UPB: More Challenging Tests

upbStefan Molyneux’s book Universally Preferable Behaviour presents a rational system of ethics based on logic. I laid out Universally Preferable Behaviour in a Nutshell in a previous blog post. Here, I summarize his discussion of some of the more challenging tests to the theory.

Self Defense

Stefan’s argument from common sense is sound. I find it more convincing than his logical argument:
  1. Murder is evil.
  2. Murder can be prevented using violence.
  3. Calling that violence evil would be like saying that illness is bad, but that it is evil to attempt to prevent or cure it.

The logical argument is essentially that:

  1. Evil by definition can be prevented through force.
  2. Self defense cannot be prevented through force (but only by stopping the violent action being defended against).
  3. Therefore, self defense is not evil.

Child Welfare

Stefan’s logical arguments are much stronger in this case. Here is the first:
  1. Every person is responsible for the effects of his or her body.
  2. Children are an effect of the body.
  3. Therefore, parents are responsible for their children.
He makes a second argument from voluntarism:
  1. Everyone must fulfill voluntary obligations.
  2. Having children is a voluntary obligation.
  3. Parents must fulfill their obligations to their children.

And a third argument:

  1. Causing someone who is completely dependent upon you to die through your inaction is the equivalent of murder.
  2. Therefore, parents who allow their children to deny by neglect are guilty of murder.
He also makes the following sound argument based on the morality of self defense:
Since everyone has the right to defend themselves and others, anyone can act to defend children.

Animal Rights

Stefan makes the following argument:

  1. If it is evil to kill fish, sharks are evil.
  2. Sharks have no choice not to kill fish.
  3. Lack of choice means that the action cannot be evil.
  4. Ergo, it is not evil to kill fish.

He then completely undoes it with this statement:

Morality only applies to rational consciousness, due to the requirement for avoidability [i.e. a nonconcious entity like a shark can’t avoid doing what it does]
Ah well, two out of three ain’t bad 🙂

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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