Site Map The Secular Morality Project - Towards a Shared Morality

The Triax

The Triax proposes that:
Self-Honesty              Kindness              Courage
can be used as a basis for morality.

This can only work, of course, because the words are given quite specific definitions. Kindness is regarded as an instinct that has given our species an evolutionary advantage and which different people exhibit to differing degrees. It also has a spread dimension - many people are fiercely protective of their families while showing total disregard for most of humanity. Courage is overcoming our fears and does not exist in the absence of fear. Self-Honesty or "not lying to yourself" is the missing link that allows the three axioms to be mutually reinforcing. Combined with Courage, it also makes the Triax distinctively secular.

When people claim that there is a natural morality that we can all agree upon, they are usually restricting themselves to things that could be derived from a requirement for kindness which would suggest that murder and stealing are bad. The second rule of the Triax covers all these but the three rules working together suggest, for example:
  • Without Courage, our Kindness cannot be relied upon and we let down those we love.
  • Lying to others may be good or bad:
    • White lies might be good when they are told out of Kindness but often not when told out of Fear of another person's reaction.
    • If you lack Self-Honesty and lie to yourself, you will be dishonest to others as you don't even have the truth to offer.
  • Belief in God is often highly suspect since it can be a refuge of those who lack Courage in the face of the unknowability of things and allow their Self-Honesty to be compromised.

The Triax came out of a search for a set of three axioms from which all morality could be deduced. It is better thought of as three axes along which all solutions to moral problems should be measured. Much more explanation of the Triax can be found in Philip Veasey's book, The Backslider's Guide to Success . An adapted extract containing most of what it says about the Triax is offered here.