Humans act….all day long.
Human action is purposeful behavior. In other words, we purposefully choose an end, and then choose the means that we believe will attain that end.
Now you may say to me: “That’s not true, I’m sitting here right now relaxing on my couch and doing nothing. I’m not acting.”
No…you’ve purposely chosen an end (i.e., relaxation). You’ve also purposefully chosen the means to attain that end (i.e., sitting down on the couch).
You then purposefully chose to try to educate me (an end) by speaking to me (means) and saying that ‘you’re not acting.’
It should be obvious that you are.
So we’re always purposefully acting. We’re always choosing ends and means.
The ends and means that we choose are always those that wevalue most in the present moment.
Right now, you may be relaxing on the couch, but if you were white-water rafting, and were thrown out of your raft into tumultuous waters, the end of relaxation would (most likely) not be your highest value.
First, you wouldn’t have the means available to relax, and second, survival and not drowning would (most likely) be your highest value in that moment. You’d (most likely) scan your environment and use any knowledge that you may have acquired, in trying to find the means to survive.
Notice that I keep using the words “most likely.”
Because every individual is free and has the liberty to choose his or her own values. It is our nature to always be free to choose.
We choose our values…We choose our ends…We choose the means.
While being thrown around by the tumultuous waters, you may decide that your time is up. You’re not afraid of death, you’ve lived a good life, and it’s time to go. No one knows your life, your beliefs and your situation better than you. What you value most in each moment is always your decision.
Now let’s talk ethics.
Since, in every waking moment we are each acting with purpose, and everyone else is doing the exact same thing, what is the ethical way for human beings to interact with one another?
The ideas of Liberty (or libertarianism) comes in at this moment. The ethical way to act is by the principle of non-aggression. No force against the person or property of anyone else.
Whatever value (or end) you choose, you’re responsible for making sure it doesn’t harm the body or property of another individual. The same goes for the means that you choose. You can’t force another person against his will in order to achieve your end, or take or damage his property.
That’s the ethic of Liberty.
It’s so simple a child can understand it.
Now, because we are free, it necessarily means we are free to ignore the ethic of Liberty.
We are free to adopt the ethics of the Stone Age. We are free to rob, steal and cheat people. We are free to use force to achieve our ends. We can choose right, or wrong. That’s what it means to be free.
We’re always presented with the choice of Liberty or Stone Age.
Unfortunately, Stone Age is a very old and very popular choice.
This Stone Age ethic was (long ago) wrapped up and institutionalized in a man-made idea called government. The ethic became “legalized.” The only question has always been “who” would dish out the force. The battle to become the “who” has always been a vicious one.
No rules … no truth … no standards … no principles .. no ethics.
To expect anything else from people whose lust is to dish out force, would be incredibly naive. Of course they’re ruthless in their quest for the ring of power. And of course they’re ruthless when they get it.
So the choice of Liberty or Stone Age is always at hand.
When the ethic of Liberty dominates, mankind leaps forward. When the Stone Age ethic dominates, the quality of life and standard of living shrivels.
This is in general, of course. One can choose a life of Liberty and thrive no matter which one dominates.
We live in the most amazing technological age. Our ability to communicate good ideas has never been better. The prospects for the Liberty ethic are magnificent!
However, there’s always the downward pull of the Stone Age ethic.
Doug Casey recently said:
The danger is that technology and ethics are not evolving at the same rate. Even worse, people are putting more emphasis on politics—organized coercion—today than has ever been the case in the past.
In the past, people were mainly worried about their individual lives and surviving. Now they seem more concerned with things they can’t control. Mass media and the internet have brought politics into everybody’s living room. The problem is that politics is all about force and coercion…In other words, it’s very dangerous to combine Stone Age ethics with Space Age technology.
The ethic of Liberty is FAR superior.
Its day in the Sun is long overdue.