Acting Humane is not Obligatory

I make it explicit that I believe in no moral realm in online debates, yet it seems nearly impossible to convince some that this is what I actually mean. I’ve explained time and time again that human behavior is a mixture of egoistic/altruistic reflections of our emotions. These emotion-based behaviors carry no universal obligation, and are therefore necessarily outside the scope of a legitimate moral system. Yet most societies are not falling apart. Why? Because many humans share the same emotions, and these shared emotions are the foundation for the emergent laws, mores, and notions of humaneness that keep most societies civil. But this is only a description. There is no legitimate prescription that emerges from this observation. I repeat this concept ad nauseam far too often, only to have my interlocutors continue to insist I must believe in some type of moral realm. I don’t. The quote below by an individual named Adam Johnson is a salient example. He is responding to my claim that, while he has no moral obligation to behave any particular way, his inhumaneness will result in undesirable consequences.

“You claim my worldview is inhumane and unbelievable but refuse to back up the tool by which you are judging that by (which is modern western majority views of humaneness).”

There is no judgement. There is only observation. How could I make this more clear?

Humaneness is determined by convention. The aggregate emotions of the community reflect an imprecise general notion of what is emotionally palatable behavior.  If someone chooses not to follow this local notion of what is humane, they will face the consequences. There is no moral obligation. There is, however, real consequences. Often notions of humaneness are codified into law, and the consequences are legal. Other times the notions of humaneness are merely social, and the offender will face social consequences. But there is no moral realm necessary for this humaneness to emerge since this humaneness emerges from emotions. These emotions may change, and the corresponding notion of humaneness will also change. The subjective nature of humaneness is not a problem since humaneness is not a moral notion. It is only a description of the aggregate expectations of common emotions. Descriptive. Not prescriptive. Ignore the description of consequences at your own risk.


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