Summary: The Derivation of Moral Standards

    The foundations of evolving moral systems rest on a complex cybernetic process that sustains and preserves the human species. This is a dynamic process that drives the creation of moral and ethical standards. Every human action inspires a corresponding reaction whether subtle in nature or violent. Some people are more emotionally reactive than others. Emotions can get out of control if not regulated by laws, customs, moral codes, professional codes and even the rules of etiquette. Rules are a stabilizing force that enhance the survivability of individuals, families and nations. Mathematically, the initial point* evident in human behavior is the survival of the species. It is defined and redefined in many ways, such as a concern for public safety. The complexity of this process cannot be understated, and it is best described by cybernetic science. There is a considerable difference between the static term "moral standards" and the cybernetic process that creates them. A basic understanding of this process can be conveyed through a series of illustrations: 

    For example, the evolution of traffic laws demonstrates the creation of standards of vehicular conduct directly related to public safety. Public safety itself is dedicated to increasing human survival on the highways. If an action on the highway consistently leads to unnecessary pain, suffering and death, it is an action discouraged by new rules and regulations designed to prohibit it. Thus, by the destructive consequences of human actions, the notion of "right" and "wrong" evolves.

    The standards of vehicle codes integrate seamlessly into cultural morality as illustrated by the example of consuming alcohol while driving an automobile. Here, the standards of behavior are statistical in nature. The probability that any outcome will occur is ranked from the first standard deviation to the fourth. Some of the facts surrounding alcohol abuse go back thousands of years. Alcohol has long been known to have a profound affect on human thinking. The destructive tendencies alcohol motivates is compounded in multiples if you add the simultaneous emotions that, for example, come from the breakup of a romantic relationship—or stress from the workplace. Put job and family problems together with a fifth of 100-proof alcohol and a fast car traveling 10 miles across crowded city streets, and you have the formula for a very likely accident. This destructive behavior conflicts with a fundamental value—self-preservation—and the preservation of others in society. So in time, rules evolve to restrict drinking and driving. Every time there is a tragedy produced by alcohol abuse, it reinforces and perpetuates a long history of the moral sentiments and laws relating to the use of alcohol.

   There is larger dimension to the creation of laws prohibiting drinking and driving: There are economic considerations that drive the creation and implementation of new laws based on survival. Economics is a primary force in human cultures; it is a powerful expression of the will to survive. Economics sometimes overrides ethical concerns because the survival as a person, nation or world demands it. If a society allows intoxicated people to drive on the highways, there is a statistical certainty many unnecessary deaths will occur. Property will also be destroyed, the flow of goods and services will be interrupted and the healthy spirits of people will be damaged. All of these factors, if allowed to go unchecked, will affect the health and efficiency of an economy. Maximizing economic health requires the evolution of behavioral standards that avoid pain, suffering and death and embrace the values of peace, prosperity and productivity. There must be an uninterrupted flow of goods and services and minimal accidents and dislocations sufficient to evoke a societal spirit and willingness to work hard. That is how, in theory, a particular economic or social system survives when others have failed.

Also see Visceral Morality