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Relative Normality


Now that the method and language of the analysis has been established, it is important to see how this can be utilized. After the historical examples described in the previous section, it should be obvious that the amoral analysis proposed can be used with different metrics to produce greatly different results. To further solidify this concern, below are a few examples:

  • If one was to consider an objective civility worth promoting to the detriment of those that are excluded from the constructed mythos, then legacy analysis will urge civil radicality and provide reason to be uncompromising in spite of others’ suffering. 
  • If someone was to demand promotion of their own legacy in spite of others, legacy analysis will urge the removal of liberty from the community (i.e. remove the ability of the community to choose alternative legacies).
  • If someone wants to allow foreign civilities to usurp the current one, legacy analysis would advocate for causing infighting so civility will not be able to defend the metaphysical resources.

When considering all this, the gravity of choosing an unbiased metric becomes apparent. Promoting one group over another will always ensure someone’s freedom will be restricted due to the civility that forms. Therefore, the metric that will be used within the remainder of this thesis will attempt to be chosen without cultural influence. While this is a genuine pursuit, the immediate hypocrisy of the intent should be apparent since even attempting to reject cultural influence is the product of how one analyzes culture in the first place. In spite of the civil indoctrination and perception bias of the author, the reader is asked to evaluate the metric strictly based on the reasoning presented instead of how agreeable it is. Equally, it is asked that this is contrasted with other metrics and value systems to ensure that an optimized community can grow.


Relevant Definitions

  • Legacy: motivator of the existential self identity which can be used as a vehicle for immortality.
  • Civil: inherent community approval
  • Radical: Motivating or acting in opposition to inherent community approval
  • Civil Radicality: expecting social critiques to be limited to civil action

It should go without saying that there is no objectively “best” metric. Even the use of “metric” assumes that it needs to be logical and stagnant where values can be based on situational relativity or flat out inconsistency (due to the unknown composite legacies defining the values instead of a predetermined metric). Instead of attempting to resolve that ball of worms, it will be assumed that there are various relevant rubrics that people have to choose from (many of which will conflict with others) and it will be requested that the reader evaluate the validity of the one presented before critiquing it.

This is not a plea for the reader to adopt the system (although – if I am to be honest – I truly hope you do). The request is quite the opposite: the hope is that you will understand it well enough so counterexamples and critiques can be found.

To make that request more palatable, the system will be explicitly reasoned out so that any suspension of disbelief needed will be easier to engage. If the reader ultimately decides to adopt this system, then it is hoped that the same presentation given here can be internalized and used to defend it without appealing to an authority.

Moral Relativity

Some will reasonably argue that abstract systems should be applied universally. While this is theoretically sound, stagnant systems – when introduced into the chaos of practicality – will generally collapse under unforeseen environments. Either through the ambiguity of language, the differing cultural understanding of “good” and “bad”, or the systemic inability for some to be “moral”; universal applicability is generally impossible. As such, even the most abstract consistent moral system cannot be trusted when utilized outside the culture that generated it.

In contrast, a relative system (one that adjusts to fit the culture it is in) makes no hard claims about predetermining how a society ought to be. While this does fall prey to a lack of divine authority and therefore lacks initial objectification, the payoff is allowing the system to adapt to the conversation presented. 

Since this will be used for an analysis system that claims relevance to all life, the value of adaptability will far outweigh all other concerns. For this reason, the metric must be – fundamentally – irrelevant unless the environment being analyzed is first established.

Moral Consistency

Regardless of validity or fairness, morality will generate in one of two ways: either reactive (in response to a confrontation which will tend to align with civility) or derived (from a predetermined ideology). There are benefits and negatives regarding each of these methods. For example, while reactive morality will reflect previous conflicts of the society allowing for a more accurate reflection of the practical (and often nuanced) issues and needs that will be encountered, it is in danger of supporting historical powers allowing (to appropriate a well known phrase) “goodness to be dictated by the influential” in spite of the underrepresented. In contrast, derived morality will be consistent and more fair to all groups (unless the ideology is based on civility as well) by design, but it will lack the specifics needed to address many of the practical issues that will arise.

It is highly unlikely due to the lack of practicality that fully derived morality will be instituted in its pure state. Which is why all systems should be assumed – from a theoretical standpoint – to be a reflection of the culture that it came from and critiqued as such. Further, ideological value systems are generally advertised as universally applicable, so dictating morality is an assurance of cultural imperialism and many will become uncivil. It is also the case that reactive values are fundamentally exclusive and relevant specifically to the situations in which they were created. It should be easy to see that in both of these cases, values are a tool primarily used to ensure that personal legacies can be optimally preserved (to the detriment of the uncivil).

Since one of the stipulations for a valid system is to be internally consistent, the second ideological approach (derived) will be used. This should beg the question, how to ensure one group is not favored above the others? The solution: generate the system on a tautologically true statement that could be accepted within any culture. What will be used is the claim “normality ought to be normal”.

This can be read one of two ways: “everyone ought to adapt to MY view of normality” or “I should adapt to ensure normality includes everyone”. Since the first is fundamentally incorporating “rejection of other cultures as valid” which is conflicting with the idea of normalization itself, it is definitionally self-defeating. With this clarification, a more clear phrase will be used to capture the same sentiment of “normality ought to be normal” without the misreading – and therefore more applicable to basic conversations: “individual comfort ought never detract from community comfort”.

Relative Normality

One point needs to be made perfectly clear before explaining the main points of the system itself: if this system ever becomes stagnant or used for individual judgement, something has gone horribly wrong. This is not a system that depends on villains or heroes. No one is inherently better than anyone else and engaging in superiority at any level will strip the normality of respect away from those that we are considering. Hopefully this will naturally fall out of the definitions and premises listed below, but it should be expected that practicality will be used to alter the system from its original intent at some point. As such I would never personally advocate for this to be institutionalized into law, regardless of how pure the intent is. Instead I would wish this to be an independent underlying premise that laws were based on and a means of critiquing any institutionalized morality at regular intervals (including reflectively).

Relevant Definitions

There are many terms specific to this section that will be listed here as a reference (as well as future sections when they are needed):

  • Alterable: in a variant state of being relative to the discussion
  • Population: all objects (except for possibly a statistically insignificant set of outliers) in a system which are alterable †
  • Person: a member of the population that fulfills the axioms for life
  • Element: non-person member of the population that can be added or removed by will
  • Absolute essential: an element that is required for a person to live
  • Excess: an element that is not an absolute essential lacking the capability to be distributed with all persons †
  • Normality: the minimum expected state of all persons when excluding excess
  • Relative essential: an element that is required to gain normality
  • Harm: causing normality to be unobtainable
  • Tragic: increases both normality and harm

† within distribution – for the sake of statistical outliers – a neglect of the statistically insignificant outliers is needed from the population. This adds a degree of uncertainty, but the alternative would make the entire value system vapidly fulfilled at all times since exceptions could always be found. 

With that in mind, the summary will be posted for convenience here for reference:

  1. One ought not to critique people for making tragic decisions
  2. One ought to critique tragic situations
  3. If situations are not described here, one ought not to declare that someone ought or ought not to do them
  4. One ought to distribute relative essentials unless it does harm
  5. One ought to remove elements which cause strict harm
  6. One ought to use excess to increase normality
  7. One ought not to demand or strive to gain excess for one’s legacy
  8. One ought to instruct the population what they ought to and what they ought not to do

1 & 2: Critiques of Tragedy

First and foremost, understand that positions of authority are not persons since a position is not alive (i.e. it is not physical). While a position ought to be criticized the person utilizing that position ought not to be.

This pair of values is the first listed intentionally. All personal judgements of others are inherently due to conflicting value systems and how we act on them. It is hard – if not downright impossible – to separate this gut reaction from self-preservation/preservation-of-legacy and therefore – by extension – based on personal experience. In this respect, judgement is simply an admittance that one set of experiences being unknown to all involved is tragic. It would be regressive circular reasoning to promote critiques of personal tragic decisions, since that is – in itself – tragic. That said, if the holder of a position was expected to have that experience – either through prescribed training or necessary requirements for the position – the holder of the position ought to receive the critique only insofar as they are able to perform their duties.

Much of the difficulty utilizing this system will be to make this separation due to the ways people identify. It is natural to look at people as a combination of their experiences which includes the positions they hold, but this is inconsistent with the axiom of “perception bias” to assume our critique can be seen by everyone. To project our understanding of their experience onto their actual experience is to neglect our own bias. Even in the case of actors that are intentionally misdirecting the perception of the community to get the upper hand (informally known as “acting in bad faith”), it is necessary to reflect on unknown motivators that led the actor just as it is necessary to ensure that this person is removed from the position and the nature of the position restricts this from happening again.

Similarly, even if we are able to overcome this urge to conflate identity and position, there may be some positions that will be inseparable from the person holding it (eg. a subject matter expert or a parent). Convincing the holder that a critique of the way they abide by a position is not a critique of their identity may be impossible. In spite of this, we ought to remain consistent in where blame is being placed and be as explicit as possible that the person themselves is not the focus.

It is the intent of this system to increase the normality of everyone. To do this, the system we inhabit must be constantly analyzed within as many different conversations as possible. We therefore ought to reject the narratives which promote public harm in favor of increasing limited normality. Most “harmful” situations when fully analyzed are tragic, but that doesn’t mean that we ought to accept a shift and restrict the population to justify the harm done. Instead it should be attempted to separate the harm from the increased normalization so future actions will be more advantageous.

3: If situations are not described here, one ought not to declare that someone ought or ought not to do them

While being a shorter section, this may be the most controversial. While this value system is robust relative to the possible narratives, it is intended to be limited within those narratives. The urge to expand this in order to judge others or extract vengeance or to generally prioritize experience over perception bias is both expected and inconsistent to the axioms proposed. Therefore, this system must allow some – if not most – situations to fall outside the scope of strict judgement.

4: One ought to distribute relative essentials unless it does harm

This is a direct fallout of “normality should be normal for everyone”. Everyone’s understanding of “normal” is inherently built into perception bias so our projection of what everyone’s needs are will not be universally accurate. Regardless, the alternative – assuming that your normality is deserved and only applicable to yourself – breaks the meaning of what “normal” is intended to describe. Assuming your normality is not deserved by others is not only a gross misrepresentation of others, but will be – by definition – more harmful.

It is important to address the situations in which normality for one person is harmful for another. While many times it will be obvious that distributing the element would cause or avoid harm, this conclusion is always influenced by our own experience. If there is a dispute of a claim that an essential may or may not increase harm, the ultimate conclusion ought to be made by persons (not groups) that would receive the essential.

To use this in practice: consider two people of a group that has normalized using a psychedelic drug and has enough excess to spread it to the rest. If there is pushback on whether this will cause harm (which I expect there would be) then it is up to each person to make the decision of accepting the distribution. The group ought not to push this on each individual, but simply to listen to what they want and to oblige.

It is important to note that – by definition – “relative essential” does not describe only material goods. This is vital. In the example above, one could and ought to make the argument that the “harm” caused is the removal of “lucidity”. So we can see that this distribution ought to be considered more tragic (distribution of “new perspective” while reducing “lucidity”) and critiqued/analyzed to find if there is a better way to move forward.

This will surely cause the most mental and philosophical struggle while people use this system, but I urge anyone willing to use it to appeal to the previous values (how to critique tragic events) to analyze the situation (and the position included in it) but not the people making the decision.

5: One ought to remove elements which cause strict harm

It should throw up some flags from the last section that it was only about distribution. If it stopped there, then sins of our ancestors that were inherited by normality ought to be preserved, even if they caused harm. When accounting for the premise that this should include all points which someone ought or ought not act on, it is necessary to include the rejection of these sins that cause strict harm.

The easiest practical example of this would the support of slavery in the US and the strict harm that specific communities continue to suffer because of it. We ought to advocate against these types of offenses. This includes any other type of servitude as well can be abolished.

6: One ought to use excess to increase normality

Everyone has excess of something. Whether it be experience, knowledge, material possessions, respect, leadership skills, or anything else; these elements (that can be distributed or removed at will) create a holder position which ought to be used to increase normality. The normality that is increased is not limited to the element (although that should be the priority), but can also include repercussions of holding the excess that can be distributed to others.

I hope the premise of the system will dictate that this is both consistent and expected, but without it being exclusively stated one could point to the valid point that nothing is said about excess and what we ought to do with it, and then it would be ambiguous whether using it to harm others is something that ought not be done. Thus, inclusion of this point is necessary.

7: One ought not to demand or strive to gain excess for one’s legacy

This is another point expected to be controversial because of our natural perception bias and preservation of legacy. Elements we have personally normalized are not always categorized as a relative essential for a larger population. Similarly, elements that others have that we lack are – also – not always categorized as relative essentials. As such, we shouldn’t demand or strive to gain something that will be excessive as we don’t understand the experiences (which includes the needs) of others.

Since this can be misconstrued, it is important to reiterate the following: having excess is a position.  According to previously stated values, this position deserves critique about the prerequisites or training needed to spread normality. To be clear as to what this means, holding excess is not deserved or part of an identity since – by definition – it can be given away. Therefore, if the person wants to keep the position while it exists, they must also abide by the expectation: they will strive to increase the normality of the population. This requires knowledge (which is gained by “training”) about other’s experiences which the holder’s initial perception bias may cause them to ignore. The holder ought to retain and reference and internalize this training.

Also, and this is vital, those without or in need are expected to express accurately what is needed to increase the normality of their population. This is necessary so the holder (through “training”) will know how to accurately increase normality from that population perspective (be it better communication or relative essentials).

As an example: if only one dose of a cure is available in a population of 1000, but only one person is vulnerable to death due to the illness, it is the responsibility of the person to express that “life” will be normalized by their obtaining it and the training of the holder to know that it is their responsibility to get it to the person.

8: One ought to instruct the population what they ought to and what they ought not do.

Since this value system is – and always will be – in competition with other value systems, then the premise (normality needs to be normal for everyone) demands that it is important to confront those other value systems and see which premises are in conflict. While promotion and working beside other systems which hold similar values is appropriate, a critique of both systems where they disagree is still beneficial.

This must never be done while increasing harm to the population. Currently and historically, examples can be seen where absolute essentials could not be distributed.  Whether through drought, famine, plague, or even something as simple as assault; the expectation to inform and expect others to abide by relative normality will ensure death for everyone, and that – practically – is an absurd request even if it is idealistically consistent.

Practical Repercussions

The hope is – by this point – the value system presented is clear enough to consider if not outright accepted. It is therefore negligent to hold back on some of the unexpected repercussions that need to be pointed out in case they were missed by the reader. Some have been hinted at but all need addressing to ensure that the scope is clearly understood.

Rejection of Classic Rights

This is unfortunate, but crucial to address. Not all elements necessary to survival can be distributed.  Water – for example – may not be available for the population. In which case, the resulting competition that will result in acquiring the resources needed for a preservation of legacy will be inevitable, but not technically tragic. According to the system proposed, this struggle ought not happen. The points “excess ought not be demanded” and “excess ought to increase normality” would ideally subdue any turmoil.

Ultimately, this is ignorant since it will contradict our assumptions of the axioms already established. The perception bias that “my legacy cannot be preserved” (even though the most optimal approach is taken) will always overwrite “ought”. Expecting a perfect world without the ability to construct a legacy (which necessarily includes survival) being normalized is – put simply – impossible. In such a situation, the position of distributor of essentials should expect to always be critiqued and necessary to provide feedback for why decisions were made.

Another practical example of this seeming contradiction is “self defense.” If death is imminent or life is not assured, it is not an essential element within the population considered. It is therefore an “ought” to increase normality by providing an assurance of life using the least harmful method. If the least harm is removing one life so it can be guaranteed to the rest of the population, that is what ought to be done. The tragic portion is that it is rarely that simple and often alternatives can be taken, but it is unlikely that this will be realized at the time.

Since this will practically make the value system at odds with the axioms provided, it is in the best interest of the system to acquire necessities to ensure legacies of the community can be constructed and preserved. It is only for the persons that have met these requirements – within the conversation considered – should be expected to follow relative normality at all.

Temporary Arch and Essential Holding is Expected

Arch (as defined by the holder of relative essentials that are not yet distributed) is inevitable either by natural inclination or by luck. (Please note that while something may be excess under one discussion, in others it will be a relative essential.) As already explained, it is expected that arch have the scope of distributing that which gives the arch authority. This will often increase the individual normality of the arch holder and this is why it is essential for the holder to be treated as a position instead of an identity. It must have strict limitations, including a mandatory separation from the position at a predetermined time and a clear scope on how they are to distribute normality. For this reason above most others, it is necessary to ensure that representation of different cultures has influence over the holder’s position to ensure the different legacies are being considered. It is vital that these stakeholders be inseparable from the comfort within the communities that have the most restricted internal normality.

While optimal, the above will only apply to existing arch. Often a relative essential will be generated due to new information or technology acquired by an individual. At this point, the arch requirements will need to be applied retroactively. It is therefore necessary that the basic requirement of the holder (considering others as worth listening to and being respected) should be known and practiced by everyone that has achieved normality.  Without this practice, any spontaneous promotion to an arch holder will be a culture shock and preservation of legacy will reject the separation of identity and position.

Changing the Conversation will Change the Population

Within a small population, a relative essential may not be the same as when discussing a larger population. This results in the requirement for distribution of relative essentials within a small community being ignored when shifting to a larger population, rendering the same elements as excess.

Alternatively, relative essentials that can be distributed to the whole of humanity should not stop there. Normalization of life and health should include all the population, including non-human peoples. If an element of a population has an intent to preserve a legacy and can be interpreted as having perception bias, it is definitionally a person.

While reducing the conversation to limit the population should never be used as an excuse to limit normality for smaller communities, it can be helpful to optimize the excess a community currently has. If this is done, then discussions can be constructed to ensure a total community’s excess is optimally distributed to increase normality within a smaller population. Although this can get into some tragic situations if it is already normalized elsewhere.

Relative Essentials Are Not Strictly Material Objects

While already identified, the extent of this claim needs to be examined. Explicitly stated, material analysis lacks the considerations needed to optimize society. Emotions such as “compassion”, “protection”, “respect” are also worth considering (when not doing harm). Consider for example emotional bullying:

By definition, a group is withholding “respect”, “validation”, or “acceptance” from a person due to their own specific legacy. No material needs are being withheld or taken away, but harm is being done. These relative essentials can easily be granted. Not doing so will ensure they cannot be normalized anywhere in the community.

There is a critique to be had in this section that aligns with the paradox of tolerance. Put more simply: are you supposed to distribute “acceptance” to the exclusive thinkers? Under this system, the answer is “as long as the relative essential is not doing harm”.  In this perspective, the potential harm done by not distributing “acceptance” will reduce the normality of “respected” that is expected for everyone else. In this sense – at worst – the situation is tragic because of a misunderstanding and the situation must be analyzed. At best, the exclusive thinker is identified as engaging in civil radicality and can be excluded while constantly educated as a holder should be.

Either way, the exclusive thinker shouldn’t be individually blamed but instead the environment which led them to accept that legacy. If the exclusive thinker abandons the legacy and stops defending comfort that is hurting others (which would contradict them being an exclusive thinker), then the community should react accordingly.

In Other Words

This is the last of the high minded sections, and while it shouldn’t have been as abstract as the first one, I’ll still simplify it here.

Legacy analysis claims that all morality is manufactured in some way or another.  So therefore why depend on moralities that exclude others unless you just want to be selfish?  Instead let’s try to identify a system we can believe in.

Reactions will hyperbolize past events over time. Call it the “telephone game” or “that the fish gets bigger after every retelling” but over time, the messages will be changed based on translation through different experiences. So the only valid moral systems are those which are principled (even if they can’t be all encompassing).

Similarly, perception bias forces us to recognize that only an adaptable moral system is sound. Therefore the moral system described doesn’t result in the same conclusions for the same communities.  So…

Step 1: define the community you are talking about

Step 2: figure out what everyone would look like if it was “as fair as possible”

Step 3: work to that – meaning promote everyone that needs promoting the most.

Also don’t judge people, that would be assuming you don’t have perception bias AND YOU DO.