The Evolution of Morality
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06-04-2014, 03:52 PM
The Evolution of Morality
Theists who stop by often start threads on the divine origin of morality. At times I've interjected with scientific evidence for the evolutionary origins of morality. This is generally ignored in favor of a discussion on philosophy, however. Well, a new book entitled Evolved Morality: The Biology and Philosophy of Human Conscience (2014) brings together experts from primatology, neuroscience, and psychology to discuss the matter. I figure others who are interested in the origins of morality might like to read it. The book can be downloaded for free from the following link:

http://k2s.cc/file/4ee85dc679982/900426387X.pdf

Scroll down and click the gray "low speed download." Make sure you click on the "link" after the timer counts down.

I'm a little upset that I found the book online. This is because I just spent money on a hard copy. It arrived in the mail yesterday.
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06-04-2014, 03:59 PM
RE: The Evolution of Morality
Thanks for the link this should prove intresting

The requirement of evidence to back your claim does not disappear because it hurts your feelings, reality does not care about your feefees.
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06-04-2014, 09:18 PM (This post was last modified: 06-04-2014 09:47 PM by ghostexorcist.)
RE: The Evolution of Morality
Here is what I've written about the subject in the past...

"In his recent book The Bonobo and the Atheist (2013), Primatologist Frans de Waal presents evidence that morality is not “top-down” (God-given), but “bottom-up,” meaning it issues forth from the naturally arising hierarchy in primate society. Chimps, for example, have a very complex social society that is determined through competition for rank. All individuals within a community from the largest male down to the smallest child all have their place in that society. There are rules for interactions between all members—i.e. greeting, eating, mating, playing, grooming, etc. De Waal states that chimps and other primates exhibit first- and second-order fairness, the ability to recognize inequality and share resources, respectively. See this video for an example:





The monkey’s ability to recognize the unfairness of the exchange is the bases for understanding the difference between right and wrong. That is why transgression of the aforementioned rules is punished by members of the community, thus enforcing conformity. Like humans, chimps have the capacity for reconciliation. Confrontations between in-group members are immediately followed by hugging, kissing, and/or grooming; and those refusing to make up are made to reconcile through a mediator, usually a female. In addition, brain anatomy and chemistry help reinforce positive group relations. For instance, research has shown that social animals like primates (including humans), cetaceans (dolphins and wales), and elephants have large areas of “spindle cells.” This type of brain neuron is associated with empathy (dysfunctions in the brain can lead to lowered empathy). This, coupled with “mirror neurons,” explains why these animals are able to adopt the emotions and behavior of fellow group members. This ensures cooperation and a more harmonious existence.

Those wishing to argue in favor of universal morality have to grapple with the fact that cultures all across the world have different ideas on what constitutes morality. For example, superstitious hunter-gatherer tribes of South Africa believe it a service to the community to kill twin babies because they are considered bad omens. This may be reprehensible to you and me, but we are simply judging this practice though the lens of our own culture. Any agreement between modern systems of morality—many of which are linked with different religious and judicial philosophies, I might add—stems from our common human origins. Most importantly, human morality is not static and unchanging. For instance, Deuteronomy 21:18-21 says that rebellious children must be stoned to death by the community. But when was the last time a child in the western world was executed just because they talked back to their parents? Countries around the world would certainly have far less children if this was a universal law. Thankfully it and other such laws from the bible are no longer considered acceptable. Morals evolve along with society, plain and simple."

By the way, I have an EPUB of The Bonobo and the Atheist if anyone is interested. You should read my review of it here and here, though. I also have an EPUB of of this book. I haven't read it yet, so I can't speak to its quality.
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06-04-2014, 10:32 PM
RE: The Evolution of Morality
While cultural morality changes greatly, evolution has already instilled basic core morality within humans. A core morality is generally a sense of altruism, and knowing that it is wrong to cause harm to others. It probably evolved as a mechanism for survival.
An individual hunter might get a quick snack working alone. However, if a fellow proto-human were to stand guard watching for other predators, they could both benefit from a full meal. Thus, the morality of working together for mutual benefit would become a selected trait.




*Note: I have not yet read any of the link presented in the OP, so if I'm just talking out of my ass, so be it. Tongue

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