Are there any absolute moral values for all mankind?

  • #1
If so, how did they become absolute to all mankind across cultures and terriotories?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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If so, how did they become absolute to all mankind across cultures and terriotories?
No, there are no absolute moral values for all mankind.
 
  • #3
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" If absolute truth does not exist, the claim "Absolute truth does not exist" is not absolutely true either.

As the above sentence - in its entirety, so all that is italicized - must be true, it forms the proof of the existence of absolute truth."

umad?
 
  • #4
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" If absolute truth does not exist, the claim "Absolute truth does not exist" is not absolutely true either.

As the above sentence - in its entirety, so all that is italicized - must be true, it forms the proof of the existence of absolute truth."

umad?
I didn't say that absolute truth doesn't exist, just that absolute moral values don't. The absolute truth is that moral values aren't absolute -- at least not insofar as they're viewed as moral values, ie., as emergent, scale specific, phenomena.
 
  • #5
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By the way, I concede our chess game reconstruction to you. I've played through every possible, decently played, continuation. I lose. Congratulations.
 
  • #6
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Obviously we do not eat our newborn babies as some species do and if there ever was a culture that did so they went extinct. So yes, we do have innate absolute morals of some sort and for some of these the punishment for disobedience is extinction. The ability for any animal with a brain to discern what is useful and useless to them is also evidently innate and this includes not least of all for social animals such as ourselves the ability to discern what is and isn't acceptable behavior.
 
  • #7
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If so, how did they become absolute to all mankind across cultures and terriotories?
If something is relative to another thing it cannot be absolute. You can ask if there is absolute morale, but you cannot ask if there is absolute morale for mankind.
Your question is meaningless.
 
  • #8
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Obviously we do not eat our newborn babies as some species do and if there ever was a culture that did so they went extinct. So yes, we do have innate absolute morals of some sort and for some of these the punishment for disobedience is extinction. The ability for any animal with a brain to discern what is useful and useless to them is also evidently innate and this includes not least of all for social animals such as ourselves the ability to discern what is and isn't acceptable behavior.
Is our behavior in any way absolute? Morality is an emergent phenomenon associated with human behavior, and moral values are variable. As you note, the behavior of many living species is nonmoral.
 
  • #9
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Is our behavior in any way absolute? Morality is an emergent phenomenon associated with human behavior, and moral values are variable. As you note, the behavior of many living species is nonmoral.

The belief that morality is solely a human phenomenon is an archaic idea promoted by religions that insist only humans have souls, consciousness, and free will. Animals are quite capable of creating their own moralities and enforcing them as well as displaying such things as kindness and sympathy. Likewise these moralities can be variable.

One of the more well studied examples was a troop of baboons who for unknown reasons lost all their more aggressive males to T.B. after scavenging in a trash heap. After that the remaining baboons made it clear to any new baboon trying to join the group that they would shun any displays of aggressive behavior. For a species known for its aggression this is a remarkable turn of events and demonstrates just how variable animal behavior can be. Similarly, among chimps if the alpha male becomes too aggressive the females will jump behind the bushes with their favorite low ranking male the minute they go into heat.

Likewise chimps have been known to refuse food if it means another will suffer and to share food even when separated for life by cages. Elephants have been known to pull down fences to free antelope, to circle their wounded and dead for days crying tears and gently urging them to get up, dolphins have been known to save people from sharks, etc. To insist that such behavior is merely instinctual stretches the bounds of credulity.

That some species might commonly eat their young does not mean they are amoral. It simply means they don't have any apparent moral qualms about eating their young. Obviously considering the unprecedented investment humans have to make in childrearing for such a practice to be commonplace would be against the interest of the species. Hence, my assertion that there are some morals for humans that are absolute. Whether you perceive them to be the result of free will or natural selection or whatever is a different matter altogether.
 
  • #10
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The OP is just asking if there are any moral values shared by all human cultures. It would seem that there are. Then he asks how these shared values came to be shared.
 
  • #11
Siv
Gold Member
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Thats a great question.

There are some universal morals, as in an innate sense of right and wrong, common to most humans, primates and mammals. These are evolutionary.

We could not have optimized our gene propogation had we not been averse to some things like indiscriminate killing or valued some traits like taking care of our children and finding them "cute".
 
  • #12
There are some universal morals, as in an innate sense of right and wrong, common to most humans, primates and mammals. These are evolutionary.
yeah, i think there are universal morals after all. now, wouldn't evolution make them relative? i mean, had we evolved differently, wouldn't it be likely we would have another set of "universal" morals?

what makes universal morals universal?
 
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  • #13
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yeah, i think there are universal morals after all. now, wouldn't evolution make them relative? i mean, had we evolved differently, wouldn't it be likely we would have another set of "universal" morals?
Apparently it can. The black widow spiders do not share our killing morals.
 
  • #14
Siv
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yeah, i think there are universal morals after all. now, wouldn't evolution make them relative? i mean, had we evolved differently, wouldn't it be likely we would have another set of "universal" morals?

what makes universal morals universal?
{Emphasis mine}The fact that they help gene-propogation.

For most animals living in small to medium groups, these morals (a rough dos and donts guide) would be similar.
 
  • #15
D H
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From http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/09/magazine/09babies-t.html?_r=1
A growing body of evidence, though, suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. With the help of well-designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone.​
Read the article for more.
 
  • #16
I would say truthfulness, it is the foundation of all human virtues.

How did mankind comprehend truthfulness? They were taught and being taught.

The waste is truth is being courrupted so as other values.
 
  • #17
{Emphasis mine}The fact that they help gene-propogation.

For most animals living in small to medium groups, these morals (a rough dos and donts guide) would be similar.
I don't know, gene-propagation doesn't seem to make morals universal. Under this premise, different scenarios can still direct morals in any direction a species needs for its specific circumstances, thus their morals wouldn't be really universal after all.
 
  • #18
baywax
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If so, how did they become absolute to all mankind across cultures and terriotories?
Without identifying the specific "absolute" morals its hard to know what you're talking about. But... even without such identification I would suggest that if we can see a moral that transcends culture, territory and genetic pools it would be so because the moral in question is paramount to the survival of the human species and therefore, universal to the species.
 
  • #19
Siv
Gold Member
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I don't know, gene-propagation doesn't seem to make morals universal. Under this premise, different scenarios can still direct morals in any direction a species needs for its specific circumstances, thus their morals wouldn't be really universal after all.
Thats a very vague dismissal, can you be more specific ?
The cooperative, reciprocal altruism kind of morality would be common to almost all animals who evolved in small to medium groups. Why would they be different ?
 
  • #20
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I don't know, gene-propagation doesn't seem to make morals universal. Under this premise, different scenarios can still direct morals in any direction a species needs for its specific circumstances, thus their morals wouldn't be really universal after all.

We aren't talking about morals that can't change, merely absolute in the sense that they are universal and innate.
 
  • #21
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I think biologists such as Richard Dawkins or Jacques Monod might argue against any absolute morality. From a strictly utilitarian viewpoint, they might say that the survival of the community is the sole basis for evaluating successful adaptive behavior. I suppose that even eating the young could be a successful communal adaptation under certain circumstances. However Dawkins or Monod might have to allow that the adults shouldn't eat all of their young.
 
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  • #22
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Are there anyone who practices true moral relativism, meaning that they are capable of bracketing others' behavior without evaluating it in terms of their own values? I think that moral evaluation of others and taking SOME amount of action on the basis of judgment is a cultural universal; even if the only action taken is shunning, i.e. social avoidance/exclusion. Relativists like to claim that they don't judge, but they don't like to admit that they pre-emptively maintain social boundaries and only engage in positive social contact with others who share their moral values. They just don't see their behavior as exclusionary/shunning.
 
  • #23
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I think biologists such as Richard Dawkins or Jacques Monod might argue against any absolute morality. From a strictly utilitarian viewpoint, they might say that the survival of the community is the sole basis for evaluating successful adaptive behavior. I suppose that even eating the young could be a successful communal adaptation under certain circumstances. However Dawkins or Monod might have to allow that the adults shouldn't eat all of their young.
I have heard it suggested that even genocide may be such a "utilitarian" behavior, as a reaction to times of perceived collapse of communal sustainability.
 
  • #24
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When one realizes that it only takes about 2000 years back to find that every person whose line survived is an ancestor of everyone on the planet, it is not such a stretch to think that some moral ideas have become more or less universal (under certain circumstances and relative to most of the population.) However, I am personally not convinced this is the case.
 
  • #25
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I have heard it suggested that even genocide may be such a "utilitarian" behavior, as a reaction to times of perceived collapse of communal sustainability.
Good point since this is a perfect example of how the perception of a community ideal-image facilitates destruction of the actual community. The fact is that all living things operate within an ecology/community. Humans, and maybe other animals too, however are capable of creating an abstract image of their community and attribute ideals and other attributes to it. When the goodness of community-functioning is attributed to racial/ethnic identity, genocide becomes a logical utilitarian approach to "purifying" the community to include only those considered "racially good."

Of course, other attributes besides racial/ethnic identity can also be used for "purification/cleansing" such as when people seek to "cleanse" their communities of criminals, sloths, cowards, delinquents, deviants, perverts, witches, religious fundamentalists or other stigmatized identities. Physical removal or killing of stigmatized individuals usually only occurs when attributes are defined in terms of essentialism, i.e. that certain individuals contain undesirable traits as part of their "essence." When undesirable traits are viewed as cultural and culture is viewed as learned instead of essential, resocialization may be taken as a less-violent approach to moral conflict.

Cultural/moral relativists claim that people shouldn't attempt to resocialize each other culturally, let alone attack them violently, but the question is whether total relativism is ever truly possible to the point where individuals can have radically conflicting moral and other values and still be able to interact positively and constructively. Imo, the best hope for that is for people to have guidelines or standards as to how far they may utilize social power against those they disagree with. This requires anti-discrimination laws, for example, and rights and protections against abuses of freedom.
 

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