Integrity: The Virtues Of The Moral Individual


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On an Objectivist forum one poster recently wrote:

"Benjamin Franklin wanted to achieve moral perfection so he wrote in a journal and marked in his journal everytime he violated one of his virtues... I want to do something similar but with the Objectivist virtues ...".

Objectivist Virtues

Since the question concerns, Objectivist virtues, let's examine what those might be.

Ayn Rand made two lists of virtues, one published in The Virtue of Selfishness, the other unpublished in her Journal, in a section called, "The Moral Basis Of Individualism."

The published list of virtues includes: Reason, Purpose, Self-Esteem, Rationality, Productiveness, and Pride.

The unpublished list of virtues includes: Integrity [which Rand described as, "the first, greatest and noblest of all virtues"], Courage, Honesty, Honor, Self-confidence, Strength, Justice, Wisdom, and Self-respect.

What Virtues Are

Virtues are the characteristics of a moral individual and a moral individual is one who lives by moral principles. Such a life will necessarily be characterized by the moral virtues.

Of the two Ayn Rand lists of virtues, the unpublished one is superior, beginning as it does with integrity, which she said, "is that quality in man which gives him the courage to ... remain whole, unbroken, untouched ...," that is, to be a truly moral individual. Integrity is the virtue that makes all the other virtues possible.

In an earlier version of The Moral Individual I described a moral individual as, "one who choose to take responsibility for his own life, neither desiring or seeking anything in life but what he has achieved or acquired by his own effort, fully confident in his own ability and competence to live happily and successfully in this world, gladly bearing the consequences of his wrong choices, and proudly enjoying the rewards of his right ones, neither needing nor wanting the agreement or approval of any other individuals, always seeking to be the best he can be in all things, mentally, morally, and physically."

A Sparkling Life Of Achievement, Joy, And Happiness

Moral or ethical principles are commonly thought of some kind of obligation, or duty imposed on individuals, but true moral principles are not limitations to life but the means to success and happiness. The article, "Principles," which lists the ten most important moral principles, concludes with these words: "Are these principles hard! Yes they're hard and yes they are demanding, as hard and demanding as life itself. To evade them is to evade life. No moral individual regards them as limits or restrictions on their life, however, because they are the means of achieving and being all that life makes possible. Living by these principles is the only way to live a life that is worth living."

The Pursuit Of Virtue

Virtues are not achieved by pursuing them directly. One does not learn to be honest or just or wise by attempting to practice them the way one learns to type or play a musical instrument.

The moral virtues are natural consequence of living by moral principles. The moral individual is whole which is the integrity of no contradiction between any aspect of his being, his values, his thoughts, his beliefs, his choices, and his actions which all agree and spring from the same understanding of and love for reality. He is honest because he cannot be a fake or cheat denying his own nature. He is honorable because he loves the truth above all things. He is self-confident because he knows he has done everything he possibly can to learn and be competent to live his life successfully. He is strong, whether physically strong or not, he has that strength of character that comes from knowing he is right enabling him to persevere in the face of any difficulty. He is just because he allows nothing but reason to determined his judgment. He is wise because he does not allow himself to be influenced by appeals to his irrational feelings, sentiments, and desires, discerning the truly important from that which has no real significance, both immediately and long-term. His self-esteem is inevitable because he knows what his true value is.

Then Why Mention Virtues?

Pursuing virtues will not make an individual moral, but being moral will produce the moral virtues. Understanding what the moral virtues are cannot produce morality, but can be used as a gauge of one's own life. If one finds a lack of moral virtue in their own life it indicates something wrong which is usually a mistaken ethical view or other wrong values.

If you are interested in knowing more about morality and ethics the following articles, beginning with the one mentioned above, will be helpful:

 

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The virtues cherished by the Greeks were wisdom,  moderation (temperance),  courage and justice.  Any individual having these virtues is proper measure  is almost certain to be ethical. 

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1 hour ago, regi said:

How can one logically derive  a normative value from the state of the cosmos?  I can tell you what is  by giving you the position and momentum of every particle in the cosmos.  How do I get an Ought from that?

Who is the young women  shown in the illustration?

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1 hour ago, BaalChatzaf said:

How can one logically derive  a normative value from the state of the cosmos?  I can tell you what is  by giving you the position and momentum of every particle in the cosmos.  How do I get an Ought from that?

Do you have normative values in your life?

If NO, then how do you live without normative values?

If YES, then how do you derive them?  (Considering that you don't derive them from the state of the cosmos.)

 

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44 minutes ago, jts said:

Do you have normative values in your life?

If NO, then how do you live without normative values?

If YES, then how do you derive them?  (Considering that you don't derive them from the state of the cosmos.)

 

Of course I have normative values.  I live in human society.  But none of my ethical norms are derived from the physical laws of nature.  My social and ethical norms are evolved empirically from the situation in which I live.   

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1 hour ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Of course I have normative values.  I live in human society.  But none of my ethical norms are derived from the physical laws of nature.  My social and ethical norms are evolved empirically from the situation in which I live.   

How do you evolve a social or ethical norm empirically, without starting from a given norm and without going from is to ought?

 

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1 hour ago, jts said:

How do you evolve a social or ethical norm empirically, without starting from a given norm and without going from is to ought?

 

I got my "oughts"  from my parents and teachers.  I generated a few oughts of my own empirically.  They are heuristic  rules of thumb and I hold them because they work. At no point did I derive my ethical guidance from physical laws.   Physical laws are about what is.  Ethical rules are about what we should or ought to do.  They are quite distinct. 

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6 hours ago, regi said:

Who is this young women?  She is rather good looking. 

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59 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

I got my "oughts"  from my parents and teachers.  I generated a few oughts of my own empirically.  They are heuristic  rules of thumb and I hold them because they work. At no point did I derive my ethical guidance from physical laws.   Physical laws are about what is.  Ethical rules are about what we should or ought to do.  They are quite distinct. 

You know that is not a satisfactory answer.  How did your  parents and teachers get their oughts? How do you generate oughts empirically without starting with an is or a given ought? How do you judge whether a rule of thumb works without reference to a first ought?

You can derive oughts from a first ought. Where does the first ought come from? Either you have no oughts or you have solved the is - ought problem or you (or your parents or teachers) got your first ought from something other than an is.

 

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9 hours ago, jts said:

You know that is not a satisfactory answer.  How did your  parents and teachers get their oughts? How do you generate oughts empirically without starting with an is or a given ought? How do you judge whether a rule of thumb works without reference to a first ought?

You can derive oughts from a first ought. Where does the first ought come from? Either you have no oughts or you have solved the is - ought problem or you (or your parents or teachers) got your first ought from something other than an is.

 

Bob's answer is 'oughts' by the collective. Not value - by and in the individual - not value in "man's life". Instead, only 'value' vested in the authority of society and the collective. Mankind might as well be a colony of ants to a skeptical reductionist.

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12 hours ago, jts said:

You know that is not a satisfactory answer.  How did your  parents and teachers get their oughts? How do you generate oughts empirically without starting with an is or a given ought? How do you judge whether a rule of thumb works without reference to a first ought?

You can derive oughts from a first ought. Where does the first ought come from? Either you have no oughts or you have solved the is - ought problem or you (or your parents or teachers) got your first ought from something other than an is.

 

Our ancestors developed ethical rules empirically  by cut and try,  and most of Western ethics precedes the development of physical science so we know that the ethical rules were not derived from laws of nature.  The first "laws of nature"  we invented by the Ionian Greeks about 2500 years ago.  Mankind has been around for about 250,000 years.  So any ethical developments in the deep past were derived the same  what as making bows and arrows and  sewing.  Cut and try.  Purely empirical and heuristic.   We learned about good and evil the same way a young human learns to walk on two legs and not fall over.  Cut and try.  Fail and learn.  You know, the old fashioned way.  Just like I said in the first place.

And kindly don't tell me what I know.  All you know about me is what I write.  You have no idea of what is going on in my head.  Nor I yours.  Humans do not have mental telepathy. Period.

 

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19 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

The virtues cherished by the Greeks were wisdom,  moderation (temperance),  courage and justice.  Any individual having these virtues is proper measure  is almost certain to be ethical. 

Perhaps, "in proper measure," is the key. I've known total scoundrels who had their own versions of wisdom, moderation, courage, and justice. One I knew, Al DeCotis, was a Mafia Don.

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19 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

How can one logically derive  a normative value from the state of the cosmos?

One cannot. The, "state of the cosmos," offers no alternatives. One can only learn what it is and choose to conform to it or defy it.

Value terms like good, bad, ought, should, etc. are terms of relationship and only have meaning in relationship to some objective, purpose, or goal, and only for beings capable of having objectives, purposes, and goals.

The purpose or objective of moral priciples is the success and happiness of a human being. It is reality that determines how an individual must live to live happily and successfully. The two aspects of reality that determine how a human being must live are the nature of physical reality (one must no defy the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) and human nature (one must have knowledge, one must think, and one must consciously choose).

No one is required to choose to seek happiness and success, and many do not, but for those that do, the nature of phsical reality and the nature of a human being are the is that determined what they ought to do to live happily and successfully.

19 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Who is the young women  shown in the illustration?

I have no idea who she is, but I chose her because she seems to epitomize feminine virtue: elegance, integrity, strength, and, rarest of all today, modesty.

Randy

 

 

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1 hour ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Our ancestors developed ethical rules empirically  by cut and try,  and most of Western ethics precedes the development of physical science so we know that the ethical rules were not derived from laws of nature.  The first "laws of nature"  we invented by the Ionian Greeks about 2500 years ago.  Mankind has been around for about 250,000 years.  So any ethical developments in the deep past were derived the same  what as making bows and arrows and  sewing.  Cut and try.  Purely empirical and heuristic.   We learned about good and evil the same way a young human learns to walk on two legs and not fall over.  Cut and try.  Fail and learn.  You know, the old fashioned way.  Just like I said in the first place.

You are not answering the question. Is it possible that you don't understand the question?

It order to test whether something works, you need to know what you mean by 'works'.

 

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On the subject of is - ought, we learn from Bob Kolker  2 views of the subject, each contradicting the other.

1.  You can't get an ought from an is.

2.  But humanity has been doing just that for hundreds of thousands of years.

a.  If you eat this death angel mushroom, you will be poisoned and you might die. Therefore you should not eat it. This is a should derived from a fact of reality.

b.  If you jump down onto a hard surface from a great height you might get injured. Therefore you should not do that. Again this is a should derived from a fact of reality.

c.  [insert more examples if you need them]

I expected consistency. I expected you can't prove that being poisoned is bad or getting injured is bad. Then we would have consistency. But nope. Then why not simply accept Ayn Rand's theory of is - ought?

 

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20 hours ago, jts said:

On the subject of is - ought, we learn from Bob Kolker  2 views of the subject, each contradicting the other.

1.  You can't get an ought from an is.

2.  But humanity has been doing just that for hundreds of thousands of years.

a.  If you eat this death angel mushroom, you will be poisoned and you might die. Therefore you should not eat it. This is a should derived from a fact of reality.

b.  If you jump down onto a hard surface from a great height you might get injured. Therefore you should not do that. Again this is a should derived from a fact of reality.

c.  [insert more examples if you need them]

I expected consistency. I expected you can't prove that being poisoned is bad or getting injured is bad. Then we would have consistency. But nope. Then why not simply accept Ayn Rand's theory of is - ought?

 

jts,

A seeming conclusion: one can't simply 'teach' that a person can derive "ought from is". Or, that an existent *should do* according to what the nature of reality and its own nature *is*.

After all, for men this is self-evident and inductive experience, gained by seeing/observing (and considering and thinking). And how can one look, perceive and induce for others? 

Equally, how does one 'teach' the objective *value* of individual existence? Or, to derive "good from is"? (Roughly).

Also hard, if a person hasn't seen and judged it for themselves and if they haven't abstracted man's life as the objective standard of value. Same question: How can one value on behalf of others?

For the most basic proof of each: identity and evaluation - and therefore their consequence, an objective morality - there is the ostensive: "Look!"

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On 9/14/2017 at 4:19 PM, regi said:

Ought statements in general  are not factual statements.  Some statements involving "should" are.   Consider "In order  to achieve goal G, you -should- perform action A"   This is just a matching of ends and means and in many cases the match can be based on fact. 

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19 hours ago, jts said:

On the subject of is - ought, we learn from Bob Kolker  2 views of the subject, each contradicting the other.

1.  You can't get an ought from an is.

2.  But humanity has been doing just that for hundreds of thousands of years.

a.  If you eat this death angel mushroom, you will be poisoned and you might die. Therefore you should not eat it. This is a should derived from a fact of reality.

b.  If you jump down onto a hard surface from a great height you might get injured. Therefore you should not do that. Again this is a should derived from a fact of reality.

c.  [insert more examples if you need them]

I expected consistency. I expected you can't prove that being poisoned is bad or getting injured is bad. Then we would have consistency. But nope. Then why not simply accept Ayn Rand's theory of is - ought?

 

is statement do not logically imply ought statements.   An is statement is in the modality True/False.  An ought statement is in the modality Required/Forbidden/Optional  They are statements of different types (modes)  and cannot be connected by if-then. 

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You can get all the oughts you want from ises. Because of such you ought to do X or Y and maybe Z.

Facts are first hard core metaphysical. Then you can abstract facts off that base and still there are no oughts. Oughts are hard core epistemological. The epistemological meets the metaphysical in the human mind which then tries to determine best choice of action. Everything cognitive in the human mind belongs in the tentative category. The kicker is the human mind is an integrated metaphysical-epistemological whole. In that whole, in that matrix, you get the best ought from your best understanding of is as possible--or you ought to. Your survival and happiness are at stake via critical thinking and the right--it ought to be right--moral philosophy you can create, understand, deal with, observe, know, want, etc. So to say no ought from is is possible is also to say no is is possible--that is knowable. The kid stubs his toe. "Owe!" The kid thinks, "I better (ought to) walk more carefully."

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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1 hour ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Ought statements in general  are not factual statements.  

2

You is. You are a fact. Maybe to continue is-ing you should do x and not do y. Otherwise your fact ceases to be. Isn't that easy, and factual?

Your syllogisms - "factual statements" - won't suffice to replace metaphysical facts. Many here deal directly in facts, not statements about facts.

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

You is. You are a fact. Maybe to continue is-ing you should do x and not do y. Otherwise your fact ceases to be. Isn't that easy, and factual?

Your syllogisms - "factual statements" - won't suffice to replace metaphysical facts. Many here deal directly in facts, not statements about facts.

There are no metaphysical facts.  Facts are particular.  The Cosmos consists of particulars.

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4 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

is statement do not logically imply ought statements.   An is statement is in the modality True/False.  An ought statement is in the modality Required/Forbidden/Optional  They are statements of different types (modes)  and cannot be connected by if-then. 

Then how did humanity for hundreds of thousands of years derive oughts from experience? You can't have it both ways. Deriving oughts from experience means from an is.

 

 

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1 minute ago, jts said:

Then how did humanity for hundreds of thousands of years derive oughts from experience? You can't have it both ways. Deriving oughts from experience means from an is.

 

 

Logic is not required for everything we do.   We can take a shit without using logic.  Logical inference is one of many things we can do.  And not all inferences are valid.

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7 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

There are no metaphysical facts.  Facts are particular.  The Cosmos consists of particulars.

Does that mean that life is not a fact? Or do your regard life to be a particular?

Randy

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