I challenged my fellow conservative blogger over at Porkopolis to answer why I ought to be moral at all, if God really doesn’t exist and there are no such things as objective moral standards. He replies:
With regards to: “There is one question that can never be answered by any evolutionary assessment of ethics. The question is this: Why ought I be moral tomorrow?”
We ought to be ‘moral’ (treat others as we want to be treated) because it maximizes the outcomes (ala Game Theory) for all individuals involved as noted in the study referred to at: Generous players: game theory explores the Golden Rule’s place in biology.
That sounds persuasive at first, but it actually misses the point. Porkopolis assumes that I ought to care about maximizing the outcomes for all individuals. That’s begging the question. He’s saying that I ought to be moral because I ought to care about everybody else. I ought to because I ought to, apparently.
What’s with this “ought” talk he’s offering? Why should I care? Let everybody else care about humanity. I want to be selfish and mooch a free ride on everybody else’s concern for me.
In fact, if his understanding of morality is true then I’m being rational by being selfish. I can do whatever I want to advance my own desires, and nobody has a right to claim that what I’m doing is “wrong” because the concept of “wrongness” is nonsense. I get to exploit a loophole in the “rules” that people like Porkopolis refuse to use.
I doubt that my colleague likes that arrangement, so again I ask the question: if there are no objective moral standards imposed by a transcendent Lawgiver, then why ought I behave in a “moral” way at all?
I look forward to his reply.
Update: Porkopolis’ reply, and my rebuttal.