Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
28-12-2011, 02:18 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
Haven't we had this discussion before?
I swear we have.
I don't know where I stood before, but if I don't say the same thing now, know that shit changes over time and perceptions and opinions are just some of those things.

Morality is a human concept. It does not require god. It does not require anything other than two people. It is a construct. Used to survive.

It is taken advantage of and I think is used to keep certain things the way certain people want them, even when what morality is supposed to be doesn't exactly fit.

The dictionary defines morality this way:
1.
conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct.
2.
moral quality or character.
3.
virtue in sexual matters; chastity.
4.
a doctrine or system of morals.
5.
moral instruction; a moral lesson, precept, discourse, or utterance.

And with that I think we can stop at definition number one. Conversation pretty much over.

However I believe in something I call personal absolutes, and while I call them that I don't mean that they are actually personal (should look into a name change)
They to me are the things we may not be born with but we learn through actions of our own or others that we all (minus psychopaths and sociopaths etc) share. Like murder. If we had no rules or language, but some jackass murdered someone in a group in front of said group I believe we would all immediately discover how little we liked murder (or how much) and would make it a point to not do it or have anything to do with others who do.
The "that would suck if it happened to me" theory I made up. Or Empathy.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like lucradis's post
28-12-2011, 02:50 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
I see it as a form of simple cellular intelligence. That there's a chemical link between "Love is Void" and "zero-state morality" in which one can "maximize the tao;" know what I'm saying?

Nothing really without the science. Wink

tao makes me lippy about morality. Being "journeyman prophet" only portends that I see an imbalance in the tao. That my contemporaries into new age woo are reading the signs without knowing the language, and thus extrapolating extraneous variable to be "our savior;" "observer effect, consciousness, spiritual awakening, aliens." There is no such variable, there is chaos mathematics, there is trending and trend. Thus I push "atheistic morality" and know I am Jedi.

Reduce everything to economics; some gold (do unto others...), some iridium (to thine own self be true)... shake and bake. And rather than pray for a miracle, people start talking about technocratic anarchy. Angel

[Image: klingon_zps7e68578a.jpg]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-12-2011, 03:14 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
Hey, Clint.

You're good people Big Grin

Hey, Lucradis.

I agree. A construct. And, if I might extrapolate, used to facilitate societal life.

Morality has to be fluid because the populations, food sources, technologies, attitudes, just about everything in and around a given culture is in flux. Rigid morality never survives the vicissitudes of life.

The acquisition of Empathy is an important part of the early development process and is necessary for social living. Without it, we could never live together. But empathy doesn't guarantee specific moral codes. Take murder. It's one of those moral traits that has a near 100% representation in the ethnosphere. But it always comes with caveats and those caveats are different between cultures. In Texas, if you kill someone, you can be electrocuted and if you happen to be the governor that has electrocuted 234 people, you'll be applauded. I hear those applause and I throw up. I have no desire to kill anyone, but having been in the army, I know full well that I have the ability, given the right circumstance, to shoot someone dead and not feel bad about it at all. Also, I don't know a man alive that wouldn't cut the heart out of the man that raped their mother and I don't know a man alive that would blame them for doing it. The idea that everyone agrees with a total ban on murder is ideological. The truth is, outlawing murder makes sense in social organisations because it is anathema to working together. There is literally no worse way to undermine cooperation than murder. So it makes perfect sense that it gets selected so often. But the idea that it has no place on any culture's moral compass was brought to you by your friends at Disney. (Rereading your post, I may have glossed over something. If I did, please forgive me)

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Ghost's post
28-12-2011, 03:17 PM (This post was last modified: 28-12-2011 03:29 PM by Chas.)
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
(28-12-2011 02:00 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Chas.

Sarcasm is the lowest form of comedy. If all you can do is take personal shots in a conversation, then I leave you to your ad hominems. As I said, I have no patience for that sort of thing.

Morality is cultural. Or do you contend that it's created by God? Perhaps genetic? If so, can you point to the corresponding genes?

Universal Darwinism applies to all replicators. Memes included. If morality is cultural then it's memetic. Ergo, Universal Darwinism absolutely applies to morality. Also, memes do not flow from genes. They exist in parallel. The statement "should has no place in..." apples to both equally and for the same reason; that being that both are equally subject to the rules of Darwinism.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

If you would point out my ad hominem attack, I would appreciate it.
If it was the statement "I find your cultural relativism immoral", then you misunderstand my possibly badly-worded statement - I find cultural relativism at the level of basic human rights immoral.

You entirely missed the point of my first post. Biological evolution is at least partly circumvented by human reasoning and human choices. That basic human morality evolved is clear from the evidence. That elaborate cultural morality can be described in terms of memetics is obvious.

The ethics of a particular culture may be partly or wholly the result of memetic evolution; it depends where you draw the line for the explanatory power of memetics/universal Darwinism. To entirely ignore the conscious choices made by people is to deny the effect of free will and intelligence, that they are over-powered by memes. The memes come into existence - they are created in human minds, sometimes consciously, sometimes not.

Slavery went out of fashion in the West in the 19th century. One can say the zeitgeist changed or one could say the slavery memes were selected against in favor of the freedom and equality memes. Memetics is a useful model, but not the only useful model.

Of course, I may be reading more into your view than intended, or understand less than you meant.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Chas's post
28-12-2011, 04:13 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
Hey, Chas.

Accepted. Poorly worded. Peace.

How can an observation be immoral? If you find cultural relativism applied to the relatively new (few hundred years old) notion of basic human rights immoral... I don't even know how to form the sentence. Morality is relative. Statement. How can that observation be immoral?

I agree. Biology is partially circumvented by reason and choice. But never eliminated by it. Morality evolved; check. Morality described by memetics; check.

I'd say that it's wholly the result of evolution. Full stop. Memes and genes exist in parallel. They are both intercompetitive and intracompetitive. For example, gender roles are a social construct, entirely memetic; however, the existence of the genetic trait of sexual dimorphism acted as a selection pressure. Furthermore, the social construct of male female is being challenged by new genetic information that gender is not as binary as we once thought.

I do not at all ignore conscious choice. To be perfectly honest, I don't pretend to know enough about the true functioning of free will. Memes, for certain, explain how cultural traits are shared, ie, why you and I both wear pants and speak English. But the role of free-will in the expression of those memes is a mystery to me. All of that being said, the evolutionary process and memetics itself explains where morality comes from and why it is shared and even why there are pressures to adhere to a specific moral code. Why someone decides, on a personal level, to either adhere to or violate that moral code is unknown to me; however, divergent behaviour can itself lead to memetogenesis (for example, this fine PBS documentary explains how divergent behaviour let to the emergence of the skateboard). All of that being said, the fact still remains that morality is culturally relative.

You say the zeitgeist, I say the environment changed. Environmental change means different selection pressures means different traits can be selected while previously adaptive traits can suddenly become maladaptive and self-eliminating. So yes, I would personally say that the slavery memes were selected against in greater frequency and that the equality meme was selected for in greater frequency. I agree 100% that memetics isn't the only model. I believe whole-heartedly in George EP Box's assessment, "All models are wrong. Some are useful." Models allow us to understand and interact with reality, but they are not reality themselves. My only issue with the zeitgeist model is that I find it imprecise. Although I am willing to admit that perhaps I do not grok its full complexity.

In terms of reading and understanding, I thought this last post was light years clearer than your previous ones. Sweet. In terms of your grasp of what I'm saying, I think you're picking up what I'm putting down in a general sense. I hope I made some useful clarifications and I hope that you can clarify my above questions.

To sum up my entire point, I'd say these two things:
-Morality is a culturally relative social construct subject to evolution
-Cultural relativism is an observation, not a prescription

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Ghost's post
28-12-2011, 06:15 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
(28-12-2011 04:13 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Chas.

Accepted. Poorly worded. Peace.

Thanks, we're good.

Quote:How can an observation be immoral? If you find cultural relativism applied to the relatively new (few hundred years old) notion of basic human rights immoral... I don't even know how to form the sentence. Morality is relative. Statement. How can that observation be immoral?

I'm not saying the observation is immoral. It is the implication that any behavior that is defined as moral in an existing culture is not to be judged from outside that culture - that the criticism is somehow invalid.
I think that mankind has evolved to the point that there are absolute (or near enough) morals - the golden rule variations.


Quote:I agree. Biology is partially circumvented by reason and choice. But never eliminated by it. Morality evolved; check. Morality described by memetics; check.

Check.

Quote:I'd say that it's wholly the result of evolution. Full stop. Memes and genes exist in parallel. They are both intercompetitive and intracompetitive. For example, gender roles are a social construct, entirely memetic; however, the existence of the genetic trait of sexual dimorphism acted as a selection pressure. Furthermore, the social construct of male female is being challenged by new genetic information that gender is not as binary as we once thought.

I'm saying that we are no longer wholly the result of evolution, certainly not biological. Gender roles are not entirely a social construct, but are based in biological sex functions.

The gender roles not being tied to sex is not really new information. There have been cultures that recognized this, e.g. two spirit people.


Quote:I do not at all ignore conscious choice. To be perfectly honest, I don't pretend to know enough about the true functioning of free will. Memes, for certain, explain how cultural traits are shared, ie, why you and I both wear pants and speak English. But the role of free-will in the expression of those memes is a mystery to me.

I brought free will in partly to explain the creation of memes, and consciousness/rationality to explain our being aware of, therefore able to affect, memes.

Quote:All of that being said, the evolutionary process and memetics itself explains where morality comes from and why it is shared and even why there are pressures to adhere to a specific moral code. Why someone decides, on a personal level, to either adhere to or violate that moral code is unknown to me; however, divergent behaviour can itself lead to memetogenesis (for example, this fine PBS documentary explains how divergent behaviour let to the emergence of the skateboard). All of that being said, the fact still remains that morality is culturally relative.

Yes, I agree that evolutionary processes largely explain morality, and morality will evolve independently in isolated cultures - but all have a basis in our biology. If you mean by cultural relativity that all moral codes are equally valid and cannot be judged outside that culture, then I disagree.
If that's not what you mean, then It's not clear to me what you mean by it.


Quote:You say the zeitgeist, I say the environment changed. Environmental change means different selection pressures means different traits can be selected while previously adaptive traits can suddenly become maladaptive and self-eliminating. So yes, I would personally say that the slavery memes were selected against in greater frequency and that the equality meme was selected for in greater frequency. I agree 100% that memetics isn't the only model. I believe whole-heartedly in George EP Box's assessment, "All models are wrong. Some are useful." Models allow us to understand and interact with reality, but they are not reality themselves. My only issue with the zeitgeist model is that I find it imprecise. Although I am willing to admit that perhaps I do not grok its full complexity.

Yes, zeitgeist is not a precise term, but a descriptive one, and includes 'the environment changed'.

Quote:In terms of reading and understanding, I thought this last post was light years clearer than your previous ones. Sweet. In terms of your grasp of what I'm saying, I think you're picking up what I'm putting down in a general sense. I hope I made some useful clarifications and I hope that you can clarify my above questions.

To sum up my entire point, I'd say these two things:
-Morality is a culturally relative social construct subject to evolution
-Cultural relativism is an observation, not a prescription

I would still like some clarification of "Cultural relativism is an observation, not a prescription".

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Chas's post
28-12-2011, 07:37 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
Hey, Chaz.

Quote: I would still like some clarification of "Cultural relativism is an observation, not a prescription".

Cultural relativism is saying, “We have observed cultures and noted that morality is the result of individual evolutionary processes. There is no evidence of a single absolute morality that cultures fail or succeed at emulating.” It is not saying, “Cultures SHOULD have relative moral codes.” It’s saying, “They do.”

Cultural relativism is an observation just like gravity is an observation. They’re both just saying, “The world is like X.”

Quote:I'm not saying the observation is immoral. It is the implication that any behavior that is defined as moral in an existing culture is not to be judged from outside that culture - that the criticism is somehow invalid.
I think that mankind has evolved to the point that there are absolute (or near enough) morals - the golden rule variations.

The question is not whether or not it should be judged, but rather upon what basis is it judged?

If there were some sort of universal morality that could easily and more to the point, verifiably be observed by any who look, then we could judge everyone’s morality against that standard. But it doesn’t exist. All that exists is a given cultures’ moral code. Mine for example. When I “judge” other cultures’ morality, I’m judging them against mine. That’s kind of like toucans judging the beaks of other birds using the toucan beak as the standard.

It’s not that the criticism is invalid, it’s that it’s highly contextual and not anywhere near absolute.

Again, just because a practice is widespread, it doesn’t mean that it’s right. It means that it’s adaptive across various environments and has been selected for in high frequency across many cultures. But it could be gone tomorrow.

This is a hyper important point. Saying that there are no absolutes does not preclude agreement. You and I are both anti-murder and anti-slavery. Not because we have to be though.

So again, I don’t understand what is immoral.

Quote:I'm saying that we are no longer wholly the result of evolution, certainly not biological. Gender roles are not entirely a social construct, but are based in biological sex functions.

The gender roles not being tied to sex is not really new information. There have been cultures that recognized this, e.g. two spirit people.

We will never, ever, be anything but the result of evolution. Selection is always at work. Always. When we breed dogs, that’s not a circumvention of selection, that IS selection. When we genetically modify salmon, that’s selection. When we give a child glasses so they can see properly, that’s selection. We can never, ever, escape selection.

But you’re right. We aren’t just the result of biological evolution. We’re not even just the result of cultural evolution. We’re the result of biological replicators competing with each other, and cultural replicators competing with each other and of biological and cultural replicators competing with each other.

Gender roles are different than penis/vagina. Gender roles are like guns/Barbie. You are correct though that they didn’t just pop out of thin air. The existence of sexual dimorphism influenced gender roles. That’s an example of genes and memes co-evolving.

Quote:I brought free will in partly to explain the creation of memes, and consciousness/rationality to explain our being aware of, therefore able to affect, memes.

I agree. Free will might very well be a part of memetogenesis. I already agreed that we are capable of memetic engineering. But I was clear that there are dangers involved.

Also, to use jargon, hegemony naturalises ideology and sutures contradictions within the ideology. Hegemony is the common sense view. Hegemony hides the construction of and the codes behind belief. There are many things that all of us simply accept as true. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just a part of how our minds work. But this notion that we have the power to alter any and all memes at will is not reasonable. There are very real limits.

[/quote]Yes, I agree that evolutionary processes largely explain morality, and morality will evolve independently in isolated cultures - but all have a basis in our biology. If you mean by cultural relativity that all moral codes are equally valid and cannot be judged outside that culture, then I disagree.

If that's not what you mean, then It's not clear to me what you mean by it.[/quote]

Genes can have basis in our cultures too. The voice box would never be selected on its own. Neither would our giant brain. They were selected, not because it was good for genes, but because it was good for memes.

Memes are not slave to biology. Memes and genes are co-competitors.

What do we gain in understanding when a wolf judges crocodile, lion, leopard, wild dog, bear and hyena hunting techniques? It can only judge them against the wolf technique. But what does that really tell us? Each technique works for that species, in that environment at that time. The sabre tooth tiger had a great hunting technique, until its prey got too fast. Now all its giant head and fangs are worth are for really cool decorations. Each culture’s morality works for that culture in that environment at that time. What do we understand when the Sri-Lankans judge the rest of the world off of Sri-Lankan morality? Evolution isn’t about ideal forms, it’s about adaptive traits.

Judge away. My contention has only to do with the standard you base your judgements on. When we look at that standard, the conclusions of that judgement are shown to be highly biased; biased to the point of meaninglessness. We can compare and contrast moral codes, but judgement is wonky.

I judge Yanks all the time. Especially for their health care system. I think it’s fucking madness. I think it’s a crime. But in my rational moments, I know that I’m judging it against Canadian morality. That Canadian morality is not the right morality. Healthcare is not THE solution. It’s A solution. A solution in a very specific country that addresses our very specific situation. We don’t have things in Canada like the university hospital system (which I don’t particularly understand, but people have attempted to explain it to me). Canadian health care would never work in the US. Not in a million years.

We only understand systems by looking at the system in operation. You can tell NOTHING about a Porsche, not even that it’s a Porsche, by looking at the brake fluid. Also, it’s only when the system is in operation that we can observe the emergent properties; traits we would never in a million years be able to guess at even if we had all of the parts lined up in a row.

So we can judge other cultures morality, but only based on our own and those judgements are contextless.

Context is everything.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-12-2011, 07:55 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
Ah! Now I know why me and the Ghost occasionally butt heads - he's a Canadian. Wink

[Image: klingon_zps7e68578a.jpg]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-12-2011, 09:51 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
If I had to give a short answer to this question, it would be 'No, morality does not depend on religion'.

However, since I'm a twat, I'm going to give a slightly longer answer.

For one thing, the concept is far too conditional to grasp. Moral philosophy is one of the most complicated thought-processes available in the contemporary examination of life. Altruism certainly appears to be impossible so absolute morality would seem impossible. We've all seen how it falters no matter how good the initial intent is. There is always that complex, unaswerable question:

"Is it okay to commit a wrongful act for a greater good?"

What is the greater good?

How significant is the wrong?

Is the wrongful act the beginning of a slippery slope?

Even the term 'wrongful act' is skewed by circumstance.

For me - and be careful because I'm going to say this a lot when commenting - the big turning cog that keeps humanity going is society, which comes in many forms and is also privvy to circumstance. Most human beings are probably born with some sense of right or wrong, after all most of us feel guilt. What changes this is environment. So my overall belief is that there must be a controlled, lawful environment with boundaries in order for us to maintain a sense of moral justice.

Of course, such an environment does not require religion.

"Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter!"

-Yoda-
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Bairny's post
29-12-2011, 03:15 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
(28-12-2011 12:58 PM)Ghost Wrote:  I like you. You’re a good egg. But you're absolutely incorrect. I believe what I am saying consistently with every fibre of my being because it's factual. This whole idea of some absolute morality existing, just waiting for us to find it, is so fanciful that I really don't understand how rational people believe it exists. Morality, like all cultural practices, is based in agreement, not magic.

Quote:But I think that deep down in your heart of hearts you know that slavery—the owning of one human being by another—is inherently evil, independent of any particular cultural system, and that you agree with Article 4 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

I've said I don't like slavery countless times. So I know you get that. But I don't believe in good and evil, let alone that certain things are inherently evil. Do I have my preferences? Of course I do. But I recognise that my preferences flow from a social construct, not some fibre optic connection to the great moral arbiter in the sky. I do agree with the UN. But it's arrogance of the Nth degree to assume that the world must agree with everything I think simply because I think it. Culture simply doesn't function that way. I didn't invent culture. I'm just trying to understand it, as it is, not as I want it to be.

Thanks. You're a good egg too. Hard-boiled, perhaps, but there's nothing wrong with that. Smile

So let me push this one step further and I'll stop.

I get that (1) you dislike slavery, but (2) you don't believe it's inherently evil, because you don't buy the notion of good and evil. Fair enough. My question, then, is why you dislike slavery. You characterize your dislike as a preference, and say your preferences "flow from a social contract." It's not clear to me how that works.

Is it simply that your preferences have been influenced by your upbringing in the particular society you inhabit? Is it more like an unanalyzable gut feeling you have that slavery is not to be preferred? Is it based on a more general principle?

Not trying to be obtuse or argumentative. I'm genuinely interested in how you explain your preferences to yourself, given your rejection of inherent morality.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: