A Universal Code of Moral Behavior (UCMB)
I will soon present a Universal Code of Moral Behavior (UCMB) as my humble attempt to identify useful old and new prescriptions for evolving sociocultures that wish to avoid the chaos of rising levels of bad behavior within their populations and therefore their collective decline.
I have partitioned this code in several ways. The first section is entitled, Love, Honor, and Do. This section is one in which prescriptions are stated in terms of behaviors to do. People of faith may wish to read many of these prescriptions (taken from religious materials) as Commandments to be obeyed for the love and/or fear of God.
Those with more secular belief systems may prefer to see the prescriptions as logical rule statements for seeking happiness and avoiding pain during life on this planet. In this case, they may wish to read each one of these prescriptions as though it stated, “You will be wise to”— in front of it.
Those with a scientific perspective should look upon the following prescriptions as rule statements to be validated through further investigation and analysis.
There is actually no reason why any one individual could not view various prescriptions within the UCMB from a singular or combined perspective of any of the three listed above: God’s Rules, wise rules, and/or rules to be tested.
The three remaining classes of prescriptions are designed to cover most human interactions within their social and physical environments. They are: Do Not Harm Others; Do Not Harm Yourself; and Never Harm Children. Some may not like that these sections are stated in the form of negative prescriptions ( i.e., Do Not) . However, in the UCMB, as in teaching children and adolescents what to do to achieve rewarding outcomes and avoid painful ones, positive prescriptions by themselves can sometimes lack important specificity.
For example, parents in Florida picnicking at an inland lake may tell their children to “only play on the beach”. But this prescription would be inadequate if they did not also add: “Don’t go in the water or an alligator might eat you”.
The parent of an adolescent might enjoin their adolescent to drive the speed limit, stop at stop streets and stop lights, to watch for pedestrians, etc. But they would best be admonished; “Do not ride with someone who has been drinking. There may be death or serious injury to yourselves or others”. In most cases similar admonishments the parent’s own teen about his or her drinking and driving would also be in order.
As an adult on my sail boat with a gasoline engine, the rule “turn on the blower before you start your engine” was made much stronger by a negative statement: “Don’t start your engine before your blower or you’ll blow yourself to smiterines”.
As a Navy diver, using an Aqualung, I was trained to “breath normally as you swim to the surface”. This rule was very importantly augmented by another: “Don’t hold your breath when you swim to the surface or you will blow your lungs up and die”.
I am certain that you can provide other examples of positive rule statements that are best augmented by negative statements. There are other times when a negative rule statement implying a very unpleasant natural consequence for breaking the rule will provide the shortest, most specific, most memorable, and most effective rule: I.e., “Don’t play with fire”.
The following UCMB prescriptions each imply their own positive and negative consequences. . Complex environments appear to require greater complexity to their moral codes. The UCMB is lengthy and including the all of the anticipated consequences for following or breaking a rule would make very long indeed. The teaching of this, or another moral code, would seem best to be approached in modules, with the various implied consequences depending upon the age and maturity of the learner fully discussed, illustrated, and referenced. Whenever possible moral prescriptions should be referenced to scientific support.
To increase the probability of moral behavior within a population, a code similar to the following UCMB should be taught and encouraged in all sociocultural venues possible.
The outcome would promise great goods. Great likely harms (concerns for unintended consequences noted) are seem doubtful.
Stay tuned for the UCMB.
Dr. Tom 1/31/11