Sunday, January 16, 2005
a logical derivation of the possible existence of moral superiority between races
[My apologies to those offended by even thinking in terms of "race", but I am only doing so because some writers have based their arguments upon such principles.]
Let us consider the following grisly thought experiment, in the form of a logical proof. Given: Race "X" exists, but is completely dominated entirely by another race. The conquering race forces each member of "X" to kill themselves, except for those willing to break the laws of "X" by throwing a spear and killing their fellows.
Thus, all surviving members of "X" are murderers - they committed unlawful and premeditated homicide. Therefore, the statement: "All the people of Race X are murderers" is logically true. The surviving members of Race "X" embody a moral principle not universally shared by their fellows before the slaughter: That it is better to choose to slay your fellow than die with him.
Now consider: Race "Y" exists, and is also completely dominated by another race. All members of "Y" are slain who show the slightest sign of aggression -- including objections over the slaughter of their fellows. Now the statement, "All the people of Race Y are peaceful and harmless" is logically true. The surviving members of Race "Y" embody another moral principle: That it is better to let your fellow die than move a muscle to save him.
Finally: Race "Z" exists, and is completely conquered by another race. Like "X", every member of Race "Z" is offered the choice between throwing a spear at his fellow or being slaughtered. Unlike "X", the would-be murderers of "Z" throw their spears at a mirror image instead of a real person. The would-be murderers are killed instead. Therefore, the statement "None of the people of Race Z are murderers" is logically true (according to the knowledge of their conquerors) and the surviving members of Race "Z" embody the opposite (contrapositive) moral principle of Race "X": It is better not to slay your fellows but to die with them.
The moral principles of Race "X" and Race "Z" are mutually exclusive: the two sets cannot intersect. That a "moral superiority" exists between them is certain, because this was the choice faced by the unlucky members of X and Z. One must now decide whether the moral principles of "X" are superior to "Z" or vice-versa. Saying they can't apply because they are conquered peoples is to ignore the given conditions. And once one has chosen between "X" and "Z", one must consider Race "Y": these people could logically pass the same test as Race "Z" -- unless one considers them "accessories to murder", of course.
(And once one has made these choices, one must decide: Based on their deeds, what sort of "dignity" have they earned? And how, therefore, should they be treated, encompassing the question of whether or not they should be treated differently.)
These three races exist only in our "thought experiment", but, unhappily, there is no logical reason why such extreme situations can't happen in our real world of today. (Maybe someday some of us will be unlucky enough to be forced to make such choices; perhaps some readers already have.)
Furthermore, there is no reason I can think of why situations between the extremes can't exist, either: say, two-thirds of Race "P" possess the qualities of Race "X", one-third of "P" the qualities of Race "Z", and so on. Then judging between the "races" is much more difficult. Perfect knowledge is required to achieve a precise measurement on the scales of justice, but incomplete knowledge may suffice to tip the scales one way or another.
Therefore, the situation that "no race is morally superior to another" can only be a special case.
Dear Reader, your comments are greatly desired. Thank you.