Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ethically Required to Take Immoral Action

In my last post Defining Good, I discussed the idea that you are not allowed to infringe on someone else's right to life, with the caveat that you are allowed to infringe on another's right to life if it is in defense against their infringement on your right to life. This is an obvious example of when it is ethical to take immoral action that is of equal magnitude to the threat. But when else is this the case? In this post, I will flesh out the limits of this "loophole," so to speak.

From a strictly Darwinist standpoint, there is an obvious example. Is it moral to stand by your morals while your kids die? No. Obviously no. Your genetic material would die with them, and you would be filtered out of the gene pool. So it's moral to jump in front of a bullet if it saves your kid's life. It is moral to sacrifice your life for the sake of your kid's right to life. That will be our basic building block.

What are threats to your child's right to life? Well, there are quite a number, I suppose. Your child could end up not being born because you died before reproducing. Your child could die during child birth. If you are totally homeless and have literally $0, it is possible for your child to starve to death. Your child could be hit by a taxi at a time when you don't have the money to pay for the medical expenses to get her better. You get the point.

So my morality, as it is defined in my previous post, requires that it be moral for you to take immoral action when your child's right to life is being threatened. It would be the immoral choice to choose to stand by your convictions in that scenario, just as it would be immoral to not defend yourself when your life is being threatened. This caveat to Objectivism is what Ayn Rand missed the impact of, and this is why the free market economy state that she stood for is immoral. I'll get to that in future posts, stay tuned.


  1. Life doesn't require compromise -- it require the opposite of compromise.


  2. Who said anything about compromise? I just did a word search and your two uses were the only results.