Liberal Ethics and Morals
The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live. – Ayn Rand
Ethics and morals can be defined as the norms, values and attitudes practiced by an individual, the concepts of right and wrong, and leaning about this.
To that end, liberalists ask themselves the following key questions: How will you get as much as possible out of your life here on earth? How will you achieve the highest possible happiness?
Morals are Objective
Liberal morals are objective, thus making them the opposite of subjectivism. The concept «objective» in this context means «reality oriented», and this is covered by a comprehensive philosophy called Objectivism.
Liberal or objective ethics, then, are based on observable fact, rather than subjective and emotion-based opinions of right and wrong.
By figuring out the natural requirements for living a good life, we find values and accompanying virtues.
Your Most Important Value
Your main moral value is life. Your consideration for your own life is what creates the standard for all your moral activity and all your other values. The reason for this is that your life is all you have, and it is irreplaceable.
All human beings have a basic choice to make – to live or to die. In order to live, you have to do something active, and the first thing you must do to survive in nature is to think. Animals and plants have no free will, therefore living based on instinct or automatic processes. For a human being, it is a different story.
You Must Choose
What you do matters. You must make conscious choices in order to survive and live a full and happy human life. These are the demands liberal ethics attempt to explore. The first priority, which is your life, is followed by other values.
A value is something you act to either obtain or preserve. It is something important to you. Values can be a secure life, your wife, your kids, your property, or similar things.
In order to live and preserve your values, you must think rationally, i.e. evaluating your environment and your actions against all available facts.
This takes us to virtues: Characteristics, you should strive for in order to be happy and use your potential as a creative, thinking and productive human being.
The highest virtue is rationality, because it is the main tool for surviving. This is followed by the following important virtues:
Independence means thinking and making independent assessments, as well as having the courage to trust your own decisions. Learning from others is a positive thing, but at the same time, you also need to understand, whether what you are learning is right or wrong based on reality.
Integrity means being consistent and standing up for your convictions and opinions, even if they turn out to be unpopular. If you have integrity, you avoid falling for temptations that would otherwise undermine your moral foundation. In other words, you are trustworthy.
Honesty means saying nothing untrue, following facts and logical arguments, and changing your point of view, if you find out something you believed was wrong. It is important to be honest with both others and especially yourself – since in the long run, living on a lie is destructive for you and your loved ones.
Justice means treating other people the way they deserve to be treated. If a person treats you well, you treat them well in return. If a person treats you poorly, you stop having anything to do with that person, you do not forgive, and you do not forget. This encourages good behavior and discourages bad behavior.
Productivity is creating the things you need to live a good life. This is something everyone has to do, either by being self-sufficient or by trading for goods and services. Basically, nothing comes fully processed from nature, and we must create and transform everything, all for our own purposes. Creative activity is key for humans.
Pride is moral ambition, that means trying to improve characteristics in yourself that you do not think are good. This involves trying to change negative traits as you discover them and always seeking new challenges in your life and work.
A Moral Society
Since thinking and being sensible are so fundamental for being human, it is important to protect this. Anything that prevents the individual from thinking freely is therefore both immoral and illegitimate.
In practical terms, this means initiation of violent acts and any regulation of peaceful activity, such as compulsory opening hours, duties, taxes, fees, various prohibitions, and so on.
- Liberal ethics intend to show you how to have the best possible life on earth
- Morals being «objective» means that they are oriented to reality and that it is based on facts for a good life
- Your primary moral precept is your life
- All liberal values and virtues after that one further your life as a happy person
- The most important virtue is being rational, meaning thinking, dealing in facts, and acting accordingly
- Other virtues include independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productivity, and pride, as well as not initiating force
- A society that promotes and respects such attitudes is a liberal constitutional government
- Virtue / Ayn Rand Lexicon »
- Loving Life (Craig Biddle, Glen Allen Press, 2002)