Standards

The standard kilogram is a cylinder of platinum and iridium kept under three glass domes (left) accessible by three separate keys in Sevres, France. But there is a problem; it is losing mass–on a minute, atomic level–but enough to create alarm for the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. Speaking at Hillsdale College, NY Sun founder Seth Lipsky muses why we don’t just let the kg standard float like we do for that of the U.S. dollar.

The dollar was once on a gold and silver standard, but now it has a floating standard somewhat dependent on other currencies and regulated by the Federal Reserve in a way that seems incomprehensible and arbitrary to many.

But consider a standard more critical than that of weights or currency. What if, as many people insist, moral standards floated? On what basis could we claim we had been offended if the offender lived by different standards (a.k.a. “values”)? Even if courts decided the matter, upon whose standards would they (mere men in robes) base their decision? Should a popular majority determine morality? If so, 18th C. slavery in the Western world was moral–but we know that’s not true–but how? Can evolution account for morality? If it can, then morals are like instincts; they determine how we act, not how we ought to act. Pre-determined responses are not the same as morality, which requires choice.

Without a transcendent standard (beyond human “values”), morality is arbitrary–based on ever-changing consensus and/or pre-determined instincts. So if a transcendent moral standard exists, what must it look like? More next time.

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