Honor, Liberalism, and Moral Stature

When nerdy good boys are delinquents and drunk cokehead playboys are model citizens. The end of virtue ethics and the rise of liberal consent. It was Martin Luther King’s dream that a pluralistic society would judge based on character and not superficial characterisitcs but liberalism decided that character meant a thick good and was incompatible with liberalism therefore grouped it with racism, burned it in a bonfire, and replaced with negative liberties and consent. Fifty Shades of Grey and the Cinderella remake came out at the same time but there is no difference between Prince Charming and Christian Grey because as long as there was consent, sadism and chivalry are morally equal.

The first sentence about nerdy good boys being delinquents while drunk cokehead playboys are model citizens is something I’ve written anout before since it is relevant to my life. Being on the spectrum, one makes others uncomfortable and, directly or indirectly, this leads to many punitive actions. Often, in an environment where massive levels of hedonism and vice persist. I got suspended for platonic harrassment at a college that is reputed to be a raging party school despite my sobriety, virginity, and making zero effort to change either of those statuses. My character did not matter, at all, because liberal ethics does not see character.

The story is worse because I never got a degree, largely because of hypervigilance in my prefrontal cortex from constant fear of getting in trouble with my peers, the Dean of Students, and the campus police. Directly snd indirectly for being unpopular. This is the story of lots of social rejects in liberal society. There are no virtuous poor since, by virtue of their ickyness, they are unwanted, and their presence therefore is unethical according to liberal consent. While ugly laws existed and certainly classism eas real in earlier eras, comfort tended to not be protected to the degree that mild eccentricity was effectively criminalized and regarded as immoral.

Michele Foucualt argued that psychiatric conditions are social constructs borne of society’s morés. They are labels for deviants. That is not true. However, there is truth in it. In 1935, my Asperger’s ass would never have gotten in trouble. Firstly, neither the druggie jock or the awkward nerd are probably going to be arrested for anything since it is an urban neighborhood or a small town, everyone knows each other, and people don’t call the police on their own for minor shit. More importantly, perhaps, the druggie jock would be regarded as a local bad boy while the awkward nerd would be a local good boy. 

Rather than considering the popular boy to have the consent of the presence of more people and the nerd not to and gaging ethics on that. They had a sense of virtue. Not committing vice and having honor constituted moral worth. Even if someone was unpopular, they could still be an upstanding and model citizen. While they were not social constructs, they were more tolerated and accepted and not used to gage the moral worth of a person. That was because moral stature was much more grounded in honor and dishonor rather than liberal consent. 

The concept of Christian virtue in the West gave the marginalized dignity and made them equal to all others, judged ultimately by their character for which they would be awarded the highest of honors regardless of their condition in life, rescued from the Asphodel Fields from which they would gaze upon the genocidal generals of Elysium, to a Heaven granted not for the glory of their name but the purity of their heart. Liberal consent-based ethics, when it is the primary measure of moral status, is a return to an Elysium-style metric of worth where the popular are good and the unsightly are bad, per se. Where the weak lack even the ability to seek worth through their goodness since their weakness is, in the normative, immoral.

This is all not to erase liberal consent from ethics. The degree of tolerance people should extend those who discomfort them is finite, obviously. That degree should, largely, be based on what will maximize human welfare and minimize human destitution. Rejecting people for relatively superficial characteristics after relatively brief chronologies results in a net loss of health and happiness and a net increase in suffering without much superseding priority. Happiness and welfare are not defined as immediate comfort or short-term satisfaction and if they were defined that way, people would be unhealthy and much less happy than if they made the short-term sacrifices required for a loving and interdependent community. We can only have communities that support our emotional needs if we tolerate one another’s quirks.

Postscript:

While virtue ethics are often considered ethical intuitionist or religious in basis, and I use both of those for mine, there is a more objective and secular means of reaching them. If certain lifestyles reduce suffering, which more moderate and temperate lifestyles ultimately do, then those who purvey them by example have, merely through utilitarian consequentialism, done good. The most scientific and secular ethics are utilitarian and virtue ethics can be derived from them. Earlier, I noted how secular rationales for forgiveness were scant to find but since forgiveness almost always ultimately reduces suffering, it is justified secularly. Likewise, living with honor and without acute hedonism reduces suffering and ergo has a secular justification. That said if secular, psychology-based, virtues eerily align with a religion that is evidence that religion’s favor.

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