The “Rule of Ought”

Contributed by Wes Keller

Can anyone argue that “government” is not needed? Wherever we find groups of social organisms we will find mutual behavior management systems (government); whether in the form of our highway safety rules, or a poultry “pecking order” in a chicken coop. Any creature with autonomous choice must come to terms with the choices of fellow creatures. Government happens!

And, don’t pretend to be “non-political”- humans can’t help it! The exact moment you utter the words “ought” or “should” pertaining to behavior, you reveal your innate nature to be political! To some degree we all actively coordinate and manipulate rules to make them “fair” and least restrictive ... at least for ourselves. We are not entitled to even one little opinion without implicating ourselves as political, likely in the worst sense of the word. We all have apparent “conflicts of interest” needing to be declared because of our instinctive self-preservation interests! A conflict of interest is identified and declared to ensure equal, protection under any law. Any opinion on what rules “ought” (or “ought not”) be exposes our political nature. All history confirms my point. Even the great commandment says we should “love others as we love ourselves”, assuming “self” as a reference point! The “rule of ought”: our irresistible urge to have an opinion or to make rules proves us human. To pretend this is not true for you is childish deceit.

Modern education has become dull in the exciting study of the “Science of Law” (jurisprudence). Secular institutions of learning are inadequate because they avoid seemingly “religious” studies. I dare say many (most?) law schools don’t recognize jurisprudence as a living science, but rather presume and apply theories as if they were fact!

They miss asking rhetorical, simulating questions:

- Is there a “Supreme Judge” … Does anybody “out there” care what we do?

- Are there really inherent laws common to all societies, whether or not they are written down or officially enacted (“Natural Law”)? (How could anyone teach our Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights which are heavily based on “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” without exploration of answers to this question?)

- If there is an overseeing “Creator”, how is he engaged in government affairs? (“Divine Providence”)?

History proves we must be very cautious about our “oughts” (laws), especially about empowering others to make them, enforce them, or interpret them for us without our oversight. This is why America has robust checks and balances to prevent abuse of power of government. Humans will always be in a quest for the perfect standards on which to build government justice! Study of Jurisprudence is inevitable and essential in this quest! “The study of Jurisprudence next to that of theology, is the most important and useful to men.” (Webster’s Dictionary, 1828)

It is profoundly foolish to claim there is no value in government- to declare ourselves non-political or the unimportance of religion. The value and significance of government, politics, and religion must be re-discovered as priority issues before they can be of any value to us. Our current tendencies to take government for granted, to despise and ridicule it, is dangerous! Foolish, because we have inherited the very best, (if we can keep it); dangerous, because tyranny is a terrible, inevitable alternative!

Government happens! The “rule of ought” reveals its inevitability, but merely as evidence of the real point; our need for something (or someone) bigger than ourselves to be running things.

Honest reflection on your reactions to our recent 7.0 earthquake will reveal the same thing. It is very “natural” to appeal to an authority higher than yourself when you lose control! If terror prevented you from praying, “Oh God, help!”, as everything around you shook and fell, you likely have considered praying during any one of the numerous aftershocks. Yes, I am saying “government happens” because we are created to be under the protection and authority of a creator! In a 7.0 earthquake, we quickly understand the limits of ourselves and mere human government. No law can be written to prevent earthquakes, hurricanes, or errant comets! We couldn’t do much in those few minutes of utter chaos. We were stripped nearly naked of any illusion of control or authority. Don’t let the lessons get past you; your “religious self” is showing and you can likely figure out what to do about it without government help! Christmas is the perfect time of year to contemplate the birth of God’s son and how His gift affects you.

A government that implies there is no higher authority than itself is tyranny waiting to happen because it will ultimately establish selfish laws. America’s government does not establish religion because it bets on Americans choosing to be religious and finding truth without its help. The direction and guidance of “Nature’s God” (“Divine Providence”) is a presumed, stated axiom of the Declaration of Independence. If God-fearing citizens lose the majority, we are destined to be nothing more than yet another historical demonstration of man’s inability to govern himself!

Wes Keller |