Morality
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14-09-2011, 02:38 PM (This post was last modified: 14-09-2011 02:42 PM by Joe Bloe.)
RE: Morality
(13-09-2011 08:15 PM)Ghost Wrote:  A person living in solitude cannot be moral. Morality requires the presence of at least one other person. Morality is a cultural matter. Religion is a cultural matter. Morality is nested within religion, but does not have to be; however, both religion and morality are nested within culture. There is nothing genetic at work. Morality is an agreement between two or more people and is not exclusive to religion. Morality is ubiquitous in all cultures. Discuss.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

In later years a person may become a hermit, but in order to reach that situation, he or she must have spent a relatively long period with at least one other person (his or her mother) otherwise they would have died in infancy.

Morals could be learned during this period and would probably stay with that person for the rest of their life - so even if they later live in solitude, they probably do have a moral code.

A person living in solitude cannot be moral. I disagree.

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14-09-2011, 02:45 PM (This post was last modified: 14-09-2011 02:50 PM by myst32.)
RE: Morality
(14-09-2011 01:36 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  Quoting from the thread: "Resolving conflicting loyalties" Post #25

"Our ultimate loyalty should be to life. Life on this Planet is the ultimate containing group. We are all part of it. It nourishes us all. If we betray it, if we destroy it, we will have destroyed ourselves.

Morality is about survival of the whole we are part of. Just like at Nuremberg, claims of loyalty to country did not excuse crimes against humanity. There should be 'crime against life' trials for those busily destroying it. Like cancer cells in a body, we destroy the host giving us life. Guess what happens to cancer cells after the body dies.

I felt ashamed during the first Gulf war when they showed us the oily cormorants on TV. I felt that 'we' betrayed our common heritage. I felt the need to apologize to the cormorants. To other animals at large. To life.

Many unspoiled native cultures think of Earth as their Mother. One can betray one's mother. Even rape her. If I ever had to face the terrible choice of saving my own species at the price of destroying all other life on Earth, I don't think I could do that. And I think my choice would be a moral one.

Morality has always been in human consciousness. Not always verbalized: defined, analyzed, explained, but lived by a sufficient number of the tribe to assure survival. Tribes that failed the test of morality died and disappeared.

Morality is the prerequisite of survival. Nature created us. We are an inextricable part of it, and have no choice but to behave by its rules. Morality is our interdependence embodied.

Morality is life affirming. Immorality embraces death. Maybe not immediately, not personally, but the human species can die by many, many little incremental steps. Destroying our habitat bit by bit will do it. We see it around us every day: the poison in our air, our water, our food – it is all a material manifestation of immorality: of some human beings, somewhere, in some capacity, failing the test of ethical, honourable behaviour.

We have to sort out our loyalties in a way that doesn’t destroy us. Each containing group takes precedent. My loyalty to my country has to take second place behind my loyalty to humanity. And my loyalty to my species has to come behind my loyalty to universal, interconnected, miraculous and fragile life we are all part of. It could take one dumb asteroid to destroy it. Or it could take one dumb humanity that developed too much power before developing enough sense. Morality could save us from that fate.

While this all sounds great, and I agree with most of it, it is still just an appeal to emotions. A bunch of Pathos It is attempting to create new morals based on "life". It's framework is too black and white.

Think about this... What about forced eugenics?? Is that moral? My interpretation from what I read above is that it is. It would further life, the species, and humanity. You could "breed in" the traits that would benefit society and the planet. Force everyone to be a vegan. Force everyone to be 3 feet tall so as to consume less. Having an unauthorized "home breed" child could be made illegal.

Are you really advocating punishment to those who are "busily destroying life"? In Africa people are destroying the rain forest.... to feed their families. It's a fact that we "rape" our planet just to keep everyone on it alive. Do we stop and let them all dye? Would that be moral with morals based on life?

How are you going to define life? I have a child who likes to play in the back yard. I kill off the fire ants to protect him from getting bit. Is that amoral? They are alive after all. Heck my house is made from wood that was once alive.

"Morality is life affirming. Immorality embraces death."

Not so... In the US it is amoral to eat a dog... In other countries they are dinner. Morality and Immorality are defined by society and location. Eating dogs does not embrace death.... but is disgusting to me. Dodgy

“We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” Orson Welles
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14-09-2011, 03:02 PM
RE: Morality
To clarify:
I share Cufflink's and Zatamon's sentiments, but i realize that it remains only that - sentiment - until it solidifies into a conviction shared by the majority, who then raise it legal status and include it in the society's moral code.
Besides, the last man won't have to worry about survivability; he can amuse himself any way he likes... as can the lone trapper in the north woods, till the Kodiak gets him.

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14-09-2011, 03:14 PM
 
RE: Morality
(14-09-2011 02:45 PM)myst32 Wrote:  While this all sounds great, and I agree with most of it, it is still just an appeal to emotions.

Absolutely right.

Emotions it is all about.

Emotions dictate what we want -- reason is our tool to find a way to get it.

So what is it we want?

We want to live, maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain.

Over the entire spectrum.

I have read a lot about the history of science. I am writing a book about it. There was a time when curious scientist would nail the feet of a living dog to a workbench and dissect it, still alive, to find out how the internal organs worked. We benefit today, from the results of these experiments.

If I am not mistaken, most of us, today, recoil in horror from this story. Yet, we do it, benefit from it, every day, when we eat our food, when we wear our clothes, apply our perfume or deodorant, when we ignore news items about a puppy mill.

Can we find a balance? Can we find a compromise that does not torture life and still let us live?

I know, I am appealing to emotions again.

It is true, different cultures feel differently about the same things. I also know that "every culture has the morality it can afford" -- but, I am convinced, the guilt is universal. The euphemism are universal. The aboriginal bushman of the Kalahari apologized to the prey it just killed and explained how his family needed the meat for survival. The fisherman who tramples over live fish at the bottom of the fishing boat , was once a child who was horrified at his father doing it. We humans can harden into our cruel ways, in time, and forget our biological heritage of compassion.

Whether we admit it or not, we know what is right and what is wrong, we just pretend we don't.

I know that cats play with mice -- and that is cruel, according to our sentimental morality.

But we have had millions of years to have evolved beyond cats.

Some of us have.

Some others have not.

I like this (approximate) quote from Konrad Lorenz: "To the man who can dissect a cabbage, a frog or a dog with the same equanimity, I recommend suicide at their earliest opportunity."
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14-09-2011, 04:11 PM
RE: Morality
Thank you one and all! There have been some very thoughtful, challenging and exciting responses. Me likey Smile

Hey, Blythe.

Quote:Morality is also a social construct. its learned behaviour. I quite agree with
the idea of evolutionary morality, where it evolve along side society.

Boo yah.

Hey, Organon.

Quote:I think morality can also apply to how we treat any other life form; our moral attitude to it, whether another animal or plant life, fish etc. , so for me, being in solitude away from other humans would still require a moral code.

That's a fair point. I'm not 100% sure it's true, but it's a very reasonable point.

Just for the record, I'm a live-in-harmony-with-the-planet kind of guy. Hardcore so. I say that just to clarify that my slight hesitation doesn’t come from a feeling of entitlement over the living community, but rather from confusion on my part about the relationship of human morality and the living community. We can’t make any agreements with the living community, only other humans. We can make promises to the living community, but not agreements. Those human to human agreements can be about HOW we treat the living community, but I just don’t know if we can have a moral agreement with the living community directly. Anyone wanna take a shot at that one?

Hey, Nontheocrat.

Quote:Morality as I see it is nothing more than a code societies create for interactions between individuals and groups.

Vurry nice.

And VERY good point about how morality evolves even within religions.

While I agree with you wholeheartedly that morality evolves, as it has with slavery, I do think that the millions of slaves alive today would disagree that almost no one accepts it anymore Sad

Hey, ebilekittae.

You're right to call me out. When I say there's nothing genetic at work, I mean there is no absolute morality that every human must follow as a result of their genes; whereas, every human must have lungs. But there is something genetic at work in that living as social animals is a part of our genetic makeup. We are social animals. Period. Morality itself, the naked concept, is universal in human societies. So the genes require us to HAVE moral codes, but makes no demands on the content of those codes.

What I mean by "a solitary human can't be moral" is that morality has to do with how you interact with others, not yourself. Namean?

I would argue that a "moral code" is a social agreement between two or more people, while unique personal codes of conduct are just preference.

Hey, MAD.

Quote:He's trying to argue that if we consider the person as less human than we are, then we use this to justify breaking the "law of morality".

Well he does have a strong point in that dehumanisation of the Other, the reduction of them from, as Martin Buber might say, "thou" to "it", has a profound effect on how we treat them.

Hey, Myst.

Quote:I should also note that you could say the entire human race is "living in solitude" without any "outside" morals to compare against.

I gotta disagree in the strongest terms with this one. Humans are social animals. We live in society, not solitude. I mean there’s alienation and social isolation and every man is an island and other similar ideas, but even recluses have an interdependency with other humans.

I do agree that your morals are yours, but I contend that they're meaningless without the presence of others. By that I mean, the value of morals is not the attaining of some state of Nirvana like ascendance to a new plane of enlightenment, it's simply to facilitate, through agreement, the day to day and rather mundane interactions between members of a given society. So within a society, you can make up all the morals you want, but if they're not helping you interact with others, because they're not part of an agreement but rather a unilateral imposition that others may or may not appreciate, then their value is, well, masturbatory. And if you're alone, what you think is kind of meaningless because you have no one to interact with and no one to form an agreement with.

Here's a statement that may prove controversial, but I think that it's accurate. The value of morality is in agreement, not content.

Hey, Peterkin.

The solitary person was only meant to illustrate that humans are social animals, that morality is an integral part of the social agreement held by the members of a given society and that it has little if any meaning outside of a social context. I have the same difficulty imagining a solitary person because it just doesn't happen.

Hey, Cufflink.

But if morality is not objective, but rather culturally relative and the last person on earth sees no moral issue with kicking birds, doesn't the fact that no one is there to judge him mean there is no moral argument to be made? That is to say, if this same last man farted, he farted. That's just true (although there would be no one but he to observe it). But if he acted in way X and he didn't deem it immoral and there is nothing objectively immoral, and no one around to call it subjectively moral, then how can it be immoral?

Hey, Joe Bloe.

Quote:In later years a person may become a hermit, but in order to reach that situation, he or she must have spent a relatively long period with at least one other person (his or her mother) otherwise they would have died in infancy.

Morals could be learned during this period and would probably stay with that person for the rest of their life - so even if they later live in solitude, they probably do have a moral code.

But the distinction should be made that THINKING morally and BEING moral are two different things. Being moral is an ACT. Having an opinion on morality is not BEING moral. The argument about our relationship with the living community aside, I'm just suggesting that being moral, or acting moral, requires other humans.


--


There seems to be some controversy about whether or not someone can be moral in isolation or if morality requires social organisation, but it seems that most people are on board with the notion that morality is a social construct. Anyone disagree with that?

Good stuff so far.

A thought came to mind. Imagine an inmate in a Supermax prison. They live in utter isolation, 23 hours a day. When the guards come, there’s all kinds of moral dynamics. But for the 23 hours that they are in isolation from everything and every one, what can they do that is either moral or immoral… as soon as I wrote that sentence, “well he could write a letter to his victim’s family,” popped into my head, but mere seconds after I thought I had proven myself wrong, I realised that the morality of that act is based in the fact that the letter is for someone else’s benefit; ergo, it is a social interaction. So I renew the question. What, if anything, can an isolated inmate do that is either moral or immoral?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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14-09-2011, 05:50 PM (This post was last modified: 14-09-2011 05:54 PM by cufflink.)
RE: Morality
(14-09-2011 04:11 PM)Ghost Wrote:  But if morality is not objective, but rather culturally relative and the last person on earth sees no moral issue with kicking birds, doesn't the fact that no one is there to judge him mean there is no moral argument to be made? That is to say, if this same last man farted, he farted. That's just true (although there would be no one but he to observe it). But if he acted in way X and he didn't deem it immoral and there is nothing objectively immoral, and no one around to call it subjectively moral, then how can it be immoral?
. . .
There seems to be some controversy about whether or not someone can be moral in isolation or if morality requires social organisation, but it seems that most people are on board with the notion that morality is a social construct. Anyone disagree with that?

I disagree. Although I acknowledge the role of social organizations in developing moral codes, I believe in the existence of at least some absolute moral truths, even though I can't tell you how they're to be discovered. (And yes, I know that's a problem.) Among those absolutes is the precept that you avoid causing pain to sentient creatures unless there is an overriding moral concern that forces you to do otherwise. Such a precept seems to me independent of culture or society. So we're back to our old stand-off again. You're a dyed-in-the-wool subjectivist (I think); I believe in the existence of at least some moral absolutes.

In my defense, a blatant Appeal to Authority:

I recently came across some information on the contemporary Oxford moral philosopher Derek Parfit. The New Yorker had a major piece on him in last week's issue. In it, the author characterized him this way: "Parfit is thought by many to be the most original moral philosopher in the English-speaking world. He has written two books, both of which have been called the most important works to be written in the field in more than a century." Let me quote some relevant material from the article, since only the abstract is available online to non-subscribers:

Quote:[From "How To Be Good," The New Yorker, Sept. 5, 2011]

After Parfit finished “Reasons and Persons,” he became increasingly disturbed by how many people believed that there was no such thing as objective moral truth. This led him to write his second book, “On What Matters,” which was published this summer. . . .

Parfit believes that there are true answers to moral questions, just as there are to mathematical ones. Humans can perceive these truths, through a combination of intuition and critical reasoning, but they remain true whether humans perceive them or not. He believes that there is nothing more urgent for him to do in his brief time on earth than discover what these truths are and persuade others of their reality. He believes that without moral truth the world would be a bleak place in which nothing mattered. This thought horrifies him. . . .

He feels himself surrounded by dangerous skeptics. Many of his colleagues not only do not believe in objective moral truth—they don’t even find its absence disturbing. They are pragmatic types who argue that the notion of moral truth is unnecessary, a fifth wheel: with it or without it, people will go on with their lives as they have always done, feeling strongly that some things are bad and others good, not missing the cosmic imprimatur. To Parfit, this is an appalling nihilism.

[Parfit quote:] Subjectivists sometimes say that, even though nothing matters in an objective sense, it is enough that some things matter to people. But that shows how deeply these views differ. Subjectivists are like those who say, “God doesn’t exist in your sense, but God is love, and some people love each other, so in my sense God exists."

Parfit is an atheist, but when it comes to moral truth he believes what Ivan Karamazov believed about God: if it does not exist, then everything is permitted.

I was glad to see someone else on my side. Wink Perhaps when I read Parfit's On What Matters I'll have a better sense of how moral absolutes are to be determined. (It's 1,440 pages, though, so that probably won't happen anytime soon.) In the meantime, I'll just muddle along thinking that some acts really are moral and others immoral, regardless of how my culture feels about them. Bull-fighting, where you torture and finally kill a dumb animal for sport, is immoral whether or not you live in Madrid.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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14-09-2011, 08:11 PM (This post was last modified: 14-09-2011 08:33 PM by myst32.)
RE: Morality
Quote:I should also note that you could say the entire human race is "living in solitude" without any "outside" morals to compare against.

oops... I did not make that clear. Let me try again.

We, humanity, as a species are "living in solitude" on this planet. Humans are the only species that we know make "morals" so our morals tend to be human centric. If cows could talk they would probably take moral issue with being slaughtered for our food. If animals as a whole could speak they would all take moral issue with us placing ourselves "over" them. If another race of beings visited us tomorrow their morals would be different than our own. However, if this did happen it would give us an "outside" set of morals that we could compare with. Their morals may include items we are just beginning to consider. Like is it moral to seed a plant with new life. Is it moral to change the conditions of one planet to allow our survival at the cost of smaller life forms that will not survive, thus never evolve. Like the person in your thought experiment all of humanity is "living in solitude" without "others" morals to compare against. Thus we sit around and make our own up. Undecided

(14-09-2011 04:11 PM)Ghost Wrote:  I do agree that your morals are yours, but I contend that they're meaningless without the presence of others. By that I mean, the value of morals is not the attaining of some state of Nirvana like ascendance to a new plane of enlightenment, it's simply to facilitate, through agreement, the day to day and rather mundane interactions between members of a given society. So within a society, you can make up all the morals you want, but if they're not helping you interact with others, because they're not part of an agreement but rather a unilateral imposition that others may or may not appreciate, then their value is, well, masturbatory. And if you're alone, what you think is kind of meaningless because you have no one to interact with and no one to form an agreement with.

Well I would say they are meaningful to that person as far as they are willing to put meaning in them. Which I guess is what you are saying.

I have never thought of morals as an "agreement". I think of them as made up controls to benefit the "group" that we are all brainwash.. err instilled with. Look at the virtues vs vices. Virtues are made up mostly of actions of self control that benefit others. While vices are actions of no self control and do not benefit others... just personal benefit. There are no vices I know of that benefit society and not the individual. Intelligence is a virtue and a trait we assign to a morally excellent being. However, if they use that intelligence in a way that does not benefit society (he sits at home and plays WOW all day = lazy) they are amoral. These morals can be thought of as character traits expressed by actions to the benefit of society.

The rest are morals based on emotions and superstitions..... is it moral to eat a dog? Use gods name in vain? Trick a Jew into eating pork? etc.. etc.. etc.. These tend to have only a small amount of control over society and allow for "wiggle" room. They only have a small amount of control in my opinion because there is no major benefit to society.

So that's it... what is "good" for society makes a good "moral".






Quote: God: if it does not exist, then everything is permitted.

A non sequitur of massive proportions.

“We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” Orson Welles
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14-09-2011, 08:36 PM
RE: Morality
(14-09-2011 04:11 PM)Ghost Wrote:  I'm just suggesting that being moral, or acting moral, requires other humans.

If a moral person has been living in a community and then moves away to live in isolation, do they suddenly become immoral? I say not.

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14-09-2011, 08:39 PM
RE: Morality
(14-09-2011 08:11 PM)myst32 Wrote:  
cufflink Wrote:God: if it does not exist, then everything is permitted.

A non sequitur of massive proportions.

Please go back and reread the entire sentence.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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14-09-2011, 08:49 PM (This post was last modified: 14-09-2011 08:56 PM by myst32.)
RE: Morality
(14-09-2011 08:39 PM)cufflink Wrote:  
(14-09-2011 08:11 PM)myst32 Wrote:  
cufflink Wrote:God: if it does not exist, then everything is permitted.

A non sequitur of massive proportions.

Please go back and reread the entire sentence.

Quote:Parfit is an atheist, but when it comes to moral truth he believes what Ivan Karamazov believed about God: if it does not exist, then everything is permitted.

"If moral truth does not exist, then everything is permitted."

Still a non sequitur of massive proportions.
What if the moral truth is that everything is permitted?

“We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” Orson Welles
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