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The relationship between personal integrity and moral theorizing has always been challenging, and is arguably the most essential problem for modern philosophy to unravel and resolve.
Incorrect moral theories can be justly viewed as the greatest viruses to ever attack the human species – theories such as communism, fascism and other forms of totalitarian socialism – as well as generic nationalism – have caused the deaths of hundreds of millions of human beings in the 20th century alone. It is hard to think of any biological virus with a similar death count, except perhaps the black death of the early Middle Ages, which spread through the extreme and unsanitary poverty which resulted from the catastrophic moral and economic theories of monarchy and feudalism.
I have argued for many years that first we look to the man, and then we look to his theories. As a result, I have been endlessly accused of committing the logical fallacies of ad hominem and tu quoque. The ad hominem fallacy is an attempt to discredit a theory by attacking the theoretician, i.e. “Your argument is invalid because you are ugly.” Tu quoque is the fallacy of rejecting a moral theory due to the hypocrisy of the moralist. If a slave owner argues that slavery is immoral, we cannot reject the immorality of slavery because the moralist owns slaves.
However, while it is a fallacy to reject a moral theory due to the moral hypocrisies of the theorist, there are two components to rejecting a theory. The first is to prove that the theory is necessarily and universally false, and the second is to reject the competence of the theorist.
There are three arguments which support examining the moralist prior to examining his or her moral theories; the first is practical, and almost universally understood and practiced, while the second is logical, and not well understood as yet. The third will be examined at the end of this article.
The importance of the relationship between personal integrity and moral theorizing cannot be overstated. If we could have rationally excluded from the philosophical discourse of mankind the number of moralists who were themselves deeply immoral, we would have saved the world from, at a bare minimum, Communism and Nazism, whose death count rose above 100 million innocent people. Evil ethicists are the holocaust of humanity; if philosophy can be the instant sunlight to their endless vampirism, it could save more lives than all the doctors who have ever lived.
The Practical Objection
A history of irrationality does not logically preclude a future of rationality – however, that is almost never how we make our decisions – individually, institutionally, or as societies.
If you are an indifferent undergraduate student, eking out marks in the mid-60% range, and then you apply for a graduate degree, you will be rejected by any mainstream university. You can rationally protest that a history of bad marks does not necessarily mean a future of bad marks, and you will be quite correct, but you will still be denied entrance. The university will reject you for two reasons; one obvious, and one more sophisticated.
The obvious reason is the well-established principle that by far the best predictor of future behavior is relevant past behavior. If you want to know how a man will act tomorrow, examine how he acted in the past. True, it cannot be established beyond a shadow of a doubt that a history of poor scholarship proves a future of equally poor scholarship, but it is the best indicator. Spaces in graduate programs are limited, and all who try but fail to secure graduate degrees waste scarce resources; therefore those resources should go to those with the greatest chance of success. An old, lame horse could theoretically win the Kentucky Derby, but would you bet on it?
The more sophisticated reason for rejecting the indifferent undergraduate applicant is that completing a graduate degree – and I say this from experience – requires planning, consistency, intelligence, foresight, negotiation and a basket full of other related skills. If, as an undergraduate, you get bad marks, it could be because you lack the intelligence to do better. If you lack the intelligence to do well in an undergraduate program, you will do even worse in a graduate program, where the demands for intelligence are higher. A man who cannot lift 50 pounds cannot lift 150 pounds.
If you possess the necessary intelligence to do well as an undergraduate, but lack the ability to plan, then you will do even worse in a graduate program, where planning requirements are even more stringent. A man who cannot plan a 10 page essay cannot plan a 100 page thesis.
We could go through all the other requirements for success in a graduate program, and compare them to your success in an undergraduate program, and understand that either you lack these skills and abilities, in which case you will fail, or you possess them, but lack foresight, planning, a work ethic, commitment, or any of the wide variety of other skills necessary for success, in which case you will also fail.
Still, from a purely logical standpoint, you could make the case that while relevant past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior, it is not ironclad proof. While this argument will still not get you into a graduate program, it remains logically sound.
In countless areas, we sensibly reject people based upon prior personal habits or characteristics. A rational man does not date thieves; a sensible woman does not date a serial wife beater; a cautious investor does not hand his money over to a known cheat; I do not order goods from eBay merchants with terrible reputations, and so on. An examination of prior behavior helps keep us safe, although we cannot rationally prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that future behavior will match prior behavior. A rock thrown off a cliff will certainly fall to the ground; an immoral man can theoretically reform himself and find virtue.
One consistent strategy of inconsistent moralists is to create massive and generally incomprehensible tomes, and then demand that any who wish to reject their theories must first become an expert in their thoughts (as an added bonus, if they wrote in the critics non-native tongue, the critic must also learn that language as well.)
In this essay, I will argue that there is a far easier and more immediate way to reject the philosophical and moral propositions of any and all thinkers. It has to do with an examination of personal hypocrisy, but does not fall prey to either the ad hominem or tu quoque fallacies.
This is an essential task – if there was a rational way to reject the moral propositions of immoral people, this would be an incalculable boon to mankind. If we could first look to the man, rather than to his argument, then a bare skimming of his life history can be sufficient to avoid a detailed analysis of his moral propositions. It is easier to read a bullet point outline of Karl Marx’s personal life, say, then slog your way through the three mammoth volumes of “Capital” in the original 19th-century German.
If the diet section of your local bookstore has 100 books, and 99 of them have a morbidly obese author on the cover, it would be massively efficient to be able to reject the diets of the fat authors, and pick out the one lean and healthy writer.
This is not an unprecedented approach, and should not be surprising or foreign to us.
If your sister tells you she wants to date a man who brags about putting his last 15 girlfriends in the hospital with broken bones, what would you say? Assuming you are not a similar sadist, you would strongly urge her to avoid such a violent monster. If she is a petty logician, she might argue that we cannot say for absolute certain that he will be as violent in his future as he was in his past, and she will be technically correct.
She will also end up in the hospital with broken bones. Logically correct, but emotionally and physically shattered.
If a financial advisor wants your business, and you find out that he has cheated all his prior clients out of their life savings, will that affect your decision to put him in charge of your money? Of course it will – although you cannot prove as a rational certainty that you will be his next victim.
It is not just a person’s history that is relevant, but his attitude towards that history as well. If your potential financial advisor has not only cheated all his prior clients, but writes a blog detailing how happy it makes him to cheat people, laughing at all the ridiculous suckers that he has productively separated from their money, and his glee and delight in selecting his next victim, then “high probability” rises to “virtual certainty.”
It remains theoretically possible that such a man might miraculously find some sort of conscience after you give him all of your money to manage, or he could be struck by some brain illness that prevents him from executing his nefarious plans, or he could get hit by a bus, or any other such accident – but outside of random happenstance, a man with a history of immorality who openly delights in that immorality, will without a doubt be immoral in the future. To argue otherwise is to destroy any kind of rational cause and effect between thought and action.
We apply this reasoning again and again in society as a whole as well – a violent criminal who continues to revel in his past crimes, and delights in plotting new ones, should never be released from prison, and in fact rarely is. Remorse is the key to release.
A woman who was hit as a child is statistically far more likely to hit her own children, but this is not a certainty. However, a woman who was hit as a child, and who praises her parents for hitting her, and insists that hitting children is parental excellence – and that not hitting children is destructive and abusive – is certain to hit her own children (again, excluding random happenstance, such as an alligator chewing off all her limbs, at which point she will doubtless resort to headbutting them.)
Online marketplaces such as eBay rely on reputation systems, which allow potential purchasers to view reports of the past behavior of various merchants. A merchant with a spotless ten-year record is almost certain to ship you whatever you pay for; his past integrity provides the best proof of a successful transaction in the present. Merchants who cheated all prior customers are almost certain to cheat you, which is why no one buys from them.
There remains a difference, however, between practicing virtue and proclaiming virtue.
Deciding to cut down on my sugar intake does not make me a nutritionist; deciding against spanking my children does not make me a moralist. I might cut down on my sugar because it is too expensive, or because I’m concerned about cavities – I might decide against spanking my children because it hurts my hand, or because my children are getting larger and stronger.
An honest eBay merchant might in fact prefer that his competition is dishonest, since that would drive more business to his own store. Practicing a virtue is not the same as theoretically and universally proclaiming it as an abstract moral theory.
This essay is written to provide the ammunition to expose false moralists; therefore we are not primarily concerned with those who practice virtue, but with those who proclaim virtue.
To reiterate, moral hypocrisy on the part of the moralizer does not automatically disprove his moral theories.
A dishonest financial advisor may publicly speak about honor and virtue in financial dealings – his dishonesty does not disprove the value of honor and virtue. A counterfeiter’s fake money does not disprove the value of real money – rather, it affirms and relies on the value of real money.
A man who beats his wife may write many books on the virtue of nonviolent communication – the fact that he beats his wife does not invalidate the virtue of nonviolent communication.
However, that is not the end of our capacity to analyze the moral theories of immoral people.
If we can find an ironclad – i.e., not empirical, but analytical – argument which allows us to reject the moral theories of immoral people, we can literally save not just millions of hours of analysis, but millions of lives as well.
Not a bad way to spend an hour or so.
The Analytical Rejection
Imagine that, in a loud bar, someone asks me for the name of a country that borders on Greece, but I hear him asking for the name of a flightless bird that Americans eat on Thanksgiving.
I reply, of course, “Turkey.”
Am I correct?
There are two ways of answering that – one is to focus on the conclusion, the other is to focus on the methodology. If I focus on the conclusion, then I have used the right word, and my answer is correct.
In the same way, if I only speak English, but somehow end up on a Japanese game show, and the host asks me a question, and I make some fake Japanese sounding syllables, and those syllables happen to be the correct answer, am I right?
A parrot can be trained to say “64.” If a man asks the parrot what two to the sixth power is, does the parrot’s response mean that it understands mathematics?
Of course not.
Suppose I am playing golf for the first time, and I miraculously sink a hole in one. If I never hit a golf ball again, am I the best golfer in history?
You could argue that I am, since I have the most perfect score possible throughout my entire career. However, I should not hold my breath for my entrance into the golfing Hall of Fame, or for lucrative endorsement deals, because my success does not arise from practice and consistent results, but rather from a freak accident and an avoidance of retesting my abilities.
My daughter likes to doodle and make up pretend letters and words – if, in one of her scribblings, she writes by accident “E=MC2” should I shout with joy and immediately label her a physicist? Of course not, I should smile at the odd coincidence, and accept that the random sometimes looks like the planned. Once every million years, the wind might carve the tops of sand dunes into the same equation; this does not mean that the wind should be granted a degree in physics.
If we imagine that the truth is in the answer, then these accidents are “true.”
If, however, we accept that the truth is in the methodology, then these accidents do not result in “truth.” They are not “false” either; they are just random or accidental. If I look at my daughter’s accidentally scribbled “equation," can I assign it a value of true or false?
That would be like suing a tree that fell on my car for the willful destruction of my property.
Accidents have no truth value; they are outside the realm of truth or falsehood or morality or immorality, they remain mere coincidence or happenstance with no philosophical content whatsoever. They are, in the memorable phrase of Richard Dawkins, “not even wrong.”
If one day, an ancient fragment of text is unearthed that proclaims that “Freedomain Radio will be the most popular philosophy show in the world,” that would be a fascinating coincidence, but it would neither be a true nor a false statement, since it is a mere statement without methodology. Since the work is not shown, the truth cannot be present.
When we are children, we are constantly told to “show our work.” Writing a number that matches the answer in a math problem is not enough, we must show how we arrived at our conclusion, or we are marked down.
In science or mathematics, it is not enough to say that you have solved a problem, you must also show how you have solved the problem, or it remains impossible for other people to evaluate your expertise.
Reproducibility is also essential to the scientific method, which is another reason why it is so important to show your work. If you claim that you have produced fusion in a jar, other scientists must be able to reproduce your findings, or they are automatically considered invalid. If other scientists cannot reproduce your experiments, that does not mean that your theory is false, it simply means that it is unproven, invalid, not in conformity to the scientific method. Again, it is “not even wrong.”
An ancient religion may have as one of its tenets the belief that the world is a sphere. This belief, since it is the result of divine revelation, and not scientific or mathematical investigation, is invalid, even though science will later prove that the world is in fact a sphere.
The conclusion alone can never be correct, only the methodology can be correct.
This is a very tricky argument to understand, but it is absolutely essential.
A man in the ancient world who dreams that the world is a sphere is not correct, even though the world is in fact a sphere, because a dream is not a valid methodology for discovering rational truths about the world.
Truth, in other words, has nothing to do with the conclusion, and everything to do with the methodology.
One cannot be “accidentally correct,” any more than one can accidentally be the best golfer in history. The moment that a consistent methodology is bypassed, the conclusions are automatically invalidated.
If I openly state that I am diametrically opposed to the scientific method, I cannot be a scientist – even if, after endless pages of random scribblings, I accidentally write the equivalent of some valuable equation.
Monkeys tapping away on endless keyboards will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare; this does not mean that infinite monkeying is the artistic equivalent of the greatest poet in the English language, because what they produce is accidental, while what Shakespeare produced was purposeful.
In other words, the words “right,” “valid,” “correct,” “true” and so on all refer to the validity of the methodology, rather than the validity of the conclusion, or the answer.
Methodology versus Conclusion
The word “correct,” refers to the validity of the methodology, rather than the answer provided. A correct methodology is a necessary, but not sufficient, requirement for truth. If you follow a valid methodology, your conclusions may be valid – if you do not, they are never valid.
In science, this means using the scientific method – a “valid” conclusion is one arrived at through the use of the scientific method, which is then validated by logical consistency, empirical tests, reproducibility, and so on.
This does not mean that the conclusion is absolutely and permanently correct, of course – scientific theories are overturned and superseded all the time, as measurement accuracy improves, new information arises, or better theories are developed.
Any answers which were not developed using the scientific method are automatically invalid – which really means beyond or outside testability. “Invalid" refers to the incorrect or absent methodology, rather than any specific answer.
If I tell you that my mathematical theory is correct because the answer is “4,” but I refuse to tell you any of the equations, propositions or methodology which produces the number “4,” am I correct? To pretend to evaluate that is to insult the word “correct.”
Answers can never be evaluated in the absence of rational, empirical and consistent methodologies. No conclusion, no answer, no proposition requires rational review or rebuttal if the methodology is either incorrect or absent. As the old saying goes, “that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
If a man states – either implicitly or explicitly – that he rejects consistent methodologies, then his conclusions can be rejected as invalid without further examination. They cannot possibly be true, since truth results from a consistent methodology, and accidental “truths” are invalid by definition.
Sophists generally operate by stating emotionally pleasing or provocative conclusions, and refusing to show the consistent methodology that produced them. Rational thinkers are so often drawn into examining, evaluating and rebutting these statements, which is an unnecessary and even counterproductive waste of time and energy. These attempts not only promote the perceived value of sophistry, but insult the critical necessity for a consistent methodology in philosophical thought. Great thinkers should spend their time more wisely; philosophers have better things to do than fence with bumper stickers.
Consistency and Integrity
If I say that spanking children is immoral, but I spank my own child, this of course does not disprove the proposition that spanking children is immoral, but it does prove something equally important in many ways.
If a scientist says that all gases expand when heated, except his own personal emissions, then he has involved himself in an immediate self-contradiction, and shown that he either does not understand the principle of universality, or is rejecting it for some nefarious purpose.
The moment someone claims that his proposition is universal, and then breaks that universality, he can no longer claim that his proposition is universal - or that he even understands the concept of “universality.” The scientist who says that all gases expand when heated, except for argon in Philadelphia during a full moon, can no longer say that all gases expand when heated, or must reject the exception he is creating for argon in Philadelphia during a full moon. If he does not even notice that he is both proposing and repudiating universality simultaneously, he is either a complete fool or a dangerous manipulator.
I have made the case elsewhere that moral propositions require and enforce Universally Preferable Behavior. A moralist who acts in opposition to his moral propositions is implicitly rejecting the fundamental requirement of universality.
A doctor who smokes, and says that smoking is bad for everyone except himself, makes the same error.
This is worth stating again: since moral propositions require universality, any moralist who rejects universality – either explicitly or implicitly – by acting in a manner counter to his propositions – has by definition rejected universality.
Thus, the moment a moralist rejects universality, he cannot be a moralist – any more than a scientist who rejects the scientific method can be a scientist, or a mathematician who rejects mathematical principles can be a mathematician, or a philosopher who rejects logic can be a philosopher.
We do not need to evaluate the claims of a man who says that he is a scientist, but also openly states that he rejects the scientific method, because his rejection of the scientific method, as shown above, reveals that none of his conclusions can be valid or true, since truth exists only in the methodology, never in the conclusions.
In other words, we do not need to disprove the propositions of a man who rejects reason and evidence, since his rejection of reason and evidence means that none of his propositions can ever be valid; nothing accidental can ever be true.
How do we know that a moralist rejects universality?
One approach we can take is to examine his theories, and look for a consistent methodology – in other words, the moment that we find emotionally significant conclusions, without reasoning from first principles, we can reject the entire philosophy. Philosophy, like science and mathematics, requires consistency; the moment that a significant inconsistency is revealed – and is rejected, suppressed or ignored by the thinker – we can reject the philosophy as a whole.
This does not mean that perfect consistency is required, or that no errors can occur in a philosophy – or in a philosopher – but blatant and obvious inconsistencies or absences of rational methodologies are enough to discard the school of thought as a whole.
Philosophy-breaking errors must be fundamental to the field of study, or to the central propositions of the philosophy; disputes over statistics or syntax do not count.
A nutritionist who eats a candy bar once in a while can still be a nutritionist, but a nutritionist who eats only candy bars cannot.
A mother who values nonviolent communication, and yells at her son, is not necessarily a hypocrite, providing that she recognizes the deviance from her values, apologizes, does her best to figure out why she ended up yelling, and works hard to avoiding yelling again. Again, this does not mean that if she yells twice, she is automatically a hypocrite, as long as she continues to work diligently toward the goal of consistently achieving her values of nonviolent communication, and is open about her failings.
However, a parent who claims to value nonviolent communication, and constantly yells at her son, and only yells louder when her hypocrisy is pointed out, and blames her son for making him yell at her, and never admits fault, is about as obvious a hypocrite as can be imagined.
Correctness is in the methodology, and virtue is also in the methodology of pursuing virtue, just as health is in the methodology of pursuing health.
As long as people are open and honest about their moral deficiencies, and work conscientiously to correct them, virtue is achieved in the process of pursuing virtue. A dieter who eats cheesecake in a moment of weakness is still a dieter, as long as she throws out the remaining cheesecake and buys no more. A dieter who keeps eating cheesecake is no longer a dieter.
An anti-spanker who keeps spanking his child cannot possibly be a moralist, since she loudly proclaims a moral theory, which requires significant intelligence, and therefore her hypocrisy cannot result from a lack of intelligence. If a man proposes a moral theory, he is automatically accepting the value of consistency and universality – that is the basic power of morality. A man who proposes a scientific theory is automatically accepting the value of consistency and universality, as well as empiricism, which really is the foundation of the scientific method. We observe, and then we theorize about that which in general we cannot observe, at least as yet.
If a man lacks the intelligence to understand the concept of universality, then he will never propose a moral theory, which requires an understanding of the concept of universality. He may say that he does not like being hit, a preference he would share with apes, dogs and fish, but he will not say that hitting is morally wrong, since that requires universality, which he does not understand. The moment that he says hitting is morally wrong, he reveals an understanding of universality, and can no longer be considered too stupid to understand it. I cannot hold a complex conversation in Japanese, and then deny that I speak Japanese.
Thus all moralists reveal – again, either explicitly or implicitly – a deep understanding of universality.
If a moralist consistently acts against his own moral propositions, he is both affirming and denying the value of universality. Moral propositions require universality, but he denies that universality by creating – and usually hiding – exceptions for his own actions.
Once a scientist has created and maintained a personal exception for his general rule of physics (“I can fly!”), he has broken the methodology of universality, which is necessary for any scientific theory and thus he is no longer a scientist, and his theories do not need further examination.
Once a moralist has created and maintained a personal exception to his general moral rule, he has broken the methodology of universality, which is necessary for any moral theory – and thus he is no longer a moralist, and his theories do not require any further examination.
If a man says that no parent should spank, and then spanks his own children, he is both affirming and denying the value of universality; he acts in opposition to his theory. In science, empiricism trumps theory; in ethics, a man is judged by how he acts, rather than what he says. Actions reveal what words obscure.
Einstein was an abusive husband; however, his scientific theories did not involve the ethics of human relationships, and so must be evaluated relative to the scientific method.
A moral hypocrite rejects consistency, which means that he rejects any rational methodology in the formulation and enactment of his moral theories.
As we have discussed above, we can reject without investigation anyone who fails to apply a rational methodology to his arguments. Personal hypocrisy – particularly in the realm of morality – reveals a rejection of universality, which means a rejection of any rational methodology in the formulation of the moral theory.
Since truth or validity is only in the methodology, and not in the conclusion, we do not need to examine the arguments of anyone who rejects a rational methodology, since their conclusions can never be true, or valid, or correct, or right – or, in the realm of morality in particular, moral.
Honesty and Morality
If a moralist consistently acts in opposition to his own moral standards, then he is either honest about his immoral actions, or he is not. I have yet to hear of a well-known moralist who openly and proactively revealed his own hypocrisy; the universal tactic seems to be to hide one’s own immorality.
If a moralist publicly reveals his own hypocrisy, he openly reveals that he is evil by his own definition. If a moralist reveals himself as evil, why would one examine his ethical pronouncements? He might as well say, “I am an evil, untrustworthy liar, let me instruct you on truth and virtue!” What madness it would be to listen!
A man who defines himself as evil cannot by definition be trusted; since lying is generally a lesser form of evil, one cannot trust anything he says. Would you consent to be operated on by a surgeon who openly stated his desire to kill you?
This is why moralists hide their own moral transgressions; they know that they lose all power and credibility if their immoralities are revealed.
If a moralist hides his own immorality, he has revealed himself as a liar about the most important aspects of life; virtue, goodness and honesty. If a moralist compounds his own immorality with the immorality of lying about it, covering it up, then he is not to be trusted in any way, shape or form.
If a scientist openly states that he is falsifying his data, who would bother to examine his work?
When a moralist lies about his own immoralities, he is acting in a far more egregious and immoral fashion.
Really, that’s all you need to know about his “moral” theories.
Throw away the books, look to the man, and save mankind.
Honesty and Improvement
When a moralist makes a moral argument, he is attempting to improve the ethics of mankind.
Making a moral argument contains within it the implicit premise that immorality results from a lack of information, understanding, statistics or wisdom – which are provided in the moral argument provided by the moralist.
In other words, to make a moral argument is to assume that people’s moral stature can be elevated through the ideas or arguments contained within that moral argument.
The moralist making the argument must by definition be in possession of superior information, since he is generating and making the argument about what goodness is, and why or how to be good.
A moral proposition thus assumes that moral excellence is improved by information, which is contained within the proposition. If moral excellence is improved by information, and the moralist has enough good information to generate a moral proposition, then the moralist must by definition have achieved greater moral excellence than those he lectures.
If you stop your car and ask me for directions, and I confidently give you those directions, we must assume that my knowledge about the directions in question is superior to yours. You lack information, I possess information, and thus can transfer it to you.
If a man provides information to improve the moral excellence of others, then the clear assumption is that being in possession of this information improves moral excellence.
If, however, the moralist is immoral, despite being in possession of the information he provides the others, then being in possession of this information does not improve moral excellence.
To go one step further, if the moralist is downright evil, despite being in possession of the information he provides to others, then being in possession of this information is associated with destroying moral excellence, and becoming evil.
Perhaps, you may say, the moralist does not follow the advice that he provides to others, just as a fat man with an excellent diet plan may recommend a diet that he does not himself follow.
If this is true, then the information that the moralist possesses does improve moral excellence, but the moralist does not wish to improve moral excellence, at least in himself.
For a moralist to not wish to improve moral excellence is a contradiction in terms – a moralist by definition is someone who wishes to improve moral excellence, just as a teacher is by definition someone who wishes to improve knowledge and skills, and a doctor is someone who wishes to improve or maintain health, and a nutritionist to someone who wishes to improve diet, and so on.
If I say that I am a teacher who wishes to destroy knowledge in others, then I cannot be a teacher.
If I say that I am a moralist, but do not wish to improve moral excellence, then I am not moralist.
If I say that I am a moralist, but wish to improve the moral excellence of others, but not myself, then I have broken universality, and can no longer claim to be a moralist, as discussed above.
In this way, we know that a moralist who practices immorality can never be taken seriously, and should in fact be avoided at all costs, both as a person, and a theoretician.
Immorality and Mimicry
Those who imitate a value cannot claim to be ignorant of the utility of that value. If I am a counterfeiter, my main goal is to produce money that mimics as closely as possible the legitimate money in circulation.
A counterfeiter cannot claim to have no idea of the value of money, since he attempts to artificially create that value by imitating valid money as closely as he can – in fact, the imitation is driven solely by the counterfeiter’s knowledge of the value of money.
A counterfeiter who wishes to remain both profitable and out of prison has two main goals – the first is to avoid any methodology that easily separates real money from fake money – a counterfeit detection machine, say – and the second is to make sure that counterfeit bills only ever go out of his wallet, never back into it.
If a cell-phone based counterfeit detection machine (CDM) is invented, which sets off an alarm any time someone attempts to use fake money, the counterfeiter will very quickly go out of business. Thus it is in the interest of the counterfeiter to prevent these CDM’s from coming into existence.
In this essay, I am attempting to provide mankind a highly portable counterfeit detection machine in the realm of morality – i.e., that the arguments of a moralist may be universally and rationally dismissed if he consistently practices immorality, and in particular if he hides that immorality in any way.
Counterfeiters both support and reject universality – they support the universal value of money, which they attempt to prey on by mimicking its value through their own shoddy creations – and they reject universality, in that they are very happy to spend counterfeit money, but very unhappy to receive it.
In the same way, counterfeit moralists are very happy to lecture others on moral universals, but are always very unhappy when those universals are applied to their own lives.
Counterfeiters hate and fear counterfeit detection machines; anyone who gets very upset with this essay is almost certainly a sham moralist, and a highly dangerous person, and a fundamental enemy of mankind.
Explicit Versus Implicit Hypocrisy
Let us take the case of Karl Marx. Marx railed against the evils of exploiting workers, but refused to pay his maid a penny for decades, and then got her pregnant, and refused to acknowledge or pay for his own son, who remained – likely as a result – a member of the working class, a welder, and prominent in the welders’ union.
Marx spent decades actively striving to hide his paternity, since he feared the loss of his moral prestige if it were found out. (There are countless examples of Marx’s exploitation of just about everyone he came in contact with, but we will just focus on this example for the moment.)
If Marx had openly and publicly declared his unwillingness to pay his maid, and openly affirmed his own fathering of a working-class son – and his refusal to pay for him – then he would have openly declared his contempt for the concept of universality, and thus utterly undermined his own ethical propositions.
If the exploitation of workers is evil, then Marx was evil. An evil moralist breaks universality, and certainly cannot be trusted, since he has openly declared himself as evil.
As the historian Paul Johnson has noted, Marx was unable to find a single example of any worker who was never paid a penny by his or her employer, except in his own household – which means that Marx was a far more egregious exploiter then the capitalist bourgeoisie that he condemned. Also, in the Communist Manifesto, Marx railed against the sexual exploitation of workers by employers – if he had openly revealed his sexual exploitation of his own unpaid worker, his manifesto would have become a tortured psychological case of repression, projection and displaced shame, and a piece of bad moral comedy, rather than a tragically influential work.
However, by hiding his own immoralities – especially according to his own values – Marx revealed that he perfectly understood the value of consistency in moral theories and actions. In other words, he knew that, if his own immoralities were revealed, his moral theories would have taken a possibly mortal blow.
Thus, Marx cannot claim to not understand the power and value of universality in moral propositions – his act of hiding his own egregious moral violations perfectly shows his understanding of the power and value of universality.
Marx also cannot claim the excuse of occasional deviation from moral ideals – the dieter who eats a piece of cheesecake in the middle of the night, or the peaceful parent who yells once every two years – since his financial and sexual exploitations lasted for decades, and his denial of paternity and legal and financial responsibility for his son lasted until his death, and was actively hidden by Marx, Engels and their followers.
A man who claims a moral ideal, and consistently acts against that moral ideal, and hides his own hypocrisy, obviously does not value or follow universality in any empirical or practical sense whatsoever.
A man whose theories rely on universality, but through his actions reveals that he does not value or follow universality, may be rejected without further examination. His moral theories can never be true, since he rejects the only methodology – reason and evidence – that can establish truth or falsehood.
Again, the equivalent is a man whose theories rely on the scientific method, but who does not value or follow the scientific method – such a man’s theories can never be true, since he has rejected the only methodology – the scientific method – that can establish the validity or invalidity of a scientific theory.
Arguing that we can examine the truth of a conclusion without examining the methodology that produced it is like arguing that we can examine the truth of ownership without examining any prior events or circumstances. There is no way to logically establish the ownership of a bicycle by looking at a man riding it. He might be the legitimate owner of the bicycle, or he might have just stolen it, or he might be renting it, or he might be taking it for a test ride, or he might be bicycling in his sleep, or any of another thousand possibilities. A man playing with a child might be the father, he might be an uncle, a friend, a sinister stranger, or a cuckolded husband who merely believes that he is the father.
We cannot determine the truth of the statement, “employers exploit workers,” without examining the methodology which produced the statement. If the man producing the statement rejects rational methodologies – either explicitly or implicitly – the statement is invalid, even if it can be later logically proven that employers do exploit workers. If the moralist exploits his own workers, then he cannot claim that it is a universal evil - unless he is willing to admit that he is evil - and therefore he immediately loses the value of universality, and therefore cannot be a moralist. A man who proposes a moral theory while empirically disproving that moral theory through his own hypocritical actions, must be automatically dismissed. Nothing he says can ever be true, even if a few things he said may eventually be proven through a rational and consistent methodology.
Philosophy starts with empiricism, since if matter did not behave in a consistent and predictable manner, reason – not to mention science, or life itself – would never have come into being. In the same way, an examination of moral theories must start with an examination of the moralizer, to determine whether any rational analysis of his propositions is even possible.
We do not bring science to the imaginary physics of our nightly dreams; we do not bring biology to the painted “aliens” of Star Trek; we do not bring geology to the fantastical lands of Middle Earth, because they are the products of whimsy and entertaining imaginations.
A man demanding a Nobel Prize in science for his random scribbles can be dismissed without examination – in the same way, a moralist who consistently practices moral inconsistency can be dismissed without examination, since he has proven his contempt for consistency, which is a necessary – but not sufficient – requirement for any valid moral theory.
Thus proving moral inconsistencies in the life of a moralist is sufficient cause to reject his arguments as a whole – and this rejection does not fall prey to either the ad hominem and tu quoque fallacies. The argument can be summarized thus:
1. Arguments can be true if they follow a consistent methodology; there is no such thing as “accidental validity.”
2. Any argument proposed by a man can be rejected as invalid if he does not follow or understand a consistent methodology.
3. Ethical arguments require universality.
4. Any ethical argument proposed by an ethicist can be rejected if the ethicist does not understand or follow the requirement of universality.
5. An ethicist who consistently acts in contradiction to his stated moral theories shows that he does not understand or follow the requirement of universality.
6. Since this ethicist does not follow or understand the requirement of universality, none of his arguments or conclusions can be valid, since the concept of “validity” only applies to the methodology, not the conclusion.
7. Such a person can no longer be called an ethicist, since he has shown by his actions that does not understand or follow the requirements of ethical arguments.
The analogy in science would be:
1. Arguments can be true if they follow a consistent methodology; there is no such thing as “accidental validity.”
2. Any argument proposed by a man can be rejected as invalid if he does not follow or understand a consistent methodology.
3. Scientific arguments require conformity with the scientific method.
4. Any scientific argument proposed by a scientist can be rejected if the scientist does not understand or follow the scientific method.
5. A scientist who consistently acts in contradiction to the scientific method shows that he does not understand or follow the requirements of science.
6. Since this scientist does not follow or understand the requirement of science, none of his arguments or conclusions can be valid, since the concept of “validity” only applies to the methodology, not the conclusion.
7. Such a person can no longer be called a “scientist,” since he does not understand or follow the requirements of science.