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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ultimate "Ends" - a minimalist approach

We all have our own set or sets of basic goals or "ends"; but treating ideologies, partisanship or short term gains as absolutes leads to a confusion of "ends" with "means."  My own most basic political "ends" (and I use them as an example only; you are entitled to your own) are simple.  My own view is that politics (and our personal behavior, but that's off point) should serve the following ultimate goals.  Perhaps they could be viewed as my core moral beliefs.

1. Peace is better than war
2. Health is better than sickness
3. Pain and suffering (not just physical) are to be avoided if possible
4. Prosperity is better than poverty, both for societies and individuals
5. Individual freedom is good
6. Other people should be treated as we would wish ourselves to be treated (not quite the same as "the greatest good for the greatest number", but this should be viewed in the context of numbers 1-5 above)
7. We have a responsibility to not screw things up for future generations
8. Knowledge is good
9. Children should be valued and protected
10. Animals should not be treated with gratuitous cruelty.  (I couldn't leave that off, but I had to put in "gratuitous".  So sue me.)

Note that I have tried to make this simple.  To me, what will lead to those ends/outcomes is "good".  Note the absence of any "isms" or even of things like "God", "morality" or "equality", or even "fairness" or "democracy".  I suspect most of my readers may agree with my "ends", but will be troubled by what is not on the list. (For example, "Life is better than death".)

Now there are a lot of other things that I believe are desirable in that they will lead to one or more of the above ends, but if you were to convince me that achieving them would make these ends less likely, I would tend to rethink my attachment to those other things.

I would invite readers to come up with your own lists.  See if you can keep them to 10 or 15 items or less.  It's an interesting exercise.


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