(Excerpts from the book "Cult of Freedom", vol II, chapter 2)
The main human line - Conscience - Moral absolutes - Contract - The ethics of the contract - Objective ethics - Self-restraint - Tolerance and delicacy - Egoism - Altruism - Justice - Dignity - Autonomy - Power - Right - Norms and freedom
- The inevitability of the contract
Is there not a paradox here? The objectivity of ethics refers to the universal and eternal understanding of good and bad. But this is an absolute! And if we reject it, what's left? Only the free choice of each, without moral compulsion. This is the only possible ethics of freedom, the ethics of one’s own choice. But this is also the possibility of any choice, good or bad. It is the freedom to have one’s own morality. Or not to have one. Therefore, if there is freedom, there is no morality? On the other hand, morality requires the choice of good. So if there is morality, there is no freedom?
The solitary mind is hopelessly entangled in the search for objectivity. The whole history of absolutes, born by mind with the prompt or silence of conscience, shows the futility of its efforts. Indeed, how can we reconcile freedom with self-restraint? The subjectivity of the moral agent with the objectivity of the result? The eternity of an absolute with the necessity of the new? The universality of ethics with the uniqueness of the individual? We are again at an impasse. Neither intuition nor reason gives us the possibility to find a solution.
Only an ethics objective to the degree of objective reality can resolve this paradox, an ethics that man cannot but choose. What is it? It is the ethics that man "chooses" himself, but at the same time with the others, and chooses not once and for all but constantly as long as it is required. The objectivity of such ethics consists in the fact that it flows out of objective, although not directly observable, reality - the only possible line in human relations that ensures their overall freedom from each other, and which can only be found together. In other words, moral truth is not an individual matter - the contract cannot be avoided. But it must be followed by oneself, without any compulsion. Participation in the contract is both a free choice and a choice of freedom itself, because the only freedom available to man is to follow such ethics, whether good or bad, in order to remain free in the society of similarly free people, to have a permanent choice. This is "determinism" of the third type, human determinism.
Any other morality is a form of violence. Bound by the contract, man is subject not to a force, but to his own personality, his "I", which can manifest itself only in this way, in agreement with others, in the collective and society. To obey a rule imposed by someone or to worship an absolute suggested by someone is external violence, to follow his own inner desire, impulse or aspiration is an expression of psychological, biological, physical and chemical processes. In other words, outside of the contract there is only "real" determinism, either external or internal.
But why it is necessary to participate in the contract? What is morality for? The issue is aggravated by the fact that the ethics of the contract is not a trivial thing. The contract is not just one’s own, but also someone else's choice. Ought one to follow someone else's rules? All morality consists in forcing oneself, but to follow an agreement with another is to give up part of one’s own free will. To follow the ethics of the contract proves more difficult than to follow one’s own or a “divine” ideal, because the other sides of the agreement are simple people, such as we are. One must recognize oneself as the same and remove some part of subjectivity and autonomy - the capacity to determine one’s behavior and morality. One’s own moral ideal creates the illusion of freedom - I chose, I observe. The contract is something on the brink of external compulsion, it's almost violence of society.
- The determinism of freedom
To eliminate unnecessary doubts, let's consider this peculiar third type of determinism. The free will of the individual is the impossibility of the existence of a law defining his behavior, there is nothing but his own choice. But is this true when there are two individuals? What can be said about the following two statements:
1. Man has free will refuting any laws of his
2. Man does not have the freedom to impose his will on others.
The first one describes an individual ejected from society, the second - an individual returned to his place. At first glance, it is clearly wrong - all around are doing just that, imposing their will. But in fact, both statements are true. They just do not have anything to do with the multiplication table or the laws of mechanics. These are the principles of social organization and their verity is akin not to the laws of determinism, but to the paradoxes of freedom. After all, even the first statement is questionable. We always think we know the cause of our actions. Only in retrospect may we find that our actions were completely meaningless. Similarly, the verity of the second principle is that no matter how some people like to impose their will on others, it always ultimately proves unsuccessful. Even short-term physical violence is not capable of completely suppressing the will. In the longer term, we see human history inexorably proving its rightness. The inviolability of the principles can be compared with the inevitability of objective reality - one can deny its existence as much as one wants, but sooner or later it will make itself felt.
But freedom without the will, you ask? Alas, yes. It turns out that in the case of at least two individuals, there are facts of reality that determine their behavior. If one had will, two do not have it anymore. Freedom has disappeared. But was it really there at all? Many believe that free will has the highest priority, that it is the basis of social freedom and any limitation on it is tyranny. But it is actually just the opposite. Society is primary. Outside of society, free will faces such a reality that not a trace of it remains. The individual is a deeply social being. Only within society does he get the will that now bothers him. The restriction of one's will is a source of freedom for another and, therefore, for oneself. There no other freedom, nor could there be. Our first principle is actually the second by order. Moreover, it follows from the other one. So the facts of objective reality give rise to need, and "ought" follows from "is". The determinism of freedom.
Mind is not bothered by the apparent incongruity of these principles. Both of them are its offspring and at the same time its definition. They show that not only mind and free will are synonyms, but also that mind and the public freedom are. Why? Mind's ability to learn is to blame. The first principle is verified by the fact that knowing the "law" of its behavior, mind breaks it intentionally. The second - by the fact that having understood its essence, mind obeys willingly, it restricts its own will. The first principle describes mind's overcoming of nature, the second - of itself. As a result, there is no paradox here, but there is freedom.
- The role of the contract
Second, it helps find practical rules of conduct, norms, acceptable to all. Self-restraint will never work without a contract, it will require the invention of absolutes. But absolutes are just an unsuccessful contract, a failed conversation, an attempt at moral compulsion. Even a compelling book outlining a new attractive absolute is nothing other than the passive form of such violence. Freedom will not come from "awareness" of the necessity of an absolute and compliance with its requirements. Only the renunciation of freedom will come from this. You never know what necessity someone will have and what morality someone will fancy.
But here a doubt arises. Why not go further and develop a scientific model of the free society, and get on without the troublesome and not very practical contract? Or can we not rely on someone's inspiration, revelation and the supreme law discovered by the mysterious inner eye of a somber genius? First, a solitary subject will never find anything objective. Moreover, man by himself, completely independently, cannot in principle know reality. All knowledge begins with another - until he sees another like himself, he will think that the surrounding world is a dream. The contract is the only means of knowing reality. Second, no fixed scheme, algorithm, model or formula can pave our way to freedom, because freedom is unpredictable and resists all determinism. Man, thank god, is not a machine. Third, if they are going to be imposed on society, the results of any scientific research, even collective research, require the consent of all those affected.
But is not the result of the contract an absolute, which limits behavior? In principle, yes, the norms found by the contract do look like absolutes - they cannot be broken, they even have to be worshiped. But, first, the outcome of the contract is consent and not an imposed or imposing idea. Everyone participates, makes a contribution and agrees with the result. Second, the norms can always be re-examined. The fact of consent does not mean the end of the world. Life goes on, and the only proper morality is the one that is in step with the times. And one cannot do without a continuous contract here. Society is a contract!
But since the contract is inevitable, is it compulsory? Yes, because outside the contract there is only compulsion. No, because compulsion to participate in the contract does not guarantee its outcome. Consent can only be a result of free and good will.
- Who contracts?
What’s more, the will of all simultaneously. A man can be neither free nor moral alone - it is pointless and impossible. Equally, he cannot be so in a group opposed to the other similar groups - it is all the more pointless. The contract is a kind of quintessence of the general will once popular among social philosophers. The contract symbolizes a unity of thoughts, a common understanding of the meaning of society’s existence and essence. By way of contract, people combine their efforts to reach a common goal, even if this goal looks entirely prosaic - only to agree. But behind this challenging goal lies partnership, solidarity and all the good that binds society, what anarchists, socialists and communists rely on in their vision of an ideal society - people do not just compete and conflict, they are also characterized by solidarity and cooperation. But in contrast to social utopias - in which for the sake of the common good, greater benefit or a higher purpose the authors agree to socialize not only the means of production, but also wives - the contract implements a sense of unity actually characteristic of people in order to find the maximum freedom of everyone. It does this by the exposure of all facets of violence, by the delineation of property rights and by the possibilities of the fair evaluation of each.The general will, and with it the general consensus, could not be anything else but a recognition of individual freedom. In essence, there is nothing more to negotiate. Or rather, it is possible to try, but agreement is unlikely.
So, who contracts? Any ethical entity. And which is that? The one that is capable of the contract, that is responsible for all and that cares for the whole society. We can say that the subject of the contract is an abstract individual that symbolizes society, its moral principle.
6 Objective ethics (OE)
First, it is methodology for overcoming determinism, a set of approaches, methods, models, principles, views and everything else that is associated with freedom, and ways to invent, find and create it. The main thing is of course the contract and everything necessary for its success, including the examined ethics of the contract and all sorts of moral mechanisms. Objective ethics can be seen as a guide to action for those who want freedom.
Second, it is what obtained by applying the methodology, i.e. norms of behavior and activity, which define a boundary between people, not allowing them to cross it, but demanding that they come nearer to it. Both formally, as already approved, common, legitimate rules, patterns, roles, statuses, etc., and informally, as feelings and ideas when the old rules are no longer suffice but new ones are not yet found. Or when there are not yet rules at all. These informal norms will sooner or later be transformed into formal ones. Despite the multiplicity of norms, objective ethics has nothing to do with moral relativism. It is the one and only. There cannot be two ethics. That is, of course, the contract itself is not a guarantee of objectivity, it guarantees the possibility of objectivity, but objectivity guarantees oneness.
Objective ethics, though normative, is not static. Norms multiply and are replaced, each improving the last. Norms ripen gradually, approaching the boundary and defining it ever more clearly and distinctly. There is no end of the road, as there is no absolute freedom. But both complete freedom and an exact boundary exist as a final, abstract goal. Because of this abstraction and despite its objectivity, ethics cannot be expressed as a simple and understandable moral absolute and is not limited to adherence to a fixed set of commandments. It requires continuing participation in the contract.
Complete objectivity is obviously unattainable. People can always agree, forgetting in their haste about something or someone. But even the full participation of all living inhabitants of the universe as well as all their descendants does not guarantee objectivity. Absolute objectivity is nothing more than an abstraction at which mind aims. But how, without absolutes, can one be sure that norms are correct, i.e., really objective? If there are no absolutes, there is no absolute truth. Mind tends to doubt. It is quite possible to return and revise the contract if its participants find that they were wrong. How will they know? By the result. Fortunately, the lack of moral absolutes does not mean that there cannot be a relative truth and the process of cognition. Ultimately, people know reality on their own, without the help of absolutes concealed in sacred ancient scriptures or magical mathematical formulae.
Third, however, moving further to the level of abstraction, we can say that objective ethics is the flip side of freedom, its condition, expressed in the idea of the aforementioned boundary. Freedom is possible only in conjunction with objective ethics. Ethics in this "ideal" sense is the boundary itself, objective ethical reality itself, something the actions of the various moral mechanisms of mind lead to, something that is cognized through them and thanks to which they exist at all. Without objective ethics there would be no moral mechanisms, no morality and no free will, but total determinism instead. Objective ethics is what indicates the right direction for the actions, goals and norms obtained by the contract.
Of course, a reasonable man might express doubts and challenge the assertion that ethical reality is as real as matter. In the end, the magic line between subjects (and their possibilities) cannot be perceived directly by our senses. However, if you prefer, we could immerse ourselves in an endless debate about what we actually feel with our senses. What is matter? What is law, force, freedom? Let's, my friends, not waste our time and just admit that all these things are our mental concepts, the source of which, however, is objectively present in the world around us regardless of our wishes. As for the reasonable people who doubt the existence of reality, free will and their own head - let them. Objective ethics, and we along with it, my friends, does not have anything against them, as long as they participate in the contract on par with everyone else.
Fourth, descending from the level of abstraction, objective ethics is a necessary component of free society and at the same time a ticket to get there. It remains to take the right train. A free society is composed of people, the vast majority of whom follow objective ethics. Social structures in this case are stable, because based on consensus. Since norms are being constantly improved, structures are flexibly rebuilt with the discovery of new norms and the process proceeds smoothly and consistently with the requirements of ethics. In this sense, the free society can be looked at either as the ideal society, which progress leads to, or as any real society firmly based on objective ethics norms and moving to the ideal. So far, objective ethics sooner drags humanity against its wishes.
Practice and ethics are not always on friendly terms with each other. So here too, the question arises, how can ethical abstractions produce the real benefits of social institutions? After all, the objectivity of norms means that the participants are not looking for and cannot look for specific benefit, neither someone's, nor the collective’s. This is true. However, does this mean that the participants do not consider the consequences of the contract? Is there a contradiction between the facts that ethics is not practical and that people can agree on some common undertaking, enterprise or, god forbid, mutual profit? Sure there is. People will certainly invent many public goods, institutions and structures that will be of huge benefit. Why not? It is only important to understand that such a result of negotiations is just a wonderful opportunity, but not the goal. The goal is freedom, and it is fraught with all sorts of wonders. Objective ethics is the basis for the norms serving any social institution. And as a basis it is neutral, serving at once everyone and no one in particular. Every possible use and benefit, comfortable practical rule and effective mechanism is an indirect addition to objective ethics that benefits those to whom it is useful and is therefore not related to objectivity in any way.
And only in the exceptional case when an institution has happened to be "objectively" useful - that is, useful to absolutely everyone we can imagine - do we have every right to say that objective ethics was directly involved in its creation, for it would not have been able to emerge otherwise. Such practicality of ethics does at first glance contradict its inutility. Ethics is useless, but only to specific individuals, groups and even societies. Ethics is useful, but only to all at once, including the unsuspecting inhabitants of other parts of the universe. Therefore, it may well turn out to be harmful to someone specific from his individual, short-sighted and selfish point of view.
Fifth, objective ethics is an idea that helps us to understand social reality, discuss it with friends and write a book about it that then someone will read and ponder. The thoughts resulting from this will activate the moral mechanisms of mind, the idea of freedom will get more attention, and the future and the contract will become closer. I anticipate your skepticism, my friends. If objective ethics with its moral mechanisms has long lain in man, then why is there still no contract? The cause is that a lot of forces prevent it, the strongest of which is the weakness of reason, reaching the level of incredible absurdity - man’s misunderstanding of what good is and what he himself is.
- Objective good
But does this not mean that I have to disappear? What about my freedom? There is no need to go to the point of absurdity. If we disappear, a stranger is deprived of society and therefore freedom. One man, whether he is in the jungle, at the top of the hierarchy or with his family, is not free. He is in the world of determinism. Freedom requires us, strangers. The whole matter is in the "as though". We seem to be present and at the same time we seem to be absent. It is as though we are - and we begin to commit violence, exert influence and put pressure. It is as though we are not - and violence is perpetrated upon us. This magical "as though" is the case when no matter what one has done, the other has not become worse off. Even wishing to do good one can easily harm - nobody knows how circumstances will later develop. Objective ethics says that since violence is absolute evil, the greatest possible good for a stranger is to give him complete freedom. And - no surprise! - the same happens to be the greatest possible good in relation to oneself. That is, a truly objective good. After all, freedom is one for all and everyone is a stranger at heart.
But how does one interact with strangers without interacting with them at the same time?! It is simple. We interact with them every second - by taking advantage of the possibilities offered by society, and the more possibilities we have, the more effective we interact and, at the same time, the less we depend on each other. This means that creating the objective good is easy - we need to create new possibilities that bring us freedom and overcome determinism. This is the non-obvious essence of the objective good. To provide freedom for a stranger is to discover a possibility for that. And as neither to create possibilities nor to distribute them outside of the contract is impossible, the objective good eventually comes down to the successful contract. Indeed, nowhere in nature is there or could there be equivalent moral value. Natural "good" is either selfish personal benefit or the altruistic benefit of relatives. Nor is there value in the inventions of mind, moral absolutes, none of which can be universal and eternal. The objective good in general cannot be expressed in something specific, even by such vague expressions as the presence of benefits or absence of suffering. All specifics are relative. To one it is good, to another - bad. One amount is good, another - bad. At one time it is good, at another - bad. There is also no value in the abstraction of pure freedom, because everyone can understand it on his own and force others to accept his understanding.
But with experience of the successful contract lacking, the objective good looks strange and incomprehensible, despite all the logic. Objective ethics's good is also a moral mechanism, but it is still not only weak, it has not even appeared. That is why people are constantly asking their eternal preposterous questions.
- The meaning of the idea of contract
Understanding turns self-restraint into a real moral mechanism. To follow norms is prohibitions imposed on self, a sign of humanness, but self-restraint and adherence to norms are not the same. A man can follow mindlessly, out of fear, out of habit, imitating others. Blind self-restraint is the same determinism: it is either humility and lack of will, turning norms into the interferences to happiness, or fanaticism, stubbornness and stupidity, turning mind into machine and norms into dogmas, which are also easily broken, because their cause is unknown and their meaning is unclear. An intelligent man follows norms consciously, understanding both their transience and their conventional nature. And at the same time, inviolately. Understanding creates responsibility and transforms self-restraint from a vague intuitive need to a clear duty.
Self-restraint cannot work without the contract. To what extent is it necessary and possible to limit the will, in order that self-restraint does not become self-denial, ethics - morality, and life - death? The non-obviousness of the answer allows some students to identify self-restraint with humility, obedience and other struggles with their own sinful nature. And some others to impose their wishes on everybody. Ethics requires the same self-restraint from everyone. However, it is only the same from outside. Because everyone's temper is different, so is the degree of control. There is no equality again. Only the ordinance of contract can solve the task. Self-restraint is a highly collective mechanism. Maybe that is why it has not yet become the guiding principle of behavior. So far, conscience cleans up after its mistakes. When these mistakes are too obvious, conscience gets help from the intolerance of others, which is the reverse side of self-restraint.
- On the title of man
The contract transforms the representatives of the species Homo sapiens from a wild, primitive and subhuman state into the human. Let us recall our principles of social organization and compare human and stone. If a stone is thrown up, it will fall. From this observation, we can conclude that the stone "must" fall if thrown up. To be the stone is to obey the laws of stone. We can do the same with man, not throwing him, however, but applying the principles to him. They imply that man must limit his will to not disturb others. If a man does not limit himself, then just like a stone not falling to the ground, he runs the risk of flying deep into space. But of course, by himself, my friends, we cannot force one to the contract, right?
The "obligation" of a stone is a consequence of determinism. Yes, human "determinism" is special. A man can have free will, but never use it, for example, if he's grown up in the jungle. But more often we see a violation of the second principle. Man imposes his will on others, including mentally. Why? Why not? The universality of ethics is akin to the universality of logic. One can think logically and enjoy the light of truth, and one can be foolish and live in the darkness of superstition. Same thing here. One can behave ethically and be free, and one can violate ethics and live in constant fear. So what’s to do if a man fundamentally denies ethics? The solution lies in the concept of "definitions". If we define the stone as something that falls down if thrown up, would something that has never been thrown be a stone? The contract is a test. One who's not going to obey the contract, who is he? A man? Are you sure?
Because no matter how different the determinism of freedom seems, it is essentially the same. One can be a man only if he obeys the "laws" of man. Be = ought. Simply put, one cannot just "be" a man - be born and live, following the laws of determinism, external compulsion, habits or traditions. To be a man is to want, to try, to strive to be him. Similarly, freedom appears only when people strive for it, good is something to be sought, etc. A man who chooses violence is not man, because he did not choose. Violence is not chosen, it is submitted to.
Perhaps our principles are not prescriptive by form. But this is even better, because they are prescriptive by content. They determine what man is. The saying "man is a creature that thinks" is equivalent in content to the statement "man must think". Not "can", but namely "must" - who can do what is unknown. And "man has free will" is equivalent to "man must be ethical". Thus, we can rewrite our principles much more clearly:
1. Man is the one who himself restricts his own
2. Society is a set of people who agree to the restriction of the will of each.
Anything that does not meet these definitions should be called by other terms - primates, higher animals, hominids, prehistoric men, etc., and their society - flocks, herds, bands, colonies or tribes. Morality, as norms of mutual aid imposed by herd, is already inherent in monkeys, it has been repeatedly confirmed by scientists. Any animal surviving collectively somehow follows herd morality. But so far scientists have been unable to find any animal that can become free. Ethics has proved to be unique to humans. And they have already been discovered.
- Why be ethical?
It is not easy for mind to understand itself. If its deep mechanisms, such as conscience and fidelity to the word, seem to be beyond doubt, purely mental conclusions are constantly in need of confirmation. Mind tends to doubt - this is how it works. That is the problem with true self-restraint - it is mental. Some kind of self-control, obedience to some kind of norms, the useless limiting one’s will - all that has no natural, biological basis. Mind needs a precise, clear and convincing logic. Alas, freedom gives us no such fortune.
Ethics’ demands do not explain their purpose, unless we keep in mind the obvious one - to be a man. Not to survive, but namely to be. A stone is a stone because it cannot do otherwise. Man is a man because he chooses to be one. In this contradiction - the presence of a demand of man and the absence of a clear purpose for it - is a mystery of ethics that still torments our brightest intellects. What for? Why? Ethics does not give the answer. But it allows one to choose it. It does not give the goal. But it hints that this very possibility is the goal. There is not and cannot be any other tangible, understandable and attractive goal of ethics - whether a stable social order, effective collaboration or the kingdom of God on earth - because such a goal is contrary to the very principle of freedom. And therefore no imposition of the right goals or true morality is acceptable. By imposing these on others, a man provokes counter-violence, and his life becomes determined, almost like that of a stone.
Therefore, the task is in fact not to find a rational justification for ethics, not to discover its natural reason, not to invent its clear purpose and practical meaning, but to learn to follow it without any of this. This is difficult, because mind is comprehension, and the abstraction of freedom is totally incomprehensible. As a result, mind is now and then testing its necessity and its borders. We can look at the whole of history in this light, as the history of the practical and very bloody detection and limitation of the ways of imposing one’s will. From the very moment of the appearance of the collective-organism, cultural norms were nothing other than rules of self-limitation, applied by man to himself (and also to others) in order to render possible mutual co-existence. The search for the boundaries of what is and is not allowed, is at the same time the search for human identity, the search for what man is and what society is. And we have almost found the answer.
- What is it?
Finding the line is in tune with the concept "restoration of justice". Thus, the latter is akin to a balance. If you have not read the previous text, my friends, you probably ask yourself - what balance is that? The same as with freedom. As we said earlier, all action provokes opposition, and freedom (and justice) is not so much a phenomenon of the absence of violence as of the balance of opposing forces arising from any action or inaction. Equilibrium is an unstable state of freedom (and justice). Something that we call violence (and injustice) is a deviation from the balance, the advantage of one party at the expense of another. Imbalance increases the "freedom" of the initiator of violence by narrowing the possibilities of others to act.
So are freedom and justice are synonyms? Is there a difference between them? Sure there is. Freedom emerges in a situation of the absence of violence in general, when absolutely all forces are balanced. Freedom is a generalized notion of the state arising from such a situation. There is complete, overall balance and it seems as if there is no violence. Moreover, this hypothetical situation is obviously unachievable in principle and only exists as an objective goal. Justice, on the other hand, has to do with particular violence, either with a particular case or with a particular kind. It is a narrow concept that describes a situation of balance between two known countervailing forces, and the balance is, at least in practice, quite achievable - that is, justice occasionally triumphs in life. For example, an offender has suffered the deserved punishment, the hero earned a reward, and the poor have been educated at the expense of the rich. When people talk about injustice in general - the injustice of society, life or destiny - they obviously generalize and summarize all the specific types of injustices. In this case justice "in general" is essentially the same as freedom. In fact, it goes beyond freedom because it includes all possible forces, not only social and natural ones that constantly create injustices people want to correct, but also invented and imagined.
Since the elimination of injustice is a necessary step toward freedom, justice is nothing less than its practical component, and the very desire for justice is a particular manifestation of a more general desire for freedom.
- Systematicity and intelligence
At the same time, injustice differs from inadvertent breaches of the balance. Injustice as a fact or as a phenomenon is not just a one-time deviation from the balance, but to a large extent systematic, due to constant factors or purposeful actions. Injustice primarily characterizes a situation itself, as allowing violence in principle - a single injustice promises its future repetition. For example, a single unjust act is in fact inadequate use of one’s power or possibilities, and therefore it indicates that power and the lack of freedom are its basis. The same is true of any unjust law - it is a rule that allows systematic disproportionate violence. Therefore, the number of all kinds of injustices determines the quality of society
The degree of systematicity depends on scale of the collective. If the injustice has happened between friends, it is one thing, if in the office - another, and if at the level of society as a whole - third. The latter case, following tradition, can be singled out because in such a situation it is likely that the systematic imbalance acquires an excessive nature - the acute and widespread. Then we can talk about "social" injustice - the situation is so hopeless that it's time to change the system, and not to limit oneself to local bells and whistles. They are useless, because it becomes impossible to obtain justice within the system.
For the movement to freedom and the creation of a long-term balance of various forces, intuition and the feelings of others alone are not enough. Social reality is too complex and requires constant analysis. The active work of intellect is needed to identify the causes of injustice and to find ways to eliminate it. This is triggered when the constriction of freedom causes a feeling (or awareness) of injustice. Thus, the "sense" of justice is both an emotional and a mental mechanism for balancing violence and locking in the state of equilibrium - the more precise the balance, the more just an act or law. Justice can be considered as a special case of objective ethics for situations of systematic violence. But not, of course, vice versa, since freedom is not a special case of determinism.
People rarely repeat actions that cause pangs of conscience, but they are willing to use unjust situations to their own benefit. The reason is that the source of remorse consists of personal actions, while the source of injustice lies as a rule in conditions that are independent of the individual, requiring understanding and a common evaluation in concert with others. That is why conscience involves feeling, while justice involves also awareness. Injustice demands that we change conditions so that injustice is no longer repeated. The feeling of "satisfied justice" is largely based on the incident serving as a lesson for the future.
- Types of justice
Different types of justice can be distinguished according to how the balance is realized and achieved,
Violence is an everyday fact of social life. This includes the limitation of opportunities as a result of the lack of useful connections, the allocation of resources, risks due to shortcomings in public safety. Clearly, if someone gets less of something, then others get more. Balance requires the distribution of violence (traditionally understood inside out, i.e. as the allocation of possibilities) in accordance with just criteria, for example, position, merits, deeds or simply the fact of the presence of people. This distribution can be obtained by either an explicit or implicit contract. The latter form of justice, spontaneous, is what arises historically as it were by itself and is based on a deep, intuitive sense of fairness, which is manifested gradually, approximately like we saw in the previous letter when we looked at the transformation of hierarchy. The first, procedural justice, can arise as a result of the recognition of customary law, such as trade or guild right, or all sorts of codes of honor, or arbitration case law, and also as the laws postulated by acts of the legislature, i.e. as positive law.
To better understand these considerations, I tried to combine them into a table, Fig.2.1. It turned that the types of justice could be arranged by stages of progress, the direction of which is indicated by arrows. There are two directions. The first is toward formalization, the up arrow. Informal conceptions of justice (bottom row) define the essence of the formal systems of law (top) constructed on their basis. Thus, traditions are the basis of all kinds of estate law, ideologies give rise to the ideas of the democratic law, and true fairness is the foundation of the real social contract. Progress here lies in the very fact of formalization being a movement from determinism to freedom, since any limitation of violence by norms is a step toward the contract. But the degree of formalization may differ, and not just by the breadth of coverage. For example, the procedure can assume relative stability. If formal norms are revised too often, even if as part of the procedure, the very concept of norm loses its meaning. Similarly, there are degrees of spontaneous, informal justice. While some vague norms appear in the minds of a limited number of people, others are already generally accepted, though still unwritten. Progress in this direction goes, therefore, from the intuitive sense of fairness to a clear and stable procedure implementing it.
The second direction of progress, movement away from hierarchy through political equality to a free society, is pretty obvious. The best case is when this movement is promptly formalized in procedural norms. Otherwise, the steps of this movement can lead to anarchy or revolutionary violence. Not better alternative is the moral confusion - when intuitive justice seeks to equalize everyone around, without taking account of reality, substituting itself for the contract and analysis. In this direction, we're so far stuck in the quagmire of ideologies that express modern, progressive, humane and other fancy notions of fairness. Our descendants, I think, will see also other kinds of justice - real fairness and the contract based on it.
- The relativity of justice
The acceptability of norms of justice means that, unlike for example conscience, justice is relative. The compass of conscience notices any deviation and any coercion whatsoever, the compass of justice - only deviation from the accepted level of violence. If violence is habitual to everybody, or proportional, or is somehow "fair", that is, if the brain has enough fantasy to justify it, it's bearable. This is evident from the table - justice is even able to justify the validity of hierarchy, especially if it is properly substantiated. For example, under our current egalitarianism, it is considered quite normal that there are rich, who receive their privileges by inheritance. Why? Because to pass economic benefits to children is natural - children are sacred. Also, the existence of stars, who earn more in a day than their fans do in a year, is perfectly acceptable. Because they deserve it - they entertain fans and bring joy to their gray life. Of course, conscience does not tolerate all that and tortures its possessor.
However, the relativity of justice does not limit its moral strength. The reason is that there is no equal and just level of violence for all. Someone always stands to benefit, because someone has to carry out this violence. It has to come from somewhere. This inability to permanently fix relative justice allows it to lead toward total freedom.
The relativity is evident in catastrophic and other extraordinary situations, in which a deviation from a settled balance was caused by independent external factors, for example, the threat of an epidemic or, on the contrary, the discovery of an underground reservoir of manna from heaven. Both a refusal to vaccinate and a rapid pumping out of manna for personal benefit put everyone else in a worse position, upset the balance of freedom and are, therefore, a form of violence. Justice in this situation would evenly distribute the external violence, but without the recovery of foregone freedom.
And what would happen if a man invented manna and enjoys it alone? Based on what I see in life, at first all consider his exclusive position quite fair. However, after some time, or with the excessive nature of his exclusivity, people around him start a muffled murmur. They want justice, which means that their situation began to deteriorate. They no longer believe that the inventor deserves his benefits. The relative compass of justice slowly reorients towards absoluteness. Acceptability gives way to infringement. The reserve of moral patience is not infinite and sooner or later it requires rebalancing.
- The restoration of balance
If there was a glaring injustice, mind demands its immediate correction. To do this, counter-violence that restores the balance is needed. The restoration of justice is executed by precisely weighed violence, and the weighing occurs with the involvement of both mind and moral sentiments. The measure of reparation includes both the damage and the very fact of the violation of the norm, because that is violence too. (The second part is, in fact, a punishment.) Naturally, an excessive imbalance in the other direction - kindness, help or feat - also causes the desire and the need to repay the obligation and restore balance. However, not all people do realize that the imposition of a sense of gratitude is violence too, but we'll think about that later. Generally, the very idea of ancient justice, "to each according to merit" ("to each what is his", "to Caesar what is Caesar's...", etc.) is a historically tinctured expression of the balance of action and reaction. Even the principle, "Do no harm" already implicitly assumes its presence.
But how can objective ethics justify violence, even just? Is not ethics opposed to it and concerned primarily with self-restraint? Absolutely. Ethics cannot endorse violence in any form. But what then about justice? The restoration of justice can be voluntarily. First, through acts of the perpetrator - restitution, apology, remorse, self-reproach, etc. Feelings of guilt and responsibility for one’s own actions cannot be separated from ethics. Second, by co-correcting the conditions that made the injustice possible. And of course objective ethics demands that one draw attention to the fact of injustice and justify the need for correction. But if counter-violence is really required, then it is likely because someone is breaking the contract intentionally and therefore refuses to participate in it. This situation is not covered by objective ethics, it falls within the scope of morality. Those who refuse to participate in the contract do not fit into the public sphere that is free from any institutions of the organized violence, including the institute of punishment. That’s why punishment is a private matter. Ethics only certifies the fact of injustice, for example, through discussion and agreement.
But what if a man does not want unnecessary problems, worries and, in general, he loves peace and friendship, wants to please everyone and does not want to seem fussy? Does ethics require him to make a fuss, attract attention and so on? Maybe it is easier to leave things as they are, especially if the injustice is trifling? Unfortunately, in this case, objective ethics is not so forgiving. We know that it dislikes not only egoism but also altruism, and in this case we face precisely it. A dear man can be forgiven. A stranger - or rather all strangers, because they are all the same - should be made known and called on to fulfill the contract. For this reason, by the way, every breach of contract concerns all equally, not just those who have been affected personally. Accordingly, evading the restoration of justice can be regarded as violating ethics and abetting. Objective ethics and indifference are not compatible.
Some people believe that the response to violence should be encouragement - to turn the other cheek, to hug and kiss, to thank and forgive, etc. You will not believe it, my friends, but such traumas of the brain are quite common - luckily in books only. Books are irrelevant to objective ethics. Others believe that justice must include retribution, no matter what. In this case, we are dealing with everyday revenge. Objective ethics has nothing in common with revenge. Balance can be restored without retribution - participants only have to come to an agreement on fair compensation, including a situation where everything is impossible to recover fully.
Sometimes justice is also associated not with retribution for violence but with reward for something good. For example, a friend gave advice, so one should thank him, a master made a thing, so one should pay him, a porter opened the door, so one should smile at him. From the point of view of freedom there is no justice in such equity. In personal relationships, such justice is very appropriate, yes. Close people are constantly doing something good to one another, though they do not pay for each kind deed, and they bear responsibilities that they have undertaken voluntarily. With strangers we also often pay with brief gratitude for holding the door, for example. But this gratitude is only a trace of personal relations. Pure public relations are different. No one would dream of paying for goods on the basis not of their quality but of how much working time was invested in producing them. Unfamiliar people generally cannot do something good for us. Unsolicited benefit is violence. All the good that we can get from a stranger must be approved in advance. But the result of such interaction has nothing to do with the justice of reward for deserts. A just result consists in the absence of any violence, following procedure and the pursuit of objectivity. And so, when we act ethically, we pay for a thing by trying to take into account its objective benefit, and not how much time, nerves and desires were invested in its production. Each of us sometimes puts a lot of efforts into works that no one needs. Should we consider this situation unjust? Of course not. I, for one, do not even expect that somebody will read my future book - except you, my friends.
As for general philosophical discussions about whether people deserve their fate, whether they are responsible for their own choices, whether life, together with society, has to compensate, reward, punish, etc. - who is this philosopher that has appropriated the moral right to judge strangers, outsiders and other free people, whose cases do not relate to him in any way?
- Moral value
There is another moral mechanism that helps search for justice and balance egoism and altruism. Incidently, it is not a compass, rather an anchor. The moral sentiment that helps man not to fall into the extreme and create injustice is called dignity. Or, in the old-fashioned way, when objective ethics was not known, honor. It can be compared with conscience. If conscience is a universal detector of violence, dignity is a limiter helping not to get its pangs. If conscience works anywhere but prefers a personal relationship, dignity, on the contrary, mostly helps in dealing with strangers. This is explained by its origin, which is based on the right to occupy a stage in a hierarchy. This makes it especially important from the standpoint of freedom.
Dignity can be seen as man’s awareness of his own special value, which gives him the right to his own opinion, to participate in the contract. A free man always has value, this is a condition of the very possibility of his interaction with others. By participating in the contract, he materializes it, transforms it into the benefit of the other. A slave has a value attached to him by the owner, he does not own anything except a loyal eye. This is the utility of a thing. A free man is an active subject. But dignity is not necessarily a subjective thing. It is a consequence of real, objective human qualities, of man’s ability to be intelligent and free, to overcome his nature and summon his will. That is, it is a moral value, the value of freedom itself. This value cannot be sold or exchanged, it serves only for participation in the contract. One can only lose it, permanently. And what if a man does not want to participate in the contract? What if he prefers violence? That's when he loses his moral value. Why permanently? Because there is no other way to make sure one has dignity, other than by participation in the contract.
Dignity, like freedom, does not survive in the splendid isolation of the individual soul. Awareness of one’s own value is impossible without awareness of the value of another, without the ability to see the dignity (and lack thereof) in the other. A man cannot be free alone, cannot feel free if there are slaves around. With whom will he negotiate? Who will respect him? Who will guarantee his freedom? Alone, objective dignity becomes subjective self-esteem, however, the more the herd succeeds in destroying everything that stands out, the more precious it is - for there are those who lead and those who are led. But, be that as it may, dignity is a collective mechanism, a consequence of both human qualities and the state of society.
The value of a free man cannot be explained by his strength or management position. Strength can cause fear and compel to obedience, but one cannot forced another to respect him or to give an honest account of his interests and opinions. This value cannot be explained by money and other property. Wealth can cause envy and obsequiousness, but again not respect. Except, perhaps, in the case where it is deserved and rightfully reflects the qualities of the person, if that is possible in our dishonest times. In any event, both the poor and the rich claim to have equal dignity. Similarly, man's dignity has nothing to do with his social status or the value of human life. In the first case we are again talking about his social worth, evaluated if not by market, anyway by practical benefits. In the second case - about his value to those near to him. But the public, moral dignity of man is not lost with death, while a baby does not have it yet. Finally, this value is not associated with fame or someone's opinion. A decent man behaves with dignity not because he wants that everybody be aware of this, or because he is being watched.
Man’s dignity is his value as an abstraction. But how can an abstraction be valuable? Is not one abstraction indistinguishable from the other? Dignity as if moves all personal beyond the domain of public relations, the personal becomes inaccessible, and the abstraction in turn acquires a universal, common to all value. Therefore, all free people have equal dignity - the value of abstraction may not be different.
- Personality and the collective
The terrible case of the broken man demonstrates the role of the collective in a time of systematic violence. Because dignity is a collective mechanism, herd "dignity" is able to substitute for personal. How?
To answer, it should be noted that the sense of pride plays an important role in dignity. Dignity is akin to pride for one’s freedom, for the title of man, for being needed by other people. A free man can also be proud of the benefit brought to others. In the world of freedom, the usefulness of each is objectively evaluated and recognized, and pride is justified. An unfree man does not have anything like this to be proud of. Not even benefit. There is no benefit in the world of violence, there is a victory - benefit to himself. Accordingly, the place of benefit is taken by anything else - capital, fame, regalia and peer recognition, and if that is not enough, then prestige and window dressing. If even that is out of reach, then the pride of belonging will do.
Both the moral and social values of the free man are objective, the collective has nothing to do with it. The unfree man forcibly gains value through the collective - victory is far away and in any case even that would be non-personal. To do this, the collective is singled out as an independent entity and given an unconditional albeit fictitious value. Value, both human and collective, is always defined relative to the other, or else it will be no cause for pride. The collective, with the value attached to it, has to be compared to others, and the given value necessarily has to be validated and proved. This ultimately translates into reproach of "them" and accentuation of "us", because the collective lacks objective value. Its only value is ethics, and this is the ethics of its members, and therefore the more valuable the collective is, the less it, or rather its members, is aware of its value, let alone ostentatious about it.
Dignity defines one’s attitude toward other people. Here the difference becomes clear. A collectivist relies on belonging to a collective. This belonging is sufficient for far-reaching conclusions - the value of every man is seen as a function of the value of his collective.
16 Norms and freedom
- Procedural justice
As we saw above, objective ethics imposes truly superhuman demands on people. But if it is so strict, how can we live? How might objective right look? What practical norms can be born out of such a strict FP? For example, total openness and honesty cannot be combined with, say, a game of poker. Does this mean that playing cards would be unethical? Of course not. After all, poker rules came out of a contract, too! And something tells me that this contract was absolutely free - based on FP, one might say. And if this is so, then poker, despite its apparent unethicality, is ethical. After all, it's only a game!
But since all life is a game, the example of poker shows the role of FP in life. Poker is a procedure or set of rules built with a specific, practical useful purpose, in this case entertainment. The behavior of people in a card game is subject to clear rules. Their violation is punishable, and the result of the procedure is fair because it was "agreed at the beginning" when the rules were drawn up. Besides poker, rules cover all other aspects of life, forming social institutions, procedures, roles, statuses and various symbolic social entities, such as the driver's license or financial capital. They also generate goods that people need, such as road traffic or the free market. Already the word "goods" suggests that purpose of rules is at odds with purpose of ethics. The purpose of rules is practical. The purpose of ethics is useless - freedom, and probably its most concrete expression is participation in the FP contract. By this concreteness, ethics is tightly bound to rules - it helps find them. Useless ethics provides a fair procedure for finding useful procedures, making their result as fair as it is itself.
Ethics is not concerned with the purpose of the procedure, with its result and therefore its specific benefit. It is concerned with its rightness, the clarity and accessibility of the description, its accuracy and completeness, the exclusion of implicit, informal opportunities and privileges. It is concerned with how people come in and take over its provisions, how violations shall be punished. Who cares if poker is fair if only the elect are allowed to play? The procedure is the allocation of rights and responsibilities, and therefore the freedom to choose a role, to change it and to exit a game should be the starting point of any procedure, be it poker, the economy or driving. As freedom is the basis of any fair procedure, the task of ethics is to ensure only freedom, and not what norms will be followed by those who selected them. Therefore, the specific rules at first glance may well go against objective ethics, for example, withholding information in a card game, the attitude toward tipsy but responsible drivers or the presence of economic inequality among market participants. But all of these deviations can be quite ethical and fair, provided their existence was materialized by a fair contract. Moreover, the presence of ethics in their basis allows people to fix the rules if it turns out - and it will certainly turn out - that not everything was taken into account at the stage of their development.