Tuesday, July 12, 2022

What Are Dead People Now?

A man named Joseph Galambos once changed his name to start with his middle name, Andrew, if I remember correctly.  He had a lot of great ideas, and he expected those with whom he shared (or, as he would prefer, to whom he contractually disclosed) them to abide by the agreements he made with them.  Those agreements precluded ("promiscuous") disclosure regarding his great ideas.  Then he died. I never paid for and never learned much about the ideas.

There is a group of people called the trustees of the Galambos Estate.  Legally, I believe those trustees are what Mr. Galambos has become.  They have legal control of what he would be controlling had he not died.  Do they have moral control?  What does that mean?  The distinction between legal and moral is one imposed on us by governments and contracts.  Personally, the distinction imposed by governments seems immoral to me.  I have no respect for others who pretend to develop my conscience.  That is my responsibility and I guard it viciously.  I recommend the same strategy to others.

As far as I know, most of the people who have received the great ideas of Mr. Galambos signed a contract in which they agreed not to share (disclose, Mr. Glamabos would qualify) the ideas.  Of course, if he gave them permission to share the ideas, as he gave to Jay Snelson and others who accepted the role from Mr. Galambos of teaching the material, then, of course, sharing the ideas with those who paid for the classes was not only acceptable, but required.  My impression of Mr. Galambos is that he rather liked the moral imposition that either you must do or must not do a thing.  I am the opposite.  I prefer the position that you may choose as you please, but I recommend putting a lot of effort into developing your conscience, and then obeying it.

Mr. Galambos is no longer around to give permission to share disclose his great ideas, but it makes sense that there would be some way to get it, and this leads to the question in my title.  There is the legal answer, but if the legal answer is different from the moral answer, then it isn't a useful answer, at least not as I see things.  Morality, in my view, if you can't tell, is entirely based on the development and obedience to your own conscience.

I recently listened to a friend give a speech about the word "objective" and its use as an adjective for the word "morality."  What he pointed out is that as a noun, "objective" means goal, and if you view morality as having a goal, then you can call it "objective morality," but then it doesn't mean what most people hear, which is "universal morality."  I don't think it can be universal, except in relation to the idea of a conscience.  You have one.  Obey it.  That is as universal as morality can get, as far as I can see.  But what is the objective?

If the objective is to honor Mr. Galambos through the great ideas that he shared with disclosed to those who agreed to his terms, then those ideas will have to be disclosed even after he is no longer around.  I am intentionally ignoring the trustees.  I believe they are well within their legal rights to ignore requests for permission to disclose the great ideas, but the moral question remains for everyone else who also has learned about those ideas.

This exploration of what dead people are now that their bodies are corpses was inspired by a request for audio recordings of lectures.  The requestor heard some of them already and wishes to listen again, but there are some he hasn't heard and would like to hear.

A friend with whom I consulted before announcing this article to the voluntaryist email group pointed out that Mr. Galambos (and my friend, I gather) view morality as "an absolute," and simply means the absence of coercion. Depending on how you define "coercion", such a simple definition may work for you. I do not share Mr. Galambos' confidence regarding the use of my words to universalize my sense of morality. The best I can expect of others is that they develop and obey their conscience.

Lastly, I'd like to call attention to a situation which arises from time to time because of extreme circumstances.  Some may say "when push comes to shove," to introduce the circumstances in which we pay less attention to our consciences and solve a problem which we previously left unsolved in the hope that a morally acceptable solution would materialize, by doing something we normally consider immoral.  We stop attending to that distinction because "life interferes." We may be judged by others for it, and so we must be prepared to make restitution for our transgressions in case the full analysis shows that we were in the wrong.  Sometimes the important thing, the thing more important than obeying your conscience, is to solve the problem.  Steal food to avoid death by hunger, please, for example.

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