*Originally posted by Chief Pedant:
This does not particularly lessen the practical imperative of adhering to the principles which are collectively developed by our species. *
I draw a distinction between what might be termed a “Moral Imperative” and a practical imperative.
Typically the concept of a “moral” imperative for behaviour is invoked as an appeal to some sort of Higher Law–some notion of Absolute Truth or derivative thereof (this is not always the case, but on average that’s how the behavioural constraint being invoked is put forth).
A given population–a culture; a society; a religious group; a nation–develops standards for behaviour. I’m not sure how you are using the term “people are rational” but certainly populations which have been successful in creating a cohesive self-perpetuating human culture are rational in the sense that they have been able to codify standards and create mechanisms which perpetuate them.
I made the statement about a practical imperative for behaviour to head off those who might assume that because there is no a priori Moral Law, it’s OK for Ted Bundy to murder people. While Ted may find no Moral Imperative to prevent him, I will lobby for a society which finds a practical imperative to constrain his behaviour, and should he choose to ignore it I will be happy to be the one providing Juice and Toast for his last meal.
It’s not a Higher Principle (higher than humans) but it certainly is a Common Principle and we are the better off as a culture for having invoked a stand against murder, as well a stand for decency, gentleness, kindness, honesty and truth.