summary: Rephrase moral statements into the format "Proposal-A promotes/undermines Result-B."
Values (pursuit, goal, objective, purpose) between individuals are diverse, and as such, values are subjective. Ethical statements which do not specific a pursuit (usually appealing to bad/immoral/evil) are also subjective as well. In the absence of specified values, another individual may apply logic and evidence correctly but come to a radically different ethical or philosophical conclusion. However, if the values are specified, one may now objectively analyze whether the premise accurately leads to or conflicts with the given objective.
note: For brevity, the word "values" in this article is meant to be interchangeable with pursuit, goal, objective, result, preference, and purpose.
If one were to say "violence is immoral", this is not an objective statement but rather a subjective statement which claims violence is in contrast or contradiction to one of the speaker's values. Due to the subjectivity of words and concepts like 'bad' and 'immoral', another individual may apply a different set of values and come to a radically different conclusion.
If instead one states "violence is destructive to human well-being", this statement may be evaluated more objectively. This statement has a specified value, stating A leads to B, and as such may be evaluated regardless of the individual's preferred values. In this instance the objective is "destructive to human well-being," and one can analyze whether "violence" leads to the stated result without reliance on any particular set of values or morals. One may honestly recognize that "violence is destructive to human wellbeing", and yet act or advocate violence on the basis of another set of competing values.
In order to restructure common ethical statements, first find the action or proposal, then determine what the results or values the particular action promotes or undermines. Attempt to restate the ethical statement as "Proposal-A promotes/undermines Result-B."
- For example, stating "smoking is bad" is a subjective statement. Objectively analyzed, the this statement fails to answer "what is smoking bad for?" Instead, one may restructure this statement into the above objective format, "Smoking undermines lung health." or "Smoking promotes short term satisfaction of nicotine cravings."
Proving / Disproving Objective Statements
Properly analyzing (proving, disproving, arguing) objective statements using this structure must always relate Proposal-A to Result-B.
Many times, arguments start as *"Proposal-A promotes Result-B,"* but end with *"Proposal-A promotes Result-C."* Unless one relates Result-C back to Result-B, their argument is incomplete or tangential *(often distracting).*
- Example: Assume one proposes "violence is destructive to human well-being," and presume they successfully argue "violence results in blood loss and pain." If the argument were to end here, they would have failed to address the objective statement itself. The objective was not "blood loss and pain." In order to complete the objective argument, one must relate "blood loss and pain" back to "destructive to human well-being."
- If the logic or evidence is sound, the values (objectives) of the individual should be entirely arbitrary in determining whether the premise leads to the pursuit. The desirability of either the premise or pursuit is completely arbitrary and irrelevant to the the validity of the statement *"X-premise leads to Y-pursuit."*
- Failing to define objectives often leads to highly distracting, tangential, and unproductive conversations. The audience will frequently define or introduce their own values (objectives) and no longer will the debate be about the objective statement, but rather an array of arbitrary and undefined values (objectives) that differ between members of the conversation.
- Debating in favor of one objective, and ending on another objective does not logically support the original objective.
- Recognizing off-topic drifts in conversation is far easier if one specifies specific values or results, and asks *"does this conversation or argument conclude at the original objective?"*
- Debating propositions without objectives is a massive waste of time, as the person may (and usually does) float between objectives aimlessly. Instead, requesting a set of objectives (Without judgement) will allow you to analyze the statement for whether or not it achieves the intended objectives.
- Objective statements may have multiple objectives. For example, "One may legitimately own a gun and legitimately use it, however that legitimate ownership of that gun does not extent to the 'right' use that property to shoot his neighbor, violating his neighbor's self ownership." Regardless of the moral-language of this statement, one can recognize the objectives are property and self-ownership.
In conclusion, clearly defining and recognizing objectives in a conversation is extremely useful in the pursuit of (note the objectives) clear communication, clear thought, analyzing statements, and efficient use of time.