Is there an objective basis for morality?

Core Values

The short answer is no.

Constructive and destructive is a more accurate way to measure the value of relationship behaviors. Nature measures values on this standard. Moralistic lenses falsely frame values as either good or bad. Nature values things that nourish and defend coherence. Good and bad is irrelevant. Moral lenses can blind us from seeing nature’s relationship economy which we need to navigate effectively.

Relationships bound together as an interdependent network that acts to self nourish and-or defend itself against antagonists is the principle property of coherent structures. Nature is not focused on morals. It is focused on constructive relationships – that nourish and-or defend integrity. Sufficient constructive and-or defensive properties are the engine that defines coherent structures in nature.

Using a constructive-destructive lens renders the world in terms of how relationship behaviors apply to systems. Biological organisms are an example of a coherent system. Infused in our form are object properties that can have both constructive and destructive aspects and change based on context. As an example; we hunger and thirst (which are constructive activities) and our immune system and reflexes, etc. act to defend us against perceived antagonists. This relationship economy is the cost of coherence and is what defines our nature. They are the same thing.

Out of this basic nourish and defend coherence matrix we can see many variant relationship forms. An object’s properties can relate constructively or destructively toward a single system or to all systems within a specified set. They can also be a mixed bag between and within structures. A constructive-destructive lens allows us to see the multiple relationship values as they coexist in all their glorious ambiguity. Each object property is either-or constructive or destructive relative to the necessities of coherence for a given system or systems in a given context. The expression of this relationship economy defines what “is”.

Morality, as we conceptualize it, does not stem from an objective source – it is more a symptomatic expression of our local necessities as we conceive them at a given moment in time. There is no one standard by which to measure “right” and “wrong”. Our perception fluctuates depending on our cultural and environmental experience. This is why concepts of morality fluctuate with things like experience, quirks of biology, culture, and geography.

Nature’s relationship economy is based on a currency of coherency. Relationships that more effectively support coherence in the context of the environment are valued over those less suited to the task. This is the essence of the behavior properties we see expressed through coherent objects. It is also how increasingly coherent objects emerge from relationship fields characterized by less coherent bonds. In effect; nature is a continuous selection process developing ever greater forms of order. Whatever expresses greater coherence value in the context of a variable environment is selected. We are living expressions of this continuous call to order over time.

As a result of nature’s pull toward greater coherence, sophisticated relationship networks emerge that express complex interdependent “nourish and defend” properties. What we experience as our senses and our various biological drives are oriented around this theme. We are structured as stratified layers of behaviors with rigid less flexible, more rigidly embedded behavior expressions at the core and increasingly flexible more adaptable layers toward the surface. The rigid bone structure and the automatic portions of our biological metabolism along with reflexes, instincts and the ability to harness our flesh to navigate certain novel environments coexist together. These object properties operate under a unified banner of things that serve to withstand and navigate the variables of the environment while remaining coherent.

The word morality as we typically use it represents an abstract map of the history of our local necessities. It is related to what we needed to service coherence along with a mix of things find familiar and comforting. We might say eating a certain thing is moral because we needed to eat the thing to survive. We might find another culture that eats things immoral because the practice in unfamiliar to us, or would have been counterproductive in our ancestor’s local context. The variable biological algorithms forged into our species by the necessities of coherence in the context of local environments over time produce the local behavioral necessities. We later rationalize this collection of necessities along with the habitual tailwinds of things once necessary into a moral map. In other words, morality is a symptom of things that happened. Morality is not based on a singular objective standard. This is why different cultures have different moral standards. This rationalization of the necessary and the familiar is what we typically conjure up as our map of “morality”. It is an abstract map that is an afterthought to what we already embody as complex dynamic adaptable coherent objects in nature’s broader environmental context.

As biological creatures, we are structures built by adaptive necessity with a core of less flexible behavioral necessities and increasingly flexible layers toward the surface of our “being”. Our need to eat and drink are examples of these core necessities – these acts of service necessary to remain coherent – require us to behave in specific ways. These necessities of “being” gives rise to a core set of ritual behavior patterns. Our senses and behaviors are essentially tuned acts in service to the necessities of being. We express these acts of service to necessity in many behavioral forms.

As early humans when we were more naked and intimate with the environment we hunted and gathered. We harnessed fire and began cooking. This technology to expand our nutrition sources. Later we began farming and cultivating food. This led to the necessity of defending land and water sources and we later developed notions of property and boundaries laws and governments. Our abstract architecture tracked with the necessities of being. As we continued to renegotiate our place in the context of nature, our moral maps and world view shifted to reflect these changes as well.

We tend to see our necessary acts of service to coherence and the accumulated traditions that this devotion to necessity entails as our birthright. We build our abstract moral framework around these necessities. Morality is more an extension of the necessities of coherence – the biological instruments, music notes and melodies on which the orchestra of our organism’s coherence is built.

We also see the localized necessities of coherence that were forged by the relationship between the currents of community on which we were carried into existence and the environment in which those communities related in a low-resolution map form. Our world view is based on this deeper narrative that is unable to be captured in full resolution. Over time we developed the local social rules by which we now use as the means to accept and-or reject people, behaviors, and things in a community context. Our rationalizations about what is acceptable or not shift with environmental necessities over time. This moral map is another example of nested adaptive layers – these things we accumulate that are useful to navigate the necessities of being. As coherent structures, we are wired to value remaining coherent in the context of the variables of the environment. If this were not so, we would not exist.

As coherent structures, we cannot help but have a nature that is tuned to find nourishment sources and defend our form – a survival instinct. This adaptive process includes moral rationalizations to cope with making rituals and justifying the necessities of being. Our biological drives are built on an economy of coherence and our thought processes are an extension of this. This is why as a species we justify dismantling and eating animals and plants. It is a necessary part of nourishing our form. We rationalize it as our place. We see it as our right when it is, in reality, a necessity of being. Our perception does not stem from an objective set of morals. It is a variable response caused by the necessities of relating to the idiosyncrasies of our developmental environment over time. We are not unique in this respect. Every creature, indeed every object is a reflection of these necessary properties of coherence. Each object can nourish and-or defend coherence. This is the universal theme embedded in all coherent structures. It is the essence of “being”.

One response to “Is there an objective basis for morality?

  1. Dear Joe,

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    Wishing you a mindful and suitably productive weekend doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most, both intellectually and spiritually!

    Happy September to you soon!

    Yours sincerely,

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