I want to preface this post by saying that I am not trying to turn this into a grudge match. I am very much interested in understand you (even if my obdurateness suggests otherwise) and investigate our disagreement because your claim that the state transcends morality and can suspend morality for mankind is, well, quite radical. I cannot even think of a single practitioner of this view (as I understand it) who would admit openly to actually espousing this view.
The state is not subject to the same morals as the indivdual because it is not subject to morals, which exempts it from ought.
Any given state is exempt from questions of morality. The question "what should a state do?" is incoherent, yes?
Why is the state exempt from moral critique? Because it is not subject to the same morals as individuals... well, why is this the case? And even if the state is not subject to the same
moral standards as the individual, why are states exempt from morals at all? Is it impossible to construct theories which explain what states should and should not do?
It is an entity that is outside of morality in its execution and protection of itself and the individual.
Do you mean that states are outside of morals because
states attempt to protect itself and the individual, or that states are outside or morals when
the state is attempting to protect itself and the individual?
One of my concerns with this sort of suggestion is the hierarchy of moral value. If the state transcends morality in pursuit of its survival, then there seems to be an implied, inherent moral value of the state that exceeds the inherent moral value of a human being - the state can justifiably compell individual suffering for the sake of the state. If you could vamp on this for a moment, I would very much like to hear the account.
Yes Dr. Death is not morally responsible for his actions insofar as what he did was ordered by the state as an extention of the state's suspension of morality. It should be noted however, that I'm not arguing for legislators and judiciary as being amoral only the executive portions. So as far as the execution was applied to policy yes he is not responisble for his actions.
What about the executive aspect of a given state allows this aspect to "suspend morality"? The suspension of morality is a new concept to me. Perhaps this relates to the moral hierarchy being developed?
I also wonder about this distinction between the moral responsibility of legislators and the judiciary and the lack of moral responsibility of the executive. Do I properly understand you: are the legislative and judicial branches compelled (or at least influenced) by morals? And if they are, why are these branches compelled (influenced) by morality whereas the executive transcends morality?
Typically, the thinking goes that anything with moral agency, the ability to make a distinction between right and wrong, has moral responsibility for its actions. What about a state's executive functions override moral agency? Or do you find moral agency insufficient for moral responsibility?
And as far as ought, I don't think there is really such a thing as ought, there is the is as is practiced and the is as is idealized. All ideals are not practiced as such, they cannot be or they would no longer live in the realm of idea. Ought is a non-possibility. This is not to say change to the 'positive' as we see it isn't possible, only that the positive is subject to change as it evolves to fit the everchanging is adn thus the everchanging ideals of a culture. Which brings us to discussions we have had on the evolution versus progression of rights and morals within a society in other threads.
This we can sink our teeth into (in a good way
There is no ought, but 'positive change' is possible, and this positive change is subject to flux.
What is the difference between ought and 'positive change'? At first glance, this distinction seems to be empty semantics. I know that may sound condescending, but I'm being quite serious:
As I understand you, you are rejecting ought because there is only 'is' in practice and 'is' as idealized. If I respond that 'ought' is 'is' idealized, you smartly reply that if an ideal is practiced it is no longer an ideal but simply an 'is' in practice.
However, I do not understand how there being an 'is' in practice and an 'is' in ideal negates the existence of an ought. If you come across a small child drowning in a pond, and saving the child would be of no detrimental to you, ought a person save the child? If a person ought not save a child, where does the decision to save the child in practice fall; is the decision to save the child an 'is' in practice or an 'is' in ideal. Quite obviously, the decision to save the child is an 'is' in practice because that happens to be what occurs. But I am left wondering what the ideal response to seeing a child drowning in such circumstances might be other than to save the child. In other words, it seems possible to me that 'is' in practice and 'is' in ideal can be the same thing.
But of course, I forgot! To put an 'is' ideal into practice is to make the 'is' ideal an 'is' in practice. And this is where I become completely confused: what moral explanatory value exists in this design of the two 'is'es and why should anyone accept your account? The only difference between 'is' in practice and 'is' ideal is whether or not the 'is' is being practiced - thus, in your terms, 'is' in ideal is the same thing as 'is' in practice the only difference being whether or not the 'is' is relevant at the given moment. This is akin to saying there is no guitar, only guitar-at-rest and guitar-being-played. But clearly this is false: the guitar is in both cases a guitar, the only difference being the relationship between the guitar and some musical agent. The same is true of your distinction of 'is' - they are exactly the same, only one is being implemented and the other is not being implemented.
So now we get back to ought. Ought, you say, is not possible. Again, let us go back to our small hopeless child who awaits your rescue. Should you save the child? While it is true that either you do or do not save the child (either there is an 'is' in practice, the practice of saving the child, or there is an 'is' in ideal, refraining from saving the child), this fact does not seem to negate the notion that you ought to either save the child or let the child drown.
To make another example: it is true that either I kill someone for no reason or that I do not kill someone for no reason ('is' in practice being that I kill, 'is' in ideal being that I do not kill). However, this enumeration of possible outcomes does not address the question: 'how should I act: should I kill or not?' Ought I kill, or ought I refrain from killing? If this question is incoherent (if there is no such thing as an ought), then morality is incoherent as well. 'What should I do?' is the fundamental question unpon which all normative ethics rests. If the question is incoherent, normative ethics, the attempt to determine morally appropriate and inappropriate options, is incoherent.
I would be surprised if you claimed that moral questions were incoherent. I say this because it is a remarkably radical claim that I have never heard, and also because you mention the possibility of "positive change".
You say that 'positive change' is subject to the same flux as culture. I agree with that much. But if we can, at any given moment, determine that Change X constitutes a positive change then musn't we admit that at that given moment we ought
to make Change X? It is true that either we make Change X or that we do not make Change X, but simply by recognizing X as a positive change at any given moment, don't we also recognize the implementation of X as an ought?
To put it another way: what is the difference, at a particular instant, between a 'positive change' and an 'ought'?
Okay, a breath of uncontested air. Engaging in this discussion is a matter of curiosity to me. I doubt I could disagree with you any more than I already do, but you seem to have these concepts worked out in your own mind. I can relate: you have it worked out in your head and cannot imagine why others have such a tough damn time wrapping their heads around something that seems so obvious. My guess is that I am asking some of the same questions again and again and understanding very little. Bear with me?
I have never heard anyone seriously argue that someone like Dr. Heim has absolutely no moral responsibility for his actions. Even the White Supremascists say he has moral responsibility (otherwise, they could not make him a hero). My favorite aspect of the view you present is its cold presentation of the human reality. Morality, if it makes any sense at all, is a minor concern. The state is so powerful that 'ought' is irrelevant and man is left with only 'is'-doing or 'is'-not doing with respect to the state's demands. It's a bleak, you-betta-muddle-through philosophy that might very well capture the feelings of a great many people (I'm thinking about comparisions to the corporate model). The aesthetic quality is grotesquely attractive, and such a quality always makes for an interesting read and discussion.
Also, if these perspectives are derived from or inspired by already published theories, could you give some suggested reading materials?