The Voluntary Life: 151 Your Own Moral Compass

17 April 2014

151 Your Own Moral Compass

An episode about developing your own independent moral compass. Topics covered:

  • The huge influence of morality and moral arguments.
  • Examples of different approaches to morality.
  • The real purpose of shared moral rules.
  • The benefits of developing your own moral compass.

Listen to Episode 151


  1. Thank you for these thought-provoking podcasts !

    Sorry to post this so long after the podcast, but I only just learned about TVL from Peace Revolution podcast #76.

    I don't see where you come up with the purpose of morality as " enable people to live peacefully together. It's to avoid conflict. People need to agree [on] shared rules to live together in order to avoid conflict..."

    This sounds like a pretty decent description of the purpose of *laws*, but not of *morality*.

    In an earlier podcast you reviewed "The Virtue of Selfishness", which includes "The Objectivist Ethics".

    It seems to me that you either didn't understand, or you disagreed with Rand's
    point therein:

    What then are the right goals for man to pursue ? What are the values his survival requires ? That is the question to be answered by the science of ethics. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why man needs a code of ethics.

    Rand shows that morality is needed for one's own, individual survival, whether in society, or on a desert island.

    Is this something you didn't understand, or something you disagreed with ?

    If you disagreed, I'd love to hear why.

    Again, thank you for these podcasts !

    1. Thanks. In answer to your question of where I got this idea from, the best book is “The Economics and Ethics Of Private Property” by Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

      When you say “Rand shows that morality is needed for one's own, individual survival, whether in society, or on a desert island,” you are using “morality” as a synonym for “rational thinking”, which misses out the distinction.
      How is it a moral question whether Robinson Crusoe- alone on his desert island- should try to catch a fish today or look for coconuts? Sure, Crusoe faces choices and needs rules/methods to make his choices. As onlookers, we can categorise or judge his thinking- for example, we might say “it was irrational (or stupid, or a waste of time) to decide to go fishing before he had made a spear or a net”. But was it immoral? Using the term morality to apply to individual choices that have no bearing on other people, or on potentially rivalrous resources, just doesn’t make sense to me.

      Once the man called Friday has arrived on the island, both Crusoe and Friday face moral questions every day. Who is the rightful owner of any particular object on the island? When is it legitimate for either to use violence against the other? Etc. In those circumstances the concept of morality is useful, and distinguishable from rational thinking per-se.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.