Harm based Morality

My philosophy is simple enough.

In all things, first seek to minimize harm.
Then maximize well being.
Strive not to impose any harm.
Harm may be consented to.
No rule can it be reasonably expected to apply perfectly.
Thus no rule is absolute

From there I draw out all extensions to cover most every moral question I've come across. It's constantly in a state of flux as I learn and experience more. In this instance those rules are in chronological order as I reasoned them out.

I want to create the most basic set of rules possible and apply them outwards, rather than have a rule for every situation to ensure I can respond to novel experiences.

For any set of morals you need to start with some assumption of what one ought to value. I derived harm from basic instinct. We seek to avoid all that's bad for us. I call this harm. Contrary to that, we seek to gain all things good for us. I call this well being.

I place an emphasis on minimizing harm first, to mitigate any sort of "suffer for my gain" scenario. I feel it is more important not to harm anyone, than to pursue well being at the cost of someone suffering. For what good is well being if someone suffers as well? Thus A return to neutrality is desired, from which you may build well being.

Harm is anything which generates a negative impact on our psyche, physiology or environment. Harm is contextual and subjective.Well being conversely is the positive impacts to those same things. Again, it is contextual and subjective. Therefore when applying these concepts to a moral calculation, it is important to develop empathy for those who your decision effect. To make a reasonable guess at what they value so your choices will be proper.

While harm is certainly not desirable, it is usually never possible to eliminate it entirely. Hence the wording of the first principle and the addition of the 3rd through 6th. You should be reasonably expected to minimize any harm you do in pursuit of well being. You should try to avoid imposing harm on others, unless they first consent to that harm.

You are not perfect. You will make mistakes and you will not always generate the optimal results. Thus the principles do not expect it. If following any of the principles would generate a poor outcome of some sort, or simply cannot apply, there is no requirement to hold to them absolutely. They can be suspended if the need occurs.

So there you have it. My philosophy as it stands today. It's been two years in the making as a formal doctrine. I put it to the test everyday and refine as I find it lacking, which is not very often anymore.

EDIT: No idea why there is an X in the title... it wont go away...
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5 Responses Dec 2, 2012

The way one should live. ^_^

Brilliantly Simple

I really hate to be a buzz kill, but alleviating suffering is one of Buddhism's primary tenets.

Oh. You write well, too.

and I commend you for expanding the philosophy.

I thought it was on purpose. Google x and go to Wikipedia whiches leads to greek omega. Pretty cool. I am going to greece in March after a very long scrimp and save scenario. :)

This is beautiful...the price of mistakes is to repeat your history.