Moral Reasoning Is a Foreign Concept to Many Americans
Elon Musk provided an important lesson to 21st century Americans today in two tweets. Explaining first why he would not turn over Starlink to Ukraine for use in its war against Russia, Musk made one assertion—he will not allow the satellites to be used to promote World War III:
In a follow-up, Musk said something far more important and intriguing:
I want to focus on that last sentence. In particular, the last three words.
“We’re trying hard to do the right thing, where the “right thing” is an extremely difficult moral question.”
Once upon a time, “difficult moral questions” were discussed with some regularity. People were raised to recognize the difference between a mere “choice” and a “difficult moral question.”
It would be easy to blame the abortionists for our loss of moral thinking, but doing so would trivialize both issues: the heavy moral weight of abortion and our loss of moral reasoning. I and others have written much about abortion lately, but not the latter. Perhaps, had we focused more on the latter, the former would be less of a problem.
We just don’t hear famous people talking about difficult moral choices these days. At least, I don’t. Which is why Musk’s use of the term caught my attention.
On the one hand, these tweets reveal that Musk thinks about things a bit more deeply than your typical CEO reciting talking points produced by a PR hack and fed to the executive through an earpiece. On the other hand, Musk indicates he wants to decide his company’s action based on some sort of moral reasoning. Both revelations are laudable and refreshing, but we must also consider the moral code upon which Musk reasons. A bad moral code must produce bad decisions, and a good moral code good decisions. So what is Elon’s moral code?
I have no idea.
To his credit, he seems to truly want the best for humanity—freedom of speech and association, avoidance of global thermonuclear war, retribution for those who denied others basic human rights, etc.
On the downside, he seems to believe that the best for humanity includes technical modifications to man’s moral reasoning through implantable chips. Those chips might, indeed, improve moral clarity but that clarity would come at the expense of agency, autonomy, and right reason. A chip that forces the brain to choose the “right” thing also denies man his free will—something that even God refuses to withhold. Technological brain-hacking, then, goes beyond “being like God,” to the delusion that some are superior to God. It makes the creature greater than the creator.
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