Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Invention Theory of Morality

The invention theory explains morality as a set of rules that humans have devised for self-preservation through trial and error over the millennia of history. Behavior that helped or strengthened society was encouraged and called “right.” Behavior that hurt or weakened it was prohibited and called “wrong.”

When people claim that morality is simply mankind’s invention to preserve society, they assume that society ought to be preserved. It is the assumed, unproven truth on which their morality rests. They may deny that absolutes for morality exist, but the moment they make any kind of moral claim—such as the proposition that society ought to be preserved—they have planted their feet on a moral absolute. They can’t help but do so because for any foundational assumption to be held as valid, it must be based on an absolute. Unbelievers may lock the door against absolutes of any kind, but the moment they claim any action to be right or wrong, some kind of absolute has sneaked in through the window.


Vinny said...

They are assuming that society does exist, not that it ought to.

Thinker said...

I agree with Vinny. Society does exist, people without faith still choose to help others, some people with a belief in absolutes do not choose to always do wrong. A world of absolutes is not a necessary thing to prove our existence or to establish that people can have empathy for other people, animals, or plants.