In this post, I reject a suggestion that the freedom most worth wanting is the freedom to choose the moral laws to which we are to be subjected. Call this” autonomous human morality.”
A rationale for autonomous human morality can be made by contrasting it with the authoritarian morality on which the freedom of virtue is based.
The freedom of virtue outlined in the previous post is only a freedom to endorse the laws of the moral authority. If freedom of virtue is the supreme freedom, then, according to the complaint, we look at ourselves as subservient beings. We are born into a moral order which we did not choose. In this order the best we can do is conform our wills to that of the moral authority. Since the source of morality lies outside humanity – other than human- it is called “heteronomous human morality.”
Now, so the rationale goes, human beings have reached the stage at which people recognize that it is beneath human dignity to have governments whose laws do not come from those governed. The well known “Government of the people, by the people and for the people” captures the thought that this is now how we should understand the moral order.
We should dismiss older monarchial or dictatorial models for morality.
So, to preserve human dignity it is proposed that we dispense with any notion of a moral authority outside of humanity legislating moral laws for humanity.
I do not accept this stance on the freedom of the will most worth wanting. In characterizing the stance, I did not even consider the weak subjective version of this stance. The subjective version would hold that no person is truly free unless that person makes the moral laws to which he or she is subject. Personal laws are not laws at all since they can be changed at will. Willfulness is not lawfulness.
So, if morality is created by humans, it will be communities of humans. Here, though, we face a problem like that of the subjective position. Not only is there a problem about selecting collections of humans which we could view as moral creators, there is also the issue of how communities could make laws for other communities without usurping their autonomy. If we do not have universal laws, we do not have moral laws.
So, the supporters of autonomous human morality must hold that somehow humanity created morality.
A blog post is not the forum for examining attempts to interpret moral laws as constructed by humans as a whole where this whole covers all places and times where people have been. I will not consider social contract theories or Kant.*
I simply list four reasons why I dismiss autonomous human morality.
One: all accounts of humanity creating morality are fictions.
Two: Each of us is born into a moral order which we did not make; nor do we know of anyone who participated in moral legislation. The fictious moral creating humanity is for each of us a moral dictator.
Three: If morality is invented and not discovered, reality is nihilistic. For humanity everything is permitted. Nothing matters. I hope that reality is not such that a theory of autonomous human morality correctly represents reality with no moral order.
Four: Human dignity is preserved by regarding citizens and their governments as subject to the same objective moral order
*. Kant is the major influence on my moral theorizing. I am here using language which clearly sets me apart from Kant by endorsing the heteronomous moral theory of authoritarian morality.