On morality
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14-04-2012, 12:04 PM
On morality
So, is morality relativistic or we derive it (as we're evolved mammals)?

Personally, I find moral values relativistic. The reason isn't sophisticated. I simply can't find any objective moral value.

I have heard about the idea of innate morality that has evolved with us. But I have only heard that there is such conception and haven't seen any of the arguments supporting it yet. And here is my request: Can you present them for me?

It'd be great if you posted your stance on the subject.

P.S. Please be understanding to my English skills as it's not my native language.
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14-04-2012, 02:13 PM
RE: On morality
There's only eighty million threads on this subject, you amoral buffoon. Big Grin

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14-04-2012, 03:08 PM
RE: On morality
You gotta define what you mean by morality before you can debate as to whether it's absolute Wink

I define morality as "that which stops me from doing nasty things to others and is *also* innate".

Because *laws* stop me from doing nasty things to others but they are external to myself - I don't make those rules.

In terms of internal things... basically as far as I can tell they are programmed into us from birth by society. There is probably also a genetic component. Evolutionarily speaking I think it's obvious that cooperative behaviour is going to get you ahead of the competiton, you produce more babies, you win!

So I think some morals are more or less "absolute" in that we evolved to behave cooperatively, so killing people doesn't come naturally to us, at least *killing people in our tribe*. It's quite logical evolution wise afaik to kill people *not* in your tribe.

And then I think some morals are definitely just social norms - for example, in the Bible doing work on Sunday was absolutely NO WAY, it could get you killed. Nowadays we do it routinely. Society changed.

The contention that some actions are "right" and some are "wrong" and that this doesn't depend on human definition I think is definitely incorrect. Is it right to kill? No? Is it right to kill a murderer? Hmmm.
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15-04-2012, 04:25 AM (This post was last modified: 15-04-2012 04:35 AM by Maciek1Aciek.)
Shocked RE: On morality
I define morality as the set of rules which define what is good and what is wrong.

Quote:Because *laws* stop me from doing nasty things to others but they are external to myself - I don't make those rules.

What are these laws? Do you mean social norms?

Quote:so killing people doesn't come naturally to us, at least *killing people in our tribe*
I agree with that. But then I recall the situation with a Muslim family I’ve heard about some time ago where father, given the right by Koran, killed his daughter, son and wife for renouncing the faith. As he said later, he doesn’t regret it for god entitled him to do that. Assuming he doesn’t regret that indeed, doesn’t it show that there are more powerful, not innate norms that can “overthrow” the innate ones?

And when it comes to our evolutionary background. Our evolutionary purpose of life is to proliferate and pass on our DNA. It seems to suggest that reproduction is good. Now, if we were to respect
that, wouldn’t it imply that rape is justifiable?

Quote:Is it right to kill a murderer? Hmmm.

Oh, I don’t have a problem with this one. Smile Of course it’s not, because moral or immoral character of murder doesn’t depend on the person’s deeds in the past. While we consider moral character of murder, we should
concentrate on the self act irrespective of the character traits of the person we kill.
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15-04-2012, 05:22 AM
RE: On morality
(15-04-2012 04:25 AM)Maciek1Aciek Wrote:  I define morality as the set of rules which define what is good and what is wrong.
What is perceived as good and what is perceived as wrong...

Quote:
Quote:Because *laws* stop me from doing nasty things to others but they are external to myself - I don't make those rules.

What are these laws? Do you mean social norms?

Written law. In written law it is *defined* that certain actions *by agreement of society* have certain consequences. e.g. murder. I don't make those rules, but they prevent me from committing murder because I am afraid of the consequences. As such I view these as separate from *morals* which are rules that I follow by myself just because that is the way I feel is right.

Quote:
Quote:so killing people doesn't come naturally to us, at least *killing people in our tribe*
I agree with that. But then I recall the situation with a Muslim family I’ve heard about some time ago where father, given the right by Koran, killed his daughter, son and wife for renouncing the faith. As he said later, he doesn’t regret it for god entitled him to do that. Assuming he doesn’t regret that indeed, doesn’t it show that there are more powerful, not innate norms that can “overthrow” the innate ones?
This is his morality. To me it shows that the strength of social programming (he was taught that this was the correct thing to do) is more powerful than his instinct (protect my child).

Quote:And when it comes to our evolutionary background. Our evolutionary purpose of life is to proliferate and pass on our DNA. It seems to suggest that reproduction is good. Now, if we were to respect
that, wouldn’t it imply that rape is justifiable?

Well, if we agree that morals are relative then in some societies perhaps rape is fine. Sounds bad doesn't it, but consider that a female slave thousands of years ago would have had no right to refuse sex to her master. Or indeed a male slave for that matter. If you got angry with her master for raping her, he would be genuinely astonished. The moral comes from social norms. Also understand that evolutionary thinking is subtle, a simplistic statement like "reproduction is good" fails to capture subtleties like for example, in a time of drought, reproduction is very bad - it's more likely that the mother will die.

Quote:
Quote:Is it right to kill a murderer? Hmmm.

Oh, I don’t have a problem with this one. Smile Of course it’s not, because moral or immoral character of murder doesn’t depend on the person’s deeds in the past. While we consider moral character of murder, we should
concentrate on the self act irrespective of the character traits of the person we kill.

See but this is you asserting that it is *always* wrong to kill - asserting an absolute principle, whereas for example, maybe the murderer doesn't see it as being at all wrong. Now if you say "fine, I see it as wrong but his point of view may be valid", then you are saying morals are relative. If you say "no his point of view is invalid" then you are saying morals are absolute, in which case, you need to justify how your morals are better than his - how can you be sure that *your* morals are right and his are wrong? If you say "well society has to work, and so even though his morals are equal to mine, people who kill other people just don't function as part of society" then you're doing morals by consensus - which seems to be the standard position.
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15-04-2012, 06:34 AM (This post was last modified: 15-04-2012 06:38 AM by Maciek1Aciek.)
RE: On morality
Quote:What is
perceived as good and what is perceived as wrong...
It’s relativistic. I decide what is good and what is wrong. There are also rules (called written laws) established by each state which most people obey in the fear of consequences (and that’s the point you’ve also made)
Quote: […] they prevent me from committing murder
because I am afraid of the consequences. As such I view these as separate from
*morals* which are rules that I follow by myself just because that is the way I
feel is right.
I agree on the point that written laws should be considered to be separate from moralnorms.

As you further say, you feel that certain things are right to do and certain thingsaren’t. Therefore, it seems to me you feel that to obey the law is right. But where do you get the feeling from? Do you really think, as I assume, that we derive it from our evolutionary background? To me, the fact that you find obeying the law right is simply based on reason. You conclude that because you have obligations and plans for the future it’d not be beneficial to, for instance, go to prison.
Quote:The moral comes from social norms.
Let me understand you right because I’m slightly confused now. According to your view on morality, our morals are shaped by social programming. The social norms are influenced by our evolutionary background. Is that right?
Quote:See but
this is you asserting that it is *always* wrong to kill - asserting an absolute
principle, whereas for example, maybe the murderer doesn't see it as being at
all wrong. Now if you say "fine, I see it as wrong but his point of view
may be valid", then you are saying morals are relative. If you say
"no his point of view is invalid" then you are saying morals are
absolute, in which case, you need to justify how your morals are better than
his - how can you be sure that *your* morals are right and his are wrong?
I haven’t said that killing is always wrong. "Fine, I see it as wrong but his point of view may be valid" is exactly what I think. The only thing I wanted to
point out, was that when you wonder whether it’s good or not to kill a person, you shouldn’t pay attention to the fact that the person is a murder. You should concentrate on the self act of murder, regardless of who is the person you want to kill.
Quote:If you say
"well society has to work, and so even though his morals are equal to
mine, people who kill other people just don't function as part of society"
then you're doing morals by consensus - which seems to be the standard
position.
His morals are equal to mine, however there is a law established by a state to make “frames” for the society to function. By “frames” I mean a few basic laws which constitute the structure that allows people to act accordingly to their choices to the reasonable extent (that is, for instance, don’t kill or don’t steal sb’s property).
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15-04-2012, 06:42 AM (This post was last modified: 15-04-2012 06:47 AM by morondog.)
RE: On morality
(15-04-2012 06:34 AM)Maciek1Aciek Wrote:  As you further say, you feel that certain things are right to do and certain thingsaren’t. Therefore, it seems to me you feel that to obey the law is right. But where do you get the feeling from? Do you really think, as I assume, that we derive it from our evolutionary background? To me, the fact that you find obeying the law right is simply based on reason. You conclude that because you have obligations and plans for the future it’d not be beneficial to, for instance, go to prison.
The feeling of obeying the law as right comes directly from society. From what I was taught. The decision to obey the law comes from reason.

Quote:
Quote:The moral comes from social norms.
Let me understand you right because I’m slightly confused now. According to your view on morality, our morals are shaped by social programming. The social norms are influenced by our evolutionary background. Is that right?
That is my view. Of course I may be incorrect.

Quote:His morals are equal to mine, however there is a law established by a state to make “frames” for the society to function. By “frames” I mean a few basic laws which constitute the structure that allows people to act accordingly to their choices to the reasonable extent (that is, for instance, don’t kill or don’t steal sb’s property).

Seems like we agree Smile
(15-04-2012 06:42 AM)morondog Wrote:  
Quote:Let me understand you right because I’m slightly confused now. According to your view on morality, our morals are shaped by social programming. The social norms are influenced by our evolutionary background. Is that right?
That is my view. Of course I may be incorrect.


Just to expand on this I believe some morals like the "do not kill members of your own tribe" are directly influenced by evolution. They can be counteracted by social programming, as with your Muslim father example.

Other morals are strictly a product of social programming - such as "do no work on certain days of the week".

Either way, absolute morals seem very unlikely.
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15-04-2012, 09:37 PM
RE: On morality
(14-04-2012 03:08 PM)morondog Wrote:  I define morality as "that which stops me from doing nasty things to others and is *also* innate".

Because *laws* stop me from doing nasty things to others but they are external to myself - I don't make those rules.
If you have knowledge about the implications of your own actions, based on expectations of societies response, would then this invalidate it as being morally based?

e.g. You know that if you attempt to kill someone, that they are likely to retaliate in order to save their own life or their friends or family maybe motivated to seek bloody revenge, or society itself, seeing you as a threat might look to seek vigilante justice, then you can know before hand that your own action to kill someone will most likely put your own life in severe danger.

If this is the reason why you don't attempt to kill people, would this reasoning be morally based or would it be simply selfish survival based?
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16-04-2012, 12:42 AM
RE: On morality
(15-04-2012 09:37 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(14-04-2012 03:08 PM)morondog Wrote:  I define morality as "that which stops me from doing nasty things to others and is *also* innate".

Because *laws* stop me from doing nasty things to others but they are external to myself - I don't make those rules.
If you have knowledge about the implications of your own actions, based on expectations of societies response, would then this invalidate it as being morally based?

e.g. You know that if you attempt to kill someone, that they are likely to retaliate in order to save their own life or their friends or family maybe motivated to seek bloody revenge, or society itself, seeing you as a threat might look to seek vigilante justice, then you can know before hand that your own action to kill someone will most likely put your own life in severe danger.

If this is the reason why you don't attempt to kill people, would this reasoning be morally based or would it be simply selfish survival based?
Exactly... problem is morals, right and wrong... have such fuzzy defs. And no, I'm not a bloodthirsty murderer type who's only restrained by the fear of jail / retaliation Wink But if I ever did have such thoughts there would still be the law to hold me back, the selfish survival instinct. But on top of that there is the social programming that has been hammered in from birth "killing people is wrong" etc. And it's tangled again, because there's a strong instinct not to kill anyway - I would guess - stemming from evolved cooperative behaviour.

I don't like morality based reasoning precisely because it does tend to assume that the universe gives a shit, that there is some kind of moral standard - or at least that we can define one. e.g. that tired old example of the train tracks and the runaway train. You're standing at the switch for the points. A runaway train is approaching. You can either kill 5 men if you don't divert the train, or 1 man if you do. What do you do?

It's such a pointless example -there are variations - because the whole argument tends to revolve around "right" and "wrong". You just do whatever you can at the time, hope for the best and live with the aftermath. No right and wrong.

At least, that's my approach. Personal to me Tongue
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16-04-2012, 01:20 PM
RE: On morality
(14-04-2012 02:13 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  There's only eighty million threads on this subject, you amoral buffoon. Big Grin
Simply because you acknowledge the subjectivity to morality does not require you to be amoral.


Now, concerning the thread's OP, there is a certain objectivity to morality that is set by the norm in society. This sort of 'group think' is not just found in mammals, but in any group animal (pack/hive/herd/school).

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