Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo

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EnglshGentleman

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Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« on: November 08, 2010, 10:40:27 PM »
I don't know how to think on the issue of ethics, namely, where morality comes from. I find both moral relativist and law giver arguments unconvincing.

The moral relativist just says, "Morality is subjective and relative to the society you live in. What may be morally obligatory or morally forbidden in one society or to one individual may not be the same to another."

This pretty much means that there is no moral responsibility, and that people cannot be blame worthy. You can't truly claim that someone punching babies is doing something wrong, because morality is subjective, so that individual is just doing that they think is right. You can't criticize other societies' and in fact you can't even criticize your own.

The law giver argument is even worse. The typical argument is, "The morality we have has been given to us by God. He is the one that decides what is moral and what is not."

I think this is almost even worse than moral relativism. It makes morality irrelevant. If God just decided to make something morally obligatory, he can just as easily decide to make it the opposite because he can. He could just decide to make murder morally obligatory some random day. Then we must murder everyday! To do otherwise is immoral! I like to think that we know this would be ludicrous.

To suggest this argument is true makes being moral not really mean much, since the current state of morality was just the result of how a being felt that day.



What are your thoughts on the origin of morality?
« Last Edit: November 08, 2010, 10:42:40 PM by EnglshGentleman »

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Pongo

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2010, 12:08:20 AM »
I've never understood why people need to place an origin on morality. Alturism is intrinsic in ourselves, it's in our genes. Dawkins wrote a book about it over 30 years ago. People are nice because it's benifical to our survival. There is no need to wonder endlessly about it. Being moral helped us survive, simple as that. (I'm not spell checking this, sorry)

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Raist

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2010, 01:40:34 AM »
I don't know how to think on the issue of ethics, namely, where morality comes from. I find both moral relativist and law giver arguments unconvincing.

The moral relativist just says, "Morality is subjective and relative to the society you live in. What may be morally obligatory or morally forbidden in one society or to one individual may not be the same to another."

This pretty much means that there is no moral responsibility, and that people cannot be blame worthy. You can't truly claim that someone punching babies is doing something wrong, because morality is subjective, so that individual is just doing that they think is right. You can't criticize other societies' and in fact you can't even criticize your own.

The law giver argument is even worse. The typical argument is, "The morality we have has been given to us by God. He is the one that decides what is moral and what is not."

I think this is almost even worse than moral relativism. It makes morality irrelevant. If God just decided to make something morally obligatory, he can just as easily decide to make it the opposite because he can. He could just decide to make murder morally obligatory some random day. Then we must murder everyday! To do otherwise is immoral! I like to think that we know this would be ludicrous.

To suggest this argument is true makes being moral not really mean much, since the current state of morality was just the result of how a being felt that day.



What are your thoughts on the origin of morality?

@ Your first idea, even if some morality is subjective, it is still possible that morals are spawned from genetic sources.

A better question, why does it matter where your feelings for morality come from? Would you still commit a horrible act just because you aren't blame worthy?

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2010, 05:03:16 AM »
You should look into rule consequentialism. It's very interesting.


Like Pongo and Raist, I tend consider value as biological in origin, and believe that right and wrong only exist relative to that value. Actions are more or less 'right' if they increase value, and more or less 'wrong' if they decrease value. In practice however it is better to guide our actions by moral 'rules' which generally produce the most value, as trying to calculate what actions will lead to the best outcomes every time we do something is impractical, and would probably produce less value than simply following general rules.
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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2010, 07:30:50 AM »
@ Your first idea, even if some morality is subjective, it is still possible that morals are spawned from genetic sources.

A better question, why does it matter where your feelings for morality come from? Would you still commit a horrible act just because you aren't blame worthy?

So just to clarify, is what you are saying is that a objective morality is encoded in our genes, but as societies we then warp that morality into different things? That seems hard to swallow considering the vast amount of societies and view points. Not to mention psychopaths who do think it is right to murder.

To your second point, if there is only subjective morality, you can be blamed sure, but are you blame worthy? I do not think so. How can you really say that someone is doing something wrong if you acknowledge that they are just doing what they think is right, and their morality is no greater than yours?

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Thork

Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2010, 08:49:40 AM »
@ Your first idea, even if some morality is subjective, it is still possible that morals are spawned from genetic sources.

A better question, why does it matter where your feelings for morality come from? Would you still commit a horrible act just because you aren't blame worthy?

So just to clarify, is what you are saying is that a objective morality is encoded in our genes, but as societies we then warp that morality into different things? That seems hard to swallow considering the vast amount of societies and view points. Not to mention psychopaths who do think it is right to murder.

To your second point, if there is only subjective morality, you can be blamed sure, but are you blame worthy? I do not think so. How can you really say that someone is doing something wrong if you acknowledge that they are just doing what they think is right, and their morality is no greater than yours?
I have seen you debating in several threads about conscience and morality. Have you done or are you planning to do something horrible and need justification for your actions? I believe Pongo to be most accurate of all in this thread. (I am shocked too, I think someone may have hacked his account again). Lets look at your first example. Punching babies. (Again this is not the first time I have seen you use this example. Do you like punching babies?).
Now it is obvious that if men went around punching babies, in a very short time there would be no more babies and a while after that no more men.
We have it in us to 'cheat' the system, if genetic cheating helps. Murdering another man to steal his woman could have benefits. But if all men were out to kill all other men, again we would have disappeared as a species. A man needs other men. Historically, other men to hunt with, other men to protect the tribe against other tribes, other men to mate with his daughters. So murder as a rule cannot be beneficial to our survival. Nor can punching babies. Even lesser crimes come at a price.
Let us look at stealing. Sounds like a great idea. You get something for less work than is required to obtain the object yourself, be it stealing a loaf of bread or a man's wallet. But now what if everyone stole everything at every opportunity? Would anyone grow crops knowing they would all be stolen? Why bother anyway, just steal someone else's. Except if everyone does that there are no crops. You can extend this to anything. Rape for example. This way the females do not get to pick who sires their off-spring. If they cannot choose, the species gets weaker. They would just mate with the first male that sees them.
With anything that is 'moral' the reason it is a dilemma is that you instinctively know you can get a short term gain, at the cost of long term hardship for your species. You might argue that you do not care about other people. But you cannot help it. You are a sociable animal. No man is an island ...
« Last Edit: November 09, 2010, 08:55:16 AM by Thork »

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2010, 09:22:45 AM »
I have seen you debating in several threads about conscience and morality. Have you done or are you planning to do something horrible and need justification for your actions?

Ha, no. I just find the subject interesting.


Lets look at your first example. Punching babies. (Again this is not the first time I have seen you use this example. Do you like punching babies?).

Nope, it is just happen stance that hurting babies for the fun of it just seems to be something that most societies agree is wrong. In fact, I cannot think of any that think otherwise. That's why I use it.

Now it is obvious that if men went around punching babies, in a very short time there would be no more babies and a while after that no more men.
We have it in us to 'cheat' the system, if genetic cheating helps. Murdering another man to steal his woman could have benefits. But if all men were out to kill all other men, again we would have disappeared as a species. A man needs other men. Historically, other men to hunt with, other men to protect the tribe against other tribes, other men to mate with his daughters. So murder as a rule cannot be beneficial to our survival. Nor can punching babies. Even lesser crimes come at a price.
Let us look at stealing. Sounds like a great idea. You get something for less work than is required to obtain the object yourself, be it stealing a loaf of bread or a man's wallet. But now what if everyone stole everything at every opportunity? Would anyone grow crops knowing they would all be stolen? Why bother anyway, just steal someone else's. Except if everyone does that there are no crops. You can extend this to anything. Rape for example. This way the females do not get to pick who sires their off-spring. If they cannot choose, the species gets weaker. They would just mate with the first male that sees them.
With anything that is 'moral' the reason it is a dilemma is that you instinctively know you can get a short term gain, at the cost of long term hardship for your species. You might argue that you do not care about other people. But you cannot help it. You are a sociable animal. No man is an island ...

While this argument is good for the drastically wrong things (i.e. murder,rape, torture) it has a hard time explaining smaller moral choices. For example, many people feel that it is morally wrong to sleep around while you have a steady partner (fidelity). I am among these people. But when you look at it from your point of view, there should be nothing wrong with it. It is perfectly reasonable that if an organism is fit enough to spread it's seed when given the opportunity, it should. If you look back in history, there are societies where it is completely morally permissible for a man to have mistresses.

Furthermore, if morality does come from evolution, than why do some people feel that it is OK to murder, or to rape? If morality is evolutionary, than it should have had thousands and thousands of years to be ingrained in us, so why do we still see people that exhibit these behaviors? And why would we see differences in morality between cultures if it is genetic?

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Thork

Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2010, 09:43:42 AM »
Well fidelity is actually an argument in favour of my point. It is a short term gain. You spread your genetics further giving you an advantage. But a man's role is not just to procreate. He is also required to provide for that family. A pregnant woman is not going to be able to run down a wildebeest by herself. She needs to stay in the cave and see what the man brings home. Ok, extending to modern society, how much maintenance can one man pay? How much hunting can one man do?
It is a short term gain at the expense of the species. It would be far better that the woman you chose not to stay with, had a different mate who would look after her and her young better. Of course we can cheat and it is part of our make up. It is no coincidence that humans are one of the few species that cannot tell if the female is pregnant before mating if she has just been made so a few weeks earlier. It gives her a chance to have sex with another male if the one she had does not want to be with her. She can fool the new mate into thinking its his off-spring and get him to provide for her and the illegitimate sprog. But as a rule, this strategy would not work if all women were getting pregnant to any man. No man would want to invest his time not being sure the child is his. Its not in his interest. So short term gain at the expense of long term good of the species.

And answering your second question, people do break the rules. Animals do too. Its genetic cheating and sometimes the cheats can win. But if everyone cheats there are no winners, only losers. And that is what your moral conscience is telling you. Its balancing things out for the sake of mankind.

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Raist

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2010, 10:28:44 PM »
@ Your first idea, even if some morality is subjective, it is still possible that morals are spawned from genetic sources.

A better question, why does it matter where your feelings for morality come from? Would you still commit a horrible act just because you aren't blame worthy?

So just to clarify, is what you are saying is that a objective morality is encoded in our genes, but as societies we then warp that morality into different things? That seems hard to swallow considering the vast amount of societies and view points. Not to mention psychopaths who do think it is right to murder.

To your second point, if there is only subjective morality, you can be blamed sure, but are you blame worthy? I do not think so. How can you really say that someone is doing something wrong if you acknowledge that they are just doing what they think is right, and their morality is no greater than yours?

No, a brain does not have a set of ingrained behaviors at more complicated levels. It is more the human mind has a bit of preprogrammed fuzzy logic for morals. A general taste for the normal. If the normal did not work the society would collapse, if it did work then the society would survive.


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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2010, 10:36:08 PM »
@ Your first idea, even if some morality is subjective, it is still possible that morals are spawned from genetic sources.

A better question, why does it matter where your feelings for morality come from? Would you still commit a horrible act just because you aren't blame worthy?

So just to clarify, is what you are saying is that a objective morality is encoded in our genes, but as societies we then warp that morality into different things? That seems hard to swallow considering the vast amount of societies and view points. Not to mention psychopaths who do think it is right to murder.

To your second point, if there is only subjective morality, you can be blamed sure, but are you blame worthy? I do not think so. How can you really say that someone is doing something wrong if you acknowledge that they are just doing what they think is right, and their morality is no greater than yours?

No, a brain does not have a set of ingrained behaviors at more complicated levels. It is more the human mind has a bit of preprogrammed fuzzy logic for morals. A general taste for the normal. If the normal did not work the society would collapse, if it did work then the society would survive.

And this preprogrammered fuzzy logic is a result of genes? Or am I not understanding you?

If not, where does it come from?

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2010, 02:45:09 AM »
That normative values are largely biological in origin is kind of self-evident. Even people who dispute that biological origin often unknowingly describe their sense of morality in terms which are effectively biological. "Morality is about more than survival or continuation of the species. Doing evil things just feels instinctively wrong - I know in my heart that I shouldn't do it".


The giveaway word there is of course "instinctive". If you think morality is instinctive, or that you just "know" certain things are right or wrong, why do you think it's any different to instinctively pulling your hand away from hot objects/surfaces?


The reason people get so muddled about it is because we live in a society which is extremely abstract, which means the decisions people often have to make about right and wrong feel very distant from 'survival' situations. Nonetheless, the success of society has been crucial to the success of our species, so even abstract morality ultimately has its foundations in our interactions with the objective world.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2010, 03:35:20 AM »
But thinking with your 'gut' does no good in physics when we try to understand something  either not on our usual scale or speed. Our eyes can be deceived easily and we can mistake tastes and smells, why should we assume our 'ethical sense' is any more reliable?

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2010, 04:16:31 AM »
But thinking with your 'gut' does no good in physics when we try to understand something  either not on our usual scale or speed. Our eyes can be deceived easily and we can mistake tastes and smells, why should we assume our 'ethical sense' is any more reliable?


The origins of morality and our own moral judgement are two different things. Instinct is a mechanism which in some ways sacrifices judgement for the sake of speed. I'm not saying our moral instincts are always (or even generally) right, just that the origins of morality lie in our interactions with the objective world.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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zork

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2010, 11:47:46 PM »
That normative values are largely biological in origin is kind of self-evident. Even people who dispute that biological origin often unknowingly describe their sense of morality in terms which are effectively biological. "Morality is about more than survival or continuation of the species. Doing evil things just feels instinctively wrong - I know in my heart that I shouldn't do it".


The giveaway word there is of course "instinctive". If you think morality is instinctive, or that you just "know" certain things are right or wrong, why do you think it's any different to instinctively pulling your hand away from hot objects/surfaces?
Ever seen a baby or small kid who haven't ever touched a hot object to pull hand away from hot object? They always want touch everything and they do and only after they get hurt they learn not to touch hot objects. It's not instinctive, all these come from learning and outside influence. There is nothing "biological" about it. Even this feeling "I know in my heart that I shouldn't do it" is the result of teachings and learning.
Rowbotham had bad eyesight
-
http://thulescientific.com/Lynch%20Curvature%202008.pdf - Visually discerning the curvature of the Earth
http://thulescientific.com/TurbulentShipWakes_Lynch_AO_2005.pdf - Turbulent ship wakes:further evidence that the Earth is round.

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Pongo

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2010, 12:49:53 AM »
I believe Pongo to be most accurate of all in this thread. (I am shocked too, I think someone may have hacked his account again).

 :o

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ﮎingulaЯiτy

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2010, 01:13:27 AM »
So just to clarify, is what you are saying is that a objective morality is encoded in our genes, but as societies we then warp that morality into different things?
Objective morality doesn't exist, but we could use common or shared morals in place of it. Shared mortality comes from objective truths, what makes a population stable or unstable. As for variation of societies, law writers can deviate from common moral standards in pursuit of self interest. Self interest often overrules fundamental moral laws.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2010, 01:23:35 AM by ﮎingulaЯiτy »
If I was asked to imagine a perfect deity, I would never invent one that suffers from a multiple personality disorder. Christians get points for originality there.

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2010, 06:14:29 AM »
That normative values are largely biological in origin is kind of self-evident. Even people who dispute that biological origin often unknowingly describe their sense of morality in terms which are effectively biological. "Morality is about more than survival or continuation of the species. Doing evil things just feels instinctively wrong - I know in my heart that I shouldn't do it".


The giveaway word there is of course "instinctive". If you think morality is instinctive, or that you just "know" certain things are right or wrong, why do you think it's any different to instinctively pulling your hand away from hot objects/surfaces?
Ever seen a baby or small kid who haven't ever touched a hot object to pull hand away from hot object? They always want touch everything and they do and only after they get hurt they learn not to touch hot objects. It's not instinctive, all these come from learning and outside influence. There is nothing "biological" about it. Even this feeling "I know in my heart that I shouldn't do it" is the result of teachings and learning.


Yes, but when they touch the hot object, they don't leave their hands on it, do they? I know they learn not to touch hot things, but actually pulling your hand away from things is instinctive; even kids don't have to think about it.


As for morality, abstract morality is learned, but has its basis in the objective world. The examples you give do not contradict what I am saying.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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zork

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2010, 07:03:08 AM »
Ever seen a baby or small kid who haven't ever touched a hot object to pull hand away from hot object? They always want touch everything and they do and only after they get hurt they learn not to touch hot objects. It's not instinctive, all these come from learning and outside influence. There is nothing "biological" about it. Even this feeling "I know in my heart that I shouldn't do it" is the result of teachings and learning.

Yes, but when they touch the hot object, they don't leave their hands on it, do they? I know they learn not to touch hot things, but actually pulling your hand away from things is instinctive; even kids don't have to think about it.

As for morality, abstract morality is learned, but has its basis in the objective world. The examples you give do not contradict what I am saying.
  Actually pulling hand away from things isn't instinctive. Pulling away from things that hurt is. And if there is something wrong with your nerves then your hand may stay put even on the hot object. But this is physical and quite concrete thing. Such things which are expressed in this way, "I know in my heart that I shouldn't do it", are different and won't come from instincts. Like some people think in this way about the premarital sex and I don't see how this has something to do with instincts.
Rowbotham had bad eyesight
-
http://thulescientific.com/Lynch%20Curvature%202008.pdf - Visually discerning the curvature of the Earth
http://thulescientific.com/TurbulentShipWakes_Lynch_AO_2005.pdf - Turbulent ship wakes:further evidence that the Earth is round.

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2010, 08:40:38 AM »
Actually pulling hand away from things isn't instinctive. Pulling away from things that hurt is. And if there is something wrong with your nerves then your hand may stay put even on the hot object. But this is physical and quite concrete thing. Such things which are expressed in this way, "I know in my heart that I shouldn't do it", are different and won't come from instincts. Like some people think in this way about the premarital sex and I don't see how this has something to do with instincts.


I never said that abstract moral beliefs are instinctive. That's why I made this distinction:


The reason people get so muddled about it is because we live in a society which is extremely abstract, which means the decisions people often have to make about right and wrong feel very distant from 'survival' situations. Nonetheless, the success of society has been crucial to the success of our species, so even abstract morality ultimately has its foundations in our interactions with the objective world.


We have instinctive desires which reflect our biological needs. We live in an abstract society/culture, and therefore our moral codes are also abstract. Nevertheless, almost all of them reflect some kind of past or present biological need. It's easy to imagine sex before marriage being frowned upon in a world without contraception and with a very different role for women.


However, I do believe that some people have instinctive moral reactions to certain situations. Can these be overcome by environment/nurture? Yes, but so can many physical instincts, which after all are hardwired into us.


Finally, (and this is a rather trivial point), if there's something wrong with your nerves, then there's something wrong with your nerves. It doesn't tell us anything about instinct, just your nerves.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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zork

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2010, 02:26:33 AM »
Actually pulling hand away from things isn't instinctive. Pulling away from things that hurt is. And if there is something wrong with your nerves then your hand may stay put even on the hot object. But this is physical and quite concrete thing. Such things which are expressed in this way, "I know in my heart that I shouldn't do it", are different and won't come from instincts. Like some people think in this way about the premarital sex and I don't see how this has something to do with instincts.


I never said that abstract moral beliefs are instinctive. That's why I made this distinction:


The reason people get so muddled about it is because we live in a society which is extremely abstract, which means the decisions people often have to make about right and wrong feel very distant from 'survival' situations. Nonetheless, the success of society has been crucial to the success of our species, so even abstract morality ultimately has its foundations in our interactions with the objective world.


We have instinctive desires which reflect our biological needs. We live in an abstract society/culture, and therefore our moral codes are also abstract. Nevertheless, almost all of them reflect some kind of past or present biological need. It's easy to imagine sex before marriage being frowned upon in a world without contraception and with a very different role for women.


However, I do believe that some people have instinctive moral reactions to certain situations. Can these be overcome by environment/nurture? Yes, but so can many physical instincts, which after all are hardwired into us.
  Premarital sex and the sex problem itself is quite recent, related mostly to Christianity and it suppresses the biological needs, not reflects it. As some of the moral codes may have relations to the biological need quite many are rather related to the power and control over the human population.
 And instinctive moral reactions... As instinctive can also be said about the reaction which comes from long learning period and is literally planted so deeply in you that you react without thinking then sure, these reaction can be referred as instinctive but they still come from the learning and from society influence. Can't quite see the relation to any biological need.
 Out of curiosity, what physical instincts you can overcome? I guess you can suppress them if you don't have need for them but if some critical situation arises where there is need for them then they still come out and sometimes reign over you.
Rowbotham had bad eyesight
-
http://thulescientific.com/Lynch%20Curvature%202008.pdf - Visually discerning the curvature of the Earth
http://thulescientific.com/TurbulentShipWakes_Lynch_AO_2005.pdf - Turbulent ship wakes:further evidence that the Earth is round.

Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2010, 03:43:17 AM »
I agree that the moral relativist and law giver origins of morality are both way too extreme, but they do both hold some ground. Moral relativism applies to some extent. For example, some people paint their bodies with tribal tattoos. This concept is not morally wrong, it's just a way of life for certain people. Or, some people think it's wrong to eat pork. I love pork and I eat it all the time, so I don't think that it is morally wrong to do so, but someone else might. In this sense moral relativism is probably a good route to take. But when we get to weightier matters like murder, stealing or rape or things which physically harm people I think the law giver concept is what we should go with. Most societies would agree that murder and rape are wrong, therefore I think it's reasonable to say that they are both evil acts across the board.
The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. -Samuel Johnson

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Raist

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2010, 06:07:43 AM »
@ Your first idea, even if some morality is subjective, it is still possible that morals are spawned from genetic sources.

A better question, why does it matter where your feelings for morality come from? Would you still commit a horrible act just because you aren't blame worthy?

So just to clarify, is what you are saying is that a objective morality is encoded in our genes, but as societies we then warp that morality into different things? That seems hard to swallow considering the vast amount of societies and view points. Not to mention psychopaths who do think it is right to murder.

To your second point, if there is only subjective morality, you can be blamed sure, but are you blame worthy? I do not think so. How can you really say that someone is doing something wrong if you acknowledge that they are just doing what they think is right, and their morality is no greater than yours?

No, a brain does not have a set of ingrained behaviors at more complicated levels. It is more the human mind has a bit of preprogrammed fuzzy logic for morals. A general taste for the normal. If the normal did not work the society would collapse, if it did work then the society would survive.

And this preprogrammered fuzzy logic is a result of genes? Or am I not understanding you?

If not, where does it come from?

Sorry for the long delay between posts. I've always liked the structuralist view of psychology. Yes the preprogrammed fuzzy logic is part of your genes, perhaps in the part that develops the brain early on. If everyone operates on the same basic rules a society goes much better. If these basic rules have a mental base as strong as our "morals" then it would stand that the society would run very well as fewer people would break these rules, and if they did they would experience "guilt" or at least be looked down upon by others for breaking these rules. Think of people who use hard drugs, they are generally frowned upon by most people.

Pyschopathy is a rather good example of people lacking any "morals." They in no way feel a compunction to follow society's rules if it does not directly benefit them, and they feel no remorse or guilt about their actions later on. They show a marked difference in brain function suggesting that morals are at least partially preprogrammed into the brain.

If morals were completely hardwired into us it would stand to reason that all cultures would have nearly identical moral structures. This is not the case, things that are completely acceptable in some cultures are immoral in others, and morals even change from one generation to another inside the same culture. This suggests that not only do humans have different sets of morals, they are probably not hereditary. It would also make sense that a culture's morals would be beneficial to them within their own environment. This is usually true, behaviors that encourage disease spreading, excessive death before procreation, and any other negative impacts aren't seen very often unless they have some extremely large benefit. Bringing back the example of drugs to illustrate the changing in morals, during prohibition drinking was looked down upon as strongly immoral by most Americans, but within just a decade or so the morals of the culture shifted to it being acceptable again.

I know this post was a bit thrown together, if you need any further clarification I will try to make my ideas a bit more ordered.

I guess the main idea is this "Morals are not innate within us, but the capacity to generate morals that benefit our culture is an innate ability we are gifted with"

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #22 on: November 15, 2010, 06:27:08 AM »
  Premarital sex and the sex problem itself is quite recent, related mostly to Christianity


Really? Because to my knowledge pre-marital sex was a no-no in much of Europe, Asia and the Middle-East long before Christianity or Islam came to these regions. Those religions reflect pre-existing cultural mores.


and it suppresses the biological needs, not reflects it. As some of the moral codes may have relations to the biological need quite many are rather related to the power and control over the human population.


Biological needs and biological desires are not equivalent. Cultural prohibitions against pre-marital sex may repress biological desires, but they do so in order to serve biological needs. In a pre-modern society where people are married young and women are treated as goods to be exchanged, pre-marital teenage pregnancy is a serious issue, as it frequently leads to death, and offers no benefits to the daughter's family. In such a society, marriage really is just transaction that makes for a more stable and secure society, which is good for the survival of the species.


And instinctive moral reactions... As instinctive can also be said about the reaction which comes from long learning period and is literally planted so deeply in you that you react without thinking then sure, these reaction can be referred as instinctive but they still come from the learning and from society influence. Can't quite see the relation to any biological need.


First of all, I think that some moral reactions are instinctive, such as our aversion to killing children. Indeed, some studies have revealed that we have a propensity to like animals with similar proportions to children (e.g. we like cats/kittens because the proportion of their eyes is similar to that of infants). However, that is not to say that even these basic in-built pre-dispositions cannot be overcome. What's more, even if certain behaviours are 'learned', you have to ask where they came from. Why do so many societies across geographical and chronological divides have cultural prohibitions against murder? Why is lying so universal, yet at the same time so universally reprehensible? The only sensible answer is that these moral rules help societies to survive and prosper, thus ensuring that they can secure food, resist enemies, and ensure survival - biological needs/requirements.


Out of curiosity, what physical instincts you can overcome? I guess you can suppress them if you don't have need for them but if some critical situation arises where there is need for them then they still come out and sometimes reign over you.







"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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zork

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #23 on: November 15, 2010, 06:49:24 AM »
  Premarital sex and the sex problem itself is quite recent, related mostly to Christianity

Really? Because to my knowledge pre-marital sex was a no-no in much of Europe, Asia and the Middle-East long before Christianity or Islam came to these regions. Those religions reflect pre-existing cultural mores.
I wouldn't have said that but I took a quick look from some materials on internet. For example http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/175791/a_world_history_of_sexuality_given.html?cat=

 And there were quite more others.
Rowbotham had bad eyesight
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http://thulescientific.com/Lynch%20Curvature%202008.pdf - Visually discerning the curvature of the Earth
http://thulescientific.com/TurbulentShipWakes_Lynch_AO_2005.pdf - Turbulent ship wakes:further evidence that the Earth is round.

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #24 on: November 15, 2010, 01:04:03 PM »
Yes, but if you read the article, what you'll notice is that in most of those cultures, sex before marriage was okay for men, but not for women. That really isn't too different today.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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zork

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #25 on: November 15, 2010, 01:34:10 PM »
and it suppresses the biological needs, not reflects it. As some of the moral codes may have relations to the biological need quite many are rather related to the power and control over the human population.

Biological needs and biological desires are not equivalent. Cultural prohibitions against pre-marital sex may repress biological desires, but they do so in order to serve biological needs. In a pre-modern society where people are married young and women are treated as goods to be exchanged, pre-marital teenage pregnancy is a serious issue, as it frequently leads to death, and offers no benefits to the daughter's family. In such a society, marriage really is just transaction that makes for a more stable and secure society, which is good for the survival of the species.
How do you differentiate between "biological needs" and "biological desires"? I can't. Food, shelter, safety, sex, something more.  Need for something, desire for something. In that context they are the same. I can't differentiate between them. And the premarital sex seems to be issue now, in modern society. But if there are rules in place that the man should care for the woman then there is no problems for the survival of species. Also, if the girl is in the age to get pregnant then she is no more girl but woman. Additionally, in the pre-modern age women got kids much earlier than in these modern times. They were the teens as we refer to them now.

First of all, I think that some moral reactions are instinctive, such as our aversion to killing children. Indeed, some studies have revealed that we have a propensity to like animals with similar proportions to children (e.g. we like cats/kittens because the proportion of their eyes is similar to that of infants). However, that is not to say that even these basic in-built pre-dispositions cannot be overcome. What's more, even if certain behaviours are 'learned', you have to ask where they came from. Why do so many societies across geographical and chronological divides have cultural prohibitions against murder? Why is lying so universal, yet at the same time so universally reprehensible? The only sensible answer is that these moral rules help societies to survive and prosper, thus ensuring that they can secure food, resist enemies, and ensure survival - biological needs/requirements.
Aversion about killing children is moral reaction? Children are our future and are necessary for survival. It's pure species survival instinct, nothing to do with abstract moral code in my opinion. And it applies usually only to the children of your own or to the children of race/clan. Going to the war and killing all the children of enemy is quite a feat. You wipe enemy out entirely and they can't endanger you any more. Although, getting them as slaves is more useful usually. I guess there is no universal aversion about killing arbitrary or enemy children.
 And moral rules help the society to survive but these are not instincts.

Out of curiosity, what physical instincts you can overcome? I guess you can suppress them if you don't have need for them but if some critical situation arises where there is need for them then they still come out and sometimes reign over you.


These were some quite extreme examples and even you must admit that these are quite special cases. As you were saying about nerves. If you don't have them then you don't have them. I guess they are such people, learned to shut down the nerves or reached to some mental state where they won't feel anything. Of course no instincts any more when you don't feel the danger or pain.

Yes, but if you read the article, what you'll notice is that in most of those cultures, sex before marriage was okay for men, but not for women. That really isn't too different today.
I read it and I didn't notice anywhere that such notions were made there.
Rowbotham had bad eyesight
-
http://thulescientific.com/Lynch%20Curvature%202008.pdf - Visually discerning the curvature of the Earth
http://thulescientific.com/TurbulentShipWakes_Lynch_AO_2005.pdf - Turbulent ship wakes:further evidence that the Earth is round.

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #26 on: November 15, 2010, 03:57:20 PM »
How do you differentiate between "biological needs" and "biological desires"? I can't. Food, shelter, safety, sex, something more.  Need for something, desire for something. In that context they are the same. I can't differentiate between them.


You can't? Ask yourself whether or not you really need all the food you desire. If not, then you have to accept that there is a distinction between biological needs and biological desires. Our bodies require food, sure, but they do not require that we eat 3 burgers a day, whether people want to or not.


And the premarital sex seems to be issue now, in modern society. But if there are rules in place that the man should care for the woman then there is no problems for the survival of species. Also, if the girl is in the age to get pregnant then she is no more girl but woman. Additionally, in the pre-modern age women got kids much earlier than in these modern times. They were the teens as we refer to them now.


Not really sure what you're getting at with the first point. As for the second, a girl can become pregnant without being able to safely give birth. Whether or not she's a "woman" is another debate, but the fact is that mortality rates are far higher among pregnant teens than pregnant women in developing nations, as are premature birth rates. Caesarean section has changed this in industrialised nations, but if we're talking about the development of moral codes, we obviously have to go further back.



Aversion about killing children is moral reaction? Children are our future and are necessary for survival. It's pure species survival instinct, nothing to do with abstract moral code in my opinion.


You're not reading my posts. That our aversion to killing children is instinctive is what I have just suggested:


First of all, I think that some moral reactions are instinctive, such as our aversion to killing children.


We nevertheless regard this as a moral decision, but there's no doubt it is on some level instinctive. However, the mistreatment, abuse and murder of children across the world shows just how easily such instincts can be ignored.


And it applies usually only to the children of your own or to the children of race/clan. Going to the war and killing all the children of enemy is quite a feat. You wipe enemy out entirely and they can't endanger you any more. Although, getting them as slaves is more useful usually. I guess there is no universal aversion about killing arbitrary or enemy children.


As I have said, I'm not saying such instincts cannot be overridden, just that they are present to some degree.


And moral rules help the society to survive but these are not instincts.


When have I suggested they are? Moral "rules" or codes are abstract, as I have maintained all along. However, they reflect our objective needs (i.e. survival), as do some of the survival instincts some people view as an instinctive sense of right and wrong.


These were some quite extreme examples and even you must admit that these are quite special cases. As you were saying about nerves. If you don't have them then you don't have them. I guess they are such people, learned to shut down the nerves or reached to some mental state where they won't feel anything. Of course no instincts any more when you don't feel the danger or pain.


Yes, but the fact remains they overcame those physical instincts. These are extreme cases, but instances of people overcoming/ignoring pain are not that uncommon.


I read it and I didn't notice anywhere that such notions were made there.


Tally the number of instances where women freely have extra-marital sex vs the number where men have extra-marital sex, and read between the lines. Ancient Greece may have been a sexually promiscuous society, but onyl if you were male. Women were basically second-class citizens, and for the most part were treated much as women have been throughout history - like property.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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James

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2010, 01:09:09 PM »
Morality is intimately tied with authenticity. There's a reason the word "wrong" covers both normative and propositional error.

The noblest life, therefore, is the life dedicated to overcoming the biggest falsehood. I will leave it up to you to figure out what the biggest falsehood is, and consequently who the most magnificent human heroes are and how you might become one.
"For your own sake, as well as for that of our beloved country, be bold and firm against error and evil of every kind." - David Wardlaw Scott, Terra Firma 1901

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Raist

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #28 on: November 17, 2010, 05:58:48 AM »
Morality is intimately tied with authenticity. There's a reason the word "wrong" covers both normative and propositional error.

The noblest life, therefore, is the life dedicated to overcoming the biggest falsehood. I will leave it up to you to figure out what the biggest falsehood is, and consequently who the most magnificent human heroes are and how you might become one.


Communications chapter 1: writing for your audience

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Benocrates

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Re: Ethics - I'm Stuck in Limbo
« Reply #29 on: November 19, 2010, 10:38:25 AM »
I'm reading a very interesting and thought provoking book on this subject at the moment titled After Virtue. It's written by Alasdair MacIntyre. It's structured like this:

   Imagine some kind of post-apocalyptic world - zombie takeover if you will* - where civilization as we know it has been utterly disassembled. Cities of old, once glittering with the lights of a vibrant culture, have become little more than zombie infested wastelands. The Earth's population was rapidly decimated and swiftly was reduced to pockets of survivalist caravans and Northern refuges. Eventually, once the zombies have all died of starvation and all appreciable traces of the plague have been eradicated from the earth, humanity once again begins to coalesce into cities, communities, and societies.

   In this newly revived society, the knowledge system of the sciences have been reformed and reassembled. Unfortunately, because it has been many generations since the last university and research lab was evacuated, this scientific revival only appears to be what it once was. These new sciences, though superficially similar to the old, are in fact devoid of real scientific content, because the key suppositions and attitudes are not present. Words such as relativity, quantum mechanics, fluid dynamics, square root, pi, etc., are used and revered because a faint communal memory and rudimentary archaeology highlight their importance to the sciences. However, their actual meaning and relation to each other and the actual world has been completely lost.

   What MacIntyre then writes concerning this world "is that in the actual world which we inhabit the language of morality is in the same state of grave disorder as the language of natural science in the imaginary world which I described." In other words, MacIntyre is arguing that our modern conception of morality is based upon a system where the structure of thought is composed of certain terms that once had meaning within a coherent system of morality that no longer exists. Just as in the post-zombie apocalypse world where the term pi is simultaneously revered as something important, even essential, to the scientific world-view, in our current world terms such as justice are essentially devoid of any meaningful content.

More specifically, MacIntyre argues that it was the moral systems emerging from enlightenment philosophers (e.g. Kant, Kierkegaard, Hume, Hobbes, Marx, etc.) demonstrate this moral catastrophe/reconstruction in its beginnings. As he writes, these philosophers "fail because of certain shared characteristics deriving from their highly specific historical background." This historical characteristic is the Enlightenment rejection of Aristotelian teleology and by extension virtue ethics. To conclude this thought, I'll simply quote wiki because it does a great job:

"Ancient and medieval ethics, argues MacIntyre, relied wholly on the teleological idea that human life had a proper end or character, and that human beings could not reach this natural end without preparation. Renaissance science rejected Aristotle's teleological physics as an incorrect and unnecessary account, which led Renaissance philosophy to make a similar rejection in the realm of ethics. But shorn of teleology, ethics as a body of knowledge was expurgated of its central content, and only remained as, essentially, a vocabulary list with few definitions and no context. With such an incomplete framework on which to base their moral understanding, the philosophers of the Enlightenment and their successors were doomed from the beginning."

Alright, well if anyone has read this far and is interested in more I'll keep going, but I've gotta take off for a bit.

*MacIntyre doesn't use the Zombie apocalypse idea, but I think it makes the whole text far more accessible to this discussion. Wikipedia has pointed out that the idea of a post-apocalypse scientific revival most likely came from Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz. I'll have to pick that up eventually.
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