I am a woman born 1949 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:

The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

553. Harm And Kant's Categorical Imperative

553.   Harm And Kant's Categorical Imperative

In entry 552 I pointed out, how the human dilemma of being torn between instinctive urges to harm and cognitive reasons to refrain from harming is sometimes solved by externalizing the justification to the responsibility of some higher authority.    This authority can be the imaginary deity or deities of religions.  

But there are other options to externalize responsibility.    One is following Kant's categorical imperative: 
"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law."

I am not basing the following thoughts upon having read Kant.   As far as it concerns human behavior, I prefer to read modern scientific texts based upon research in psychology and neuroscience.   
But the categorical imperative is often quoted as a guidance by people, who most probably also have not read Kant.   So more precisely this is about the potential to externalize responsibility by a literal interpretation of the quoted text of the categorical imperative.     

The hazard is the definition of a universal law by the wish of the acting person and the disregard of the perception and experience of the target or victim as to the harm done to them.   
Any universal law cannot include the avoidance of harm, which is not universal but a subjective and individual reaction to the exposure to specific experiences.    Any universal law is a way of balancing benefits and disadvantages, else the law would not be needed.    

Not harming by a conscious decision in the sense of Epicurus needs a careful assessment of what would harm any individual before being able to avoid it.  

In Kant's time, women did not count and the categorical imperative could be thus reworded for better explaining the hazards.     

Any own behavior can be justified by a man, whenever he also wants all men making each other the target of the same behavior.   

To this very day. men still confound laws and rules applicable to most or all men with universal laws. 

But biological differences are real and some behaviors cannot be evaluated equally depending on the actor's and target's gender.   Due to the biological differences I use agreement for those behaviors, where prescribing identical behaviors for women and men is not possible, only reciprocal agreement with unilateral behaviors.  

Any own behavior can be justified by someone, whenever he also wants everybody else to agree with.   

Behavior based upon this principle can lead to the belief, that harming the target were justified. 

1.  Existing laws are mistaken as the moral justification of the behavior.    When the authority represented by the law installs slavery, then owning slaves is not considered as harming humans.    

2.  When enough persons want the same and have sufficient political power, they convert their intention into laws.   
Men wanting wives to be commodities for their convenience as financially dependent house keepers.   Where enough men had this wish, they made laws not allowing women to get a job without the husband's permission.    The alleged authority of the multitude profiting from the same law served to justify the harm to the wives.  

3.  Any mental or intellectual problem or deficiency causing someone to wish weird and unacceptable behaviors to be shared by the majority automatically justifies the behavior for himself.  
A men believing himself as an excellent driver, not only disregards speed limits and other traffic rules but believes, that all traffic rules should be abandoned.  Only a few excellent drivers like himself should be allowed to drive, anybody else should yield the roads to them.   Any person getting run over had been in the way. 

There are certainly other ways of interpreting the categorical imperative.   But I cannot think of any, which would allow to see it as a method to protect victims from being harmed.