Atheism and natural rights.

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apeiron

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For the record, I agree with your position on "at least both the neurobiological and the sociocultural levels|. But thats all. I need to see solid proof before buying into innate, biologic, morality.
So if it isn't black, its got to be white? :zzz:

You are framing a ficticious debate. The choice is not a binary one between nature vs nurture, but about modern models of how complexity arises out of interactions.

A simple way to model the opposing forces behind social organisation in general, and thus moral behaviour in particular, is the dichotomy of competition~co-operation. Not a binary either/or, but a synergistic or complementary pairing.

And if this model is "true", then we should expect to find these same forces manifesting at every level of analysis. And right there in the neurobiology of the brain are modulatory systems that negotiate between the moment to moment choices of whether to compete or co-operate.

That is solid proof for the general interactionist model so far as I'm concerned. But you take a rigid reductionist view of human behaviour clearly, so subtle evidence cannot be evidence from your point of view.

If it isn't black and white and binary all over, it simply don't compute. Oxytocin, as a molecule, either "encodes" morality - or it doesn't.

But natural systems turn out not to be machines. They are more interestingly complex.
 

apeiron

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This is not a link to a study, but it will do as fine as a link to some newspaper article:

http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/hypopit/oxytocin [Broken].
And your link says....

In years past, oxytocin had the reputation of being an "uncomplicated" hormone, with only a few well-defined activities related to birth and lactation. As has been the case with so many hormones, further research has demonstrated many subtle but profound influences of this little peptide, particularly in regards to its effects in the brain. Oxytocin has been implicated in setting a number of social behaviors in species ranging from mice to humans. For example, secretion or administration of oxytocin in humans appears to enhance trust and cooperation within socially-close groups, while promoting defensive aggression toward unrelated, competing groups.
So no-one expects a simple black and white mechanism of action. And in fact the interactions are complex enough as to give apparently confounding results. Although strengthening the sense of in-group of course, in complementary fashion, must strengthen the sense of out-group.

Mice that are unable to secrete oxytocin due to targeted disruptions of the oxytocin gene will mate, deliver their pups without apparent difficulty and display normal maternal behavior. However, they do show deficits in milk ejection and have subtle derangements in social behavior. It may be best to view oxytocin as a major facilitator of parturition and maternal behavior rather than a necessary component of these processes.
Hmm, seems that the actions of oxytocin are even less mechanistic than you suppose.
 
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o no-one expects a simple black and white mechanism of action. And in fact the interactions are complex enough as to give apparently confounding results. Although strengthening the sense of in-group of course, in complementary fashion, must strengthen the sense of out-group
Yes , and ? How does this fit with your view that oxytocin represents some solid evidence of a innate moral sense ? You claimed that it cannot be anything else, it's clear evidence, for generosity is ... moral and modulated by oxytocin. Poor conclusion.

Now we see that it has also aggressive effects. We also know it modulates envy and gloating. Yes, Yea, I know those are moral too.




And your link says....


Hmm, seems that the actions of oxytocin are even less mechanistic than you suppose.
Ok, and what ? Still the main role of the transmitter remains exactly the one I stated it is, reproduction and mother - offspring bonding mechanics.

Or what, we will end postulating sooner or later than mice too is born with a moral sense ? Just because it's a mammalian and it happens to secret oxytocin ? :devil:

Below are the question I asked . Responding with witty comments like the one quoted above doesn't do any good. What you have to explain is how innate morale fits here, and give a solid answer to each one.


1. if you love oxytocin so much, you can start with explaining why "generosity" cannot be a side effect of mother offspring bonding mechanics, designed to increase chances of survival of mammalian offspring, and why it rather points to some almost mystical innate moral "sense".

2. Why it's not the simple effect of a "selfish gene" and is raher the effect of a "moral gene". And if it is the effect of a "moral gene", why does it also appears to promote aggressive behaviors against other competing social groups.
 
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So if it isn't black, its got to be white? :zzz:

You are framing a ficticious debate. The choice is not a binary one between nature vs nurture, but about modern models of how complexity arises out of interactions.

A simple way to model the opposing forces behind social organisation in general, and thus moral behaviour in particular, is the dichotomy of competition~co-operation. Not a binary either/or, but a synergistic or complementary pairing.

And if this model is "true", then we should expect to find these same forces manifesting at every level of analysis. And right there in the neurobiology of the brain are modulatory systems that negotiate between the moment to moment choices of whether to compete or co-operate.

That is solid proof for the general interactionist model so far as I'm concerned. But you take a rigid reductionist view of human behaviour clearly, so subtle evidence cannot be evidence from your point of view.

If it isn't black and white and binary all over, it simply don't compute. Oxytocin, as a molecule, either "encodes" morality - or it doesn't.

But natural systems turn out not to be machines. They are more interestingly complex.
More empty words. Please, can you just present the "multitude", "solid", "clear" mountain of evidence you claim to have regarding innate morality ? I keep asking you to do this, and you fail in every post to do.
 

apeiron

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What you have to explain is how innate morale fits here, and give a solid answer to each one.
Back to the strawmen. Yawn.
 

apeiron

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More empty words. Please, can you just present the "multitude", "solid", "clear" mountain of evidence you claim to have regarding innate morality ? I keep asking you to do this, and you fail in every post to do.
You made the rash claim that there was no evidence "whatsoever" for a neurobiological basis to moral behaviour. Therefore a single example is all that is needed. And you even provided a cite that oxytocin "appears to enhance trust and cooperation within socially-close groups". So hoisted by your own petard.
 
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You made the rash claim that there was no evidence "whatsoever" for a neurobiological basis to moral behaviour. Therefore a single example is all that is needed. And you even provided a cite that oxytocin "appears to enhance trust and cooperation within socially-close groups". So hoisted by your own petard.
Yeah, really. Like I said, you see what you want to see. Petards, usually.

You see oxytocin enhancing trust, but you are utterly blind to see it also increases envy and gloating, and it increases aggressive behavior towards other groups.

this constitutes no proof for innate morel behavior. And if there is proof out there , it eludes you totally , for you are unable, time and again, to post the "multitude" of evidence you claim to have.

Btw, do mice also have a innate moral sense ? For their brains also use the transmitter oxytocin. Does it work well for them ? In their case, does oxtocin story present any proof toward a innate moral sense ?
 
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Back to the strawmen. Yawn.

Sorry my friend. For 20 posts you claimed evidence, and For N posts you displayed nothing but empty rethorics, like usual.


Present your evidence, apeiron, please. Or at least do not claim you have it. Its geting old.
 

apeiron

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You see oxytocin enhancing trust, but you are utterly blind to see it also increases envy and gloating, and it increases aggressive behavior towards other groups.
I don't think you read the research very carefully. Nor my comments about the subtlety of any link between neuromodulator and behaviour.

The researchers suggest oxytocin might promote the intensity of social emotions in general, leading to more generosity and trust in positive contexts and more envy and gloating in competitive situations.

Psychologist Beate Ditzen at the University of Zurich, who did not participate in this study, notes this work does show that oxytocin does not have solely positive effects in humans. She conjectures, however, that negative effects might still have pro-social effects in the long term—other studies hint that the threat of punishment may be key to cooperation.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=oxytocin-hormone
 
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I don't think you read the research very carefully. Nor my comments about the subtlety of any link between neuromodulator and behaviour.
It appears to me that you did not. For you are the one who concluded a innate moral sense from the oxytocin story, and focused only on generosity to make your argument.

While it is clear from research that it modulates more behaviors. This research only proves what we all know from decades, that hormones and neuro-transmitters affects behaviors.

What is missing is proof for innate "morality"
 
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apeiron

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It appears to me that you did not. For you are the one who concluded a innate moral sense from the oxytocin story, and focused only on generosity to make your argument.

While it is clear from research that it modulates more behaviors. This research only proves what we all know from decades, that hormones and neuro-transmitters affects behaviors.

What is missing is proof for innate "morality"
You still fundamentally don't get it.

You are viewing every argument through your own prism, a general worldview that goes like this. Properties of objects are either determined or accidental. If determined, they must be. If accidental, they can be freely chosen.

This worldview underpins a too common modern ideology - that the properties of humans must be either "innate" and determined, or else they are free choices, a matter of freewill. Hence your need here to claim babies are born "undetermined and amoral", when otherwise the only alternative in your eyes is that they are fully determined at birth in regards to their future choices.

I speak for a completely different worldview. Local properties are the result of global contexts. They are neither determined, nor free, but the product of top-down constraints.

The ideology that results from such a worldview thus welcomes global constraints - because they are the actual source of local "freedoms", as well as local "deterministic properties". Constraints make you what you are - a something with a definite nature, but neither a determined nor a random one.

So this worldview sees evolved social order and evolved biological order as positive forces. There could be no "you" of any definite kind without strong downward acting constraints which focus you into some definite state of being.

Thus in no sense have I ever argued that oxytocin is the molecule or the gene for generosity or any other moral trait. In a systems view, objects do not have "innate properties". What I in fact said was that the property (moral behaviour) was "innate" to the system as a whole. And then I proceeded to analyse the system accordingly.

Breaking it down, the core evolutionary dynamic - the one that equilibrates Darwinian fitness across all scales of a species organisation, from the individual to the largest social scale - is competition~co-operation. And competition is plainly the bottom up, constructive, mode of action. Co-operation stands for the top-down constraints.

Humans, as complex social animals, evolved their large brains (with the associated complex neuromodulation) so as to be able to negotiate between these contrasting needs with deep intelligence. To deny morality has natural roots - or must do, in the long run, as it is an issue both of definite individual identity and group survival - is muddled thinking based on false (too simple) ideology.
 
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You still fundamentally don't get it.
I feel the same about you, but its not a problem.

The ideology that results from such a worldview thus welcomes global constraints - because they are the actual source of local "freedoms", as well as local "deterministic properties". Constraints make you what you are - a something with a definite nature, but neither a determined nor a random one.

So this worldview sees evolved social order and evolved biological order as positive forces. There could be no "you" of any definite kind without strong downward acting constraints which focus you into some definite state of being.
The problem is not with your worldview, but with some derivations made from a sound theory, derivations which cannot be proved today, and which are far from being parsimonious. Such as the Darwinian evolved morality (component) .

Mind is not a blank slate. I personally assign to genetics much more than others, but there is a fundamental difference between your opinions and mine. I view Darwinian competition / cooperation as amoral. I feel no need to overload adaptive behaviours with "morality", a vague human concept involved such muddy areas as good and evil, right and wrong. Nature doesn't know good from evil.

The whole story of "morality", dark side / light side, golden rules are part of the social identity of a person. And what makes a human behave morally or not, are his impulse control circuits in PFC. That is ultimately the filter, which may restrain a behavior or not in accordance with social rules. Moral principles philosophically only make sense is they are associate with free will and with impulse control. free will absent, the whole philosophy of morality goes down the drain.



Thus in no sense have I ever argued that oxytocin is the molecule or the gene for generosity or any other moral trait. In a systems view, objects do not have "innate properties". What I in fact said was that the property (moral behaviour) was "innate" to the system as a whole. And then I proceeded to analyse the system accordingly.
But then you shouldnt post things like :

I've already presented the oxytocin example as a data point. Now you explain by what concept of morality this is irrelevant.
Who could deny that "generosity" is standardly taken as a moral trait. And that a brain neuromodulator is shown to have a direct effect on the expression of this trait. Thus there is your link.
Which are extremely weak by any stretch of imagination to imply a link between biology and morality. And oxytocin story was the only thing you psoted as evidence for your claims so far.

All the effects of oxytocin in mammalians (including social ones, and the agressivity increase to out-group is very relevant IMO) could be simply explained as the product of a "selfish gene", which simply cues the mother in behaviors which ensure optimal chances for offspring survival.

There is no need to postulate a link to morality, just about everything can be explained through a selfish gene theory.

Humans, as complex social animals, evolved their large brains (with the associated complex neuromodulation) so as to be able to negotiate between these contrasting needs with deep intelligence. To deny morality has natural roots - or must do, in the long run, as it is an issue both of definite individual identity and group survival - is muddled thinking based on false (too simple) ideology.
Actually no. To postulate biological roots for morality, lacking any evidence, is as muddled as postulating a "soul" in the being. You simply cannot postulate a theory of such magnitude on gut-feelings, and complexity of an ideology. You cant say, the amoral view of Darwinian evolution is too simple, and hence morality is , at least partially, innate. There must be "morality" in our genes. No one will buy that.

You still can convince me by presenting more evidence.
 
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apeiron

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You cant say, the amoral view of Darwinian evolution is too simple, and hence morality is innate. There must be morality in our genes. No one will buy that.
Clearly you are still not getting it because that is not what I said.

Morality exists (as a concept people find meaningful). Now either we can assimilate it to a natural science POV or not.

The selfish gene approach of Dawkins was exactly the kind of arch-reductionist approach that is "too simple". It needs to be matched by an equal degree of "the co-operative and unselfish".

But to give a populariser like Dawkins his due, he was right to reduce evolutionary fitness to its most atomistic (blind competition among genes). And he also then spent a lot of time worrying about the other obvious half this misses out (the extended phenotype, memetic evolution, etc).

The mistake he and his followers continue to make though is that they still want to resist that leap to the other side - to a full acceptance of top down systems causality, the role played by context or global constraints. So the "other" is acknowledged (as it has to be). But then there is a continual battle of polemics to minimise it in any way possible (as you so eagerly demonstrate).

This is why you push the line that the selfish gene can explain moral or altruistic behaviour as an extended form of selfishness. And why evolution is fundamentally amoral. You are simply expressing what is required of you as a result of the constraints of a particular worldview.

I take the approach that when people talk about morality, they think they are talking about something. So what is it? What is the best way to assimilate it to scientific understanding.

Clearly human morality is broadly functional in its cultural settings. Clearly it is subject to evolutionary logic. Clearly the same general balancing act - how to rub along and get ahead - is there in social animals generally, so would have a biological basis as well.

We don't have to exaggerate any of this. We don't have to set up oxytocin as the molecule for generosity. But we can see how it underpins pro-social behaviour in complex ways (just as the prefrontal cortex can be seen as another example of top-down systems constraint that negotiates between social demands and individual urges).

Your approach forces you to seek the negative. If it comes from above, then it must be found not to exist. Science can have no place for it.

My approach does the opposite. It can hope to assimilate high level constructs like morality, freewill, consciousness to a science-based worldview. Which is why I like it better.
 

Math Is Hard

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After re-reading the original topic, it seems that both of you would be satisfied that atheism is quite compatible with natural rights. I think we're just splitting hairs now over the possible inherent mechanisms or social constructs of a moral sense. This side bar might be better suited for biology or social sciences.
 

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