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Ask the Patriarch 32
Justify your ranking

by Alex

A discussion has been opened on this article. To add your comments, please use the contact page.

Reflections 6, 7, 14, 19, & 40, and Meditation 120 and the ensuing discussions contain related material.

Concerning the essay on using the 10 commandments as a moral guide...

One think that I would like to see you justify is your relative ranking of 3 of the commandments.

You rankings:

thou shall not kill - 7/10
thou shall not covet - 9/10
thou shall not [lie] - 10/10

According to these numbers, you seem to have more problem with people lying or coveting than with people killing each other.

The Patriarch replies:


I wish I could have included your question to the Debate and Discourse thread on the 10 Commandments, but it adds absolutely nothing to the discussion.

Usually, it is advisable to read an article before questioning it. You have managed to make it obvious that you have not properly read the text explaining each score, you have not understood what is being scored, and you have even been unable to accurately read the scores themselves.

Let's start from the last point, the scoring:

You claim I rated the 10th commandment, (thou shalt not covet,) 9/10.

In fact, this was rated 0/10; that is zero out of ten; that is nothing; that is I find the commandment absolutely worthless; that is it has no moral value whatsoever.

That score is entirely consistent with the text. I can understand someone misreading a zero as a nine, but if you had given even minimal attention to the accompanying text, you would have realized there was an inconsistency between your reading of the score and the explanatory words.

The tenth commandment is ranked appropriately both absolutely and relatively. And quite differently from the ranking you somehow think I assigned.

Now, as to what was being scored:

Preceding each score is the clear statement of what is being scored:

Moral value of the (x)th commandment: x/10

This should make it very clear that the scores are considered a rating of the moral value of the commandment, not a rating of the act supposedly covered by the commandment. So, your conclusion has no basis. The ratings have nothing to do with what I feel about the relative demerits of liars and killers.

Finally, we'll deal with the text substantiating the scores, which you clearly did not read.

You are clearly unhappy that I assigned only 7/10 to the sixth commandment. Had you read the text preceding the rating, you would have realized why I did not give it full marks. I happen to think there are legitimate reasons to kill another individual. Self defence is one of those reasons. The sixth commandment is written as a moral absolute and gives no guidance at all as to any legitimate exceptions. Nearly all of us, regardless of religious persuasion know, without reference to a deity, that murder is wrong. But the entire area of justifiable homicide, where moral guidance would be very useful, is ignored. And that is where the sixth commandment comes up short.

Unfortunately, Alex, it's unlikely you'll bother to read what I have written in reply, and you'll fail to get the message that you should read what you are critiquing before you raise spurious issues.