Today’s affirmative action professoriate like to talk as though they own the moral high ground because they are not white men. It’s a big act. Even before the affirmative action professoriate came into being, the academic study of ethics and morality was suspect. To this day, when any scholar of ethics publishes a study exploring why people cheat, they tend to do the same things. Keep in mind, that for professors today in this climate of politically correct hysteria, ethics is a hot topic, and it is a fave topic when it comes to teaching undergrads. They love to begin discussing morals and ethics by introducing the concept of moral relativism, which philosophically predisposes the professors to lead the students in a procession to doubt everything they ever believed in. Then, they talk about Utilitarian consequentialism, which is that body of modern philosophy that argues that morality and ethics are based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people, which philosophically predisposes professors to sermonize on the morality of populist empowerment triumphing over immoral establishment elites.
fascinating to read contemporary scholarship on ethics. Today’s affirmative
action professoriate pride themselves in reconceptualizing ethics above all
else. There is no higher calling among the professoriate of the US and Canada
than eviscerating the ethical foundations of everything represented by their
colonial white forefathers, in order to replace it with a universal ideological
declaration of liberal restorative justice for all – not that they have any
idea what that actually means, or what it entails in terms of implementation,
but it just sounds so right from the perspective of a liberal policy wonk …
And so they do these stereotypical things when they publish their studies on ethics and why people cheat:  they run an experiment in which people are given an opportunity to cheat in order to improve their outcomes; in so doing they explore a model or an argument among philosophers of ethics and they show why the model or argument is strong when it comes to predicting why people cheat, and  they finish by assuming that cheating comes from the inherently bad part of humans, and that this part mars or lessens the inherently good part of society, which they obviously represent; and they may go on to issue recommendations saying that in the future, if our society is to enhance honesty and increase people’s choices to pursue ethical action then it will be necessary to consider doing “X” – which is some action recommended on a level of policy in order to counteract the tendency to cheat that was evidenced in their experiment.
Here is the part that kills me – and I have to repeat it to emphasize it.
They always end by assuming there is a bad, unethical, cheating aspect inherent in humans, and they may go so far as to recommend policies for eliminating unethical, dishonest, cheating behavior, and giving a recommendation for how to make people and society more ethical in the future?
Are you kidding me?
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For example, the following is a typical introduction to research on ethics and cheating by Mead, Baumeister, Gino, Schweitzer&Ariely (2009):
Human social life (culture) features a great many rules and standards, including moral rules to which individuals must conform if they are to maintain membership in the group and the group is to function. (Mead, Baumeister, Gino, Schweitzer&Ariely 2009, p. 594)
Wrapping it up, Mead, Baumeister, Gino, Schweitzer & Ariely (2009) conclude with a statement about the inherent evil side of society that threatens ethics and morality:
Selfish impulses may however continue to lurk beneath the surface of civilized behavior, and when self-control has been weakened by depletion of its resources, selfish and dishonest behavior may readily ensue. (Mead, Baumeister, Gino, Schweitzer & Ariely 2009, p. 597)
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Here is another example of research into ethics and cheating, in which Grolleau, Kocher & Sutan (2016) conclude with the stereotypical ending to all research into cheating and ethics – making recommendations for how to utilize their research results to make society more honest:
Our main finding seems relevant in several ways. First, it may help to identify circumstances under which people are more tempted to cheat. Indeed, when individuals are in a situation that is construed as a possible loss from a reference point (e.g., being fired, losing welfare benefits, or retaining a customer), they seem to be more likely to adopt unethical behaviors compared to a situation framed as a gain. For instance, if a person’s situation changes, and the change increases a person’s tax liability compared to the previous years, this person might be tempted to a greater extent to evade taxes than someone who is supposed to pay the same tax amount as in the preceding years. (Grolleau, Kocher & Sutan 2016, p. 12).
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First of all, college professors and scholars cheat as much as anybody else – don’t even get me started. The entire premise for the affirmative action professoriate was to deny white men with talent a job by instead handing it to a person of color. Once that becomes institutionalized, we should not be too surprised to see tenured professors who have never published, a black community college president who is illiterate, and a whole movement promoted by black people with philosophy degrees who also claim to have disabilities. And that is how you end up with a black man getting a PhD in philosophy from an ivy league philosophy department, even though he has never written one paper himself all the way through graduate school. But, when he claims to have a disability that prevents him from writing, which was diagnosed the summer before he entered grad school, and that is why he has to have his papers written for him, he is really faking because he cannot write or do philosophy at all. It is a big scam, and soon he will be a philosophy professor with a PhD from an ivy league school. In short, no one is going to risk being taken to court by a black person with a disability in an affirmative action world.
But, that is only the newest form of cheating in higher education. There is a longstanding tradition of older professors ripping off younger wannabes. In academics, as a promising and anonymous young graduate student or as a toady little tenure-track wannabe junior assistant professor, you know you are good when you get ripped off, and when you get ripped off repeatedly, then you know you are great.
More importantly, scholarship in acephalous, egalitarian societies overwhelmingly indicates that the smaller a society is, the less people cheat, and the more they share. Thus, cheating and dishonesty, like suicide, are functions of population size, and the bigger society gets, the more you can expect people to be cheating and displaying immoral and unethical behavior, including suicide.
All in all, professors and scholars who masquerade as ethics researchers and teachers of the philosophy of ethics and morality are merely posing as shameless pretenders to the throne of moral and ethical compliance as they align with the prevailing normative order, and pretend to analyze why people give into their darkest most immoral impulses to cheat, instead of being honest, upstanding college professors like they are.
By implication, these college professors keep trying to tell us that (a) they are better and more ethical, and less likely to cheat, than everybody else so they are now going to explain to us how to make society, with all the people in it, a more ethical place in which people will be more upstanding and less likely to cheat, (b) they expect us to assume that they have the sanctimonious right, privilege and talent required to save us - a society of intrinsically evil cheaters - from ourselves, because they are intrinsically less likely to cheat than everyone else and they have the intellectual and scholarly gifts required to get the job done, and (c) they assume that morality exists, that ethics exist, and that people are inherently as likely to be amoral as immoral, so they are taking it upon themselves to coach us in how to develop a moral society, which will be a better society because it will have become more moral as academics have helped this to come about by doing research into cheating and then coming up with the right policy recommendations for legislating politically correct, honest people for the first time in human history.
Today’s affirmative action moralistic college professors want you to believe that humans are partially evil, but with their help, we can all get past it, and turn society in to a very ethical place. They want you to believe that everything you and your ancestors ever believed in is a lie, but they are here to help you become truly ethical citizens of the universe and usher in an age of liberal restorative justice once and for all. They have found the chink in the armor, and it is an indelible mark of evil that resides in you, and it is being transmitted to society by you. But, now they are here to diagnose, and follow up with an exorcism, so not to worry. Indeed, since the 1960s and 1970s. almost every liberation movement based on gender and race has promulgated this idea of people as being inherently evil and society right along with it. Social inequality and social injustice are the sum total of your socially genetic deficiencies. Thus, to hear it from them, we are all now being summarily indicted and sentenced to atone for the sins of our socially inept and unjust ancestors.
Conceptualizing Egalitarian Society as a Small Immediate Return Society
This is the liberal justification for every liberation or empowerment movement today. We must fight social injustice and social inequality. All the evils of contemporary society may be understood in terms of white patriarchy and its promulgation of power and class structure through property ownership and inheritance. The capitalist industrial complex they built, according to social theorists such as Weber, Marx and Durkheim breeds tension, alienation, anomie, and stress. It is the fundamental struggle over who owns what, and who says so, that defines modern societies.
However, the fact that we now have reason to believe that the earliest societies were not like modern society implies that there must have been fundamentally different relations between the modes of production and the weaving of ideology to create a cohesive and functional society among our earliest ancestors. In other words, if the smallest, primitive societies were egalitarian, communities in which no one owned anything, and everyone shared everything, then humans themselves are not inherently evil. Maybe, just maybe, the larger the society, the farther we are removed from an Edenic existence where everyone shares everything in a natural way.
In short, I could argue with assurance that the way a society deals with property, the way it establishes relations of production and rules of transaction, these are the mechanisms through which we will either confirm the emergence of social inequality or of an egalitarian, acephalous society. At the same time, these outcomes are completely dependent upon population size, and the larger the society, the less egalitarian it will be and the more social inequality there will be in it.
These are critical ideas that have a way of challenging the first two centuries of social science, which was decidedly fixated on property ownership as the source of social inequality. However, work by social scientists such as Widlock and Tadesse (2005) has opened up the notion that ancient, primitive societies were not hierarchical and were not obsessed with inheritance and property ownership as we are today. Thus, there is reason to believe that earliest societies shared an egalitarian and harmonious normative order, and the larger society became, the more rules, laws, norms, and morals appeared, along with more crime, deviance, cheating, lying, and duplicitous behavior – and no one is immune. It is arguably population size alone that will determine if a society becomes egalitarian, or hierarchical and fundamentally unequal.
Beyond Property Ownership, Wealth, and Dependencies
Widlock and Tadesse explain how egalitarian societies were not set up to increase property ownership, wealth, and dependencies. In the egalitarian society, there were norms governing the relations between people and property. There were further sets of rules governing how conflict might be adjudicated and the consequent punishments for deviance involving the redistribution of properties or products. However, all of these norms and sanctions were pre-existing and they were only applied such that the society was always an immediate return society.
In such a society, everyone shares everything. There is not much room for possessions or inequality to accrue because the relation between the society and nature is preordained and no one would think of acting outside of the acephalous society. The egalitarian society has forms of production in order to make things, but they also reproduce the physical and mental world of society’s members. This ongoing and reciprocal relation between the members of society and the things they make is what we may also call culture.
The assumption of the classic social science was that social structure is itself hierarchical. Today, it is commonly assumed that wherever there is a hierarchical society, there will also be social inequality. Furthermore, where there is social inequality there will be gender inequality. However, it is sensational and difficult to imagine a society in which these phenomena simply do not exist as we know them. Widlock and Tadesse argued by utilizing ample evidence from anthropological ethnographies that perhaps the smallest, earliest societies were probably egalitarian. There is now a literature replete with numerous ethnographies attesting to the notion that hunter-gatherer societies that have been observed contemporaneously indeed tend to be acephalous and egalitarian. The simplest societies we have found display none of the gender inequality, overall social inequality, obsession with possessions, or hierarchical social structure that characterizes the modern world.
Here is Your Truth Speaking to Power – So Buckle Up
Here is the real point: there is no morality and there can be no such thing as ethics.
Here is the argument: morality and ethics are simply euphemisms for being politically correct.
Forget about the researchers who study ethics and cheating for a moment. Back in the real world, the first thing liberal college professors do when they discuss ethics and morality is to preach about moral relativism. They grind it in and twist it around until everyone is spellbound with the fact that what one culture considers right may very well be considered wrong by another culture. They leave the student splayed with disaffection for anything that was ever called right, and they force the student to be suspicious of everything that was ever presented to them as right, at least for the next 12 weeks or so, because their grade is hanging in the balance.
However, the politics of ethics and morality is impossible to free up from the entanglements of political correctness. Let me say something right now: people do what they do for the most meaningful reason possible at the time, and it has nothing to do with ethics or morality. When people condescend to give you guidelines for ethics and moral action, they are merely introducing you to the guillotine blade of political correctness disguised as your friend.
Political correctness is the spirit of the prevailing body politic to which an individual subscribes and through which allegiance the individual attains membership in a valued social group. Every social group naturally creates a normative order – that body of ideas that represents what the group believes to be right, true and good. Insiders, members of the group, strive to uphold the normative order. Insiders who deviate from the norm, will be ritually punished and ritualistically separated from the group for a time, before being allowed to re-enter the group as a member in good standing.
In a country, the government will claim the highest and most powerful ideology of politically correct beliefs and norms, that must be obeyed by all under threat of punishment. There will then be at least one other social group that embodies a competing body of political correctness. Open societies tolerate this competition among politically correct groups and institutionalize this tolerance through elections for government officials. Closed societies just kill off the competing political group for as long as possible.
Therefore, the call for right action, for morality, and for ethical action, is simply a call to align with the prevailing normative order. It is a call that demands of the individual an allegiance and a commitment to uphold and obey the governing normative order. For that reason, all claims to understanding morality and ethics, and all claims to promoting morality and ethics, are merely two-faced, purposely ambiguous attempts at mind control aimed at the unwitting individual in everyday life as the pawn whose obeisance is at stake.
When someone preaches to you about being moral or about being ethical, you can be sure they are merely showing off how well they have aligned themselves with the prevailing political correctness of the dominant form of governance.
Furthermore, in order to become a member in good standing within a body politic of political correctness, the unwitting individual must feign a conversion experience they can explain to others in which they suddenly understood right from wrong and it was all so simple. Now they can confess and advertise their compliance and it carries the gravity of a well-branded slogan with a divine imprimatur.
In other words, all of those affirmative action college professors today who love to tie their undergrads up in knots preaching moral relativity, and consequentialism, and then demanding their students unravel a knot put forth to them in the name of a big paper or exam, in which their decided ignorance of the philosophical principles of ethics will be revealed and punished with a bad grade, will be the first to metamorphose from moral relativists into liberal whackos who perpetually hunt down climate change deniers and right wingers, and they will do so the very first chance they get.
It’s moral relativism to tie the students up in knots, and then its wacko liberal Nazi political correctness at grading time and ever onward.
Another form of the moral relativity of college professors is seen when the student’s first draft on a paper receives a grade of ‘C-‘ when it is about undocumented immigrants becoming maids and nannies for upper class white women in the suburbs, and the paper is marked up with endless rhetorical questions that have the effect of chipping away at the student’s credibility:
Why did you say this this? I am not sure this is the right word, are you? Do you think this is always true? Are you sure about this? Isn’t there a better way to say this? Have you really read all the literature on this subject? Wouldn’t it be stronger here if you gave some of the opposing arguments? I think this paper would benefit from going over the spelling and grammar with a fine-toothed comb, don’t you?
Amid the passive-aggressive onslaught to the student’s credibility as an intellectual force, there is only one definitive statement in the entire criticism: a circle around the phrase ‘illegal immigrant’ and a message reading I think ‘undocumented migrant’ would be more appropriate here.
The wise student gets it: then one little change is made in the overall strategy. The next draft delivered is all about how upper class white women are turning undocumented migrants into domestic slaves, and now it is received by the professor with accolades, an A paper for the ages. This is how college professors teach morality and ethics to undergrad students. Keep in mind, it was the same women being abused in each paper, but the declaration of the abuse itself was subordinate, and therefore not more important, than the politically correct way of labelling it. In the moral universe of higher education today, the student is like a neophyte Zen devotee, who must first learn to take their hard whacks with the bamboo pole of political correctness in order to one day earn the right to hit someone else with the same stick.
All Ancestors Are Created Equal
There is no such thing as ethics and ethical action There is no such thing as morality and moral action. And your ancestors were intrinsically no more evil than anyone else’s ancestors. Everybody has to make subjective judgments about what they think is most decent and most dignified. Everybody has to decide for themselves how to appropriate as many resources for themselves as possible. Everybody does everything they do for the most meaningful reason possible at the time.
When Hobbes described society as Leviathan, and proposed his cop-on-every-corner hypothesis of social control, he was very simple and obvious about how it all works. The individual’s mind is controlled to become an effective and functional instrument for society by virtue of the fact that the individual knows that government forces will come down hard and punish the individual if their compliance is not willingly given. The cop-on-every-corner hypothesis of social control implies that most individuals do what they are supposed to do most of the time because they live under threat of punishment by the powers that be. It is really that simple.
As population grows, the quest for social control becomes the quest for mind control to enlist the willing compliance of the individual. In other words, we could control individuals in society by having a totalitarian police state, but that is actually not the most efficient way to institutionalize mind control. Rather than having to find ways to force individuals to comply with social rules, the custodians of society would be much happier if they could find a way to enlist our compliance gleefully and willingly.
There are different ways of doing this. But, the idea is that, for example, in old world Aztec society, if you were a high priest, what you really wanted was to have people lining up at the bottom of the pyramid with their babies saying “pick me, pick me” so that they could willingly give up their baby as a sacrifice to the state. What you would rather not have to do is physically force people to give up their babies for another ritual sacrifice to the Gods. When people are happily lining up to offer their children for sacrifice by the state on behalf of the normative order, then society is running along well. However, the more difficulty the priests have making people want to give up their children so the state can ritualistically sacrifice them on behalf of the normative order, the more difficulty they are going to have holding onto power.
Therefore, even though conspiracy theorists would never admit it, the goal of contemporary power elites is not the creation of a totalitarian police state. The goal of contemporary power elites is to effect social control by institutionalizing mind control in such a way that individuals willingly and gleefully offer up their children to the state for the state to do whatever it does to mold children, and sacrifice some of them, on behalf of the normative order. When the individuals happily volunteer for their required mind control exercises, then society is humming like a well-oiled machine. Therefore, in the most successful society, social control is created by forms of mind control that are not only welcomed but sought after by the individual.
And morality and ethics?
These are just props. No matter what is considered right, true and good by the prevailing political order, these will be presented as the goals of all moral and ethical action. Thus moral and ethical action is not the motivator of behavior, it is just the final arbiter of behavior, the judge of it. What motivates individual behavior is not the ethical experience or the moral experience, but the meaningful experience. Regardless of the prevailing moral order, and regardless of what is held up as right, true, and good, the individual will always do what the individual does for the most meaningful reason possible at the time. In terms of global human society, morality and ethics are constraints on social experience, but to the individual they are only expedient means to an end, as they are dutifully and relativistically considered within the individual’s overall process of constructing a meaningful experience for themselves.
Grolleau, G., Kocher, M. G., & Sutan, A. (2016). Cheating and Loss Aversion: Do People Cheat More to Avoid a Loss?. Management Science, 62(12), pp. 1-21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2015.2313
Mead, N. L., Baumeister, R. F., Gino, F., Schweitzer, M. E., & Ariely, D. (2009). Too tired to tell the truth: Self-control resource depletion and dishonesty. Journal of experimental social psychology, 45(3), 594-597.
Widlok, T., & Tadesse, W. G. (2005). Property and equality: Encapsulation, commercialisation, discrimination (Vol. 2). Berghahn Books.