Sunday, July 31, 2011

Come On Avril

Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend Avril Lavigne - Gir...Image by Asthma Helper via FlickrWhen Avril Lavigne first came out, as adorable as she was, she always seemed a little too young looking for me, even though I was a couple of years younger than her at the time. Still, it was hard not to like her blend of punk rock and girlyness. It wasn't until her song "Girlfriend" and the accompanying video came out that I started to really like her. These days, of course, she's a mother and a divorcee. Wow, they do grow up fast!

She apparently has a new album that came out a couple of months ago, and the first single off of it is called What the Hell. If you haven't seen it, I definitely recommend you take a second to watch. The way that she carries herself is so adorably sexy in that video, kind of makes a man want to tear her apart She Wants Revenge style. I came across this song by accident today, and thought it made a perfect opportunity to start a new theme that will be at the heart of the purpose of this blog.

The hook of the song is, "All my life I've been good, but now, I'm thinking what, the hell? All I want to do is mess, around. And I don't really care about, if you love me, if you hate me, you can't save me, baby, baby. All my life I've been good, but now, Whoa, what the hell?"

So how does this relate to ethics? Well, looking at the chorus again, what is the implied standard of value? It states that she used to be good, but now, she's in the mood to sleep around, flirt, have fun, i.e. be bad. So she is choosing to act immorally as she defines it, because she doesn't like being moral, at least not for the moment. Of course, as I define good, the only immoral thing that she is doing in this scenario is being apologetic about acting in her own self interest when it doesn't violate anyone else's right to life.

This song is a perfect illustration of the false moral code that runs through our society; a system of morality that takes altruism and self sacrifice as its standard of value. This system of ethics is at the root of much of what is wrong with the world today. The sad thing about this ethical code is that it causes people to do extremely immoral things that are in direct conflict with their ability to achieve happiness. Further, by convincing people that self sacrifice is a good thing, immoral actors use this system of morality to sell their immoral actions to the public, and we buy, oh do we buy. They say that killing animals is bad, so you go vegan, never mind whether such a lifestyle will be good or bad for you. They say that women who sleep with too many men are bad, that chastity is in some way something of value.

Here's the thing: altruism doesn't exist. Selflessness doesn't exist. Everything we do is selfish because all of our drives have been hard coded by evolution into a template of morality that has served as a survival and replicatory advantage. When we do things for others, we do them because we want to do them, it feels good to do them. Or because we think other people will like us more if we do them. Either way, these actions are still in our self interest. So all of our actions are selfish. If that statement makes you mad enough to go out and donate a kidney to a random person in order to prove me wrong, the fact that you are trying to prove me wrong means that the action is selfish.

On the other side of the coin, the problem with defining selfishness as a virtue, of course, is that "selfish actions" can be virtuous or nefarious. If you rob a bank because you think you can get away with it, this is definitely selfish, but it is not moral. However, if you go on a million dates, like Avril says she does in the song, this is also selfish, but this is not immoral. The selfishness of the action is not the relevant variable. The relevant variable is whether you are infringing on the rights of others or not. In the former, you were, in the latter, you're not, so there you have it. Those are the correct ethical judgments.

So Avril, stop apologizing for doing what you want to do. You have been judged for your actions your whole life. Now that you're 27, you're starting to hit your sexual peak, and you're starting to mature as a human being. As a result, you're starting to care less what other people think. It's time to take your new found maturity to its natural conclusion and reject their false sense of morality. Ethical egoism for the win.
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