This morning I linked Brandon on the 5-d vs 2-d axis of morality used by the right vs the left in the divide we have in society. Brandon suggests, and commenter JA seems to essentially concur (and if he doesn’t I’ll hear about it right off I expect), that the purity axis is the most problematic for us “post-moderns” and that this notion is entirely rejected by the liberal. For context, the 2 axis for morality on the left is harm and fairness, and the 5 on the right are harm, fairness, in-group, authority, and purity.

But that doesn’t seem right to me. That is, I think the liberals in our midst say that they reject purity as a moral factor but in practice they do not.

What do we mean by purity? Brandon suggests:

To make a purity work as a moral category, you need the idea that people can exert a morally corrosive influence on another, and, even more, that you can be exerting such an influence, or be receiving such an influence, completely independently of any intention you may have or deliberate choice you may make.

Blue laws and other codes regulating behavior count among these sorts of ways we legalize notions of purity. For an extreme example, none right nor left, would condone public sexual intercourse or drug usage in places frequented by children. Why not? Could it be that this is a notion that this would be “a morally corrosive influence” intentional or not? Indeed it is. This is purity. This notion of purity is shared by the left in practice, but in rhetoric they deny it.

It might also be suggested that the left’s increasing sensitivity to more and more different notions of “harm” is a reaction to rejecting rhetorically and logically the other 3 axis of morality, including purity. In the context of such a lack, the remaining to “axis” need to be stretched and expanded to fill the logical gap provided by the other.

Filed under: Ethics & MoralityMark O.

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