby groups) prioritize the satisfaction of public needs via the most logical means of achieving their citizens’ indicated desires. Such prioritization, in this era, should be directed by scientific research and macro computation of societal variables, rather than individual voting, politicians’ opinions and election promises or interference from lobby groups.
The responsibility to logically direct materials extends to all materials, including those currently in the ‘private’ domain (e.g., privately owned corporations which serve material purposes; private individuals serving material purposes). The requirement to achieve and maintain a state of peace (as efficiently as is logically possible) requires that the actions and structures of material society must ideally be tightly regulated; the establishment of peace will not probably most efficiently occur via (the laissez-faire nature of) free-market enterprise. Logical citizens of this era intuitively recognize that they should not tolerate laissez-faire states within the (sub-)materials of their human bodies (e.g., cells and organs choosing their own directions or purposes and competing with each other for resource) – they call this ‘cancer’ (and it is an unfortunate indicator of the inept state of our current medical technology that citizens often do have to tolerate the divergence of their internal bodily materials). Similarly, logical citizens intuitively recognize that they should not have to tolerate divergence in their other material bodies (e.g., government and broader material society).
F.1. The right to be directed on social issues
One’s veil of individuality further means that individual materials are not in the best position to determine what needs-based social issues (e.g., charities, interest groups and minority or majority groups) require prioritization of material support at any moment of time. Individuals possessing a good (i.e., peaceful) purpose in this contemporary era may be unsure as to whether they should specifically support the rights of the largest set of the population (e.g., the rights of ‘all people’) in relation to social justice campaigns, or whether they should specifically support subsets or minorities of this population which appear to be disadvantaged (e.g., the rights of people with characteristic ‘X’). Furthermore, they may be unsure as to whether they should give charity directly to those whom they believe are in need (e.g., the giving of food supplies to homeless persons in their neighborhood) or contribute indirectly, via financial contribution to a large, established charitable organization. The answer, in terms of any special interest or social justice campaign, or any act of charity – and any material act more generally – is that specific support must be determined and directed by the most logical entity in any society, preferably with the backing of social research involving large quantities of real-time data. Individuals of this contemporary era – often exposed to sensationalizing media, and though able to determine what they are passionate about, in terms of what they believe they need to do, and what they desire to do – are not in a (dis)position to best determine whether they, or society more generally, need to act to rectify specific social issues, nor where resource should best be directed to efficiently solve these issues. Contemporary governments do not provide this leadership, and so it is the responsibility of citizens to render their governments to be more logical in structure whilst seeking direction from organizations that do offer moral social leadership.
F.2. The responsibility to logically prioritize
As a condition of possessing the right to direct other materials within their condition, a directing material (e.g., organization or government) possesses the responsibility to logically prioritize the use of materials within its condition according to whichever use of their properties would probably most efficiently achieve peace. Ideally this would occur through a case-by-case analysis of the properties of each of society’s (sub-)materials at every moment. In future eras, for example, an electrician might be actively prioritized (e.g., granted the right of way at a traffic intersection) beyond a musician in one moment, and vice versa in another, depending on which outcome would probably most efficiently achieve peace (i.e., maximize the realization of beings’ desire). In less-ideal material conditions (e.g., contemporary society, or during the collapse of future society), the properties of materials may need to be passively prioritized using a generic system, conveyed through relatively static, prescriptive laws (e.g., legislation). Such laws provide a crude degree of order such that valuable bodies (e.g., humans, vehicles, governments) do not unnecessarily, and thus, arbitrarily, limit or vary each other (e.g., via collisions or conflicts with each other) in the absence of active, coordinated prioritization. These laws – being passive in nature – do not directly compare and prioritize the properties of each individual material in relation to their ability and willingness to realize society’s higher purpose (e.g., peace). A traffic light system of the contemporary era, for example, passively prioritizes (i.e., provides right of way to) all vehicles traveling in the same direction for set amounts of time, rather than actively considering the individual properties of the vehicles’ passengers and how such properties could contribute to society if actively prioritized. In the contemporary era, therefore, an electrician may give way to a musician at an intersection (or vice versa), even though it may have been in society’s interest – in terms of bringing about peace – for the other to have the right of way. These passive systems can only confer provisional morality if they are implemented as a conditional (i.e., temporary or localized) measure of maintaining order in the absence of technological capability. The use of emergency sirens and the ability for emergency vehicles to override contemporary traffic light systems demonstrates the implicit recognition by contemporary governments of the need, and thus the accompanying right and responsibility, for the active logical prioritization of materials.
F.3. The right for a human being to possess and be served by their material body
The generic system of order discussed above includes the allocation of human bodies as a possession of their respective beings. In contemporary society, each human body is passively (i.e., inherently) assigned to serve the needs of their respective being, by default. This arrangement probably most efficiently achieves peace in the absence of the ability for government to specifically micro-manage the prioritization of each body. In the same way that traffic lights generically maintain order between materials (e.g., vehicles) until a priority material (e.g., ambulance) needs to have right of way, human bodies generically serve their respective beings until they are specifically prioritized by government to serve a higher societal purpose (e.g., conscripted in time of war or natural disaster, summoned for jury duty, directed to assist police).
F.4. The responsibility to logically assist
Whilst beings have no moral compulsion to assume any state that they do not want to, their material bodies possess the responsibility to assist materials by assuming states that appear to be logical or as directed by a material of greater logicality. Citizens for example, should not have the right to remain silent when they have knowledge of a material crime; if, by speaking, they could assist authorities, they should assist authorities, even if it will lead to self-incrimination. The right to remain silent – found within many so-called ‘advanced democracies’ – is therefore logically replaced by the responsibility to assist within logical parameters. This should appear intuitively right to logical observers – it is consistent that verbal compliance should accompany physical compliance if it will probably result in a peaceful outcome. In this era, offenders are already widely viewed to possess the responsibility to physically cooperate with authorities and are able to incriminate themselves with physical actions and expressions – if they are observed and tangibly linked to a crime. It would be arbitrary for the same criteria of incrimination to not also apply to verbal expressions. Notably the same components required to verify any logical action would be applied in determining whether an offender’s lack of verbal cooperation is a crime. These requirements were discussed in part two with the accompanying example of how verification of logical action can be used to distinguish terrorism and torture from their permissible counterparts. Accordingly, the verbal expressions that an offender is (or was) required to make must be clearly defined; they must be of probable ability to tangibly affect an outcome that is a crime; and, the determination of whether the verbal expressions of the offender are true and accurate or misleading must be observable or verifiable. Authorities would be justified in expecting an answer were they to ask a ‘getaway driver’ – apprehended whilst attempting to leave a bank heist – how many of their accomplices are in the bank. The required answer to this question is clearly defined as an easily-memorized integer (i.e., it is not an open-ended question, nor does it require a complex answer that could reasonably be confused or forgotten); it is a question that is directly relevant in the course of preventing a crime from escalating further and/or in providing a peaceful outcome for all involved; it is a question whose answer can objectively be verified either during or after the fact (e.g., by video surveillance) and could therefore be used in determining the compliance of the offender. Noting that the offender has a moral responsibility to physically comply with all verbal and physical commands from authorities which are logical to their purpose of making a safe arrest (e.g., the dropping of a weapon, the exiting of their vehicle), it is consistent that the offender should also be morally compelled to verbally respond to commands from authorities if they can verifiably serve as a logical means to the same purpose. This does not mean that authorities would necessarily be morally justified in the use of force to compel an offender to divulge specific information. It does mean that additional charges may be levelled upon non-cooperative offenders whose cooperation demonstrably could have saved resource and/or preserved the (precious) states of beings.
F.5. The responsibility to contribute to logicality within material society
The logically-derived need to strive towards absolute morality in our material conditions – to render our materials to be continually more optimal, such that the need to prioritize between states of beings occurs less frequently and with less urgency – negates the notion of ‘moral permissibility’ as a negatively-occurring construct. It is a logically untenable position to assume that any state is morally permissible or morally ‘neutral,’ or ‘good,’ by default, until it is shown to violate a particular principle which (positively) asserts its harm. T.M. Scanlon (2008), for example, assumes such a position by arguing that an act is morally right unless it could be reasonably (and thus positively) rejected by people with similar motivations or principles. However, un(der)-utilized materials necessarily harm society by limiting its potential – irrespective of whether a like-principled society realizes this. The harmful effect of material stagnation grows exponentially over times, in parallel with the potential rate of logical technological advancement (i.e., logical technological advancement conceivably occurs at an exponential rate). I have detailed in part two the position of this paradigm that conscious awareness of one’s responsibilities is not a prerequisite for the existence of moral duty. The onus to assume a state of logicality applies to any material, in any society, in any moment; it endures – whether or not they are cognizant of such.23 The concept of harm is a negatively-occurring construct; any material is causing harm unless it is contributing to a state of peace. Accordingly, the material bodies of contemporary beings have a moral responsibility to contribute, that is, to ‘work,’ towards peace in any moment, lest they be indirectly harming society.
The need to continually strive for absolute morality in one’s condition mandates that the indirect (e.g., secondary and tertiary) effects of the state of any material on wider society must be considered, controlled and rectified where appropriate. Some materials not only fail to contribute to a more logical society – they actively erode society. The impact of harmful human materials (e.g., fraudsters, paedophiles who act on their impulses, violent offenders, especially serial murderers, and thieves – to name but a few of the labels that society places on these materials in this era) should be assessed in the first instance based on the primary effects arising from their failure to act with provisional morality: The direct impact on their immediate victims and their immediate danger to others in society. They should further be assessed in terms of the broader, secondary effects that they impose on society: The erosion of trust and degradation of capability that they generate in the community (e.g., people perceiving that it is unsafe to go walking at night; people perceiving that they are unable to leave their houses unlocked or trust other humans for various reasons; victims unable to optimally contribute to the community due to effects of crime).
F.6. The right to question
Whilst citizens do not possess the right to possess illogical material thoughts, nor subsequently make illogical material (in)actions, all citizens possess the right to pose material questions of any nature, providing that the process (i.e., method), and purpose, of their questioning is logical – thereby resulting in a logical conclusion (i.e., the possession of logical thoughts and beliefs). Citizens, for example, will always possess the right to question whether peace – a state which is void of any arbitrary variation or limitation of peoples’ desires – is a logical purpose; they might similarly question whether a logical material purpose is objectively and exclusively equivalent to a moral purpose. Citizens will also usually possess the right to question whether any particular set of means is a logical path to peace, whilst duly considering the inherent limitations of individual-level decision-making in comparison to higher organizational-level decision-making, and that the resource-sensitive natures of some means may negate the ability for a director of any means – having determined that a set of means is logical – to provide a rationale in any moment (i.e., there might not be the ability to question specific means in specific moments). As per questioning relating to material purpose(s): Providing that the process and the purpose of any questioning relating to any set of means is logical, the subsequent outcome (e.g., thoughts and beliefs) will necessarily be logical (and thus, I argue, moral).
F.7. The responsibility to possess logical beliefs and execute logical action(s)
Citizens do not have the right to materially conclude – nor possess, as a material belief, the notion – that a(ny) state other than peace (i.e., a society where the desires of any group or individual are arbitrarily limited or varied) is a logical or moral purpose to pursue. By ‘materially conclude’ I refer to conclusions that one believes (rightly or wrongly) that one needs to possess (e.g., an answer that one believes one needs to know in order to improve one’s world, or one’s condition); these conclusions would usually follow from the consideration of material questions: Questions that one believes that one needs to consider (e.g., were the question asked: “What is the most moral type of government to serve society?” for the purpose of campaigning for the implementation of said government). As per part one, material questions can be delineated from formational questions: Considerations that one desires to consider (e.g., were the same question asked: “What is the most moral type of government to serve society?” for the purpose of learning about different types of government for enjoyment’s sake, rather than for a purpose of changing the world). Nor do citizens possess the right to pursue material purposes other than peace. Humans of this era acting in a material capacity – as per all active (i.e., autonomously-acting) materials – have a responsibility to possess logical thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, skills and knowledge, and subsequently execute action(s) which appropriately follow(s) from these logical mental states.
The recognition that a prohibition on the possession of illogical material beliefs and actions does not constitute a violation freedom or liberty is an important milestone in the (moral) progression of society. As discussed in part one, the perception and/or pursuit of any need is not a choice to be made – each (perception and/or pursuit) is an inquiry into reality, whose nature is to be discovered and reacted to. Towards the purpose of peace (or any other purpose), an individual either needs a particular belief – irrespective of whether they perceive that they need to possess said belief – in any moment, or they do not (and the belief is unjustified and harmful, if held); a need which is justified in any moment will need to be pursued and satisfied via the most efficient means, lest there be waste; there is no choice – each (perception and/or pursuit) is either an objectively necessary duty that must occur within specific parameters or an unnecessary, misguided, harmful state, to be discarded.
F.8. The right to possess nil responsibility
The material responsibilities described herein conditionally apply to (the material aspects of) human beings of this era. The limitations imposed by their human and government bodies often interfere with a being’s capacity to enjoy their life. As the general morality (i.e., ability and willingness to serve beings) of society’s material condition increases – as individualized human and government bodies are gradually replaced by a more homogenous and integrated, decentralized network of materials – beings will become increasingly-less entangled with, and limited by, the work routines of their bodily materials. These fortunate beings – free from limitation and variance imposed by entanglement with individual bodies – can ideally act as they desire, without needing to experience work.
F.9. The right to a logical (re)allocation of material (resource) – alternating material service and ownership
Materials must alternately serve the public and, while doing so, be alternately owned by people. I use the term alternating to describe materials consecutively changing between people in service and ownership – each ideally allocated to serve, and be owned by, no more than one person in any moment in time, for a duration that is determined to be a logical use of resource by the most logical material in each condition (e.g., government). As discussed in part two, I assert that it is logical that any material – or each part of a material, if its various properties or components can be used by multiple people concurrently (e.g., the multiple spaces in a public park can be concurrently occupied by multiple people) – is ideally singularly allocated, owned and possessed, by a maximum of one being in any moment. This singularity of service and ownership is necessary in the interests of avoiding moral impasses (e.g., if two people (concurrently) share ownership of a material (e.g., a vehicle or home) and they each desire, with equivalent strength, for it to perform incongruent services (e.g., they each need the vehicle to transport them in opposing directions at the same time), all conditions being equal, there is no moral solution).
The transfer of materials from private ownership to their rightful role of (alternating) service in the public domain necessitates that the ownership and use of any material is conditional. Any material – though ideally allocated and used by one individual in any moment – may be reallocated in future times, in the wake of ongoing logical consideration and (re-)prioritization of societal desires and needs.
Alternating material service or ownership will appear intuitive to logical observers. Most human beings, for example, would not consider their bodily organs as a part of their being or person on the basis that these organs are purely needed to survive; each typically does not desire to possess a heart, lungs and digestive system; each person generally has no special attachment to these materials. These materials are only important to humans whilst they need them and most people would readily accept an organ transplant for this reason – the replacement of these materials would not be considered to change who they are as a person. Accordingly, on the basis that human organs are generally needed, rather than desired, these materials, by default, should be preserved and regulated by the most logical material in any society (e.g., government), to be logically reallocated where and when they are needed (e.g., to preserve the lives of people with organ failure). This should be the default condition unless a person specifically indicates that they desire to keep their organs (i.e., if they are considered to be more than merely materials and are rather considered to be a part of themselves). In such cases, the organs would not be donated or reallocated upon biological death and would be preserved along with the other aspects of their person, as and when logically possible.
F.10. The right to not-for-profit material products and services
The requirement for material logicality – in particular, efficiency of means – further mandates that personal material profit (e.g., financial gain) must not be derived from material functions (e.g., protection, preservation, performance, progression, direction). In this contemporary era there are many private entities (e.g., individuals and corporations) profiting from the selling or provision of material goods and services, such as groceries, healthcare, the research and development of (military and civil) technology, societal infrastructure (such as roads and buildings) and primary industries (such as minerals mining and the provision of energy to households and organizations). I am not advocating a sudden transition of these listed industries, nor other industries which serve material purposes, into the public domain – lest it be too much too soon for material society to adjust; this transition, whilst logically necessary, will need to occur gradually, whereby the goods and services of material industry are eventually consolidated and streamlined for maximum efficiency by an overall coordinating material (e.g., government).
F.11. The right to unconditional ownership of forms
Beings, by contrast, possess the unconditional right to the exclusive allocation, ownership and possession of their desired states, until they explicitly desire to transfer ownership or discard them. Beings should ideally be able to gift or trade their forms (i.e., realized states of desire) with the formational states of other beings in a free market (i.e., commodities of desire can be traded for other non-material states, as subjectively valued by each mind). The economic implications arising from the need and responsibility for the parallelization of beings and materials will be the subject of future articles.
This article has introduced the foundations of the a priori moral philosophy of Purism. I have argued that beings are states (or collections of states) whose natures and associations are sought for arbitrary, if any, purpose. A state of being includes both the desire for (yet unrealized) forms and formed desires. Being unconditional by their definitional nature, the states of beings are objectively defined across (conceptual) space as ideals towards which other entities can perpetually strive to realize – their states can exist indefinitely across times, irrespective of contemporary conditions. Existing as ends themselves, beings should be considered universally and unconditionally precious; they possess nil responsibility to assume any particular form or execute any particular function, and thus should also be considered amoral – whatever form they assume is neither right nor wrong. Materials, by contrast, encompass all entities which are not beings; this includes both entities which are sought by beings for a logical purpose – i.e., useful, important materials – and entities which are unsought by beings – i.e., materials which are useless or counterproductive to the purposes of beings. The latter have been grouped with the former because they both have a moral onus to change or be changed into the former category of material – to become useful to the service of beings. All materials – each potentially being important to beings, but never precious – are to be used, technologically advanced, expended or discarded, when and wherever is logically necessary, for the service of beings.
The application of this a priori framework of beings and morality was briefly discussed in the context of deriving fundamental and conditional, rights and responsibilities, of persons and materials. The framework discussed herein is compatible with democratic government and many of its laws – or, at least, those with a logical basis – while recognizing the important relationship between beings and the material properties of their respective human bodies in this era. I propose that the logical prioritization of resource is the goal which contemporary societies and their citizens are striving for as they become increasingly more logical. If this is true, citizens in “advanced democracies” will be(come) increasingly less accepting of governments and their agencies limiting their lives for arbitrary24 reasons, and/or inefficiently enacting their policies, whilst concurrently demanding the optimal progression of their societal materials.
This paradigm brings important implications for society – particularly in terms of economic, political and social reform – which are beyond this introductory scope. It should serve as the basis for further discussion towards a more logical society.
1. By ‘logically deduced’ I mean that the answer is derived from the question, a priori, based on aspects of its definition. For example, if a human is defined as characteristics ‘x,’ ‘y’ and ‘z,’ and if human life is presumed to be precious, we might deduce that the answer to the question of ‘which human rights are fundamental?’ is that each human ideally has the moral right to (structure(s) across society that institutionally provide the resources that enable) the fullest expression of x, y and z.
2. By ‘objectively deduced’ I mean the nature of the answer itself is unambiguously and universally knowable into the indefinite future, irrespective of whether or not the answer is theoretically accepted by observers.
3. The term ‘Purism’ was chosen to describe a consistent, culturally/politically-void, moral paradigm which is untainted by “ideologies, worldviews and cultural assumptions” (Ramos, 2017, p.86). This term concurrently pays homage to the nature of space, the inconceivability of inconsistency within which (Primus, 2019, 2020) serves as the ontological basis for this paradigm.
4. By ‘conditional’ I mean localized and/or temporary, as opposed to universal, across times and space.
5. Most posthumanists adopt variations of this view (see, for example, Heylighen, 2002, 2015; Kurzweil, 2006; Chu, 2014; Last, 2014, 2015; Heylighen & Lenartowicz, 2017).
6. In part two I allude to a deeper future in which the materials of beings continue to be rendered such that they are more inconspicuous – i.e., concealed within the forms of beings in some instances and operating below their perceptual threshold in others – and more autonomous in their duty. I suggest that at this point – whereby materials are essentially homogenous in structure and endogenous to the forms of beings – the definition of beings presented herein may be the only means by which a person can be defined.
7. I use the term ‘Advanced Intelligence (AI)’ rather than ‘Artificial Intelligence’ for two reasons. Firstly, in relation to material AI, I note that it is the advanced nature of said intelligence that is its distinguishing feature, and therefore this term arguably provides a more logical (i.e., descriptive) classification; it is beside the point, though perhaps a novelty in this immediate era, whether an intelligence exists upon synthetic (i.e., consciously manufactured) or organic (i.e., biologically manufactured) infrastructure. In future eras, it is probable (and optimal) that synthetic bodies will outnumber biological bodies – or at least the distinction between the two will continue to blur in the event of further technological integration within human bodies. Accordingly, the term ‘artificial’ will likely further lose distinguishability in this context. Secondly, from the perspective of future beings whose intelligence exists upon synthetic infrastructure, the term ‘artificial’ might be considered insensitive by those who do not seek to identify with their material characteristics. This is the case for humans in this contemporary era who are erroneously identified and defined by material characteristics that they do not desire to associate with – or do not desire to be primarily defined by – and yet which they are forced to possess (e.g. biological sex, race, physical appearance).
8. I use the term ‘moral’ rather than ‘ethical’ due to the unconditional, a priori nature of this paradigm: The prescription presented within thus does not change in accordance with conditional variables, such as cultural norms (for a discussion of distinction between ethics and morality see MacIntyre, 2006).
9. For example, player ‘P’ uses his sporting teammate, player ‘Q,’ merely as a means of blocking the path of an opposing team member so that they, P, themselves can score a goal. Although player P views player Q merely as a means of scoring goals, P and Q both exist as ends providing, and so long as, they both desire to play the sport in accordance with (mutually agreed) rules which allow players to use each other in this manner. This is the case even if Q does not approve of the experience of being used by P after the fact. At the time that they were being used as a blocking force, player Q (at least implicitly) accepted the rules of the sport in which they were playing; they accepted the concept of the possibility of being used in this manner, and therefore accepted the corresponding possibility of experiencing being used accordingly. Player Q can cease playing at any point – either because the (a priori) concept of the possibility of being used by other players as a means to score goals no longer aligns with (the a priori concepts that form) their desired identity or because the (a posteriori) experience of being ‘used’ is undesired. Q might create another sport where, per its rules, players are unable to use each other in the manner that P’s sport allows.
10. Note that ‘B’ is now referred to as an ‘actor,’ rather than a being or a person, on the basis that the latter, by definition, cannot possess material purposes.
11. This concept accounts for Purist metaethics, whereby the notion of moral value arises from, and is limited to, those states which necessarily and objectively affect other states.
12. I further use the term ‘purity’ as a more succinct and eloquent synonym for these terms.
13. By ‘rectify’ I mean ‘restore’ (or, in this example, ‘clean’) person A to their desired form and attend to the inadequate nature of the material of person B (e.g., punishment, education), such that a similar event does not occur again.
14. The term ‘locally’ here means restricted or limited across space, e.g., a government that limits one citizen from driving, or limits driving in a specific area, rather than completely banning driving across society.
15. By ‘active’ I mean autonomous (i.e., agential or self-initiating) in terms of its service to beings and in its own technological advancement.
16. For example, human bodies are relatively complex and unstable because they are composed of many ‘levels’ of sub-materials which appear not to have been purposely designed for human use (based on their relative inefficiency, unreliability and passiveness to human purposes). Human organs are composed of cells, cells are composed of molecules, molecules are composed of atoms, atoms are composed of sub-atomic particles, and so on…
17. The term ‘independence’ here describes the need for materials to become increasingly less structurally reliant on, and entangled and shared with, each other; this is a logical requirement for increasing material ability to efficiently serve the (often divergent) intent of beings. Independence allows materials to work together with interoperability – collectively working to achieve a singular purpose, without structural dependency on each other.
18. The Purist answer to the Trolley problem and like-variants (see, for example, Bonnefon, Shariff & Rahwan’s, 2016, dilemma involving autonomous vehicles) requires consideration of the probable desires of all persons involved (i.e., which people have the greatest intensity of desire, extended over the longest duration), in conjunction with the degree to which their material body contributes to the societal realization of desires (i.e. consideration of how useful the bodily materials of each person are to society), noting that the formulation of these variables into a moral solution is beyond the scope of this article. Alternatively, should such information be unavailable to the actor and the trolley, each actor would be considered equal by default, and thus the outcome which would probably save the most lives would probably most efficiently maximize the realization of desire.
19. I am often asked a question to the following effect: If desire is precious and amoral, and if its realization is to be maximized across times and space, and if materials are morally bound to prioritize the realization of states of desire according to the strength (i.e., duration multiplied by intensity) of each desire, if X number of spectators strongly desired for a gladiator to be sacrificed against their will in a colosseum, would this be authorized according to Purist morality? The answer is ‘no,’ all other conditions being equal. This is a valid objection to Purist morality – or, indeed, any consequentialist theory of morality – on the surface. However, this objection overlooks, not only the great quantity and complexity of the states of desire which appears to form the essence of any human being across space, but more vitally, that these quantities can be desired to exist across infinite quantities of time in any moment. It appears to me – in my limited capacity as a material observer comprised of an individual human body – that any quantity of desire for a sacrifice – an act occurring for a finite time, across a finite portion of space, thus resulting in a finite quantity of desire for this act in any moment – would be insufficient to outweigh a desire to live eternally across times, noting that such a desire could conceivably be infinite in quantity. An appropriate prioritization between the desires of the spectators and the gladiator would therefore consider the metaphysical weight of the multiple and intricate nature of the states (i.e., the structures and actions) which comprise the gladiator’s explicit and implicit desires – everything they plan to be, gain and keep, and everything they plan to do – as extended indefinitely into the future. The assumption would be made, by default, that the gladiator desires for the core aspects which comprise themselves, and the core aspects of everyone and everything they love, to exist forevermore in duration, beyond the ‘natural’ end to their mortal, biological body. It would also be considered that the gladiator will probably desire to retain the memory of most, if not all, of their desires accumulated over the course of an indefinite lifetime. Further consideration would be given to the relative practical ease in which the sacrifice could be simulated (e.g., by theatre or reenactment), negating the need for actual sacrifice – especially as technological advancement renders the difference between actual and simulated events to be imperceptible. The decision for simulation would be supported by the degree of difficulty involved in replacing (i.e., recreating) the states of a living human person, which are irreplaceable in this era (and past eras). As it stands in this era, the living human brain appears to be the best method of preserving the nature of their respective being’s desires (n.b., the cryopreserved human brain might be the next best method of preservation until the digitization of neural networks). A more comprehensive response to this and other potential objections to Purist morality will be the subject of future articles.
20. By ‘veil of individuality,’ I refer to an individual observer’s general inability to best determine the specific a posteriori posturing (i.e., structures, actions and disposition e.g., prioritization) that would permit societal materials to exist within logical parameters in any moment. As I assert with this paradigm, however, individuals can potentially generally determine, a priori, how societal materials should ideally be categorized and ordered to exist within logical parameters.
21. Note that – as discussed in part one – although any Purist purpose is exclusive to its kind (i.e., either material or formational, not both), agents can act towards multiple purposes (e.g., in capacity as materials or as forms or both) in any moment. Accordingly, in relation to the statement “each is an expression that the author desires to share, and their content is not of a nature that they believe they need to share,” the mentioned author may desire to share content whilst also acting (in a material capacity) to produce content on the basis of perceived need (e.g., the need to derive financial income from their content). The perceived need to produce any content (e.g., for financial gain) is theoretically separable from the nature of the content itself.
22. Unless, of course, this criticism is desired and is thus itself a form of art. In such cases, this criticism would possess no moral value or authority.
23. Assume, for example, that every member in Scanlon’s society adopted the principle that it was reasonable for every member to do the bare minimum work necessary to maintain order in their society and that any attempt to improve the technology of society was optional or voluntary: Scanlon’s society grows and harvests crops; they make clothes, build houses and clean their food, clothes and houses. A minority of its members work on technological projects in their spare time – whether out of the desire to do so, or out of a sense of moral duty – however, the majority of the population spend the remainder of their time enjoying life – each citizen desiring to live as much of their lives as is possible before they biologically age and die, or succumb to accident or disease. Whilst there is no conflict between agents within their society – due to their perfect observation of Scanlon’s principle – there remains vast amounts of unrealized desires – and, by extension, undue material suffering – due to the limitations ‘naturally’ imposed by their material world. Death, biological aging, famine, disability, environmental disasters, the need to work, the physical inability to do many things that one needs and desires, and the psychological stress of knowing that each of these material-imposed stressors appears to be inevitable in their lives – each of these symptoms of material inadequacy pervades and looms beyond each of the activities that they enjoy. The overwhelming majority of Scanlon’s society cannot imagine what their lives could be like – how good in quality and extended in duration their lives could be – were the materials of their society to be technologically optimized; nor can the majority imagine what their lives could be like were previous versions of their societal materials – their ancestor societies – technologically optimized. They largely avoid confronting the uncomfortable realities which accompany their mortal states, which they see as inevitable.
Many in Scanlon’s society are not religious and these people have nothing positive to look forward to beyond the fleeting (i.e., intermittent and temporary) joys of their mortal lives; they have no technology to believe in for their personal salvation (i.e., preservation). Although it may appear possible to many of them – amidst the relatively permissible (i.e., non-rapidly changing) conditions of their home planet, Earth – Scanlon’s society cannot even gain metaphorical immortality: The living cannot reasonably expect that their descendants will indefinitely inherit their ancestor’s biological materials (e.g., genetics); nor can the living reasonably expect their descendants will indefinitely inherit their life stories, such that the lives of the living can be remembered and celebrated after they are deceased. This is because it is reasonable (i.e., probable) that Scanlon’s society will end. Scanlon’s society, like all societies, is engaged in a constant struggle against the entropy of the universe. However, Scanlon’s society, unlike other possible societies, does the bare minimum that is necessary to resist its disorder. Whether it be a meteor, a solar flare or a supernova, Scanlon’s society – as per all others who adhere to moral ideologies which permit material passivity – will eventually become extinct due to their unwillingness to expand their control over their material environment and the universe more generally. The moral principle which governs Scanlon’s society – as per any other versions of ‘moral’ theory whose notions of harm are exclusively positively applied – would clearly prevent its members from deliberately and directly initiating a cataclysmic event; and yet, it implicitly permits its members to avoid taking the necessary actions to prevent a cataclysmic event from externally arising.
24. This limitation might occur directly, through the establishment of policies which explicitly prescribe the limitation or variation of the lives of citizens in arbitrarily ways (e.g., a government-funded program that is sought by many citizens but is only available to subsection of the population for which there is no logical basis for entitlement). It may also occur indirectly, and more subtly, through policies which are arbitrary by the nature of their existence and thus wasteful (e.g., a government-funded program that is made available to all citizens, for which there was no logical basis for its initial establishment and/nor its width of availability); such wastage limits the potential for government to provide beneficial policies and programs upon their citizens.
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