Debunking the Far-Left with Clarity, Terms, & Vocab

Def: Deontological Ethics vs. Consequentialist Ethics

Recently I discovered Professor Gad Saad, a Lebanese-Canadian Evolutionary Psychologist at Concordia University. In an interview with Dave Rubin, he was describing the hostile environment of academia in which he worked. When he began to dig into the roots of the far-leftist agenda, my ears perked up. What follows are two terms he introduced, the short definitions he gave for them, and an expansion and explanation of those definitions, as per my own research. I hope this helps educate and clarify a bit of the mystery of the underpinnings of what has fueled social unrest and cancel culture so intensely this past year.

Deontological Ethics:

Basically means: “It’s never okay to lie. There is absolute truth.” -Prof. Gad Saad

Greek: Deon means “Duty.” Logos means “Study or Science.” We also get the English word “Logic” from Logos.

Definition: An emphasis on the morality of behavior itself, no matter the consequences. Focuses on duties and principles. Allows for the protection of individual and universal rights.

To those familiar with Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, it is rule 7: “Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient).”

Example:

  • Keeping my word, even to my own hurt.
  • I did it because it was the right thing to do.
  • A good deed is still morally good, even if I get punished instead of rewarded.

Best known as Emmanuel Kant’s “Categorical Imperative.”

Problem: Can be too rigid, too unforgiving, too difficult to adhere to such a high standard of morality.

Benefit: It is the great arbiter of human conflict. An objective moral standard, existing beyond our individual constructs, is a fair standard of justice. It is not relative. The laws and Constitution of America are based upon deontological ethics. Outside of the plaintiff and defendant, even outside of everyone in the courtroom, there exists a body of laws, instituted to protect the rights and freedoms of the people.

Consequentialist Ethics:

Basically means: “It’s okay to lie, if it’s for a good reason. (Like answering your wife dishonestly when she asks) Do I look fat in these jeans?” -Prof. Gad Saad

Definition: An emphasis on morality based on the consequence of the behavior. Focuses entirely upon the goodness or the badness of the results.

To those familiar with Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, it is the opposite of rule 7: “Pursue what is expedient (not what is meaningful).”

Example:

  • The ends justify the means.
  • It’s not a bad deed if I don’t get caught.
  • It’s not a good deed if I don’t get rewarded for it.

Best known as: Herbert Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerence.”

Problem: Can be too relative. Allows for morality to be re-invented on a moment-by-moment basis, as conditions and consequences change.

Benefit: Immediate gratification. The consequentialist gets to play God, changing the rules of the moral game during game-play itself so he always ends up the winner. He can justify just about anything.

Analysis:

Prof. Gad Saad stated that “All of life is lived navigating the tension of these two sides. But when it comes to elements of truth, you should never become a consequentialist.” Which I take to mean that, when I begin rejecting the fundamental deontological ethical standards of universal human dignity and truth – when I see you not as a person, but as an obstacle – then I can justify lying to you or destroying your stuff under the banner of furthering my own cause, however righteous it may be. If I get my way and you bow to my agenda – if the consequence is good for me – then my riots/burning/looting/assaulting/murdering were good deeds. The subjective ends justify the destructive means.

American Bill of Rights Perspective

Our country was founded upon deontologcial ethics.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

-The Declaration of Independence

The duties and principles of the American citizen were laid out as self-evident truths, existing independently of their consequences. As American citizens, we have natural rights, and it is the duty of both ourselves individually and our government to protect those rights. Whether I like it or not, I may not destroy or steal your stuff without legal consequence. It would violate the self-evident truth of your rights. Your rights to your own life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness exist, whether I like that or not. There is a law existing outside of both you and I. And that law is built upon the natural distribution of individual rights endowed by the Creator Himself.

Marcusean Consequentialist Perspective

Conversely, Antifa, BLM, and other socialist, neo-marxist, protest groups operate upon a consequentialist world view. Truth is relative. Morals change with the tides of trends. The reasoning behind this tracks back to Herbert Marcuse, a mid-century German-American political theorist associated with the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. For years social justice groups have gathered at speaking engagements and lectures for the sole purpose of disrupting, intimidating, assaulting, and preventing the event from happening by using any means necessary. What’s more, when they show up at a peaceful lecture, and assault the attendees, they believe they are committing a retaliatory act, and acting in defense of a greater cause. Let me say that again: when they don’t like a speaker’s message, they see the words of that message have literally struck to first blow. Thus, undesirable messages become hate speech, and words are considered violence. They consider that they were sucker-punched… with words. Thus they label the message as oppressive or hateful, raising a righteous banner of both self-defense and defending the oppressed. Now they have permission to destroy your stuff, if they don’t like your language or your ethic. This is what Marcuse called “Repressive Tolerance.” It is the idea that:

Yes, tolerance is good, but not when it comes to people who are intolerant… Marcuse didn’t use the term “hater,” but he invented the argument that it’s legitimate to be hateful against haters. For Marcuse, there were no limits to what could be done to discredit and ruin such people; he wanted the left to defeat them by “any means necessary.”

-Dinesh D’Souza, “The Philosopher of Antifa

The consequentialist ethics of Antifa and BLM sees their destruction as good, because fighting back against (what they see as) oppression justifies destruction of public and private property. Thus they inevitably become the very thing that they oppose. It’s “I hate you because you’re a hater. I will take from you because you (or the system you inhabit) takes from me. I will oppress you because you oppress me. Nevermind the torched businesses in Portland, Seattle, and Kenosha were run by regular members of the communities, largely in the same socio-economic class as the rioters. As a member of a family of small-business owners myself, I can attest that a person who has the tenacity to own and operate their own business (especially as in the democrat-controlled states, where these riots are, small businesses are slapped with cost-prohibitively high tax rates, and layers of bureaucratic regulations) this kind of person is by and large too busy, and too tired to perpetrate the oppression that they are being destroyed for. But this isn’t about the businesses. Or their owners. Or their families. Or any of the other people absorbing the collateral damage of the destruction. It’s about getting the social justice message across. The destruction is worth it if the protesters get their way. This is textbook consequentialism in action.

Whereas deontological ethics are like dealing with a federal judge, consequentialist ethics are like dealing with a tantruming toddler. Perhaps navigating the tension of the two means still holding ourselves and each other to universal moral standards, but allowing for personal dignity when we fail. We can then honestly confess to our own – and forgive each others’ – short-comings when they happen.

Gospel Perspective

From the Christian worldview, this confession and repentance are essential to one’s connection with Jesus (Romans 10:9). For God is perfect – the deontological benchmark, so to speak – and by nature cannot tolerate imperfection. Jesus is placed as the soul’s arbiter, if one accepts His sacrifice on one’s behalf. He has paid the price for all of one’s moral failings, and continues to do so as they occur, in exchange for His Lordship over the individual’s life. The problem is, deontological ethics create a moral structure that is strong enough to set behavioral standards for entire cultures, but far too rigid to allow for personal variance or failure within that moral structure. Jesus does not abolish this structure, as the consequentialist would like. He contributes to it, adding the element of forgiveness to men (Matthew 5:17-18). He can do this, as the fully-God-fully-man hybrid who lived a morally perfect life. His execution was the rightful consequence that each of us deserved, but placed upon his head. He did it on our behalf (no matter our race, class, or political views), so that through Him we could be reconciled to God and fulfill the moral requirements of the law. This whole set-up is based upon our own confession and repentance of our moral short-comings to Him, within the existing deontological framework of His righteous standards.

Socially speaking, this act of confessing and making-it-right – with each other – erases the demand for reparations and revenge. This restores morality and relationships in real time. This allows for human variability, weakness, and behaving badly while still allowing for the support of community, the responsibility of the individual, and the empowerment for each of us to strive to adhere to a standard of morality independent of our own consequences. This deontological ethic is the thread that runs between the political, the spiritual, and the civil spheres of our Western society that make it function properly. If we embrace the consequentialist ethics of the woke far-left as the cure for the evils of society, we do so at our own great peril, both personally and culturally.

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

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