"You cannot be moral without being religious"

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:26 pm

Ron,
I think your thought-experiment has thrown out the baby with the bath-water: morality is concerned with relationships between people, so an isolated individual needs no morality. :shrug:
Golding's Lord of the Flies, dark as it is, is a more relevant thought-experiment. In that case, of course, the incipient society self-destructs.

Another thought-experiment for you: A :alien: collects a sample of humans and drops them in a benign environment to see how they behave. The sample is representative as regards age and sex, but comprises single individuals who are all monolingual and from very different cultures - a Taiwanese fisherman, an Uzbek shepherd, an Italian doctor, an Australian carpenter, a Thai housewife, a Russian toddler and perhaps fifty more. What happens?

It's still not a realistic model of any plausible society-without-a-moral-code, because such a thing could not naturally arise: everyone has a mummy and a daddy and has been brought up with their morality, all the way back to the neolithic and even (I would suggest) ancestral primates in the African savannah - and perhaps a lot further. All the latest animal behaviour research points to more continuities and similarities between them and us than we have ever wanted to admit.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby tobes » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:45 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Hi, tobes,
Thanks for your thoughtful response, although I'm not sure it quite addresses what I actually meant - maybe I wasn't clear enough.
Firstly, my idea of a basic universal morality equates pretty closely to one aspect of what you call a 'nomos', and that it is in fact the aspect of the nomos which tends to be common to all societies - including hunter-gatherer clans and tribes.
Secondly, I can't see how you arrived at the idea I have italicised. It wasn't part of my thinking at the time and I disagreed with it when I saw it in your post. I don't suggest at all that people sat down and reasoned out their moral system from first principles. Rather, I'm coming from an evolutionary psychology line of thought (I know, evolutionary psych is a bit dubious, but I think this use of it is reasonable). What I think has happened time after time is that behaviours which help the group flourish are rewarded by survival of the group (and often the individual) consistently enough to be noticed and eventually put into words. Looking back at them now, we can see that reciprocal altruism - the Golden Rule - is a reasonably accurate summary of their essential elements. The non-essential elements, on the other hand, can vary wildly because they are just that - non-essential.
Your example of traditional Aboriginal law vs Euro-Australian law is valid enough, but the conflict, to my mind, is mostly in the different non-essential elements tangled up with the rather similar essential elements.

About ethics/morality: (1) I am really glad I escaped Adorno. :tongue:
(2) One summary I came across years ago is that morality is society's rule for how its members should act towards each other, while ethics is the individual's rule for how he/she should act towards others. It's perhaps a bit too neat but I liked it enough to remember it ever since.

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Hi Kim, I'm glad you've found a way out of Adorno! Easily one of the most pessimistic thinkers ever (although, I would also have to say, insightful and brilliant). I'm not settled on his ethics/morality distinction either, I'll try and dig out some different ideas a bit later.

Okay, I think I understand your position a bit better, sorry for misreading you. I garnered the equivalence of morality with reason from your statement: "human societies are inherently moral and reasonable," which sounds a lot like the first article in the UN declaration of human rights, which sounds a lot like Rousseau........but I take it now that you mean something like "human societies inherently order themselves in a similar fashion."

I'm still not quite sure how you arrive at the conclusion that nomos is universal. I suppose you are saying that there is something essential in human nature which configures social orders in a more or less similar fashions everywhere.

Are you saying that although there might be strong differences between Aboriginal social structures and European social structures, there is ultimately more commonality? What precisely would be the element which is universal to them both? The essential elements, as you put. What would they be?

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:38 am

tobes wrote:
Hi Kim, I'm glad you've found a way out of Adorno! Easily one of the most pessimistic thinkers ever (although, I would also have to say, insightful and brilliant). I'm not settled on his ethics/morality distinction either, I'll try and dig out some different ideas a bit later.

Okay, I think I understand your position a bit better, sorry for misreading you. I garnered the equivalence of morality with reason from your statement: "human societies are inherently moral and reasonable," which sounds a lot like the first article in the UN declaration of human rights, which sounds a lot like Rousseau........but I take it now that you mean something like "human societies inherently order themselves in a similar fashion."

[1] I'm still not quite sure how you arrive at the conclusion that nomos is universal. I suppose you are saying that there is something essential in human nature which configures social orders in a more or less similar fashions everywhere.

[2] Are you saying that although there might be strong differences between Aboriginal social structures and European social structures, there is ultimately more commonality? What precisely would be the element which is universal to them both? The essential elements, as you put. What would they be?

:anjali:

Hello again, tobes,
We're gradually coming closer to understanding each other, I think, though I suspect that we will simply have to write at greater length to be really clear - and this kind of forum favours shorter posts. Never mind, we do our best.

Re [1]: I don't think there's anything in 'human nature' which turns people towards morality but that the common survival threats we have historically faced (as individuals and as groups) have resulted in solutions with a lot of commonalities, i.e. that morality is a necessary evolutionary development and that societies all had to arrive at something like the Golden Rule to thrive or even survive. The evidence for that has to be negative, unfortunately. Do we know of any societies which succeeded without some moral framework like this?

And that gives my answer to [2]: The essential elements, as I see them, are those which are necessary to the survival of the group. They can be contrasted with ritual and other overtly religious elements, which are non-essential except in so far as they support group cohesion, e.g. it doesn't matter, really, whether people wear white or black to signify mourning, but it does matter (a bit) that they all follow the same custom.

Is that clearer?

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:46 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:Ron,
I think your thought-experiment has thrown out the baby with the bath-water: morality is concerned with relationships between people, so an isolated individual needs no morality. :shrug:
Golding's Lord of the Flies, dark as it is, is a more relevant thought-experiment. In that case, of course, the incipient society self-destructs.

Another thought-experiment for you: A :alien: collects a sample of humans and drops them in a benign environment to see how they behave. The sample is representative as regards age and sex, but comprises single individuals who are all monolingual and from very different cultures - a Taiwanese fisherman, an Uzbek shepherd, an Italian doctor, an Australian carpenter, a Thai housewife, a Russian toddler and perhaps fifty more. What happens?

It's still not a realistic model of any plausible society-without-a-moral-code, because such a thing could not naturally arise: everyone has a mummy and a daddy and has been brought up with their morality, all the way back to the neolithic and even (I would suggest) ancestral primates in the African savannah - and perhaps a lot further. All the latest animal behaviour research points to more continuities and similarities between them and us than we have ever wanted to admit.
:namaste:
Kim


Hi, Kim.

So, your response to my thought experiment is to begin with a definition, which includes some requirement for plurality regarding interpersonal relations.:

Definition of Morals
By Tracy E Dickinson, eHow Contributor
source: http://www.ehow.com/facts_5497347_defin ... source=ask

Morals are standards of behavior. Good morals are those looked upon favorably by others and by society in general. A lack of morals would lead one to behave in a manner unacceptable to others or society.

Influences
Most individuals develop their moral code primarily at home, through the influence of their families. Laws and rules set up by governments, schools and similar organizations also help communicate acceptable behavior and encourage the development of good morals.

Religious Beliefs
Our religious beliefs significantly affect our moral code. Most religions praise the values of respecting others and treating them with kindness, for example. Because of this, such standards of behavior have become synonymous with possessing good morals.

Time Frame and Geography
Standards of behavior may change from one generation to the next or from one culture to another, based on traditions and rules that vary over time or by location. For example, a woman might be considered "immoral" if she wears shorts and sleeveless shirt in some countries today. In many others, this is perfectly acceptable attire.

Misconceptions
Morals are not the same as laws or rules. Laws set up by governments or organizations are generally based on what is considered moral, but these rules only regulate behavior. They do not necessarily affect an individual's morals.

Other Considerations
Morals refer to someone's inner character, not just their outward behavior. A person with good morals would do the right thing (like being kind to others) whether or not it was required. Someone with bad morals might obey the rules for fear of being caught, but might break the rules if he felt they could get away with it (like cheating on a test, if the teacher is out of the room).


As for your thought experiment, without speech interaction, having come from totally different cultures, there would, over time, develop first rules and regulations, such as "No eating each other unless those to be consumed are first dead of natural causes.".....but, as in the case of the scenario in "Lord of the Flies", only if there is a balance of power, and another food source preferred by at least one or more of the participants. If only one of them was raised in a cannibal culture, then all bets are off with regard to eating human flesh. The same is true IF one of the group is secretly a sociopath, or a mass murderer, who enjoys his work, and is compelled to continue it for his personal edification and amusement. However, should the balance of the group figure out what is going on with regard to others being killed, and they can agree to cooperate against a perceived mutual enemy in the name of survival they may band together for "The Common Good", and morals such as "Thou shall not kill/murder." will be found to be in common. Then there will be "Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's coconuts."

As is discussed in the definition, we will then have a code of conduct, rules and regulations, but not yet morals until such codes become internalized and embraced as morals, which allow one to feel good about themselves due to the approval of "the others" and approval of one's self.

So, one might say that morals arise due to the feeling of approval of others, which becomes internalized by feeling good about one's self.
What Makes an Elder? :
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But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:01 pm

Hello, Ron,
Yes, I can agree with pretty much all of that. :thumbsup:
It might be nice to consider how my thought experiment might develop on a basis of consensus and mutual respect rather than the (admittedly more common) transgression/punishment/laws model.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Nomade » Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:30 am

It is very probable, IMHO, that morals have a biological, genetic origin. How else so many cultures, separated in time and space, developed more or less the same moral codes? The ultimate nature of man is biological...

An specific example of a moral rule coming from a biological cause could be incest avoidance. There is something called the Westermark effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westermark ... rck_effect , a simple rule.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:57 am

Nomade wrote:It is very probable, IMHO, that morals have a biological, genetic origin. How else so many cultures, separated in time and space, developed more or less the same moral codes? The ultimate nature of man is biological...

An specific example of a moral rule coming from a biological cause could be incest avoidance. There is something called the Westermark effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westermark ... rck_effect , a simple rule.

Hi, Nomade,
That's close to what I'm suggesting, actually, but I would prefer to say 'evolutionary', which doesn't lock me into claiming it's either genetic or cultural, rather than 'biological' or 'genetic'. It's hard to see how your Westermarck effect could be other than genetic, but other elements of moral codes may not be so clear cut.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby tobes » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:19 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Hello again, tobes,
We're gradually coming closer to understanding each other, I think, though I suspect that we will simply have to write at greater length to be really clear - and this kind of forum favours shorter posts. Never mind, we do our best.

Re [1]: I don't think there's anything in 'human nature' which turns people towards morality but that the common survival threats we have historically faced (as individuals and as groups) have resulted in solutions with a lot of commonalities, i.e. that morality is a necessary evolutionary development and that societies all had to arrive at something like the Golden Rule to thrive or even survive. The evidence for that has to be negative, unfortunately. Do we know of any societies which succeeded without some moral framework like this?

And that gives my answer to [2]: The essential elements, as I see them, are those which are necessary to the survival of the group. They can be contrasted with ritual and other overtly religious elements, which are non-essential except in so far as they support group cohesion, e.g. it doesn't matter, really, whether people wear white or black to signify mourning, but it does matter (a bit) that they all follow the same custom.

Is that clearer?

:namaste:
Kim


Okay, that's pretty clear now.The universality of morality is whatever assists group survival.

I suppose that accounts for how societies and civilisations function and continue to function.

But it seems to reduce morality to a kind of Darwinian biological materialism: even the most exalted moral life has its genealogical roots in the necessity of group survival. Moral consciousness is reduced to biological function.

And I think that there is always a really contemporary presupposition buried in that line of thought: that we are biologically self-interested, but may learn not to be (I know you haven't asserted this, but I think it's there.....certainly in the discourse of evolutionary psychology).

To return to Adorno: maybe the premise of biological self-interest is really quite an ideological construction; it accords very neatly with orthodox economic assumptions about human behavior.

To take it back to the Buddha: maybe we need to be speaking about sankharas, and the various faculties which give rise exalted states of consciousness ~ the forms of morality associated with mental training. Can they be reduced to biology?

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:19 pm

Nomade wrote:It is very probable, IMHO, that morals have a biological, genetic origin. How else so many cultures, separated in time and space, developed more or less the same moral codes? The ultimate nature of man is biological...

An specific example of a moral rule coming from a biological cause could be incest avoidance. There is something called the Westermark effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westermark ... rck_effect , a simple rule.


It is not like there is a choice as to which behaviors are ideal in an evolutionary context. Those behaviors, as with genetically expressed physiological traits (phenotype), which provide a survival advantage by definition will survive and thrive reproductively, while those which provide a disadvantage to survival will eventually become extinct. Therefore, if developing a moral system is advantageous to survival then eventually it will arise and be practiced to the reproductive benefit of the participants. Once evolving as an expression which limits genetic diversity by becoming incestuous, then it will inevitably cause extinction of the group, no matter what its size and ubiquity as soon as environmental pressures come along which are capable of exterminating its limited genetically derived phenotypical range and domain.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:12 am

tobes wrote:Okay, that's pretty clear now.The universality of morality is whatever assists group survival.

I suppose that accounts for how societies and civilisations function and continue to function.

But it seems to reduce morality to a kind of Darwinian biological materialism: even the most exalted moral life has its genealogical roots in the necessity of group survival. Moral consciousness is reduced to biological function.

Hello, tobes,
Yes, I'm saying it has its roots there - but that doesn't mean there are no flowers above them. :smile:
And BTW, "reduce morality to a kind of Darwinian biological materialism" has a whole tangle of assumptions and value judgements embedded in it. I'm not going to unpick them, but you might like to do it sometime.
tobes wrote:And I think that there is always a really contemporary presupposition buried in that line of thought: that we are biologically self-interested, but may learn not to be (I know you haven't asserted this, but I think it's there.....certainly in the discourse of evolutionary psychology).

I haven't asserted it but I wouldn't disagree with it. Nor would I call it a 'presupposition' - it's more like an observable fact. It flies in the face of the world-view that sees humanity as fundamentally different in kind from all animals. If you didn't blink at that last phrase and want to insert 'other' before 'animals', it could be your own world-view, but it isn't mine.
tobes wrote:To return to Adorno: maybe the premise of biological self-interest is really quite an ideological construction; it accords very neatly with orthodox economic assumptions about human behavior.

To take it back to the Buddha: maybe we need to be speaking about sankharas, and the various faculties which give rise exalted states of consciousness ~ the forms of morality associated with mental training. Can they be reduced to biology?

Adorno? Orthodox economic assumptions? :toilet:
Sorry, I can't even be bothered arguing with them.

The Buddha? Much better! :smile:
In terms of the OP, you won't be surprised to know that I reject the idea that "You cannot be moral without being religious".
The Dhamma, though, is one of the most beautiful flowers growing from the evolutionary roots of our morality. It presents us with ways of understanding our lives and making them better, without conflicting with reason (as most religions do) or our underlying cultural patterns.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby alan » Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:23 am

Once again I'll try to reframe the argument for the sake of clarity. "Is it possible to act ethically without being religious?"
That is the way to attack the question. I'd refer everyone to Ben's audio link, which seems to have been overlooked. Please go back a page and listen.
Pete Singer has been a prominent public intellectual for at least 20 years and deserves respect. Agree or disagree, anyone interested in this subject should at the very least be aware of his position, which for the sake of this argument I will consider to be the final word.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:22 am

alan wrote:Once again I'll try to reframe the argument for the sake of clarity. "Is it possible to act ethically without being religious?"
That is the way to attack the question. I'd refer everyone to Ben's audio link, which seems to have been overlooked. Please go back a page and listen.
Pete Singer has been a prominent public intellectual for at least 20 years and deserves respect. Agree or disagree, anyone interested in this subject should at the very least be aware of his position, which for the sake of this argument I will consider to be the final word.

Hi, Alan,
We haven't really resolved the difference/s between ethics and morality here (and I'm not sure we need to) but I did, after this 'bump', listen to the interview. Singer is saying pretty much what I've been saying :woohoo: so of course I agree with him.
I have been reading his work for years - he was a prominent Aussie intellectual before moving to your side of the Pacific, in case you didn't know - so our agreement may be partly due to his prior influence on my thinking. BTW, his interviewer on that programme http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/about/ is well worth following in his own right, as a thoughtful, well-informed liberal humanist with enough clout to talk to a lot of very worthwhile people. Browse around the Late Night Live page and see for yourself.
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby ground » Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:44 am

alan wrote:Once again I'll try to reframe the argument for the sake of clarity. "Is it possible to act ethically without being religious?"


As long as there is someone who acts ethically, no this is impossible

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby alan » Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:59 am

Thanks Kim, that is why I love you.

[Moderator note: Naughty stuff removed.]
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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby ground » Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:01 am

alan wrote:[Moderator note: Naughty stuff removed.]


I knew that I can rely on you.

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby tobes » Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:01 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Hello, tobes,
Yes, I'm saying it has its roots there - but that doesn't mean there are no flowers above them. :smile:
And BTW, "reduce morality to a kind of Darwinian biological materialism" has a whole tangle of assumptions and value judgements embedded in it. I'm not going to unpick them, but you might like to do it sometime.
tobes wrote:And I think that there is always a really contemporary presupposition buried in that line of thought: that we are biologically self-interested, but may learn not to be (I know you haven't asserted this, but I think it's there.....certainly in the discourse of evolutionary psychology).

I haven't asserted it but I wouldn't disagree with it. Nor would I call it a 'presupposition' - it's more like an observable fact. It flies in the face of the world-view that sees humanity as fundamentally different in kind from all animals. If you didn't blink at that last phrase and want to insert 'other' before 'animals', it could be your own world-view, but it isn't mine.


Hi Kim,

I certainly imputed quite a lot on your post, which was a little heavy handed of me. Sorry....but let me see if I can qualify my position a little.

I suppose the real issue at stake is the relationship between consciousness and biological conditions. Your argument, shared by a few others on this thread, is that consciousness has a directly causal relationship to biological conditions. That is, it arises from (originates in) biological conditions.

Whilst I find Darwin's theory of evolution compelling, I do not find the loose inferences made upon that theory compelling at all....particularly those relating to claims about human nature.

I think that the inference that consciousness originates in biological factors posits a very singular and reductive view of causality. Consciousness is a very complex phenomena, so to reduce that complexity to a primary cause (i.e. biological factors) inadvertently procures a very linear and singular version of causality.

So I suppose I am saying, yes, biological factors are necessary to explain consciousness, but so are many other factors. At what basis does one reduce all the other factors and put all the causal efficacy just on the biological factors?

Sociologists always attack evolutionary psychologists for that, and I guess I side with the sociologists.

As far as human-animals go, I do not think that they are as distinct as a lot of thinkers in the past tended to assume. Aristotle: humans are endowed with logos and reason, animals are not and therefore there is a categorical distinction......I also think this view is very problematic.

But one can go too far in the opposite direction, and assert that human-animals are not distinct at all; that it is a fallacious distinction....and by extension, make the argument that animal and human instincts are more or less identical.

I think the Buddhist view here is important: there are very pronounced qualitative distinctions in consciousness, along with some cross overs. From a study of the Theravadan Abhidharma:

"the possibilities latent in the average human consciousness may also lead downwards to rebirth in the animal realm. The fact that all the intensifying factors, more or less developed, may be present in the higher animals implies that human beings can sink down to animal level and that animals can rise up to the human level."

So at this point (I'm not saying I know how), we need to account for the complexity of consciousness and its relation to moral (or if one rejects the term, ethical) states.

Which is really the heart of the dhamma isn't it? A good topic to think on.

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby tobes » Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:56 am

alan wrote:Once again I'll try to reframe the argument for the sake of clarity. "Is it possible to act ethically without being religious?"
That is the way to attack the question. I'd refer everyone to Ben's audio link, which seems to have been overlooked. Please go back a page and listen.
Pete Singer has been a prominent public intellectual for at least 20 years and deserves respect. Agree or disagree, anyone interested in this subject should at the very least be aware of his position, which for the sake of this argument I will consider to be the final word.


Why do you consider Singer to be the final word? And how do you distinguish between ethics and morality?

So far on this second question, I think we've only got as far as establishing that it's very contested.

I said I'd dig up a few more standpoints, here's another (courtesy of an applied ethics department lecturer):

Morality: deeply personal ~ how I should act and live, based on my beliefs and experiences
Ethics: intersubjective ~ how we should should decide to live; presupposes pluralism and action, is normative (i.e. what ought we do) and is open to rational critique.

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:12 am

Hi, Tobes,
With the best will in the world, I'm not going to try to treat the Hard Problem of consciousness as a mere incidental step on the way to discovering the origin of morality. :tongue:
In fact, I think we have dealt with the OP pretty well and in fact gone a bit further, and I'm inclined to leave it there. Thank you for an interesting conversation. :smile:

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby Nomade » Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:20 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
Nomade wrote:It is very probable, IMHO, that morals have a biological, genetic origin. How else so many cultures, separated in time and space, developed more or less the same moral codes? The ultimate nature of man is biological...

An specific example of a moral rule coming from a biological cause could be incest avoidance. There is something called the Westermark effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westermark ... rck_effect , a simple rule.


It is not like there is a choice as to which behaviors are ideal in an evolutionary context. Those behaviors, as with genetically expressed physiological traits (phenotype), which provide a survival advantage by definition will survive and thrive reproductively, while those which provide a disadvantage to survival will eventually become extinct. Therefore, if developing a moral system is advantageous to survival then eventually it will arise and be practiced to the reproductive benefit of the participants. Once evolving as an expression which limits genetic diversity by becoming incestuous, then it will inevitably cause extinction of the group, no matter what its size and ubiquity as soon as environmental pressures come along which are capable of exterminating its limited genetically derived phenotypical range and domain.


Hi Ron. I would like to expand on my idea, if I may.

Any set of behaviors an organism evolves is bound to be considered "moral" by that organism (if it is intelligent enough to ponder about morality, of course). The why it evolved is, as you well said, beyond its control; but once evolved it will become the reference point for its morality. It will call it "natural", simply. Which is true.

An intelligent male lion would find it perfectly moral to kill all children in his pack to increase his chances of reproducing, an intelligent ant would find absolute dictatorship the most perfect form of government and consider any democracy a total horror, an intelligent chimp will consider that occasionally hunting and killing chimps from other bands is the moral thing to do, etc...

But aha, the chimp looks like us! Where does it lead us?

I think that we, as modified chimps :smile: are a good example of what an intelligent species could do with its epigenetic morality. Modify it, with great difficulty and only up to a point, to match a higher perspective. We do occasionally hunt and kill other humans: we call it tribal warfare, or world wars, depending on our technology. But we not only do that: we (hey, at least some of us!) can conceive of a world without wars, a world with no enemies, no "other bands". And that can modify our epigenetic morality.

It is a difficult process, involving much learning. Just see how difficult it is for small children to learn to cooperate, to not fight for trifles. So our brain, by grasping and learning a higher worldview than the one dictated by evolution, can partially overcome it. Brains, of course, are also a product of evolution. An old system half overriden by a new one: that's us.

Fascinating!

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Re: "You cannot be moral without being religious"

Postby tobes » Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:52 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Hi, Tobes,
With the best will in the world, I'm not going to try to treat the Hard Problem of consciousness as a mere incidental step on the way to discovering the origin of morality. :tongue:
In fact, I think we have dealt with the OP pretty well and in fact gone a bit further, and I'm inclined to leave it there. Thank you for an interesting conversation. :smile:

:namaste:
Kim


Fair enough Kim! Likewise, thanks for your well founded thoughts on the matter.

:anjali:
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