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SVS: Structure (What It Means to Value It)
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Structure: What It Means to Value It

Any jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build one. --Sam Rayburn

The valuation of structure is the recognition that all entities with varying degrees of order and regularity have inherent worth.

From this principle, other ethical principles necessarily follow:

Life is inherently valuable. This system places inherent worth on life simply because it is highly-organized. However, while structure is a core value, it is not the only value. The synergy between truth, freedom, and structure leads to valuing agents who are capable of acquiring, using, and transmitting knowledge, and who have a greater range of goals brought about by their will. Thus we value plants more than bacteria, mammals more than plants, and primates most of all. We do not value human life simply because of shared DNA, but because of shared properties.

Any act which increases structure and corresponding function is good. Building, creating, organizing, engineering, repairing, healing, and even cleaning are all actions in accord with the good life, as they all increase order in the world.

Oftentimes creation is necessarily a result of reorganizing other materials, and in doing so, reducing their structure. To build a house, one must clear a lot, possibly cut down trees and mine materials for building the house. The rule of thumb is to try to assess whether or not there is a net increase in structure, or a corresponding increase in other core values. This might at times seem obscure and difficult, but often ethical behavior involves reasoning out inevitable conflicts between the things one values.

Any act which decreases structure or increases disorder and randomness is bad. This includes acts as mundane as littering and vandalism to those as grave as murder. An act's undesirability is directly related to the net decrease in the amount of structure it causes. This principle does not entail strict pacifism, though. Sometimes agents or groups of agents intent on wreaking destruction may need to be confronted. For example, if one has the power to stop a killer, one has a moral obligation to do so.

As with acquiring truth, increasing the net structure in the world is not always easy. As the quotation from Sam Rayburn above notes, destroying something takes far less knowledge, skill, and effort than the corresponding construction of it. As noted in the introduction, thinking can be either destructive or constructive. Destructive (grade-two) thinking may in fact be necessary, like the clearing of a lot in order to erect a building, but the ultimate goal should be constructive, with a net increase in what came before. This is true of all walks of life, from the physical to the abstract.

Personal steps for valuing Structure:

  • Always be creating: Engage in creative acts, in line with your own interests, whether it be writing, painting, quilting, sculpting, photography, or any other form of creative expression.
  • Always be building or repairing: If one is able, strive to put things together and fix those that aren't functional.
  • Avoid destructive acts: Before taking any act, consider whether it will result in a net loss of order in the world.
  • Strive for cleanliness and organization: Cleanliness is healthier and organization allows easier access to information and greater efficiency.

The next section will discuss the meaning of Freedom.

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