Or Truth or Life, as it were.
Good choices must be built around a legitimate ethical structure; a legitimate ethical structure can only be based on sound moral foundations; sound moral foundations can only be based on fastly bedrocked principles. Hence, without correct principles, our morals, ethics, and choices are all wrong.1
It is therefore essential that our principles be correct. "Always tell the truth" is not a principle -- it is an ethic. The truth-telling ethic is based on the moral of honesty, and the moral of honesty is founded on the principle of Truth.2
If Truth is a faulted principle, and the sole principle upon which the truth-telling ethic is based, the truth-telling ethic is incorrect.
If our principles are principal, can they have a precursing argument? In other words, can something that is a priori
also be a posteriori
? Clearly not. Let us assume that Truth is a principle, and that empiricism and rationalism are progeny of Truth.3
Thus, empiricism and rationalism are tools whereby we can discover Truth. What if, though, we apply these truth-finding tools to the premise that Truth is a priori
? If all things have a cause -- a beginning -- how can anything be a priori
? Universalization (infra
) requires that every properly-implemented principle always work without fault. Fortunately, rationalism and empiricism assume a priori
. Can we simply assume that something just exists
? (As Plato has Euthyphro
tell Socrates when discussing a similar problem, "For somehow or other our arguments, on whatever ground we rest them, seem to turn round and walk away from us.").
Onto my point: A doctor is presented with a heart patient, one who the slightest upset will likely result in death. The patient asks the doctor about his health. Should the doctor tell the patient the truth, thereby likely killing him, or should the doctor soothe the patient, giving him time to recover? At first, we appear to be facing conflicting principles -- Truth or Life? They are both acute and poignant: we believe in and love Life; we trust and rely on Truth.
Truth appears to be irreconcilable with its progeny -- therefore, Truth appears to be a faulted principle.4
If, however, we treat Truth as the only a priori
principle, and other principles as a posteriori
to Truth, the resultant Truth model does not self-destruct. How, then, can we be certain that Truth is a principle at all? There are two reasons. First, our entire argument is based on the concept of truth: Truth must therefore exist.5
Moreover, there must be at least some absolutes (as Non Sequitur's Obviousman points out, the statement "there are no absolute Truths" is itself an absolutest assertion). An absolute is always true -- hence, Truth must exist. Truth, by its very nature, places itself first: by definition, it cannot be contradicted. In other words, the incontrovertible existence of absolutes proves the existence of Truth.
"Life" is not faced with any similar conundrum. Furthermore, we accept death as a natural part of life. If something is an a priori
principle, it cannot be violated. Hence, if life is an a priori
principle, death cannot exist. This is not to say that the preservation of life is not a principle, or at least a moral. But this moral can be found in the principle of Truth: we are designed to preserve ourselves, to live (otherwise, why would we heal or evolve?). If we accept that there is a reason
we are designed in this way,6
we are relying on empiricism; if we are relying on empiricism, we are relying on Truth. Hence, Truth (and its ethic of integrity) requires us to act in conformity with our design: we must try to preserve life until it is time to die (purpose creates action, which enlightens purpose: even if all we can see is the action, we can induce the purpose).
Truth must therefore be our a priori
principle. All ethical choices must therefore comport with Truth.
1. Hence, as is discussed infra
, the effects of a choice are irrelevant to the basic morality of that choice.
Also note that a didogmatic (yes, a new word) view of the world -- one wherein their are absolute Rights and absolute Wrongs -- is presumed.
2. With a capital "T".
3. I reject the premise that empiricism and rationalism are mutually exclusive. One is merely inductive while the other is deductive -- if the processes and premises are correct, however, empiricism will result in the rationalism premises; rationalism will deduce the empirical evidence.
4. Let us assume that rationalism and empiricism are legitimate tools of Truth.
5. Yes, this reason is entirerly corrupt, as it is self-justifying: in order for us to be correct, we must be correct. As a result, its premise is incorrect and the reason is therefore wrong.
6. Sorry, but I'm not going to investigate the meaning of life today.