HomePersonalDemocratic PeaceDemocide20th C. DemocideMegamurderersLesser MurderersWhy DemocideDimensionsConflictMethodsTheoryPolicyLinks

Volume 5

Expanded Contents

1: Perspective And Summary
2: What is Peace?
3:Alternative Concepts of Peace
5:The Social Contract Model
6:The Global Convention of Minds
7: The Just Peace Principles
8:The Just Peace
9:Implementation of a Just Peace:Incrementalism
10: Principles of Conflict Resolution
11: The Positive Peace Principle
12:The Grand Master Principle

Other Volumes

Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field
Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix
Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective
Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace

Other Related Work

Conflict And Violence page

Democratic Peace page


Chapter 4


By R.J. Rummel

First of all, I would insist that we must start from the recognition that there is something peculiarly puzzling and problematic, peculiarly arguable, about the whole phenomenon of morals. Not everyone, naturally, feels this, but even if one does not feel it the record shows it to be so. So much is unclear; so many different views have been taken--and not only, of course, about what is morally right or wrong, but about what it is to be morally right or wrong.
----Warnock (1967:73)


"What is a just peace?" This question is deceptively simple; a direct answer easily stipulated: "A just peace is one of maximal human freedom consistent with the freedom of others." As easily, however, comes a different answer. "A just peace is one of maximal equality." Or "the greatest happiness of the greatest number," "the satisfaction of human needs," or "obedience to God." Such stipulated answers abound in the literature of peace, which usually focuses on how a given just peace can be achieved or constructed.

However, we can go beyond merely asserting (or assenting to) "X is a just peace" and present fundamental philosophical reasons for this answer. That is, we could say, as I later do, that freedom promotes a just peace because it best enables each individual and group to assert, test, and satisfy its own sense of justice, while minimizing collective violence. And these reasons can be further elaborated until a full theory of justice based on freedom is detailed.

I could give such a theory of a just peace here in a workmanlike manner in only a chapter or two. Since previous volumes contain all the elaboration necessary, my job would be to focus their contents on freedom and add practical details. However, my answer as to what is a just peace would then have only a first-order respectability. For a complete response must also justify both my prescriptive meanings and supporting reasons. In short, I must answer these questions: What is justice? Why? And how do I know?

To further clarify what is involved here, observe that for empirical truth we fundamentally distinguish ontology (what is) and epistemology (how one knows this and can justify this way of knowing). In ethics, of which questions about justice are a part,1 we similarly divide ethics from metaethics.2 Ethics is the assertion3 and justification of what is good, right, proper, or just. Metaethics concerns the nature of ethics, how ethical terms can be defined, what methods of justification are appropriate to ethics, and how we can know any of this. If our ethics insist that human rights are good, metaethics would question what we mean by a "human right" and "good" and how we know or justify this "goodness." If "natural law" is the answer, then metaethics would ask why.

Therefore, a complete answer to what is a just peace must provide an assertion, its explanation (theory), and the associated metaethics.4 This I will attempt here.5 It is a complex task, especially if it is to be accomplished within these several chapters with clarity and persuasiveness.6 Many questions need be answered. What, more precisely, are ethics and justice? How do metaethical theories differ about this? Is ethics basically different from irenology or any other empirical discipline? Why? What is my metaethic? How do I view justice? What methods will I use for determining justice? My responses will proceed in this order.

First, I hope to clarify in the next section the meaning of ethics and describe several important metaethical schools whose arguments usually concern the nature and status of morality, ethics, and sometimes values. Seldom is justice mentioned per se. However, as will be discussed subsequently (Section 4.4), statements about what is just or unjust are ethical statements, and thus a particular metaethical view is also a metajustice one. For this reason I begin with metaethics and then narrow my focus to justice. With the description of metaethical schools as background, this metaethics will also require a detailed analysis, in the same section, of analytic, synthetic, empirical, and ethical statements, among others. This will help pinpoint similarities and differences between empirical and ethical assertions. Of special importance here is the prescriptiveness and universality of ethics and its logical independence from facts. Of course, this analysis presupposes my own metaethics, which I then present.

Second, in Section 4.3 I want to show that, regardless of whatever logical independence exists between reality and ethics (morality), there is an overlap giving us freedom to choose our empirical and ethical perspectives. Establishing and understanding this overlap is essential to my later methodology.

Third, with the above metaethics in hand, I then will outline my metajustice in Section 4.4. What is a statement about justice like? What are its formal and empirical properties? Here I will point out that justice is descriptive, prescriptive, universalizable, moral, and (like ethics) logically independent of facts.

Finally, all this is prologue to the method for determining a just peace, which I will describe in the last section (4.5). This method hypothesizes a convention of all adults meeting to answer, under certain conditions and restrictions, the question of what just peace they want for themselves and their children. This is a social contract approach, much used in political theory (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau) and currently also applied to justice by John Rawls.7 However, although similar in approach, the content of my theory will differ significantly from classical and contemporary contract theorists.

The next (Chapter 5) and subsequent chapters will unfold various aspects of this theory of a just peace, beginning with the universal convention, its attributes and the attributes of all those involved. Then, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, and Chapter 8 will consider the convention's decisions about the nature of a just peace in terms of society, the political system, and public policies.


4.2.1 Ethics

What do I mean by ethics? Ethics guide us as to what in our behavior is good or evil, right or wrong, just or unjust, proper or improper, moral or immoral. Of course, a painting can be good or bad, as can be a book, movie, motor, or bridge. But what distinguishes ethical from, for example, aesthetic or technological values, is that ethics carry or imply responsibility, obligation, duty. That is, we are supposed to keep our promises or support our children. Not to do so is unethical. For nonethical values, however, no such responsibility or duty is implied. If we deem a book badly written, we hardly imply that the author was obligated as a person to write a good book. The author, indeed, may have a most outstanding character, from which his badly written book would not detract at all. However, no matter how competent or skilled an author, were he to lie to us for his own gain we would immediately question his worth as a person.

I have much more to say about ethics,8 but to provide a foundation I first must sketch various theories about ethics.

4.2.2 Metaethical Theories

To reiterate: metaethics is concerned only with the nature of ethics, its truth or falsity, validity or invalidity, and how we know; not with what is actually good, evil, or just. Thus, the major difference between metaethical theories is over whether ethics are part of external reality--real in some sense--or an invention, expression, or reflection of our mind or emotions. This is a division between so-called objectivists and subjectivists.

A. Ethical Objectivism. Objectivists, believe ethics exists outside of us--there is something in reality called good, right, justice. They agree that ethical statements are true or false statements. But they disagree among themselves in explaining how we know or determine an ethic. Objective intuitionists argue that we apprehend ethics through some kind of insight or perception, a special intuition about what is right and wrong. Some believe that what is good or just is seen by a sixth sense through which we perceive differences between right and wrong, as we perceive differences between hot and cold, hard and soft, red and blue.9 Others believe that while ethical good or bad, right or wrong, involve no special sense, the qualities of what is perceived are undefinable, as the color green cannot be defined or described to one who is color-blind. Yet other intuitionists argue that we know ethics as we know the axioms of mathematics--they are self-evident, perhaps a priori.10 Objective naturalists, however, agreeing with intuitionists that there is an objective ethic, argue that we come to know it as we do any empirical phenomena, which is through observation and scientific research.11

Objectivists of either kind agree that ethical statements are empirically true or false.12 Therefore, while perhaps conceding a conceptual or logical separation between descriptive and ethical statements, they emphatically deny that facts and values are distinct empirically.

There appears much to be said for the objective naturalist view. Often we justify ethical statements by empirical reasons. For example, the statement, "The minimum wage is unjust," could be supported by saying that the minimum wage creates unemployment among the least skilled, hampers on-the-job training, and raises the cost of goods to the consumer, all empirically true or false reasons. Even at higher levels of abstraction empirical reasons can be given for ethical assertions, as for the justice of redistributing wealth, which may be argued to increase the sum total of pleasure and stabilize democratic institutions. However, by looking closer at such empirical reasons we find that they assume other ethics. Why should pleasure, overall, be increased or institutions stabilized? Of course, additional empirical reasons can be given, but ultimately the chain of reasons, if not circular, will lead to some fundamental, axiomatic ethics, such as that we should be treated equally, have equal opportunity, be free, or have our needs satisfied. These become ultimates for which there are no empirical justifications.

The objective intuitionists would respond to this: the axiomatic just statements are known through our ethical intuition to be true.13 Consider, he might argue, that all would agree with the patent immorality of a farmer promising to pay a hungry family for a week's labor in the field and then, after they finish, kicking them off the farm without compensation. All cultures would agree on this being morally wrong, the intuitionists would argue, without further reasons being given. However, this claim is itself an empirical statement whose truth is unclear. If the family were Jews in Germany under Hitler, or a formerly rich family who had cruelly exploited the farmer, some might not see the farmer's behavior as bad. Moreover, given the great diversity among cultures and subcultures, where within some criminal subcultures the most beastial murder and tortures are accepted (where, for example, an old person can be painfully and slowly killed for the torturer's amusement), such examples are not patent.14 And were justice directly perceived, as one would perceive a color or hardness (which are impossible to define), then again the fact of large-scale disagreement over justice would be telling. For no such disagreement exists over, for example, the color green. Finally--and this is similar to Kant's argument for the autonomy of morality from phenomena--we cannot establish ethics that is universal15 from contingent, particular, empirical observations. Universals cannot be proven by statements limited to particular times, places, and people.16

B. Ethical Subjectivism. Subjectivists believe ethics to be an expression of or reference to people's feelings or beliefs. Ethics is in our hearts or minds, not in outer reality. What else is involved, however, is disputed. One school, composed of autobiographical subjectivists,17 claims that ethical statements merely describe the speaker's feelings or emotions. Thus, to say "Inequality is unjust" is to say, elliptically, "I believe that inequality is unjust." In this sense, an ethical statement is an empirically true or false psychological statement--true if it is in fact what I believe..

However, to say "X is good" is different from saying "It is my belief that X is good." While the latter is undoubtedly an empirical statement, this simply finesses the question about the nature of ethics by transforming ethical judgments into descriptive empirical statements. To see this, consider that people's feelings and beliefs change and cease empirical existence when they die. Is one willing to argue that ethics correlatively changes or ceases to exist? Moreover, contradictory ethics would still be true. For example, Mary's statement that "Abortion is moral," and John's that "Abortion is immoral" can both be true, since they are--according to the autobiographical school--expressing the beliefs of Mary and John. All this hardly makes one comfortable with this view of ethics.

Another school of subjectivists, composed of emotivists, believes that ethics express the speaker's feelings, beliefs, or attitudes, and, some emotivists also argue, are meant to invoke similar feelings or beliefs from others.18 Ethical statements are therefore interjections like "Wonderful!" or "Ugh!" Were I therefore to say, "Liberty is a first principle of justice," I would be saying implicitly, "I believe liberty a great good, and so should you." Ethics to the emotivist are neither true or false, but simply emotional or rational ejaculations.19

Emotivism often ignores or defines away the fact that people generally support their ethical judgments by reference to external facts and not their emotions and beliefs.20 Is this to mean, then, that the ethics in practice is quite divorced from the actual meaning of ethics? Moreover, most people, I believe, would argue that there is a meaningful difference between the statement, "I feel equality is good," and its supposed surrogate, "Equality is good." Surely, many might not call the former an ethical statement at all. Finally, emotivists generally appear to ignore the possibility of analytic ethical statements, logically necessitated by the nature of reason and morality. All this is not to deny emotivism entirely, but to strongly question whether it captures most ethics in its net.

C. Relativism and Other Theories. Perhaps the most popular metaethics among modern social scientists and irenologists is relativism. This denies that there is always one true or correct ethical statement or any method by which one can be proven.21 Some will go further and assert that whatever, a person thinks is ethical for him; or, in another version, if a society, culture, or class thinks something ethical, then it is ethical for its members. Ethics is thus made relative to the context, person, class, society, or culture.22

The argument for relativism is usually based on the great divergence and diversity of ethics across cultures and ethical disagreement within cultures. There are two problems here. One is that these differences may really be over different facts and explanatory theories, not over fundamental ethics.23 For example, two cultures may believe that the welfare of the aged is a moral duty. Yet, by virtue of different religious beliefs about the nature of life and death, one culture may discharge its moral duty by leaving the aged on a mountain top to die; while the, other culture may satisfy its morality through absorbing the aged into an extended family. Or, at an individual level, two people may feel morally obliged to help the poor, but one sees welfare and government programs as the best route, while the other may see economic growth resulting from the free market as the solution. It is by no means empirically established that great differences in fundamental ethics (or values) exist.

The second problem is an implicit non sequitur. By virtue of assumed ethical diversity, many relativists believe different ethics ought to be treated equally (or at least given "a place in the sun"), that no standard should be imposed on the other standards. However, this argument, however phrased, is deducing an ought (how different ethics should be treated) from an is (ethical diversity). But an "ought" cannot be logically derived from an "is," as will be discussed below.24 Besides, is this not making one ethic ("no standard should be imposed...") dominant over all others? Is this not a violation of the rule that all ethics are equal. Anyway, I don't believe for a moment that these relativists accept that the ethics of a culture justifying slavery and the cold blooded sacrifice of thousands of prisoners of war are equal to those of a culture that values peace, tolerance, and cooperation.

The above and previous subsections provide a broad view of major secular, metaethical theories.25 Theological theories have been omitted (ethics is objectively based on divine authority),26 and a more refined discussion of secular theories would include ideal observer theories (ethics define what some "ideal" observer would assert were he to exist),27 ethical nihilism (nothing is really good or bad, moral or immoral), ethical skepticism (no criteria of ethics will ever be justified), ethical egoism (ethics is simply that which maximizes one's own interest), ethical hedonism (ethics is what maximizes one's own pleasure), deontological intuitionism (some behavior is morally and intrinsically our duty, regardless of the consequences), and natural law ethics (there are a few basic, objective principles of ethics, self-evident to reason). It is not necessary for my purposes to further distinguish these schools. It suffices to establish the major divisions and the great diversity of metaethics. This will be a useful fact later.28

4.2.3 Types of Statements

A. Taxonomy. To move toward my own metaethics, and thus metajustice, I must unpack the kinds of statements so far made in these volumes about conflict and peace. To do so I will use Figure 4.1.29 The horizontal divisions are organized into lines, noted on the left for reference. The vertical divisions are especially critical, as we will see; this discussion will begin to the left of the double vertical lines.

B. Analytic Statements. Line 3 defines the traditional way those writing about peace classify statements: as true or false and sometimes conditional. This seems straightforward enough, but philosophically and semantically the world is actually more complex than this tripartite division, which is usually thought of empirically. It makes no provision for logical truth, an essential aspect of any reasoned argument; or mathematical truth, which structures much modern work in irenology (as in Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace). Therefore, let us move to line 4 and three different types of statements.

First, there are analytic statements, which are necessarily true: they must always be true, never false, by virtue of the meaning of their terms or their derivation according to certain rules from other statements (that is, they are true as theorems within a deductive-analytic-system).30 For example, "All bachelors are unmarried," is necessarily true by the definition of "bachelor" and is therefore an analytic statement. Also, the statement "A * C" (read as "A implies C") is necessarily true given the premises "A * B" and "B * C." As shown on line 2, a particular word is used for the truth of analytic statements, which is "valid." A statement is valid if logically or mathematically true.

Analytic (i.e., valid) statements divide into two subtypes (line 5). One is the purely logical statement, which contains only pure symbols such as x, y, A, *, #. These symbols have no descriptive content, as do terms such as house, dog, peace, nation, person. Purely logical statements can be of formal logic (line 6), containing symbols that stand for nonnumerical qualities and qualitative relationships; or of pure mathematics, where the symbols are numerical. Line 7 gives an example of each.31 Purely logical statements are systems of thought completely and formally independent of reality.32

However, purely logical statements do not exhaust the analytic possibilities. For there are descriptive analytic statements as well (line 5), such as "All bachelors are unmarried." Another example, shown in Figure 4.1, line 7, is "Freedom reduces violence or it does not." This statement is analytic because it cannot be false: freedom must logically do one or the other. It is descriptive because its terms refer to something in reality.

C. Contradictory Statements. Referring now to those statements just to the left of the double vertical lines in Figure 4.1, I need only note that they negate the analytic ones on the left: they are necessarily false (line 3), invalid (line 2), contradictory (line 4). "All bachelors are not unmarried" is an example of such an absolutely false statement. As with analytic statements, contradictory ones can be pure or descriptive, depending on whether pure symbols or descriptive terms are involved. A purely illogical statement (line 7) is "A · (-A)" (read "A and not A"). A descriptive contradictory one is "Freedom reduces violence and it does not." I trust these volumes contain no such invalid statements.

D. Synthetic Statements. Analytic and descriptive analytic statements compose much of these volumes. Underlying this effort is an interpreted--thus descriptive--analytic system I call social field theory, and mathematical and logical deductions of various sorts.33 However, were this effort entirely analytic, as in "model building," it might be interesting, but hardly important unless we could also warrant the analytic system's empirical truth. More generally, we are also concerned with synthetic statements, as defined by reference to the middle section of Figure 4.1, line 4. Synthetic statements are neither analytic nor contradictory,34 but can be empirically false. All synthetic statements are descriptive (note carefully that all descriptive statements are not synthetic--see Figure 4.1), meaning they contain reality-referencing (substantive) terms.

Synthetic statements are of three kinds, as shown on line 3. One is empirically true statements, such as "Freedom reduces violence"35 (line 7), or "National power is highly correlated with foreign conflict."36 The truth of an empirically true statement is not necessitated, as for an analytic statement, but established through observation or intuition; in principle it is potentially, empirically false (that is, there is no logical reason for it to not be false, no matter how apparently true).

Opposite to the empirically true synthetic statement is the empirically false statement, such as "Freedom does not reduce violence" or "Cats bark."

Finally, between empirically true and false statements are those that are empirically conditional. These are statements whose truth or falsity are yet unknown, which are those making empirical predictions or forecasts about the future. For example, the forecast, "Political freedom will increase by the year 2000," cannot yet be true or false (without necessitating that the future be fated to so happen),37 and is thus conditional.

E. Empirical Statements. Now consider level 1, that of empirical statements. An empirical statement is correlative to descriptive (on the left of the vertical line) but not synthetic. Not all empirical statements are synthetic. They may be empirically true or false (or conditional), but they can also be valid or invalid. In any case, they always contain substantive terms of some kind and are in the indicative mood (something is asserted about reality).38 Note also that empirical does not mean here necessarily quantitative or scientific, but refers to any existential, observational, or experiential statements, intuitive or otherwise. "God exists" is empirical in this sense.

F Exclamations and Commands. So much for the region to the left of the double vertical line. What is on the right? Not all statements we make are analytic, synthetic, or contradictory, however. There are outcries, complaints, proclamations, such as "Good." "Great!" "Ugh!" "Ouch." "Wonderful." These are all exclamatory statements. Finally, there are commands (imperative statements). This is the second kind of statement to the right of the double line in Figure 4.1.

Note that exclamations and commands contain descriptive terms. For example, even "Ugh!" describes the speaker's emotion. However, these descriptive statements are not indicative--they do not directly assert something about reality--and therefore they are not empirical.

4.2.4 Ethical Statements

The question can now be posed: What type of statement is an ethical one? Is it analytic? Synthetic? Perhaps a command? Objective naturalists and intuitionists claim that ethical statements are synthetic. They mainly disagree on how we know its empirical truth. Autobiographical subjectivists believe ethical statements are synthetic, expressing empirical psychological facts about the feelings or beliefs of the speaker. Emotivists argue that they are exclamations, but differ on whether they are also mixed with commands ("Equality is great, believe it!").

What is my position here? Ethical statements, in my view, have four properties, as shown in Table 4.1. They are descriptive, prescriptive, universalizable, and moral.

Table 4.1

A. Descriptiveness. Ethical statements are descriptive as previously defined: they contain terms that refer to reality in some sense. This does not mean that they are therefore empirical, as naturalists and intuitionists sometimes deduce. For as shown in Figure 4.1, exclamations or commands are also descriptive, but not (indicative) empirical statements. Ethical statements may yet be another type of descriptive statement to be included in Figure 4.1 somewhere.

B. Prescriptiveness. Ethical statements are prescriptive descriptive statements.39 This means that without loss of ethical meaning, ethical statements are or can be reworded to be ought statements. Following are four ethical statements, each translated into an ought statement, given in parentheses.

Of the two types of prescriptive statements shown in Table 4.1, one is fundamental. It is a nonreducible ethic that is accepted without justification or reason. It is intrinsically good, just, right (perhaps self-evidently so). Such might be "We should not lie," "Promises ought to be kept," "We ought to treat others as we would want to be treated," or "Each ought to count as one."

The second prescriptive type of statement is instrumental. Its prescription is really a means to achieving a higher-order ethic. Many of our legal and political prescriptions against certain crimes or for particular rights are meant to achieve greater happiness, reduce the totality of pain, or make behavior conform to higher religious morality.

Fundamental ethics stand to instrumental ethics as axioms to theorems. That is, instrumental ethics are in principle logically deducible from fundamental ones (oughts are deducible from oughts).41 This is not to imply that all ethics form one deductive system from one set of fundamental prescriptives. For, given the diversity of fundamental and instrumental prescriptions and apparently wide disagreement over what is fundamental, ethics appears more a field--a plane (Section 4.3.2)--of different and overlapping clusters of logically related prescriptive statements.

In any case, a deductive system is an analytic system, and instrumental statements are therefore potentially analytic. This means they may be logically valid--"true" by definition.42 For example, consider the deductive argument:

(1)We are all equals.
(2)Equals ought to be treated equally.
(3)We are treated equally by redistributing wealth.
(4)(Therefore) We ought to have our wealth redistributed.

The prescriptive conclusion (4) follows logically from prescription (2) and empirical statements (1) and (3)43 and is therefore valid (analytic).44

C. Universalizable. Descriptivity and prescriptivity are necessary properties of an ethical statement. Also necessary is that it be universalizable: it should be a universal statement covering all people, times, and places; or a particular statement that is logically deducible from a universal (that is, a universal prescription is entailed).45 The statement, "Human rights ought to be protected," is universal. So is the statement, "Concentration camps ought to be eliminated." Both refer to all subjects (all human rights; all concentration camps), wherever, whenever. However, the statement, "Mary ought to be able to get an abortion if she wants," is a particular statement. It limits the prescription to Mary. It is universalizable, however, to: "All women should be free to get an abortion if they want."

Certainly, all particular statements are formally universalizable. The rub is whether a person (group, culture) subscribing to a particular prescription is willing to accept the corresponding universal prescription, especially since it would also include him. To be clear, therefore, it is not the formal property of universalizability that is the ethical property of interest here, but the property of being actually or implicitly universal in application. By virtue of what it is to be ethical, universalizability means that ethical statements apply prescriptively to all. For example, to say, "John ought to keep his promises, but not Mary," would be patently unethical (unless there are ethical reasons to the contrary--for example, if Mary were an undercover police agent in a criminal gang). If a person insists that certain ethics apply to others and not himself (for example, if he can lie to others but insists they should not lie to him), he would be widely considered ignorant of ethics (or morality) at best and dangerously unethical at worst.46

D. Moral. In common English there are subtle differences in meaning between "morality" and "ethics." The latter seems more refined and intellectual, dealing with higher qualities. We can ignore these connotations here. In general, ethical statements are moral, prescribing what is right, wrong, good, and bad about human character, behavior, and relationships. It is necessary to point out this property of ethical statements in order to separate them from technological, scientific, and functional oughts. "To get elected you should . . . " "States ought to watch over the balance of powers . . . " "You ought to exercise," and so on. All these are instrumental oughts toward some goal. What distinguishes them from ethics is that they lack a moral quality.

This moral quality is that of obligation and duty. One has a moral responsibility to keep promises, for example. One who fails to do so is morally lacking, deficient, or bad. To act contrary to a moral ought is to be morally questionable, subject to guilt; an object of public criticism, scorn, possibly ostracism (as with incest). Moral oughts comprise our moral attitudes, our superego.47

Technological, scientific, or practical oughts have no such power. We do not equate a lack of their performance with deficient character. To reiterate this point from Section 4.2.1, people quite incompetent to do complex or difficult tasks still may have esteemed characters. However, let a great scientist, singer, or speaker knowingly break his promises to us and as a moral person he will be significantly diminished in our eyes.

I argue that this moral quality plus descriptiveness, prescriptivity, and universalizability are jointly necessary and sufficient to define an ethical statement. But in order to fit ethical statements among the other types in Figure 4.1, one derivative property of ethical statements must be specified.

E. The Is/Ought Dichotomy. As prescriptive--ought--statements, ethics cannot be logically derived from statements of what is or was--that is, from empirical statements. A logical conclusion containing the copula "ought" (or any of its forms, e.g., "should") cannot be valid unless one of its premises also contains an "ought." No ought statement can be validly derived from "is" premises alone. For example, the prescriptions, "All people should be socioeconomically equal because people are alike," or "Equality is just because it maximizes happiness," are invalid, since their justifications (because ... ) state an "is" to support the previous "ought."

This logical separation is sometimes called the fact/value, or is/ought, dichotomy.48 This dichotomy, or what may be termed Hume's guillotine,49 not only creates a formal separation between ethical and empirical statements but also helps establish the necessary hypothesis of free will--a required assumption for allegations of immorality and thus injustice.50 We can pass over this free will argument (an assumption of this Vol. 5: The Just Peace) since I have given it elsewhere.51 Here I want to be sure the is/ought dichotomy is clear. To this end, consider the following incorrect syllogism.

(1) War does not occur between libertarian (liberal democratic) states.52
(2) Many states are nonlibertarian.
(3) (Therefore) All states ought to be libertarian.

Statement (1) is empirical, stating what empirically does not occur. Statement (2) is also empirical. However, the concluding statement (3) prescribes what ought to be. Premises with "is" copulas cannot alone imply statements with an "ought" copula. Therefore, the argument is improper. To make the argument valid an ought statement must be among the premises:

(1) War does not occur between libertarian states.
(2) Many states are nonlibertarian.
(3) War ought not occur.
(4) (Therefore) All states ought to be libertarian.

Statements (1) and (3) provide the necessary logical premises, while statement (2) is logically superfluous to the conclusion.

F. The Nature of Ethical Statements. We can now return to Figure 4.1 and ask where ethical statements fit. I have suggested that ethical statements are descriptive, prescriptive, and can be analytic. They are nonempirical and also nonderivable from empirical statements alone. They are therefore not empirically true, false, or conditional. This does not mean that empirical statements cannot be used as premises to derive ethical statements from other ethical statements, but that, while an ethical statement can be valid or invalid, it cannot be empirically true or false.

All this means that ethical statements cannot be fitted into the two-dimensional classification to the left of the vertical double line in Figure 4.1. There is no way on a two-dimensional surface to overlap ethical statements with analytic and descriptive ones while also including synthetic statements that do not overlap ethical ones. Thus, ethical statements would have to be included on the right of the vertical double line as exclamatory statements or commands, or as a separate type.

Some fundamental ethical statements, principally the categorical imperative of Kant that establishes the universality of ethical statements,53 are descriptive analytic statements, the necessary consequences of our reason and the prescriptiveness of morality. Other ethical statements express the emotions, sentiments, or beliefs of the speaker and are therefore a subtype of exclamatory statements.54

To be clear on this, an ethical statement does have empirical features: its descriptiveness. Moreover, an ethical statement can be justified empirically, where scientific or intuitive empirical statements are premises among a deductive set including at least one ethical premise.55 Therefore, I must agree with the objectivists that external facts do play a role in ethics, and I can agree with the naturalist or intuitionist interpretation of these facts, depending on their nature. Moreover, some fundamental ethical statements can be justified by reason. On this I agree with the rational intuitionists.56 However, other fundamental ethical premises are expressions of ourselves57--a projection onto reality of what we believe or feel good and right and just.

The metaethics, and hence metajustice, of this volume is thus a consistent58 blend of naturalism, intuitionism, and emotivism.59


The previous sections described the separation between empirical statements and morality, and in order to be logical and clear I focused on the nature of different kinds of statements. However, statements are only determinate, cognitive islands in the ocean of reality and morality. The philosophy necessary to connect reality and morality must go beyond specific, cognitively "hard" statements of manifest facts and values.61 The purpose of this section is to philosophically "soften" the previous discussion in what I believe is a more realistic, albeit metaphysical fashion, and to integrate it within the overall framework I call intentional humanism.62 As with the preceding, this section establishes a view that will be an element in my subsequent arguments for a just peace.

4.3.1 The Plane of Reality

Reality is a complex of potentialities, dispositions (powers), and manifestations. Each of us can have a different perspective on reality--indeed, apparently contradictory perspectives that manifest (in our empirical statements) different aspects of reality. And each perspective can be true within reality's dimensions, limits, and constants. People can see a table from different physical angles and can endow it with different meaning (work table, breakfast table, card table) and values (ugly, functional, pleasing). Still there is a table whose physical character (such as height, four legs, a flat, round top) will limit all perspectives, if they are to be true. Similarly and more relevantly, people have different perspectives on war, as between classical, liberal, conservative, socialist, pacifist, and Christian.63 To be true, these perspectives must reflect and be limited by certain aspects of war, such as its regularity of historical occurrence,64 the different probabilities of states going to war,65 and the nonoccurrence of war between libertarian political systems.66

Reality is therefore a plane of potentialities and dispositions rather than a determinate structure as implied by simply focusing on empirical statements. It can be transformed in different ways through different perspectives or paradigms67 but nonetheless imposes a limiting discipline on them. Like a blackboard, it can be written and drawn on in various ways, but all must conform to the board's two-dimensional length and width. Our writing on this board, the determination of our view of reality, is a perspective transformation.68 Previous volumes and chapters presented my perspective transformation of conflict, violence, war, and peace. The purpose was to understand their reality within a particular direction (intentional humanism). Intuition, reason, and experience--that is, philosophy, theory, and empirical data--were the routes to this understanding. And this understanding comprises interrelated facts,69 theory (social field theory),70 methodology,71 and philosophy.72 In sum, this understanding--this perspective--defines what is. We harden and make determinate this understanding through our empirical statements.

4.3.2 The Plane of Morality

The plane of reality is not the only plane of concern. Another is that of morality (or ethics). This comprises our potential ethical oughts, moral goods and bads; and our manifest ethical philosophies, laws, and mores. It is, in short, the plane of what we ought to be and how we ought to behave toward others. Our ethical prescriptive statements are perspective transformations of this plane.

The characterization of ethical statements given in previous sections should make clear that the plane of morality is independent of that of reality. The plane of reality is; that of morality ought to be. We harden our view of reality through empirical statements;73 of morality through prescriptive statements.74 The latter cannot logically be derived from the former.75 The plane of morality is that of our choices--potential, dispositional, manifest--for guiding our behavior.76 It is our sphere of practical reason and free will.77

4.3.3 The Overlap

While the moral plane is not derivable from that of reality, there is nonetheless a connection between the two. First, a moral statement implies empirical possibility. That is, ought "implies" can.78 A prescription has no moral weight unless it can be carried out. Second, the implementation of oughts often requires empirical knowledge and skills, which are part of the plane of reality. Most of our ethical oughts are instrumental (indeed, virtually all ethical oughts in real life situations79--few ask or are aware of the philosopher's concern over fundamental oughts) and interrelated with empirical statements that are given as their reasons.80 For example, to say that illiteracy ought to be eliminated requires for implementation in a particular country much knowledge about the country's culture and institutions and about educational means.

Third, the plane of reality for us is a vast ocean of interwoven facts, observations, and sensory impressions on which we are tossed about by waves of empirical methods and techniques while being moved along by underlying theoretical and philosophical currents. Without morality--the kingdom of ends--we are without a rudder, navigational aids, and practical destination. In the words of John Stuart Mill:

Every art has one first principle or general major premise not borrowed from science, that which enunciates the object aimed at and affirms it to be a desirable object.

That is, without morality we have no practical reason to select one perspective transformation of reality over another. Which empirical perspective we adopt becomes a matter of unconscious sentiment and personal inclination. All perspectives become relative, all are equally right, in so far as they accord with reality's potentials and actuality.81

Therefore, there is a dynamic overlap between the two planes.82 For our ethical "ought" to imply "can," we must relate to reality to know whether our prescriptions are possible and to practice them. And for our empirical perspectives to be practically meaningful to us, we must find guidance in our morality.83 But this overlap does not determine our specific moral principles, nor does it define a specific perspective. Many competing or contradictory moralities are empirically possible.84 All Jews should be exterminated" is an empirically possibility, although fanatically inhumane ethic, almost achieved by Hitler. This "ought" can be, but so can this statement: "Public law should not discriminate between Jews and other ethnic-religious groups."

Thus, the overlap between the two planes is a region of transformation in which we, as rational creatures, select that perspective and those moralities that best match in some sense. What this is will ultimately depend on our axiomatic, higher-order morality and associated empirical perspective. That is, we are free to choose that perspective consistent with reality which accords with what we want our selves and humanity to be85 and the necessities of reason defining the moral plane.86 My higher morality guiding this perspective transformation is part of intentional humanism: that is,

The importance of all this for justice I hope to make clear in the next section.


4.4.1 Just Statements

To begin, I will call just statements any statement by someone that asserts what he feels or believes to be just. Such statements are or can be reworded, without loss or change of meaning regarding justice, to be of the form: "X ought to do or be y." The following are just statements of this form.87

However, not all statements assert what we believe to be just. Few, if any, would say that the following have anything to do with justice: "People ought to exercise for their health." "Houses should be painted every five years" "People should not litter the highway." A just statement is, then, a particular subclass of ought statements that can be prefixed with (after proper grammatical changes) "It is just that . . ." or "It is unjust that . . ."; and the resulting full statement will accord with the speaker's sense and beliefs about justice. For example, there certainly are people who agree with the following rewording of the above four statements:

A just statement does not require unanimity or consensus about its prescription. It need only be an ought statement that someone feels reflects his sense or belief about justice.

4.4.2 Formal Properties of Just Statements

Given the above understanding of just statements, I now can identify their formal properties. By definition, just statements are prescriptive, serving as guides to behavior, discriminating what is the just course of action from that to be avoided. But they are also a particular kind of prescription. They reflect our fundamental ethics, our beliefs about what is good or bad character, behavior, and relationships. Not all ethical statements are just statements, of course, but all just statements are ethical. By virtue of this, justice is a region--subspace--of the plane of morality.88

From this another property of just statements follow. A just statement is universalizable. It is either universal itself or a logical particularization of a universal just statement.89 For example, the just statement, "People ought to be treated equally before the law," is universal. It covers all people, all times, and all places without exception. "John was unjustly denied the promotion" is a particular statement. But it implies (by virtue of being a moral statement) a syllogism of the following form:

(1)For a person to do x, y, and z on his job and not be promoted is unjust.
(2) John did x, y, and z and was not promoted.
(3) (Therefore) John was unjustly denied the promotion.

Statement (1) is a universal just statement, (2) is an empirical statement, and (3) is a particular universalizable just statement. Any particular just statement implies that it can be restated in a universal form.

These properties of just statements have an important implication. A just ought, like any moral ought, "implies" can. To assert what is just is to imply that it is empirically possible.90 This implication is critical to our subsequent discussion of a just peace. What can be, empirically, is a complex matter depending on the plane of reality and our associated perspective. Contending interpretations of justice are often disagreements over what is and can be, and not what is fundamentally just. For example, the difference between libertarian and socialist is not over the justice of improving the conditions of the poor and disadvantaged, but over whether effects of private or public ownership of large-scale production does this in reality. The difference is over economic facts and theory.

All this is to say what was asserted of morality in Section 4.3.3: there is an overlap between the plane of reality and the space of justice. Our feeling for or belief in justice orients and guides our perspective transformation of reality; our reality disciplines our conception of justice. This relationship is especially obvious in politics, for the joint perspective transformation of reality and justice is what we call an ideology or political "ism": a view of what public institutions and policies are just, with associated facts and explanations (empirical theories). Classical liberalism, Marxism, socialism, fascism, monarchism, welfare-liberalism, constitutionalism, and their variants are all perspective transformations of the overlapping plane of reality and space of justice.

4.4.3 Empirical Properties of Just Statements

Aside from formal properties, what can be said about the content of just statements? First, there is little agreement on the nature or definition of justice. This diversity is suggested by the:

It is tempting at this point to probe this diversity and seek commonalities and outer substantive limits. For, diversity and contradictory definitions notwithstanding, there is a common meaning implicit in our assertions that x is just or unjust. We do communicate.91 But as enjoyable as it would be, for my purpose here I need only indicate this diversity and range.92

Given this variety of just statements, then, what in any case is their empirical nature? Is justice a property of the real world? Is justice something to be discovered out there? Or is it an intuition, a sense for justice? Is it natural or subjective? Or is it, perhaps, an emotion? In making just statements, are we merely expressing our sentiments? These metajustice questions are asked of ethics in general, and the various metaethical answers apply to justice.93 Metaethical theories were outlined in Section 4.2.2, and my own metaethics was presented in Section 4.2.4F. I should only point out here that I believe our fundamental conceptions of justice are partly rationally justified; partly an expression of our feelings, sentiments, and beliefs; 94 while our derivative instrumental conceptions are logically95 and empirically falsifiable.96


The above concludes my consideration of the metaethics and metajustice underlying the method I will use and the metajustice theory necessary to establish the arguments about a just peace. The remaining question concerns the methodology. Given my metajustice theory, what method will be most appropriate and useful?

4.5.1 Social Contract Theory

The approach I will use is in the tradition of social contract theory.97 Generally, this involves hypothesizing an agreement among people founding their society (social contract) or formal government (government contract). This approach to political theory reached its greatest popularity when a natural law doctrine was widely assumed true. Individual (natural) rights and keeping promises were part of this doctrine and played a large role in various social contracts. Perhaps the best-known contract theorists were Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, although Grotius (famous for his naturalistic work on international law), Spinoza, de Montesquieu, and Kant sometimes employed this approach.

Social contract theorists usually made rather unrealistic statements about humanity prior to the social contract, especially in reference to the state of nature. The growth of anthropology and modern sociology, and increasing acceptance of an ethical relativism and subjectivism that seriously questioned natural law, brought social contract theory into disrepute. Recently there has been a revival of social contract theory, as can be seen in the divergent work of Rawls' A Theory of Justice (1971) and Ardrey's The Social Contract (1970), particularly in the understanding of the theory as an effective conceptual tool for critiquing society and government. It is a mechanism for framing such questions as: "Do individuals have rights above government?" "What would a society without the state be like?" "Are society and government voluntary?" "Can individuals withdraw from society or government?" "Under what conditions?" "When is the social contract broken by society or government?" The answers given need not be individualistic or reformist. They can be authoritarian (Hobbes) or totalitarian (Rousseau).98

I will use a social contract theory here for a number of reasons. One, as mentioned above, is its conceptual power to frame pointed questions about society. A second is that it enables me to spotlight critical assumptions underlying, and the principles formulating, a just peace. Third, it follows from my definition of society as an implicit overarching social contract.99 Fourth, it is consistent with my view of peace as a social contract100 and as a method, therefore, most appropriate to my question as to what is a just peace. Finally, it provides a complementary framework within which I can work the ideas of free choice, perspective transformation, and "as-if."101

4.5.2 Preview

Specifically, I will do this in the following chapters.

Now for the main course.


* Scanned from Chapter 4 in R.J. Rummel, The Just Peace, 1981. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.

1, See Note 88.

2. The terminology is not at all settled, but there does appear a wide acceptance among philosophers of the terms "ethics" and "metaethics." Ethics, however, is sometimes called normative ethics, substantive ethics, or morals. And metaethics may be referred to as ethics, analytical ethics, theoretical ethics, or critical ethics. See, for example, Hare (1965), who calls ethics "morality" and metaethics "ethics." Note that there is a branch distinct from ethics and metaethics called descriptive ethics, which concerns what ethics people actually believe.

3. In Section 4.2.4B I will define this assertion as a prescriptive statement.

4. I accept the neutrality thesis that a particular metaethics does not imply a particular ethics. This is because of the logical gulf between what can be said about ethics ("is" statements) and what ought to be ("ought" statements). See Section 4.2.4E.

5. I know of no contemporary published work on peace and justice presenting metaethical justifications. A particular ethics, especially utilitarianism, is simply assumed to be correct. A historical exception distinctly sensitive to metaethical considerations is Kant's Perpetual Peace.

6. That the previous four volumes, and two chapters of this one, concern the ontology and epistemology of peace, while leaving the remainder of this volume to ethics, metaethics, and justice, is no indicator of the importance I grant the latter philosophical divisions. This emphasis only reflects my specialization, since I believe reality and morality to be coequal planes of knowledge for understanding conflict and peace. See Section 4.3.

7. See Rawls (1971).

8. See Section 4.2.4.

9. This is sometimes called a "moral sense theory."

10. Some, like Kant, once believed mathematical axioms were a priori synthetic. The intellectually devastating discovery of non-Euclidean geometries destroyed this view, which has few (if any) adherents in Western philosophy today. See Reichenbach (1951: Chapter 8) and Kline (1953: Chapter 26).

11. There is a difference between ethical and objective naturalists. The former believe ethical statements are factual statements or judgments about the real world. The latter believe that the truth of ethical statements can be established objectively or scientifically. Ethical naturalists may be objective naturalists or (objective) intuitionists.

12. Objective naturalists go beyond anthropology--the obvious assertion that we can determine the ethics of a group of people empirically--to claim that we can establish what particular ethics are true or false.

13. At the level of fundamental ethics, intuitionists have often employed Moore's "naturalistic fallacy," or, more generally, the "open question" argument (1960:5-21). This is that, for the ethical statement "X is good," if the goodness of X could be defined such that these qualities were synonymous with good, then we would have the senseless, or self-answering sentence, "Goodness is good." However, regardless of what qualities of goodness we posit, upon replacing X by these qualities the resulting sentence will always make sense--communicate--as in "Happiness is good," "Equality is good," "Love and justice are good." Thus good is sui generis and cannot be defined naturalistically. Moore would add that good is a "simple and undefinable quality" we perceive, as the color yellow.

14. I am not arguing that diversity exists at the fundamental level. Ethical diversity may consist mainly of instrumental ethics and associated empirical statements, which may mask fundamental ethical agreement. For the fundamental-instrumental distinction, see Section 4.2.4B. For the refocusing of this point on relativism, see Section 4.2.2C.

15. This is a property of ethical statements to be clarified in Section 4.2.4C.

16. Of course, this is also true for scientific laws. Science does not prove empirical universals to be true. Rather, it can only show that, so far, scientific laws have not been disproven. See Popper (1965). I will make much use of this negative approach to universals in Section 8.3.1 and Section 8.3.2. Here I argue against the "strong" naturalist's case that an ethic can be proven true, but not against the "weak" case that science can show that an ethic is so far not falsified.

17. These are termed by Edwards (1965:49ff) as "naive subjectivists." The adjective "naive" is unfortunately pejorative. I prefer the neutral "autobiographical."

18. I agree with Hudson that

the emergence of emotivism was one of the most important developments in ethical theory of modern times. It provided a point of new departure. Its exponents led moral philosophy out of the blind alley of nonnaturalism and directed it along new lines of inquiry into the dynamic character of moral discourse.

19. On emotivism see Language, Truth and Logic by A. J. Ayer (1952) a short book which has had considerable influence on American behaviorists. He says:

But in every case in which one would commonly be said to be making an ethical judgment, the function of the relevant ethical word is purely "emotive." It is used to express feeling about certain objects, but not to make any assertion about them.... We can now see why it is impossible to find a criterion for determining the validity of ethical judgments. It is not because they have an "absolute" validity which is mysteriously independent of ordinary sense-experience, but because they have no objective validity whatsoever. If a sentence makes no statement at all, there is obviously no sense in asking whether what it says is true or false. And we have seen that sentences which simply express moral judgments do not say anything. They are pure expressions of feeling and as such do not come under the category of truth and falsehood. They are unverifiable--because they do not express genuine propositions.
----pp. 108-109

Differing psychological principles and terms aside, emotivism has roots in David Hume's metaethics. Says Hume (1957:107), the

hypothesis which we embrace is plain. It maintains that morality is determined by sentiment. It defines virtue to be whatever mental action or quality gives to a spectator the pleasing sentiment of approbation; and vice the contrary.

20. To see the force of this point, try justifying to others an ethical assertion--for example, justify "Capital punishment is just," by "It is just because I feel it to be so." At best, the reply will be "Is that all you can say?"

21. For an "objective relativism," see Kaplan (1964:392) and Morris (1964:18).

22. Many irenologists are metaethical relativists, as well as ethical utilitarians who believe that pleasure or happiness is the greatest good, and that this good should be maximized as a total quantity through governmental laws. However, the acceptance of a fundamental utilitarian ethic promoted by the state through coercion logically denies that all ethics are relative, for the utilitarian ethic is given precedence above all others. At least this one ethic is not relative, therefore.


The first of these propositions is the truth that all moralities, whatever else they may contain, make provision in some degree for such individual values as individual freedom, safety of life, and protection from deliberately inflicted harm.
----Hart, 1963

24. See Section 4.2.4E. On this specific point regarding relativism see Cornman and Lehrer (1968:369-370).

25. As noted, the major division is between objectivism and subjectivism. Closely related is the distinction between cognitivism and noncognitivism. Cognitivists argue that "X is just" makes an empirical assertion about X that is empirically provable. Ethical statements therefore have cognitive status and can be empirically true or false. They also can be logically valid or invalid. Noncognitivists, however, assert that ethics has no cognitive status, that ethical statements cannot be true or false. Rather, such statements simply convey or express approval, and may be attempts to influence others.

26. For a historical comparison of the ethics of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, see Durant (1950:176, 360). Moore (1951:431) gives a succinct comparison of Confucian, Buddhist, and Vedanta ethics.

27. Contract theories are a type of ideal observer theories, and thus so is my approach here.

28. See Section 6.2.

29. This classification of statements builds partially on Carnap's work (especially Carnap, 1953) and is in the spirit of Arnold Kaufman's (1967:188) approach to a theory of moral responsibility: "It is our practical aims and interests which should govern the shape of our language, and not unreflected upon linguistic habit which should govern the shape of our moral outlook."

30. An analytic system comprises axioms, primitive terms, rules of deduction, and theorems that are derived from the axioms and other theorems according to these rules. Axioms are logically independent, consistent (none lead to theorems contradicting the others), and complete (all theorems follow from the axioms).

31. "3 + 4 = 7" is an analytic statement within the analytic system of arithmetic. For the axioms, see Witter (1964: Chapter 3).

32. Analytic systems may gradually evolve out of empirical and practical developments, as with Euclidean geometry. However, once formalized, they are closed systems that can be modified or elaborated independent of, or even contradictory to, the empirical world. Such was the discovery growing out of the development of nonEuclidean geometries. See Note 10.

33. See my Field Theory Evolving (1979b) and Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9).

34. The analytic-synthetic distinction, as first made by Kant in Critique of Pure Reason, was basically psychological (e.g., in terms of concepts and judgments). Here the distinction is purely logical, based on the property of statements and the meaning of their terms. There have been objections to this distinction, the most noteworthy of which are by Quine (1951, 1953), White (1950), and Goodman (1949). In response, see Grice and Strawson (1956), and especially Nordenstam (1972).

35. This is an actual proposition (empirical synthetic statement). See Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Appendix 16B, Proposition 16.11).

36. See Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Appendix 16B, Proposition 16.31).

37. There is a fascinating problem about Aristotelean, two-valued logic here. If a statement in traditional logic is either true or false, then a prediction must be true or false. But if this is so, the future is now determined to be true or false and is therefore fated to occur. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Section 31.5 of Chapter 31).

38. It may seem questionable to categorize descriptive analytic statements as empirical. Analytic systems, like symbolic logic, arithmetic, Euclidean geometry, and linear algebra, are conceptually and logically separate from phenomena--floating above the sensory world, so to speak. Our bridge between the two "worlds" consists of:

  • substantive interpretations of the primitive terms in the analytic system, which transforms a purely logical analytic statement into a descriptive one (such as in interpreting the y and x of y = a + bx as armaments and threat perception, respectively); and

  • determining through some procedure how well the descriptive analytic statement fits phenomena, such as through statistical tests or techniques.

The latter step transforms a descriptive analytic statement into a synthetic one (without causing it to lose its analytic character within the analytic system). However, often we are content to use straightforward interpreted analytic--descriptive analytic--statements as empirical statements. For example, the correlation coefficient between two variables is descriptive analytic: to say the correlation between x and y interpreted as illiteracy and riots is .13 (Rummel, 1972: variables no. 14 and 84, p. 451) is to express something that must be absolutely true (valid), barring computational error, and given the data and equation (analytic statement) of correlation. Yet, we would use the .13 as an empirical fact. A factor from a factor analysis, or a regression or multiple correlation coefficient of a regression analysis, for the data analyzed are descriptive analytic (not synthetic) statements--they cannot be false given the equations and data. Yet, factors, regression coefficients, and multiple correlations are used as empirical statements.

39. I agree with Hare (1952, 1965) on this. The prescriptiveness of ethical statements is often overlooked by both naturalists and intuitionists, who sometimes assume that ethical terms must ascribe properties to real things--they must stand for something. Thus, they look for the properties or empirical meaning of goodness or justice. However, ethical statements are not indicative, but prescriptive: their role is not to explain or describe reality, but to guide behavior. "Moral judgments presuppose action. They do so in the sense that they are delivered upon, and intended to guide action" (Hudson, 1970:331). Therefore, an ethical term may have only a practical end and no empirical properties. It may be an operator (as used in mathematics, such as the operator dx/dy) saying "Do this" or "Like that." For i to say that "Equality is just" may mean that i likes or approves of equality and wants j to favor equality. The prescriptive statement would still be descriptive, however, since equality is a descriptive term. Note that from this example the ethical term is not necessarily descriptive (as it would be for the objectivist), but the statement containing an ethical term is descriptive in that it may contain descriptive terms other than ethical ones. The view that ethical terms are descriptive should not be confused with my calling an ethical statement descriptive.

40. This assumes that peace is the absence of war.

41. Of course, most ethical oughts are instrumental, often implicitly. For example, a person forced to justify why "We should not lie" may respond: "Because society would collapse without mutual trust." But this is another, albeit more basic, ought of the form "Society ought to be preserved from collapse." Instrumental moral oughts ultimately rest on some axiomatic oughts (or ultimate moral principles). On the logic of deducing oughts from oughts, see Note 44.

42. See Note 44.

43. The argument is valid regardless of how the terms are defined. Were this a serious argument, however, wealth, distribution, equality, and equal treatment would require careful definition. Moreover, these definitions might themselves contain implicit prescriptions. Nevertheless, that the choice of descriptive terms is influenced by ethics does not alter the empirical status of a statement. For example, the choice and definition of the descriptive term "exploitation" are often morally determined; yet, we can make the empirical statement, "x exploits y." Were it otherwise we could make precious few empirical statements about peace.

44. While a prescriptive statement is valid or invalid, it is not empirically true or false. But traditional assertoric logic requires that true premises necessitate a true conclusion, which is a criteria of validity. On this see Resher (1966) and O'Connor (1967:68,76).

As I will conclude later (Section 4.2.4F), ethical prescriptive statements are true in the special sense of true expressions of individual attitudes. The prescriptive statement, "x ought to do y," is thus either true or false as a correct expression of the speaker's attitude. If this is a premise in a logical argument along with empirically true premises, then a prescriptive conclusion must also be a true expression of the speaker's attitude.

There is possible confusion here between the prescriptive statement and the attitude. To understand this, consider my statement, "Dissimilarity aggravates conflict" (Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace, Proposition 16.12). This may be true as an expression of my belief. And independently, it may be true or false as an empirical statement about external reality. Similarly, the prescriptive statement, "People ought to have their wealth redistributed," does not have its prescriptive character (that it is neither true or false) changed by saying that it may be a true or false expression of the speaker's attitude. For other approaches to this problem of prescriptive or obligation statements, see Prior (1967) on deontic logic.

45. Why should an ethical statement be universalizable? This is a rational deduction from the requirements of reason and morality. The classic derivation is in Kant's Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals--specifically, of his categorical imperative (fundamental principle of morality): "Act according to a maxim which can at the same time make itself a universal law" (1952: Second Section, p. 275). This work is well worth careful study. See also Murphy (1970: Chapter 2) and Griffiths (1967). Hare's (1965) emphasis on the universality of ethical principles and Rawls (1971) on the universality of principles of justice are also based on Kant.

Kant's categorical imperative is similar to the Golden Rule: one should do to others as he would have others do to him. This is a basic moral principle across cultures. "The Golden Rule in both its negative and affirmative formulations is a universal ideal the world over. This in itself is a solid ethical and social achievement" (Moore, 1951:435-436). Consider:

Tzu-kung asked, "Is there one word which can serve as the guiding principle for conduct throughout life? Confucius said, "it is the word altruism (shu). Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you."
----Chan, 1963:44

46. Hare's (1965) analysis in this regard is persuasive. The full meaning of universalizability is seen in his applications (1972).

47. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Section 20.3 of Chapter 20) and Note 57.

48. For a discussion of the is/ought dichotomy and attempts to finesse it, see Hudson (1969). In my view, this dichotomy is the central metaethical principle of political philosophy and justice. For a discussion of it in relation to political philosophy, see Brecht (1959: Sections 3.5 and 5.7).

49. The first clear logical distinction between is and ought statements--or, more generally, between facts and values--was made by David Hume, the Scottish philosopher and historian, in A Treatise of Human Nature published in 1739. In the now well-known passage, Hume said:

in every system of morality which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark'd, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when of a sudden I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is, however, of the last consequence. For as this ought or ought not, expresses some new relation of affirmation, 'tis necessary that it should be observ'd and explain'd; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution, I shall presume to recommend it to the readers; and am persuaded that this small attention wou'd subvert all the vulgar systems of morality, and let us see, that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceiv'd by reason.
----III, i, I

I should mention that there is philosophical controversy over whether Hume meant in this passage to assert a logical gulf between is and ought statements. See Hudson (1969: Part 1). There is also controversy over whether "oughts" really cannot be deduced from an "is" and associated limiting conditions. See Hudson (1969: Parts 2-4), Hampshire (1949). I agree with the warning by Harrison (1967:71): "It is dangerous to use 'you cannot deduce an "ought" from an "is" ' as a slogan."

50. I am following Kant on this. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Section 30.2 of Chapter 30). See Note 77.

51. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Chapters 29, 30, and 31).

52. This is a rewording of Proposition 16.11 of Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Appendix 16B).

53. See Note 45.

54. My metaethics here is close to Edwards (1965). I strongly recommend that he be read for the more refined arguments and elaboration that are inappropriate here, keeping in mind that I disagree with him that "all" fundamental statements are emotive. I exclude at least Kant's categorical imperative.

55. Moore's "naturalistic fallacy" argument defeats naturalism, in my view, when we come to fundamental ethics. See Note 13.

56. For a modern example of rational intuitionism in action, see Gert (1966), who rationally tries to develop ten moral rules.

57. Psychologically, subjective ethical oughts form a superego sentiment--a cluster of attitudes interconnected with other attitudes, such as those about the self. For the details, see Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Chapter 20 and Chapter 21). An attitude expresses an "in this situation I want . . . ," which makes a subjective ethical ought a particular type of want. This is consistent, I believe, with emotivism.

What about rational oughts? Instrumental oughts may or may not be part of the superego, but are, in any case, as means also attitudinal ("In this situation I want to do x by or through y."). What about rationally justified fundamental oughts? Here reason is accepted as a means to derive an ought, which, once determined, becomes an attitude--a want (goal): "Because reason derived it correctly, I want to obey it." Thus, as I define attitudes (which is a lattice of want-means-dispositions connected to needs), all morality is part of our motivational structure. This is not to say that wants imply oughts (on this see Hudson, 1970:270, 276); rather, it is to say that oughts form a subclass of wants--that an ought is a kind of want understood in my sense as a property of attitudes.

58. The most obvious contradiction may appear between my partial acceptance of naturalism and antinaturalism. On such a possible contradiction, see Warnock (1967:68-69):

If to be a naturalist is to maintain that certain kinds of facts or features are necessarily relevant criteria of moral evaluation, then I would surmise that "naturalism" is true. If the anti-naturalist then maintains that there are no criteria of evaluation, which anyone is logically obliged to accept, then I believe that "anti-naturalism" is also true. But one should doubtless conclude that, on this showing, the terminology of "naturalism" and "anti-naturalism" is somewhat infelicitous, since the two expressions designate views which are perfectly compatible with one another. One might say that it is proper to be a naturalist in ethics, an anti-naturalist in what we have called the "general theory" of evaluation: but it would probably be preferable simply to retire both expressions from further philosophical employment, and to investigate the actual position without benefit of labels.

59. Some readers may have noticed the similarity of this metaethics to my epistemology. There is indeed a parallel between metaethical and epistemological naturalism, intuitionism, and subjectivism, and this shows itself in my perspective. Note that my epistemology is that we come to know truth through intuition, reason (theory), and observation (empirical data, experience), and that truth is partly a (subjective) balance between that we are disposed to know and the power of reality to impose a particular view on us. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Section 1.2 of Chapter 1; Part II).

60. The planes of reality and morality were introduced in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (Section 1.1 of Chapter 1). I can now return to these fundamental ideas and discuss them more precisely with the conceptual tools developed above.

61. For the field philosophy of linguistics underlying this and the previous sentences, see Ushenko (1958). His field perspective on reality has influenced my own view, as can be seen best in Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Chapter 7 and Chapter 8). For a view of Ushenko's philosophy, see Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Chapter 5).

62. Alternative frameworks are behavioral, idealist, teleological, and moral, See Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (Section 1.1 of Chapter 1). Intentional humanism is the guiding philosophy of these volumes. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Part VII), Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (Section 1.1 of Chapter 1 and 4.2 of Chapter 4), and Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective (Chapter 10).

63. For liberal, conservative, and radical explanations of war, see Nelson and Olin (1979). Their major point is the one I am making here: that people view the causes of war through different perspectives (in my terms). Particularly on liberalism, see Howard (1978).

64. See Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Appendix 18A, Proposition 18.8).

65. See Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Appendix 18A, Proposition 18.5).

66. See Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Appendix 16B, Proposition 16.11).

67. What I call a perspective is a paradigm, as this term has been popularized among scientists by Kuhn (1962). This will be clear subsequently.

68. For the development of this term, see Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Section 8.3 of Chapter 8). For its application to the plane of reality, see Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (Section 1.1 of Chapter 1). Compare this view of reality with the Jaina School of Indian philosophy:

The doctrine of syadvada, briefly stated, amounts to the assertion that reality, whatever it is, expresses itself in multiple forms, with the result that no absolute predication is possible. This view in general is called anekantavada, the doctrine that reality has many [literally, "not-one"] aspects, leading to the possibility of only relative predication.
----Radhakrishnan and Moore, 1957:261

69. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Part IV) for empirical evidence and facts on the psychological basis; Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (Chapter 33 and Chapter 34) on the socioculture space; Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (Chapter 35) on social conflict and violence; Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace on international relations, violence, war, and peace. For related evidence and facts, see Rummel (1972, 1977b, 1979c).

70. Aspects of the theory are developed throughout the different volumes. For the idea of field in the social, psychological, and natural sciences, see Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Part I); for the dynamic psychological field, Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Section 11.2 of Chapter 11; Chapters 19, 20, 21, and 23); for the sociocultural field, Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Chapter 24) and Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (Part IV; Chapter 22 and Chapter 30); and for the international field, Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Chapter 9). The mathematical development is in Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9) and Rummel (1977b).

71. Methodology has been described throughout these volumes, where relevant. I have also written a text (Applied Factor Analysis, 1970) on one of the primary methods, which includes relevant discussion of data analysis. Of course, methodology consists not only of formal techniques or mathematical models, but also a philosophy of research methods. Mine is given throughout the above text and Field Theory Evolving (1977b: esp. Chapter 16).

72. The overall philosophy is intentional humanism. See Note 62.

73. Section 4.2.3E.

74. Section 4.2.4B.

75. See Section 4.2.4E. This overall understanding of morality is consistent with Kant's (1952: Third Section, p. 285):

The conception of a world of the understanding is then only a point of view which reason finds itself compelled to take outside the appearances in order to conceive itself as practical.

Note that for Kant "practical" means moral.

76. See Abelson and Nielson (1967:109):

To say "If x is a judgment of value, then x is an expression of choice" is not to say "Any choice at all is justified." "Anything is permissible," or "All human actions are of equal value." These latter statements are themselves value judgments and could not follow from the above-mentioned statement, for it is not itself a statement of value but a non-normative metaethical statement about the meaning of evaluative expressions, and, as Sartre himself stresses, one cannot derive an "ought" from an "is."

77. Regardless of their diversity, all ethical systems assume free will. "All schools of ethical thought insist on freedom and on man's responsibility for his action and destiny" (Moore, 1951:437). This is even true of Marxism, often taken as a deterministic ethics. See Kamenka (1969: exp. 9, 11-12).

78. Strictly, ought statements do not logically imply empirical possibility. However, ethical oughts assume responsibility, duty, obligation (Section 4.2.4D), which would be meaningless without their possibility of fulfillment. "X is morally good" and "Not doing X is morally bad" means X ought to be done and that if it is not, one is morally flawed. However, this moral evaluation would be without force, taken as moral nonsense, unless X were possible to do. I argue that by what it means to be moral or immoral, these prescriptions (weakly) imply can. See also Hare (1965:51-54).

79. On real-life morality virtually always being concerned with instrumental oughts intermixed with facts (empirical statements), see Edwards (1965:190). I add to this the situational nature of these instrumental ethics, and thus have much sympathy for Fletcher's (1966) situational (meta) ethics, without accepting his particular ethics, such as that love is the only intrinsic good (p. 57).

80. See Section 4.2.4B.

81. A mathematical metaphor may be helpful here. Quantitative, empirical observations tabulated in a matrix define a specific linear, Euclidean space of determinate dimensions and dimensionality. While the dimensionality is fixed, however, there are infinite empirical bases (dimensions) of space. Each basis constitutes a different empirical perspective on the observations; yet, each is true to the data. Incidentally, the statement of these empirical dimensions is descriptive analytic. See Note 38.

82. See Morris (1964:38):

Thus the "is" and the "ought" while not identical and while not strictly deducible from each other, are in fact in dynamic interaction and mutually influence each other. The knowledge of what is and what will be under certain conditions is one factor in the control of conceived values as to what ought to be, and the acceptance of certain conceived values is one factor in the determination of what will be. Such is the interaction of the "is" and the "ought"--and of designative and prescriptive inquiry.


We may conclude by noting that while the distinction between what exists and what should be cannot be eliminated, the two have been shown to be intimately connected. Unless there were human beings or beings of a similar nature, questions of morality would be devoid of meanings.
----Cohen and Nagel, 1934:367

84. Of course, in context, different moralities that are in principle achievable will differ as to how realistic they are. But the assessment of whether an ought can be depends on one's perspective and a complex of other oughts. For example, "States ought to disarm" is an unrealistic or realistic prescription depending on your view of international relations and politics; and this view itself is interrelated with a number of prescriptions about violence, power, internationalism, and the like. The great split between academic "realists' " and "idealists' " perspectives on international relations--or, at the policy level, between "hawks" and "doves"--is a difference between a complex of interrelated oughts and cans, not all concretely formulated or formulatable into statements.

85. Hepburn provides the generalization for this point:

It is possible to make one's judgments about the value of human life independently of cosmic reflections and then to adopt an imaginative picture of the natural world that harmonizes rather than conflicts with that evaluation. There can be no logical or philosophical objections to that as long as one realizes what is being done.

And Popper states a more specific interpretation:

History has no meaning, I contend. But this contention does not imply that all we can do about it is to look aghast at the history of political power, or that we must look on it as a cruel joke. For we can interpret it, with an eye to those problems of power politics whose solution we choose to attempt in our time. We can interpret the history of power politics from the point of view of our fight for the open society, for a rule of reason, for justice, freedom, equality, and for the control of international crime. Although history has no ends, we can impose these ends of ours upon it; and although history has no meaning, we can give it a meaning.
----1963: Vol. II, p. 278

86. As, for example, the requirement of universalizability.

87. I am simply stating the formal properties of just statements and do not necessarily agree with the content of these examples.

88. See Kemp on this point (1970:42):

But how does moral obligation become attached to justice? The larger a society becomes, the weaker becomes the influence of interest as a motive for obeying the rules of justice; for one thing, it is less likely that one breach of the rules will cause the collapse of the whole system. It is sympathy, as we should expect, that mediates the transition from self-interest to morality. I object to another man's breach of a rule of justice, even where it does not injure me, through sympathy at the injury done to the man who is unjustly treated, even if he is neither relative, friend, nor acquaintance of mine.

To these words Kemp adds a quote from Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature:

Thus self-interest is the original motive to the establishment of justice: but a sympathy with public interest is the source of the moral approbation, which attends that virtue. (Italics omitted)

89. See Section 4.2.4C.

90. See Section 4.3.2.

91. Regardless of the diverse ideas of justice, Brecht (1959:395-396) believes that five "universal and invariant postulates of justice" exist. The first is that "justice demands an accordance with objective truth."

92. In Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective (Section 3.3 of Chapter 3) I defined an injustice vector, which is generated within actor i's psychological field by his perceived social distance from others, relative to his needs and interests. This injustice vector is a "relative-deprivation-type" concept and was developed in that context. While it is not meant to serve as a general concept defining the psychology of justice or injustice, it does delineate the psychological nature and subjective source of many feelings and beliefs about justice.

In Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective (Chapter 10) I also defined social justice as a balance of powers--as what each individual thinks is right and his ability to achieve this regarding others. This is a metajustice definition (that is, it does not define the content of social justice), which will be given detailed elaboration and justification in Part II.

93. See Benn (1967a) for a useful bibliography of basic works on justice, classified according to rationalist, natural law, analytical, positivist, utilitarian, and other theories.

94. This expression of justice regarding others is, psychologically, what I call an injustice vector. See Note 92.

95. I mean "logically" in being validly derived from fundamental just (or other ethical) statements.

96. I mean "empirically justifiable" in that empirical statements may be premises along with other just (or other ethical) statements, the conjunction of which jointly imply our instrumental just statements.

My overall metajustice is "value-noncognitivism," as Oppenheim defines it (1968:24). This metajustice would appear to be inconsistent with what I set out to establish--a just peace. For characterizing justice as a prescriptive expression of attitudes, and not a true or false empirical statement, I seemed to have deprived justice of any more meaning than a burp, "ugh!", or any other emotional ejaculation. Ignoring that some attitudes may embody quite rationally derived universals (e.g., Kant's categorical imperative), I believe Oppenheim otherwise answers this charge well:

And so it is asked: "For how can you condemn a tyrant as unjust when you have purged the word justice from your vocabulary?" . . . I think I can. I have not excluded the word "justice" from my vocabulary. I do not claim that the statement: "democracy is good" is meaningless. I do not prohibit social scientists and others from making value judgments. I do maintain that value words, and intrinsic value judgments in which they occur, have expressive and directive, rather than cognitive, meanings. I do deny the possibility of demonstrating that democracy is good and tyranny evil (except in relation to a set of given goals for standards of valuations). This need not, and does not, prevent me from expressing my approval of democracy and denouncing tyranny. It is one thing to commit oneself to some moral principle; it is another to claim that it is demonstrable. Noncognitivism does not entail nihilism.

97. See Barker (1958) and Gough (1957).

98. In my view Rousseau's The Social Contract is one of the founding philosophical documents of modern absolutism. It legitimated the absolute sovereignty of parliament, the centralization and magnification of coercive power in its hands, and the subordination of all individual rights to parliamentary interpretations of the General Will.

99. See Section 2.3.4B.

100. See Section 2.2. It would be consistent with the work of some social contract theorists to call them peace theorists as well. Consider, for example, Hobbes, for whom the social contract replaced the "State of War" that was the State of Nature.

101. The "as-if" approach is this. If we can establish some morally relevant empirical statements that are at least not proven false, then we can, for morally practical purposes, assume them to be true. Kant's argument for the free will of rational creatures is of this type (Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field, Section 30.2 of Chapter 30), as is his argument that history is moving nations toward perpetual peace (1957). Weigh particularly the following quote:

Thus the question no longer is whether perpetual peace is something or nothing, and whether we delude ourselves in our theoretical judgment by assuming it to be something. Rather, we must act as if that thing, perpetual peace, existed--though it may not exist; we must endeavor to make it real and strive after the constitution (perhaps the republicanism of each and every state) which seems to us most likely to which all states without exception have directed their institutions as their chief end. And if the achievement of this purpose were to remain always only a pious wish, certainly in assuming a maxim of incessantly striving toward it we would at least not delude ourselves, for this is our duty.

On the philosophy of "as-if" see Vaihinger (1925). I should also note, since some of my psychological principles (e.g., intentionality and self-esteem) are influenced by his work, that Alfred Adler, at least in his early years, followed an "as-if" approach. See Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field (Chapter 19).

For citations see the Vol. 5: The Just Peace REFERENCES

Go to top of document