The principal criticism of John Rawls is his thin-good and it has been what I have savagely beat him with a baseball bat about on this blog. Now, in my last blog I answered the recent big question about whether it is moral to be a billionaire by citing John Stuart Mill and saying there is an emergent ethic from the principal of maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering that a certain level of wealth inequality and concentration of wealth is immoral. Based on the rule-utilitarian idea that ethics are emergent from what promotes human happiness and negates human suffering.
Does the same apply to hedonism? Now, I am not arguing that hard drugs should be illegal but that hedonism is immoral according to utilitarianism because a hedonistic society is less empathetic and more selfish. That an addiction to dopamine leads to the destitution of large portions of society. Most secular people I have met would say that in a liberal society one has the “right” to do cocaine. Yet, if our morals are to come from somewhere other than John Rawls and John Locke and we go the utilitarian route, we may find that cocaine might be immoral.
Now, I am a Christian but the Bible says nothing about cocaine or hard drugs. It is assumed that it is wrong but these are sentiments. The Bible’s effective political and much of its interpersonal philosophy is mostly utilitarian and therefore this relatively secular approach is useful. If cocaine, which is a metonym for all hedonism, leads to a lack of empathy and an increase of selfishness then, for entirely secular reasons, doing cocaine is immoral. So is alcoholism and anything that produces so much dopamine it is prone to become habitual.
Like how I argued for a secular reason for forgiveness, that it is a utilitarian rule that leads to less suffering if followed as a precedent. Moderation, as a secular rule, leads to less suffering. A hard drug ike cocaine, then, should be completely avoided. Yet, our society’s atheists are not secular humanists, they are Rawlsian liberals who think of everything in terms of rights. Even if they say they believe in reducing suffering and increasing happiness, they think in terms of Lockean deontology. They would not be able to argue that cocaine is wrong in a secular context.
In the Rawlsian system, there is nothing wrong with cocaine and if there is nothing wrong with cocaine then people become selfish with nothing moral to stop them. Society becomes much more cruel. Since people, on the whole, naturally seek pleasure, with nothing to moderate them, they will, on the whole, become addicted to dopamine, become more selfish, and there will be more sufffering.