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View Poll Results: How do you see morality?

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  • Morality is universal, given to people by higher powers.

    3 27.27%
  • I subscribe to GSML definition of morality.

    3 27.27%
  • None of the above (explain please).

    5 45.45%
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Thread: Right, Wrong and Morality

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    Lightbulb Right, Wrong and Morality

    GSML – Group Survival Morality Law

    Definition of GSML:
    Whatever makes your group stronger or protects it is Good, Right, Moral.
    Whatever makes it weaker or destroys it is Wrong, Evil, Immoral.

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    Right, Wrong and Morality

    Probably what I propose here won’t be liked and approved by most people. Regardless, I’m compelled by my understanding of our world and nature to uncover for all the other side of the story.
    Most of us consider Right and Wrong and whole issue of morality to be unquestionably universal values. Values firmly and unequivocally set by higher powers, either Mother Nature, God, Gods or other grand forces of universe. Our spirituality and big religions are teaching us not to kill, steal, lie; they want us to help others, obey, love, etc. All the teachings are collected in holy books, catechisms and codexes. They all claim that these laws came from higher powers, therefore it was concluded that they must be universal for the whole cosmos.
    From my youngest years I was raised in this spirit, and in my younger years I was a strong proponent of this view. Well, other point of view was unavailable for me at the moment. I was long straggling to solve some conflicts and excuses that allow people to break the universal laws of morality, and be forgiven or even end up as heroes. I just couldn’t accept this. If law is universal, it means it should be sustained in all circumstances. If god says that, it must be always true. Isn’t it?
    Here is an example:
    You shall not kill!
    This is a strong indication that by standards of universal law killing is bad. But is it? If you kill you neighbor in you village, all village will say it’s wrong. If you kill your enemy who attacks your village or your country, everybody will cheer and make you a hero, confirming your good deed. So why this universal law is so confusing?
    The scholars of morality will explain that in case of self defence it is your right to kill the enemy who tries to kill you or your people. It makes sense on first glance, but what if I’m a prisoner on a death raw? According to self defence rights I should be free to kill all the prison guards to save my life in self defence, right? It will be a rightful killing. Off course scholars will object to this and find other explanations to rescue the universal law from this conundrum.
    There are lots of examples of such dilemmas putting universal law in question. This is why the holly books are very thick, encompassing all possible scenarios of human life. Religious academia argues about these examples for millennia and is more lost than ever in more complicated world of today.

    One day when I was thinking about social character of human nature, and our strong group oriented ways of life, it dawned on me. Finally eureka moment came about the Good and the Evil. Things settled in right places and understanding of human morality was clear and peaceful. The fundament of universal laws was shattered into smithereens, at the same moment, by a birth of a new idea.

    It’s about the group! It’s not about individual you or me, not about god or cosmos. It’s only about the group! For long millions of years humans and our human like ancestors lived in groups. Alone no hominid could survive and it’s offspring. We only managed to survive in groups; smaller or bigger ones but in groups. The social structure of a group was the biggest success of our species. Our lives and our laws were the result of lives of most successful groups of our ancestors.

    To make sure I was right I created a premise:
    All the major laws are created to make group stronger or protect it from harm. In other words, what we call Right makes group stronger. Wrong, evil is whatever weakens and destroys it.
    Let’s see if this hypothesis holds:
    You shall not kill. If you killed one of yours, you made your group weaker, you did Evil. But, if you killed enemy of your group, you protected your group, you did Good.
    What if a psychopath in your group kills people from your group? Is killing him (only available option to stop him) right or wrong? He’s from your group after all. Judging by the group survival law killing him is good. He was making your group weaker.
    I’m pretty sure most people and religious scholars would agree that killing is warranted in this case and it’s a good thing, but they would have a hard time to understand and articulate the causes of their verdict. This is though a very simple decision when one uses the group survival law. No wasted time on guessing and defining morality in this case. The group survival morality law is simple like Occam’s razor.

    Is stealing bad or good? I would say that every behavior that introduces quarrels and violence in a group makes it weaker; therefore it’s a wrong thing. Same thing is with adultery, lying or destruction of property. In most cases though, same as with killing, it depends on contexts of these actions.
    We don’t need to hold only religious laws to the flame of group morality. Let’s test some things and actions from today’s world. Take smoking cigarettes for example. For many years we weighed pros and cons, and finally judging by the cost of expensive health care, number of premature deaths of this stinky habit, we declared it bad and evil. The freedom of individual to smoke in public is totally trashed. Another decade or two and it might be completely illegal to buy cigarettes.
    Similar thing is now happening with overeating, obesity problem. The population is getting fatter every year and it will bring horrible consequences to all society in cost and suffering.
    Obesity is an interesting issue. Long time ago when one could only see rich people fat, the plumpness was a thing the millions of skinny plebs dreamed of, and it was called good and beautiful. Now in the rich western civilization everybody can eat as much as one wants, obesity is called evil. Again, Group Survival Morality Law is easy to apply in this case.

    GSML is also very applicable to economic systems too. Feudalism gave way to capitalism (free market) which had lead almost century long competition with communism, planned economy, in last century. Many smart people loved communism and were sure it will win against capitalism. Why wouldn’t it, the equality and fair sharing should win over greed and inequality, right? According to GSML the system that benefits people the most should become the right one, and selected to benefit the group. Well, we know which one won; the imperfect, unequal, greedy, but energetic, productive and the best system we have at the moment.

    Keep in mind that depending on a definition of your group same thing might be moral or immoral. For example take Serbia and Bosnia during their war. I’m sure that for Serbs to protect and defend Serbia killing Bosnians was a right and moral thing to do, so it was for Bosnians protecting Bosnia and killing Serbs. Now if you consider yourself a citizen of the world, all people on this planet are included in your group, then whole Balkan conflict, and any conflict for this matter, was simply bad and immoral.
    There is no confusion in understanding morality here, because morality is not universal. The definition of a group will define if action or a thing is moral or not.


    I wonted to add few more things but it’s starting to get really, really long, lol. I hope you found it at least interesting.

    Thanks for reading.
    LeBrok

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    MORAL CONFLICTS IN YOU

    All of us will find moral conflicts. They come from our identification with more than one group, group of people. The smallest group is your family, next group you identify with is you village or town, then you region or country, then your race or whole human kind.
    One of the examples of your morality conflicts could be this:
    Town needs a new road. Unfortunately for you the road is planed to go through your property. At the end of a day the bigger group forces your family to move away. Your family can claim that wrong and immoral thing was done. All other city people will say to you that it was a right thing to do for the city. Can both sides, both groups be right with their conflicting views of this situation? Well, according to the GSML theory, yes!

    Other point of view, and probably right too, might be that morality of a bigger group will always be the right one, and the one that wins. After all, the bigger the group you belong too, the bigger the chance of its survival and yours too. The smaller groups, the subgroups, can be treated as individuals. The same way we analyze the smaller groups we came from, like tribes and villages.

    I hope GSML theory explains well morality, and will help you find understanding of where morality comes from, will give you some peace of mind, and ease few dilemmas.

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    OK, I'll take a shot at this. To understand where I'm coming from to begin with, I think that morality is nearly universal--that is, it doesn't vary much by which culture or group you belong to--and derives principally from human behavior and biology (so not exactly a "higher power"). I also tend to approach ethical issues from a deontological perspective rather than a consequentialist one. The reason I do that is mostly for practical reasons rather than some idea of deontological ethics being somehow more universally correct... I think that even a weakly skeptical epistemology derives deontological ethics as the most practicable. In layman's terms, it is way easier to tell people what they can or cannot do than it is to expect them to calculate consequences.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Most of us consider Right and Wrong and whole issue of morality to be unquestionably universal values.
    I'd be surprised if you found that on this (highly intellectual) forum, unless some of us are conservative theologians. Or did you mean people in general? I think your counterexample to "Thou shalt not kill" is mostly good, although...

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    The scholars of morality will explain that in case of self defence it is your right to kill the enemy who tries to kill you or your people. It makes sense on first glance, but what if I’m a prisoner on a death raw? According to self defence rights I should be free to kill all the prison guards to save my life in self defence, right? It will be a rightful killing. Off course scholars will object to this and find other explanations to rescue the universal law from this conundrum.
    This assumes that there is no such thing as forfeiture of rights, which just about every rights-based ethical system has. After all, if there is no possible forfeiture of rights when breaking the rights of others, what is the use of defining rights to begin with?

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    There are lots of examples of such dilemmas putting universal law in question. This is why the holly books are very thick, encompassing all possible scenarios of human life. Religious academia argues about these examples for millennia and is more lost than ever in more complicated world of today.
    I disagree. I think that the holy books are thick because they try to chronicle so much nonsense, not because they are seriously interested in deriving morality from the human condition. And theologians have so much output because they work within the religious paradigm, trying to make sense of something that has a tremendous amount of ambiguity in it.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    One day when I was thinking about social character of human nature, and our strong group oriented ways of life, it dawned on me. Finally eureka moment came about the Good and the Evil. Things settled in right places and understanding of human morality was clear and peaceful. The fundament of universal laws was shattered into smithereens, at the same moment, by a birth of a new idea.

    It’s about the group! It’s not about individual you or me, not about god or cosmos. It’s only about the group! For long millions of years humans and our human like ancestors lived in groups. Alone no hominid could survive and it’s offspring. We only managed to survive in groups; smaller or bigger ones but in groups. The social structure of a group was the biggest success of our species. Our lives and our laws were the result of lives of most successful groups of our ancestors.

    To make sure I was right I created a premise:
    All the major laws are created to make group stronger or protect it from harm. In other words, what we call Right makes group stronger. Wrong, evil is whatever weakens and destroys it.
    Let’s see if this hypothesis holds:
    You shall not kill. If you killed one of yours, you made your group weaker, you did Evil. But, if you killed enemy of your group, you protected your group, you did Good.
    What if a psychopath in your group kills people from your group? Is killing him (only available option to stop him) right or wrong? He’s from your group after all. Judging by the group survival law killing him is good. He was making your group weaker.
    I’m pretty sure most people and religious scholars would agree that killing is warranted in this case and it’s a good thing, but they would have a hard time to understand and articulate the causes of their verdict. This is though a very simple decision when one uses the group survival law. No wasted time on guessing and defining morality in this case. The group survival morality law is simple like Occam’s razor.

    Is stealing bad or good? I would say that every behavior that introduces quarrels and violence in a group makes it weaker; therefore it’s a wrong thing. Same thing is with adultery, lying or destruction of property. In most cases though, same as with killing, it depends on contexts of these actions.
    We don’t need to hold only religious laws to the flame of group morality. Let’s test some things and actions from today’s world. Take smoking cigarettes for example. For many years we weighed pros and cons, and finally judging by the cost of expensive health care, number of premature deaths of this stinky habit, we declared it bad and evil. The freedom of individual to smoke in public is totally trashed. Another decade or two and it might be completely illegal to buy cigarettes.
    Similar thing is now happening with overeating, obesity problem. The population is getting fatter every year and it will bring horrible consequences to all society in cost and suffering.
    Obesity is an interesting issue. Long time ago when one could only see rich people fat, the plumpness was a thing the millions of skinny plebs dreamed of, and it was called good and beautiful. Now in the rich western civilization everybody can eat as much as one wants, obesity is called evil. Again, Group Survival Morality Law is easy to apply in this case.
    You're getting at a very important truth here: that rules governing people are the most obvious way to institute an ethical system among a group, and that fundamental dates back to early human times. Also, in general, these ethical systems would spring up in response to a group need.

    But I fail to see how it follows that therefore, right and wrong is wholly dependent on what is best for the group. If that was the case, then we wouldn't be able to think of counterexamples, but the counterexamples are numerous, obviously--genocide etc. So why do we need to draw this out to group-based consequentialism, rather than simply noting it as a fact of the human condition that this is how ethical systems have tended to arise? It really seems to me that you're drawing a universal here, which is what you've said that others shouldn't be doing, and drawing a universal that is obviously not a universal. It seems to me that instead, we should be placing the fact that people tend to derive ethical systems based on group dynamics into our knowledge base that we use to review and revise the rules and rights that we already have in our existing culture(s).

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    GSML is also very applicable to economic systems too. Feudalism gave way to capitalism (free market) which had lead almost century long competition with communism, planned economy, in last century. Many smart people loved communism and were sure it will win against capitalism. Why wouldn’t it, the equality and fair sharing should win over greed and inequality, right? According to GSML the system that benefits people the most should become the right one, and selected to benefit the group. Well, we know which one won; the imperfect, unequal, greedy, but energetic, productive and the best system we have at the moment.
    That seems problematic. What are you measuring to determine what is the best economic system, purely by outcome? Is it measurable?

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Keep in mind that depending on a definition of your group same thing might be moral or immoral. For example take Serbia and Bosnia during their war. I’m sure that for Serbs to protect and defend Serbia killing Bosnians was a right and moral thing to do, so it was for Bosnians protecting Bosnia and killing Serbs. Now if you consider yourself a citizen of the world, all people on this planet are included in your group, then whole Balkan conflict, and any conflict for this matter, was simply bad and immoral.
    There is no confusion in understanding morality here, because morality is not universal. The definition of a group will define if action or a thing is moral or not.
    I agree that this is a consequence of your understanding of ethics, but I can't imagine why you would be advertising it. A more powerful group killing another, "right" in some ethical system? Surely we ought to count that as "wrong" and make a rule against it in the real world...

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    I voted none ... why you ask.

    Morality is what somebody deems to be right or wrong according to their own subjective views. It's that simple really, neither universal nor motivated by a Group Survival Morality Law definition. Now, the question surrounding ethics is a different issue as this term with its root 'ethos' is directly related to two fundamental principles common to all ethical solutions.
    1. Do no harm
    2. Assist those who cannot assist themselves

    The construct of ethics is inherently rooted in morality however it does not define morality it is merely an application thereof.

    Morality is a 'more' or custom, a personal belief system. It directs behavior, good or bad.

    The question 'why do people believe it's better to ... than to ...' is a moral one and is rooted in the fundamental need that every man has to impart something of himself onto this world. This 'expressed belief' or personal opinion or group custom or tradition is used to identify with others, control non-conformists and categorize behavior as appropriate or inappropriate.

    The inherent need to belong, to identify with a group, and to be affirmed determines to what lengths man will go to express the moral values of others.
    Last edited by Dorianfinder; 10-09-11 at 21:51.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorianfinder View Post
    I voted none ... why you ask.

    Morality is what somebody deems to be right or wrong according to their own subjective views. It's that simple really, neither universal nor motivated by a Group Survival Morality Law definition.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dorianfinder View Post

    Morality comes from somewhere. If you live alone on an island you don't need morality at all, right or wrong don't make sense anymore. We need to look at this subject from group perspective, morality as a social vital force.
    There are only two ways to acquire morality:
    1. Genetic - we are born predisposed to learn what morality is and learn it quickly (except people with mental problems). Most likely we have a compartment in our brains dedicated to morality. Same as with speech, learning and understanding speech for humans is easy, because parts of our brains are dedicated to it. Obviously, morality was essential to our evolutionary past, therefore it exists. The only universal aspect of morality is that it might be common to all or most group animals.
    2. Learned - most of our morality standards come form influence of our societies. We know from history and from ways of life of different ethnic groups that standards of morality change, but all of them have one. Obviously it must be the nurtured component.


    The inherent need to belong, to identify with a group, and to be affirmed determines to what lengths man will go to express the moral values of others.


    These are other aspects of social human nature, same as morality. Even though they are expressed as personal emotions, they only make sense if they are analyzed in contexts of human evolution as a group animal.
    On personal level we can express our fillings regarding morality, from very social aspects to inconsequential ones like "should I eat meat?" or "is it moral to kill mosquito?". If we want very much we could see almost every part of our lives, every our choice, through moral perspective. In my mind though, this doesn't matter as long as it doesn’t effect a group. What doesn't effect a group is like a background noise, rubbish and is inconsequential. From evolutionary point of view of humans as social animals, whatever doesn’t effect a group shouldn't be considered a moral issue; it's only a "moral" noise, artifact of our socially oriented brains.


    PS. I'll answer sparkey next time I have a free moment. ;)

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    There are only two ways to acquire morality:
    1. Genetic - we are born predisposed to learn what morality is and learn it quickly (except people with mental problems). Most likely we have a compartment in our brains dedicated to morality. Same as with speech, learning and understanding speech for humans is easy, because parts of our brains are dedicated to it. Obviously, morality was essential to our evolutionary past, therefore it exists. The only universal aspect of morality is that it might be common to all or most group animals.
    In a new paper entitled “The origins of religion: evolved adaptation or byproduct?”, Ilkka Pyysiäinen from the University of Helsinki and Marc Hauser from Harvard discuss the evolution of religion and morality. The paper discusses whether religion is a direct adaptation, that is, whether there are specific genes that favor belief in religion, God, the afterlife, the supernatural, and so on—or whether religion is a “byproduct,” that is, that religious beliefs grow naturally out of other evolved features of the human mind. Pyysiäinen and Hauser favor the latter. They seem to agree with Pascal Boyer (see his Religion Explained), that faith is an outgrowth of the natural human tendency to attribute intentionality to objects, forces of nature, and the like.

    Here I think we can approach an answer, at least in principle. If morality tends to be similar among people of different faiths, or if morality is similar in atheists and the faithful, or if children brought up without religion but exposed to different cultural teachings tend to converge on the same morality, then we have some evidence of an innate “moral grammar.”

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    2. Learned - most of our morality standards come form influence of our societies. We know from history and from ways of life of different ethnic groups that standards of morality change, but all of them have one. Obviously it must be the nurtured component.
    Both altruistic and antisocial behavior is to a large extent learned behavior, via both social learning and modeling of others. Studies and authors however tend for the most part to view morality as an inherently positive force however it is neither good nor bad, it is a set of beliefs and should not be confused with the behavioral component. For example, suburban families and prison gangs share the same set of moral values regarding 'protecting one's family'. However, how this value is expressed is a different issue altogether and falls firmly within the realm of ethics, not morality.

    Humanity’s closest living relatives are common chimpanzees and bonobos. It is believed that these primates share a common ancestor with humans who lived four to six million years ago. These primates exhibit premoral sentiments used as methods of restraining individual selfishness and building more cooperative groups. Simply put, premoral sentiments have as their primary aim, behavioral control. Morality in a human sense differs from the premoral sentiments of our primate cousins in two primary ways: (1) Humans alter their moral code to suite their psycho-social needs (2) Humans are corrupt, seeking to bypass societal moral codes to further their own interests, to the detriment of society as a whole.

    ************************************************** *********************

    Moral evolution in humans has incorporated various religious values as the church has sought to become more involved in politics and medical-legal issues. Religious institutions strive to make political institutions less secular in efforts to proselytize and increase their rank within high-ranking government and corporate sectors. Medically, religious institutions have begun to take part in the formulation of birth-control and pro-life policies that have as a consequence the swelling of their numbers, improving their position both politically and financially. What does all of this morality have in common, personal gain. Morality as an instrument for the controlling of individuals has as a direct result the extortion and corruption that feeds the moral code of each community. The more morality the less personal freedoms people enjoy and the more corrupt a society becomes.

    In general, individuals agree that moral principles should be upheld by other members of society. Asked whether they believe the same moral principles should apply to themselves, most reply tentatively, feeling that by answering in the affirmative they submit themselves to abuse by those authorities who utilize societal norms to intrude on and restrict the freedoms of others.
    Last edited by Dorianfinder; 12-09-11 at 23:23.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkey View Post
    OK, I'll take a shot at this. To understand where I'm coming from to begin with, I think that morality is nearly universal--that is, it doesn't vary much by which culture or group you belong to--and derives principally from human behavior and biology (so not exactly a "higher power"). I also tend to approach ethical issues from a deontological perspective rather than a consequentialist one. The reason I do that is mostly for practical reasons rather than some idea of deontological ethics being somehow more universally correct... I think that even a weakly skeptical epistemology derives deontological ethics as the most practicable. In layman's terms, it is way easier to tell people what they can or cannot do than it is to expect them to calculate consequences.
    Good observation, most people will choose easy way with deontological ethics than put themselves in pain agonizing over moral dilemmas.
    I'd be surprised if you found that on this (highly intellectual) forum, unless some of us are conservative theologians. Or did you mean people in general? I think your counterexample to "Thou shalt not kill" is mostly good, although...
    Yes, I meant people in general.
    This assumes that there is no such thing as forfeiture of rights, which just about every rights-based ethical system has. After all, if there is no possible forfeiture of rights when breaking the rights of others, what is the use of defining rights to begin with?
    That’s right; it is only a problem from deontological perspective. Group will always set its survival, therefore morality, above an individual.
    Rights mostly cater to group survival and not individuals anyway. Surely, individuals, the citizens have rights in today’s societies. We have rights and we feel important, better self esteem, better citizens,…not sure, can’t put my finger on it yet. Maybe we have only these rights that are not in conflict with group well being.
    One thing is for sure, as soon as individual rights threaten the group, there goes your rights, prohibition, suspension of driving license, imprisonment.

    I disagree. I think that the holy books are thick because they try to chronicle so much nonsense, not because they are seriously interested in deriving morality from the human condition. And theologians have so much output because they work within the religious paradigm, trying to make sense of something that has a tremendous amount of ambiguity in it.
    I have to agree.

    But I fail to see how it follows that therefore, right and wrong is wholly dependent on what is best for the group. If that was the case, then we wouldn't be able to think of counterexamples, but the counterexamples are numerous, obviously--genocide etc. So why do we need to draw this out to group-based consequentialism, rather than simply noting it as a fact of the human condition that this is how ethical systems have tended to arise? It really seems to me that you're drawing a universal here, which is what you've said that others shouldn't be doing, and drawing a universal that is obviously not a universal. It seems to me that instead, we should be placing the fact that people tend to derive ethical systems based on group dynamics into our knowledge base that we use to review and revise the rules and rights that we already have in our existing culture(s).
    Yep, the genocide, I still wrestle with this… Many times I don’t like the consequences I’m arriving at… I would still have to go with consequentialism in this regard.
    Often we have to uncouple ourselves from human emotions to understand forces of nature. They work same way if we like it or not. And yes I know it is not easy, it doesn’t feel right, but it might be the only way to do it.


    That seems problematic. What are you measuring to determine what is the best economic system, purely by outcome? Is it measurable?
    Don’t take my word for it (even from my personal experience in both economic systems). Millions of people in many countries in Eastern Europe and Asia has spoken, decided and switched the sides.

    I agree that this is a consequence of your understanding of ethics, but I can't imagine why you would be advertising it. A more powerful group killing another, "right" in some ethical system? Surely we ought to count that as "wrong" and make a rule against it in the real world...
    That’s my quest, to understand the world, the life, human evolution and emotions. I see beauty in simplicity too, and this was my exercise to understand morality and where it comes from. It would be great for understanding of morality, if morality could adhere to these two simple rules. And no, I’m not 100% sure that it is the right one. Possibly never ending work in progress, lol.
    I thought it would be cool to bounce it off few brainiacs here and check the results.
    A more powerful group killing another, "right" in some ethical system? Surely we ought to count that as "wrong" and make a rule against it in the real world...
    Sparkey, my all heart goes to you bud. I wish the world was the way you see it, and if I was a god I would create it exactly using deontological ethics. :)
    According to GSML both groups will see it as right to kill enemy, both will see it wrong to be killed by enemy. It was always like this, till maybe end of twentieth century when many "citizens of the world" were born. We (me included) want to see it as a wrong thing.
    The question is “Why do we like thinking this way”. The answer might be, because we are very socially motivated creatures, we care about well being of all people on earth. We wish all well, and this feels really, really good. Does it bring benefits to human kind, is it right or wrong? We honestly don’t know that, it just feels good and right.
    But, when the dust settles few centuries later, only history and evolution of human kind will tell us if our way of thinking and acting was the right one. Our right and wrong is arbitrary and subjective. The truth is more relativistic and consequential like the whole universe.

    PS. Really appreciated your comments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Good observation, most people will choose easy way with deontological ethics than put themselves in pain agonizing over moral dilemmas.
    Yeah, I suppose I could go into depth and argue that deontological ethics are more naturally fit to the human condition... I mean, it's easy to argue consequentialist ethics if you are a philosopher who has the luxury of knowing how all of your examples end, but in the real world, we observe patterns and make rules based on them, and then debate those rules. I think that's the proper paradigm to work within.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    That’s right; it is only a problem from deontological perspective. Group will always set its survival, therefore morality, above an individual.
    Rights mostly cater to group survival and not individuals anyway. Surely, individuals, the citizens have rights in today’s societies. We have rights and we feel important, better self esteem, better citizens,…not sure, can’t put my finger on it yet. Maybe we have only these rights that are not in conflict with group well being.
    One thing is for sure, as soon as individual rights threaten the group, there goes your rights, prohibition, suspension of driving license, imprisonment.
    I agree mostly... I like to think of rights as a sort of implicit contract that an individual holds with a group, where the individual is guaranteed the ability to perform certain actions without restrictions, and all other individuals are guaranteed that the individual will allow the same for them.

    It's an interesting related question: Why do we set up rights systems? For the health of the group primarily? I think that that's mostly true; you can't derive a rights system without observing how humans act within their groups, and how they best function within them. Basically, when humans have the sorts of learned rules and guarantees that a rights system provides them with, they function better than when things are uncertain, and an improvement in the sum of individuals, in most cases, will improve the group as well.

    But I don't think that adhering to a rights system is always what is best for the group. Extending those rights to individuals outside a group can be especially counter to group interests, and yet something makes us want to say that it's a good thing to do. This has major ramifications into how we understand what is right and wrong. Can we condemn these things when we are within a group, even if they were helpful to the group?: Torture of members of another group, civilian massacres, slavery. I would hope that we can.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Yep, the genocide, I still wrestle with this… Many times I don’t like the consequences I’m arriving at… I would still have to go with consequentialism in this regard.
    Often we have to uncouple ourselves from human emotions to understand forces of nature. They work same way if we like it or not. And yes I know it is not easy, it doesn’t feel right, but it might be the only way to do it.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like you're saying that because morality and human nature are inseparable (which I agree with), therefore morality is only human nature. I don't see how this follows. Isn't it possible for a better ethical system to have rules that run counter to human nature in some cases?

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Don’t take my word for it (even from my personal experience in both economic systems). Millions of people in many countries in Eastern Europe and Asia has spoken, decided and switched the sides.
    I'm pretty capitalist so you don't have to convince me personally. My question was more targeted at your consequentialism: how do you decide which system is more ethical? It sounds like you're going by maximization of preference. That runs into obvious problems, like an uninformed populace preferring something that's worse for them in every way just because they don't know better. At least it's more measurable than most consequentialist goals, like maximization of happiness or minimization of suffering...

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Sparkey, my all heart goes to you bud. I wish the world was the way you see it, and if I was a god I would create it exactly using deontological ethics. :)
    Yeah me too.

    I think, though, that philosophical ethics has something to say about how people should act, rather than just describing them as they do act. So even if people still act badly, it's okay for me to suggest rules that I think would keep them from acting badly, no?

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    According to GSML both groups will see it as right to kill enemy, both will see it wrong to be killed by enemy. It was always like this, till maybe end of twentieth century when many "citizens of the world" were born. We (me included) want to see it as a wrong thing.
    The question is “Why do we like thinking this way”. The answer might be, because we are very socially motivated creatures, we care about well being of all people on earth. We wish all well, and this feels really, really good. Does it bring benefits to human kind, is it right or wrong? We honestly don’t know that, it just feels good and right.
    But, when the dust settles few centuries later, only history and evolution of human kind will tell us if our way of thinking and acting was the right one. Our right and wrong is arbitrary and subjective. The truth is more relativistic and consequential like the whole universe.
    Hm, this makes me uneasy... I don't want to live in a world in which we've decided that we can't make judgments on the fly. Isn't that what you're saying? That we can only judge actions based on their retrospective consequences? Can we still punish people, and on what grounds? How will anyone know what to do?

    I don't disagree, by the way, that morality is relative, and that it's something that we're always working on and improving our understanding of, I just don't think it varies a whole lot based on culture (or time period). Humans tend to have the same needs, because we're all closely related. So, some basic rules are appropriate for huge majorities of human groups. Unfortunately, it's hard for us to conceive of a radically different morality, because we're the only species on the planet that can cooperate within a communicated ethical system in the way that we do. Perhaps, we can imagine a species of psychic computer people for whom nothing but universal consequentialist ethics make sense. Or maybe those computer people see radically different aspects of the future depending on their group, so their ideal ethical systems vary more radically than humans'. But I don't see humans as being like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    PS. Really appreciated your comments.
    I've studied ethics a bit so I found this a really interesting topic. Thanks for starting it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorianfinder View Post
    In a new paper entitled “The origins of religion: evolved adaptation or byproduct?”, Ilkka Pyysiäinen from the University of Helsinki and Marc Hauser from Harvard discuss the evolution of religion and morality. The paper discusses whether religion is a direct adaptation, that is, whether there are specific genes that favor belief in religion, God, the afterlife, the supernatural, and so on—or whether religion is a “byproduct,” that is, that religious beliefs grow naturally out of other evolved features of the human mind. Pyysiäinen and Hauser favor the latter. They seem to agree with Pascal Boyer (see his Religion Explained), that faith is an outgrowth of the natural human tendency to attribute intentionality to objects, forces of nature, and the like.

    It makes sense, and it might have been just like they say. Same with morality, it might have been a side effect of some other evolutionary development of humans. Though once morality showed up in human brain and it turned to be very beneficial for group existence, it became like a sense of vision for our social lives. It’s hard to imagine that, if morality is with us for few millions of years, it wouldn’t have dedicated neuronal network in our brains, a special compartment in human brain where we measure good and bad.

    Here I think we can approach an answer, at least in principle. If morality tends to be similar among people of different faiths, or if morality is similar in atheists and the faithful, or if children brought up without religion but exposed to different cultural teachings tend to converge on the same morality, then we have some evidence of an innate “moral grammar.”

    Some parts of moral compass are encoded in our heads at time of birth no question about that. We are not sure how much yet.
    The examples you mentioned might be attributed to evolution of morals outside of human body though. Group and its morality/ethics doesn’t die together with individuals (except genocides), therefore morality is an entity. In this understanding morality has time, lots of time, to evolve and try different options. I’m sure many options were tried and some weeded out by natural selection. It might be the case that there are limited successful forms morality can take to make group of humans strong or just survive. If this is right, all strongest human groups in existence today might have similar ethics in general principia.
    Interesting is example of Aztecs and their ethics. For my liking they went too far with sacrifices of people. They killed too many of their finest to give gods the best offer for the rain. They also lost too many battles with Spaniards, trying to wound enemies instead of killing, so they could scarify live people for the gods.
    From history we might conclude that Aztec morality found a dead end.
    I know there were also different reasons too, that they lost. But how one can explain that empire of millions of people succumb to several hundreds Spaniards. Different morality or ethics might be the main culprit here.


    Both altruistic and antisocial behavior is to a large extent learned behavior, via both social learning and modeling of others. Studies and authors however tend for the most part to view morality as an inherently positive force however it is neither good nor bad, it is a set of beliefs and should not be confused with the behavioral component.

    To my understanding of natural selection, if something exists in such profound form as hearing, finger, fear, morality, etc, and for so long, it means that this something is highly beneficial to the owner, therefore it can only be deemed as good.
    For example, suburban families and prison gangs share the same set of moral values regarding 'protecting one's family'. However, how this value is expressed is a different issue altogether and falls firmly within the realm of ethics, not morality.

    If it comes to “protecting once family” they are not that different. Surely there are wars and killings between gangs in same prison, there are no wars and killings between families in same village or city. But members of same ordinary families are sent to war for the tribe or country and eagerly kill members of other ordinary families of different tribe, religion or country. The biggest difference, in my opinion, is that gang members are usually emotionally unstable, brain damaged or psychopathic, compared to members of ordinary family. They war more often and actually might experience pleasure derived from torturing and killing others.
    That’s why they are in prison, with their dead end morality, locked by stronger group people of somewhat different sets of morals, ethics if you wish.
    Humanity’s closest living relatives are common chimpanzees and bonobos. It is believed that these primates share a common ancestor with humans who lived four to six million years ago. These primates exhibit premoral sentiments used as methods of restraining individual selfishness and building more cooperative groups. Simply put, premoral sentiments have as their primary aim, behavioral control. Morality in a human sense differs from the premoral sentiments of our primate cousins in two primary ways: (1) Humans alter their moral code to suite their psycho-social needs (2) Humans are corrupt, seeking to bypass societal moral codes to further their own interests, to the detriment of society as a whole.

    This sounds very homocentric, and it comes only from not enough observation of our closest relatives. I’m pretty sure you will find your, above mentioned, examples in primates or even other social mammals like pack of wolfs, or deer.
    There is no such thing as pre-moral. If morality is understanding and election of right and wrong, what pre-moral is then? Recognition of pre-right and pre-wrong, or sort of right and maybe wrong?
    Just because animals can’t vocalize right and wrong it doesn’t mean they don’t understand and feel them in similar manner than we do.
    ************************************************** *********************

    Moral evolution in humans has incorporated various religious values as the church has sought to become more involved in politics and medical-legal issues. Religious institutions strive to make political institutions less secular in efforts to proselytize and increase their rank within high-ranking government and corporate sectors. Medically, religious institutions have begun to take part in the formulation of birth-control and pro-life policies that have as a consequence the swelling of their numbers, improving their position both politically and financially. What does all of this morality have in common, personal gain. Morality as an instrument for the controlling of individuals has as a direct result the extortion and corruption that feeds the moral code of each community. The more morality the less personal freedoms people enjoy and the more corrupt a society becomes.


    I have to admit you lost me here.
    Let’s have an example:
    Least corrupt country is Denmark
    Most corrupt is Somalia, by these standards:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index
    Are you saying that Somalia has more morality and less personal freedoms than Denmark?
    By more morality, do you mean more moral person or more moral laws?

    In general, individuals agree that moral principles should be upheld by other members of society. Asked whether they believe the same moral principles should apply to themselves, most reply tentatively, feeling that by answering in the affirmative they submit themselves to abuse by those authorities who utilize societal norms to intrude on and restrict the freedoms of others.

    You are painting a very sad picture of human nature. I’m glad I’ve escaped “communism”, the dictator ship of proletariat. Another example of dead end morality.

    Thanks for engaging in this subject. We don’t see eye to eye, but it is very interesting to hear others perspective.

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    @Sparkey

    Uppon some farther contemplation of this subject, I came to conclusion that deontological ethics is way to go for describing choices and making moral codexes for groups of people, with a little bit of consequecialism to solve few dilemas. It is much easier to follow for vast majority of people, much better transparency, same laws for all regardless of group membership. And by genetics and long moral experience of human kind, we intuitivaly can assign right moral values in most common circumstances.

    I’m not serendering my GSML theory by all means. GSML can give us some insides on nature and evolution of morals and ethics (may vary in definition for some) in group social settings. Although it might be fairly accurate in description of nature of the beast, it is rather counter intuitive. I have to admit, I’m often lost in it, and I don’t like the conclusions very much.
    When I put logic into it, it makes fairly good sense. It might need some polishing here and there, but whatever examples I throw against it I can fairly fast understand conseqences analizing the past in terms of benefits and asign right or wrong. The problem is when analizing current events, without clear outcome yet, one canot conclud if moral choice is right or wrong. How can one give a moral values to group members if right or wrong will be decided in 100 years, maybe, lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Uppon some farther contemplation of this subject, I came to conclusion that deontological ethics is way to go for describing choices and making moral codexes for groups of people, with a little bit of consequecialism to solve few dilemas. It is much easier to follow for vast majority of people, much better transparency, same laws for all regardless of group membership. And by genetics and long moral experience of human kind, we intuitivaly can assign right moral values in most common circumstances.
    I'm glad I got you to reconsider your position to some degree. It sounds like you're heading toward something like rule utilitarianism. Feel free to give us an update if you formalize it more.

    You got me to think more about my own position, as well. I haven't thought so much about relative group ethics before, at least outside of the scope of relativism vs. absolutism.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I’m not serendering my GSML theory by all means. GSML can give us some insides on nature and evolution of morals and ethics (may vary in definition for some) in group social settings. Although it might be fairly accurate in description of nature of the beast, it is rather counter intuitive. I have to admit, I’m often lost in it, and I don’t like the conclusions very much.
    When I put logic into it, it makes fairly good sense. It might need some polishing here and there, but whatever examples I throw against it I can fairly fast understand conseqences analizing the past in terms of benefits and asign right or wrong. The problem is when analizing current events, without clear outcome yet, one canot conclud if moral choice is right or wrong. How can one give a moral values to group members if right or wrong will be decided in 100 years, maybe, lol.
    You're seeing more wrong with your own position than you are with mine, why not just convert to sparkey ethics?

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    MORALITY OF ANT COLONY

    Are ants moral creatures?
    If in some basic way morality is genetic in people, can we withhold this social virtue from ants? Animals that can’t learn or understand, but instead get all their social graces only in genetic form.

    -They cooperate, work together for the good of colony, their group.
    -They protect, fight and die for whole colony.
    -They care and protect colony’s young, either eggs or hatchlings.

    All these traits, in human understanding of morality, we call rightful things. Maybe, thanks to hundreds of millions years of evolution of ants they perfected social morality to the extreme level? Compared to other animals on earth ants are very old and extremely successful species. It must mean something.

    Looks like there are some universal forces favoring the right behavior of individual to benefit entire group. By universal I mean common set of social norms and conducts for all groups of animals, helping group survival.

    Simple ant, simple life, easy to understand. For humans though the complexity of our lives is making understanding of morality, and creating simple set of rules, very difficult.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    If it comes to “protecting once family” they are not that different. Surely there are wars and killings between gangs in same prison, there are no wars and killings between families in same village or city. But members of same ordinary families are sent to war for the tribe or country and eagerly kill members of other ordinary families of different tribe, religion or country. The biggest difference, in my opinion, is that gang members are usually emotionally unstable, brain damaged or psychopathic, compared to members of ordinary family. They war more often and actually might experience pleasure derived from torturing and killing others.
    Domestic violence and civil wars are more common that most would like to admit. Whether we chose to look at Sharia law or female circumcision in the Sudan, when moral principles are used to further the gain of one idea or believe system over another we find this 'losing sight of the forest for the single tree that stands in front of us' scenario.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    This sounds very homocentric, and it comes only from not enough observation of our closest relatives. I’m pretty sure you will find your, above mentioned, examples in primates or even other social mammals like pack of wolfs, or deer.
    Your point is a valid one, I simply used similar types to express that moral evolution within primitive species does exist and that there are precidents in primate sub-types with genetic affinity to humans. Sub-human primate types display morality in an instinctual manner, not formalizing it the way humans do. Humans add an un-nurtured element to the mix, that IMO cannot be accounted for solely by genetic heredity or an inherent moral compass as it were. This is evident in poor morality cases that display intense morality that is disfunctional on both individual and societal levels. These cases are too widespread to label 'due to illness or mental instability' unless off-course one subscribes to theories of 'group psychosis' which I am not an adherent of.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    There is no such thing as pre-moral. If morality is understanding and election of right and wrong, what pre-moral is then? Recognition of pre-right and pre-wrong, or sort of right and maybe wrong?
    Pre-moral simply reflects the accidental manner in which certain sub-human primate species express caring and social exclusion within their troupe. It is not moral as these behaviors do not seem to be expressed regularly or in a pattern that would deem these interactions 'group' or individual behavior. In these primitive examples these behavior do not appear to be motivated by a moral code, rather than a group of elementary and reactionary behaviors that suggest human morality may have had similar beginnings.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I have to admit you lost me here. Let’s have an example:Least corrupt country is Denmark - Most corrupt is Somalia, by these standards:Are you saying that Somalia has more morality and less personal freedoms than Denmark? By more morality, do you mean more moral person or more moral laws?
    Somalia is a good example of a society that expresses its morality in extremist terms, one could say that moral principles are more rigid in the manner in which they are expressed and in many cases substitute civil law. Denmark is a good example of how morality is less rigidly applies and one could argue, less of a factor in Danish society than Somali society. Your perception of morality as beneficial is problematic to the discussion as it serves no real objective other than strengthen certain core beliefs you express regarding humanity or human nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    You are painting a very sad picture of human nature. I’m glad I’ve escaped “communism”, the dictator ship of proletariat. Another example of dead end morality.
    It is what it is, morality is oppressive in a very many ways. I prefer to focus on the emotional aspect as this leads people to self-discovery.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Thanks for engaging in this subject. We don’t see eye to eye, but it is very interesting to hear others perspective.
    Thank-you for an interesting thread. I find your opinions engaging and value your contributions on this topic.
    Last edited by Dorianfinder; 14-09-11 at 17:39.

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    Well, I basically agree with LeBrok. Humans recognize group relations for thousands of years. And they still do.
    Nations or states are humbug. Nonsense.
    They appear if a group of people is attacked. They start to defend themselves, what in the end results in aggression.

    The truth is, to be strong, you need a formidable fighting force, but... NEVER USE IT TO FIGHT.
    Use them to train, study and also for development of the regions.

    War is stupid, it costs far more than it ever can bring.

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    Hey if I may interject, something that i believe is under-explained and is important, maybe not to you but important to me at least, which is the occurrence of altruism which is just mentioned briefly. Anyway I believe altruism falls under morality, and is therefor relevant. The question that I wanna ask is why does it exists at all?

    First of all I must say I agree with the group survival thing. In the sense that whatever benefits the group prevails. But I really cannot imagine how charity does the group any good at all? What sense is there in sparing an adversary? Or giving resources (food, clothing, etc) to the sick for example. If i remember correctly, natural selection and genetics were brought up earlier. All the more reason it doesn't make sense. The weak should be allowed to die (pls, this is NOT my personal opinion) but oftentimes we spend a lot of time and resources on the sick. In fact it is morally wrong to NOT care for the sick and dying. Sick and dying can in fact demand even more stuff and rights than a healthy person can, by virtue of their illness and impending death? Doesn't make sense.

    When it comes to charity, often "group" doesn't matter. Heck even species doesn't matter. We would feed a hungry cat. Cats have no place in group survival. Or ferrets. Although it's plainly obvious that while cats feed their young, they will NOT feed other cats. Or starving humans for that matter. So I must say altruism is a very human condition.

    If your theory is correct, then it means that altruism is essential for group survival. And defies natural selection. I mean the fittest won't need your help don't they? So how is it essential?

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    @lebork

    Ok so what about sexual conduct? For example taking mutiple partners in a Darwinian conext is good because it creates more genetic variation so when a plague comes your chances of survival are greater. (good for the group)

    But in most religions its frowned upon, probably because of the impotance of providing for children in a family unit (also good for the group). I find this aspect of human culture difficult to come to terms with if you look at various famous people (because these are people we can all discuss as examples) you find time and time again affairs are extremely common. The more sexually promiscuios would have had more children and spred their genes around far more than the honest family man.

    So what is the answer morally? The group benefits from solid family units with both parents taking multiple sexual partners and families have children to various fathers?

    Seriously though look at a famous character from history read into their life and they will have had mistresses, I find it hard to place a man or woman that hasn't cheated on their partner. How many humans that walked the planet had one sexual partner in their life?

    I think this shows a confilct of civilisation vs animal nature, we want to live in a certain system but our nature that has allowed us to survive to this day has a different system, and it always wins.

    Human existence is the battle between the rational consciousness and the irrational instinctual subconscious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rotunjere View Post
    Hey if I may interject, something that i believe is under-explained and is important, maybe not to you but important to me at least, which is the occurrence of altruism which is just mentioned briefly. Anyway I believe altruism falls under morality, and is therefore relevant. The question that I wanna ask is why does it exists at all?

    First of all I must say I agree with the group survival thing. In the sense that whatever benefits the group prevails. But I really cannot imagine how charity is the group any good at all? What sense is there in sparing an adversary? Or giving resources (food, clothing, etc) to the sick for example. If i remember correctly, natural selection and genetics were brought up earlier. All the more reason it doesn't make sense. The weak should be allowed to die (pls, this is NOT my personal opinion) but oftentimes we spend a lot of time and resources on the sick. In fact it is morally wrong to NOT care for the sick and dying. Sick And dying can in fact demand even more stuff and rights than a healthy person-can, by virtue of their illness and impending death? Doesn't make sense.
    Actually you picked very marginal examples. Altruism is very valid and most of all it works for the smallest unit group like family. It is very important that your genes survive there fore your family must survive, kids and even wife who will help you in this task. Generally we care for our families more than for our larger groups like tribes or nations.
    It is, and was, very important to care for our wounded warriors. We didn't leave them dying in the battle fields, but mended injuries and carried them home. Today, as in the past, to produce a warrior takes years of investments and training. It was very important to save as many as tribe could. A little bit of caring for wounded could save a tribe in a future.
    Other example of essential altruism could be sharing with all tribe or effected families in case of major natural disaster like fires, drought, floods.
    If it comes to poor or sick unessential people in a tribe, they were always the last to be helped. The resources were much more limited in the past than today. They usually didn't live long. Today though, we live in rich times and we can spare plenty even for the least unfortunate once. Surely it doesn't make sense from evolutionary/survival point of view, but we have so much to give these days, so it goes.
    Altruism must have been human condition for so long that we are wired to feel pleasure when we share, give gifts, or help others.



    When it comes to charity, often "group" doesn't matter. Heck even species doesn't matter. We would feed a hungry cat. Cats have no place in group survival. Or ferrets. Although it's plainly obvious that while cats feed their young, they will NOT feed other cats. Or starving humans for that matter.So I must say altruism is a very human condition.
    Again, in today's times we have so much that we simply indulge in pleasure of giving and sharing. Our altruism is being spilled out even on none humans. We have pets just for our fun, and they don't need to work anymore; pool sleds ,hunt, kill mice, plow fields, etc. Especially women, not having many kids or any, have to find some other helpless, defenseless, cute creature (infant like) to care for and love.
    One can conclude that in western world we tuned the world a bit upside down. Interesting times of big social experiments. Future will tell if we took a wise path.

    I'm pretty sure that you can find at least rudimentary altruism in all primates.

    If your theory is correct, then it means that altruism is essential for group survival. And defies natural selection. I mean the fittest won't need your help don't they? So how is it essential?
    I hope I made my case well. :)

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by edao View Post
    @lebork

    Ok so what about sexual conduct? For example taking mutiple partners in a Darwinian conext is good because it creates more genetic variation so when a plague comes your chances of survival are greater. (good for the group)

    But in most religions its frowned upon, probably because of the impotance of providing for children in a family unit (also good for the group). I find this aspect of human culture difficult to come to terms with if you look at various famous people (because these are people we can all discuss as examples) you find time and time again affairs are extremely common. The more sexually promiscuios would have had more children and spred their genes around far more than the honest family man.

    So what is the answer morally? The group benefits from solid family units with both parents taking multiple sexual partners and families have children to various fathers?

    Seriously though look at a famous character from history read into their life and they will have had mistresses, I find it hard to place a man or woman that hasn't cheated on their partner. How many humans that walked the planet had one sexual partner in their life?

    I think this shows a confilct of civilisation vs animal nature, we want to live in a certain system but our nature that has allowed us to survive to this day has a different system, and it always wins.

    Human existence is the battle between the rational consciousness and the irrational instinctual subconscious.
    Interesting, isn't it?
    It looks like people were more promiscuous in the past. Perhaps cavemen were living in one big family, everybody had sex with everybody and everybody cared for all the kids. Now we might be caught in a transition to more one male one female, family unit.
    Looking at other primates, chimpanzees have biggest testicles and are very promiscuous. Gorillas, on other hand, have smallest testicles and are more family oriented. Humans pan somewhere in the middle with testicles size and promiscuity.
    Interesting would be to get statistics on human groups, to check if groups with extensive agriculturalism are more faithful to wives, than groups of pure hunter gatherer evolution like prairie Indians, Australia aborigines, or some sub Saharan tribes.

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    Elite member edao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Interesting, isn't it?
    Interesting would be to get statistics on human groups, to check if groups with extensive agriculturalism are more faithful to wives, than groups of pure hunter gatherer evolution like prairie Indians, Australia aborigines, or some sub Saharan tribes.

    I agree! I have often wondered how human sexual behaviour differs to those of the primates. Great thread by the way.

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    MORE ON ALTRUISM

    After writing this post it occurred to me that I referred to altruism, as to virtue of helping others, and I ignored part of altruism that states, that helping others should be without benefits to first person. Well, I guess if it comes to pure altruism it might be a spill over or side effect of compassion, empathy, and general goodwill of helping others. In most of cases helping your group members is beneficial to group therefore to individuals. If this trend is mostly beneficial it will get hard wired into a brain, giving many generations. I said mostly because in nature nothing is perfect, black and white. It is enough if statistically something works and benefits group more often than not.

    I think it is our human brain with strong tendency to compartmentalizing and categorizing of things blurring our understanding of nature. When we think nature we should try thinking statistics and spectrum, probabilities and combinations.
    Funny thing about altruism is that it might not exist at all. Even if a person supports charities this person is doing it for its own gratification or a good place in heaven. Try to find arrogant, egoistic, people hating person and make him/her help someone. Now that would be a pure altruism.

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    Oxytocin, the love and bond hormone, can make people lie and sacrifice for the group. I think this new research should be mentioned in this thread about morality.

    Oxytocin has perhaps the best reputation of any molecule on the planet. In a culture of chemophobia where any compound is fair game for attack, oxytocin has been heralded as “The Source of Love and Prosperity“. If you listen to the tales, this “moral” molecule—the “trust hormone“—is the “most amazing molecule in the world,” and is your one-stop shop for love and happiness. All you have to do is give someone a hug, and your brain will be flooded with the magic stuff.
    But as many (most notably Ed Yong) have pointed out, oxytocin isn’t the sweet compound we’re told it is. Sure, it has been associated with generosity, desire, and trust, but oxytocin has a dark side, too. It can increase envy and gloating, promote cliques, and even decrease cooperation. Now, a new study published today in PNAS adds to the molecule’s moral ambiguity: huffing oxytocin can lead to dishonest behavior if that behavior is seen as being for “the greater good”.
    Amsterdam scientists Shaul Shalvia and Carsten De Dreub tested the effects of oxytocin in an experimental game set up that allowed participants to lie to benefit the group. Players sniffed either a placebo or oxytocin, then played a game where teams of three anonymous participants were asked to predict a virtual coin toss. Afterward they were told to report whether they had guessed correctly, with correct guessing resulting in more cash for everyone. All of the participants cheated, saying that they guessed right more than they really did, but those that huffed the so-called moral molecule lied more and more quickly, saying they were right a statistically-impossible 80% of the time.
    However, when the experiment was repeated and the participants were told that only their own earnings would be increased, the oxytocin-smellers stopped lying more than the control group (though all of them still lied a little). When correct answers had no gains or resulted in lost money, the love drug group also didn’t differ from the placebo-sniffers. These results suggested that oxytocin only increased dishonesty when it strongly benefitted the group.
    Instead of promoting ethical behavior in all circumstances, oxytocin shifts an individual’s focus from self to group interests, whether or not that leads to higher overall immorality. “Oxytocin boosts group-serving behavior, rather than adherence to general moral codes,” explain the authors.
    These results add to a growing body of literature that suggest oxytocin is a very complex chemical, and definitely not the saintly compound it’s been purported to be. While in certain situations it can increase behaviors we think of as positive—bonding, cooperation and trust—it can also cause bad behaviors, from lying to prejudice. What ultimately matters, say the authors, “is whether such moral code-breaking serves those one cares about and the group one belongs to.”
    “These findings highlight the role of bonding and cooperation in shaping dishonesty, providing insight into when and why collaboration turns into corruption.”

    Citation: Shalvia S. & De Dreub C. (2014). Oxytocin promotes group-serving dishonesty, PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1400724111
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/sc...crease-deceit/


    By my understanding of morality, the Oxytocin is a very moral hormone. It puts the benefit of a group above benefit of self.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Oxytocin, the love and bond hormone, can make people lie and sacrifice for the group. I think this new research should be mentioned in this thread about morality.


    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/sc...crease-deceit/


    By my understanding of morality, the Oxytocin is a very moral hormone. It puts the benefit of a group above benefit of self.
    It reinforces the understanding that we already have about human nature, that we have a natural inclination toward a certain amount of tribalism. But I find your take on it highly problematic. First of all, the effects of Oxytocin (when taken in isolation) aren't "very moral" in much of anybody's ethical system except for yours. Lying and cheating for the benefit of your group, at your own and everybody else's expense, constitute "very moral" actions? The other problem is calling any chemical "moral." It would seem that a chemical can in theory encourage moral behavior when given to a moral agent, but I don't see how the chemical itself can be moral or immoral.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkey View Post
    It reinforces the understanding that we already have about human nature, that we have a natural inclination toward a certain amount of tribalism. But I find your take on it highly problematic. First of all, the effects of Oxytocin (when taken in isolation) aren't "very moral" in much of anybody's ethical system except for yours. Lying and cheating for the benefit of your group, at your own and everybody else's expense, constitute "very moral" actions?
    About own expense:
    As per example, the one belongs to the group, which he/she is trying to benefit, because of warm fuzzy feeling towards the group caused by Oxytocin. As long as the one belongs to the group, this cheating and lying, will benefit the one too. It is not exactly pure altruism action. Even by sacrificing one's life for the group might benefit the one (genetic inheritance) if it means that one's children survive too. I think power of the group over the one, comes from protection and benefits one get's from the group and helping one's offspring survival, than survival and happiness of the group unit itself, as an entity.
    However on genetic level we can see how single man DNA dilutes very fast in few generations, and genetic coherence of a group stays intact much longer for thousands of years. It might mean that perhaps we should look at group evolution as live and conscious entitiy much closer, at least to understand humankind? Afterall the group will survive without the one, but the one won't survive with the group.
    (I think I changed my mind during 3 sentences, lol)

    Regarding everybody else, as different group:
    In my mind it could be explained by group perspective. In line with my assumption that morality (that creates ethical rules) is only a group phenomenon, social interaction, and doesn't apply to isolated self, although concept exist in self's mind. In group perspective, morality of group A applies only to this group A. Morality of group B applies only to group B, etc. It might not be logically obvious to the members of a group, but it still applies in agreement with natural selection law, or other evolutionary forces.
    Analogy would be sharing knowledge about making stone tools with your group. It affects well being of your group, but we don't care if it affects other groups or if they go extinct without this knowledge. If only one group survives it would mean that they had better tools, and in this analogy a better morality.
    The best example is conquest of Aztecs (group A) by Spanish (group B). Before spaniards arrived Aztecs set of ethics was the code of the land, separating evil from good. After Spaniard's conquest, the ethics of Catholic church were in place over Aztecs, defining anything culturally different from group B immoral. And vice versa, invaders felt immoral in their cultural ways to Aztecs. After a while however, when these two groups coalesced into Mexico, the morality of the conquerors is the only surviving norm.
    Now from today's "global village" perspective (group C) we will find both of them, A and B, immoral in many aspects.
    Morality doesn't care about success of other group than yours.




    The other problem is calling any chemical "moral." It would seem that a chemical can in theory encourage moral behavior when given to a moral agent, but I don't see how the chemical itself can be moral or immoral.
    Let's say I used a figure of speech. Let's not call chemicals moral. :)

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    Fantastic, eye opener, short lecture on morality of Chimps and other primates.
    https://youtu.be/b_Lm49XVkGQ

    We can honestly conclude that senses of fairness, reciprocity, empathy, sharing, consolation are genetic. Environment will sharpen or dull these senses, but can't create or delete them, or change values (at least much).

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