Daniel Davis buybuydandavis at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 13 02:14:55 CEST 2010

Carmen writes:

> My thought is for  the concept, for the idea that one can think and act  
> based on one's  inner values and evaluated self-interest without  
> requiring a nod of  approval from anyone else and/or justification from  
> a moral system or  spokesperson thereof.

But are your morals separate from your inner values? 

A mother cat tends not to eat its young. Why not? Moist, tender, moving, but 
relatively helpless - sounds like a perfect snack for a cat. I would submit that 
they don't because they have some built in social values, as many animals do, 
and as we do. I'd call some of those built in values moral sentiments.

Just because some morals are innate, does not imply that I feel I therefore must 
follow them. But I certainly hold myself free to do so, and in general feel 
inclined to do so. Does that mean I've fallen off the egoist wagon? I don't 
think so. Acting egoistically precludes neither acting out of altruistic 
impulses nor acting out of moral impulses. 

In the past I may have missed the distinction that makes the difference - egoism 
isn't the refusal to follow such impulses, its the recognition that one is in 
fact free to choose, and all rationalizations which attempt to derive an ought 
from an is are fundamentally flawed.

The moral systems are the problem, the erroneous claims that your service is 

> I frankly think many or even most Americans (a  highly religion- 
> oriented culture) have not heard an honest defense of  acting in one's  
> chosen interest. 

That is certainly true, but for good reason. The New Atheist movement attracts 
plenty enough hatred by not believing in God. Try telling the world you don't 
accept objective morality. Even the so called relativists tend to be just 
cultural relativists - clinging to morality just as fiercely as a fundamentalist 
clings to religion, but allowing others the leeway to cling to prevalent 
morality of another town. But deny objective morality entirely - sacrilege! Burn 
the infidel! 

But I think it is a mistake is to egoism as something to defend. Instead, one 
refutes the alternatives that claim your service by right, points out that one 
is free to choose, and leaves the acceptance to the listener.

> Anytime  you feel it appropriate, I'd enjoy reading about your work  
> regarding  labels and the neutrality of words.  I have background in  
> general  semantics, which addresses the subject,  too.

Yet another GS sighting. It seems to turn up everywhere. I sent an email to 
Daniel Dennett, asking him for a reference to Rapoport's Rules of Debate he 
advocated in some lecture. He said he was looking for a good reference himself. 
I tracked down some. Turns out Rapoport was associated with GS, I think as an 
editor of ETC, and he originally adapted his Rules of Debate from Carl Rogers, a 
psychotherapist who also had GS roots. It would be interesting to see a tree of 
GS influence. I wonder if Dennett is in any way influenced. 

- Dan Davis

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