Would a moral axiom necessarily result from ontology?

I define a moral axiom as that which dictates behavior, where the action itself is designated as ethical or not (i.e. the judgment of the behavior is 'ethics'). An axiom of morality would necessarily come from the essence of being itself, wouldn't it?

To hopefully ensure that the question can actually be answered, can we formalize morality into axioms? If so, does it then follow that our axiomatic morality stems from our existence itself, or does it arise from some other source?

  • More importantly what do you mean by "essence of being itself?" Do you mean something Heideggerian or something else?
    – virmaior
    Feb 11, 2015 at 8:28
  • The primary substance to our human nature. In my days of studying philosophy as an undergraduate, I would qualify this as our mental abilities, or more specifically our consciousness itself but I'm afraid this definition would muddy the waters too much. I will therefore use Aristotle's idea of a primary substance, and state that the essence of being is primarily to exist and secondarily to act towards another object which exists.
    – user13617
    Feb 11, 2015 at 8:41
  • For Aristotle, ethics does arise directly from ontology. But I'm not sure why you're adding "axioms" and "moral" into the mix then
    – virmaior
    Feb 11, 2015 at 10:01
  • Wouldn't axiomatic reasoning result in a repeated action, as opposed to 'fuzzy' morality?
    – user13617
    Feb 11, 2015 at 10:01
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    Lot of random terms getting thrown around here ...
    – virmaior
    Feb 11, 2015 at 10:14

1 Answer 1


If we were to agree with Kant in defining morality by adhesion to self, then an ontology will always yield a moral axiom (I'd call it a 'maxim') which aims at the definition of self in the ontology.

As far as formalizing morality into axioms, a problem occurs. According to Gödel's incompleteness theorem, an axiomatic system cannot be both consistent and complete. Thus, if we define morality with an axiomatic system, then either we get contradictions or we get undecidable propositions.

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    There are plenty of axiomatic systems that are both complete and consistent. Godel's theorem states that you cannot have both consistency and completeness if your system is powerful enough to contain arithmetic. To what extent it makes sense to relate some kind of formalization of ethics with arithmetic or whether anyone has investigated it, I would love to know.
    – Mike
    Feb 4, 2017 at 15:12

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