Suppose that, suddenly, every person on earth would suddenly be gone from the earth except for you. You will be alone in the universe. Do you think you could not take any moral or immortal actions? Will pissing on people's grave be amoral? Would trying to work to re-create the human race with genetic know-how be amoral? Would bearing your condition with acceptance and bravery count for nothing? Would taking your life be an amoral, meaningless choice?
We have many and strong reason to promote a set of aversions that would make people reluctant to piss on people’s graves. Our desires are better fulfilled in a society where those we live with are interested in helping to fulfill the desires of others, and disinclined to thwart the desires of others. We capture a part of this in the concept of respect. Respecting others means showing a regard for their interests, while disrespect shows a disregard for their interests.
Recall that a desire that P is fulfilled in any state of affairs in which P is true. A person can have a desire for respect even after his death. This desire is fulfilled in any state in which he is treated with respect after his death, and disregarded in any state in which he is treated with disrespect after his death. In fact, an agent might have many and strong desires that he may wish to see fulfilled after his death – desires for the care of his children, desires to promote the fight against particular diseases, desires to have one’s poetry or music remembered for generations to come. All of these are reasons for action to promote a current desire to show respect for the dead.
So we have many and strong reasons to promote an aversion to the thought of a person left alone after everybody else is gone pissing on our graves.
It is also the case that we have many and strong reasons to promote in people the desire to restart the human race if the rest of us should be wiped out.
There are a group of soldiers in combat. One of them writes a final letter to his family and says, “In the event of my death, make sure my unborn son gets this letter.” We have many and strong reason to promote an aversion to those kinds of promises. If we are surrounded by people averse to breaking those promises we can have greater confidence that our desires will be fulfilled after our death. Promoting in each other today a strong desire to restore the human race if possible is one way to help to ensure that our current desires will be fulfilled even in a universe in which only one person is left.
The story of the person leaving a will with his lawyer, or setting up a trust, is simply another version of the story of the soldier. The will is a letter that accompanies a request for a promise to “take care of these things if I should die.” Because, even in our final days, we have reason to act so as to realize states of affairs in which the propositions that are the objects of our desires become true.
We also have many and strong reasons to promote a sympathy and consideration for the plight of others. We have reasons to be averse to the last person on earth simpering in a corner waiting to die. Our desires – and, in fact, desires we have many and strong reason to promote – are better fulfilled in a state where a person alone on the world reacts to his state with bravery and acceptance, that he may find value in the end of his life even though nobody will follow after him.
We have many and strong reasons to act to create people whose desires are such that they are disinclined to piss on our graves after we die, will try to restore the human race if possible, and to face any fate they cannot change with courage and acceptance.
We have these reasons.
All of these values are dependent on the reasons for action that we have. This is not the morality of a person alone in the universe. This is the morality of 6.5 billion people living on Planet Earth (what those 6.5 billion people have reason to what a lone survivor to want) that is then applied to a state in which one person has survived the disappearance of the rest of us.
There is no evidence here of reasons for action that exist that are independent of desire.
Even if it were to be taken of evidence of such a thing? What are those 'reasons for action that exist'? How do we find them in the real world? What are we really looking at when we claim we are looking at a desire-independent reason for action? The person who wants to propose such a theory would still have a great deal of work to do.