Thought this was an interesting piece on 60 minutes last night:
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Hi, unfortunately the link you provided is not available in the UK but for what it is worth... I think it is more than likely morality has an evolutionary basis, ancestors that learned to treat each other well and act in a 'good' way are more likely to survive... (although someone with a background in evolutionary biology might qualify that a little better) and hence genetics, and subsequently socialisation are likely to play a definitive role in how you think and feel about the world and hence govern your morality.Thought this was an interesting piece on 60 minutes last night:
I think that morality is both learned and genetic. If you send any time around animals it is pretty clear they have a moral code. It seems obvious that ants and bees have a generic moral code.Thought this was an interesting piece on 60 minutes last night:
I didn't watch the whole thing but noticed something fishy. When they offered the babies a choice of the good guy or bad guy they only held them both equidistant from the baby in the case of the first baby shown. With the babies after that the good guy was always held closer to the baby than the bad guy, making the good guy an easier reach, a fact they obscured with a tricky camera angle.Thought this was an interesting piece on 60 minutes last night:
"throughout the development of life there have been repeated examples of co-operation overcoming the basic programming of self-interest, from the first genes collecting together on chromosomes, and the first multi-cellular organisms, through to the development of animal societies and ultimately the complexities of modern human society. But the underlying reason why that has happened at every level is not because of nobility or morality, which are entirely intellectual constructs, but simply because ultimately co-operation is more effective than self interest in achieving the primary goal, which is not just self-preservation, but actually maximum self-replication."
I realize that this paragraph is probably intentioned to make a point as to the fact that most organisms don't really have morals and that they are just acting in the interests of the group, but if, instead, you are referring to my post, then I was not stating that people always acted in self-interest, I was just saying that people had a basic want for self-preservation. Of course, sometimes, other wants override this one, such as the want to help others, but that doesn't mean that the want isn't still their. Also, I was just using self-preservation as an example to show that humans seem to have wants in common, which may show some genetic correlation.
"The lion doesn’t have that choice."
Assuming that lions don't have the ability to make choices and humans do places the human above the lion. There is no proof that a human is superior, even in thinking skills, over the lion. It is not scientifically correct to say that the lion cannot make decisions for himself/herself. This is something that is unprovable, or at least yet to be proven. It would, on the other hand, be okay to say that the lion has less choice than the human.
"But the drum that I beat every time, and this is where it feels like so familiar ground to me, is to recognise that human beings, utterly uniquely, have a capability to act against mere instinct, against mere genetic programming."
The point I was trying to get to was why someone would act against instinct. If our goals are not just to follow what feeling has us do, then what would our goals be? If each of us humans were to devise a unique set of morals to stick to, even when instinct tells us not to follow those morals, then our set of morals would all be completely different. For example, in my post, I wrote that, if you were to ask someone if killing was wrong, they would almost certainly say yes. Why would this happen amongst almost every member of the human race?
I like to draw an analogy to a calculator, which the human brain obviously is not, but it is still a good comparison. If you were a graphing calculator with a specific function, and you were provided inputs, then you would input these numbers into the function you were designed to carry out and come up with outputs. There will always be a specific pattern in which these outputs follow based on the inputs, but you would be the one "choosing" the outputs, so there is no reason for you to think that you have no free will. In fact, even if you were to try and do something unexpected to prove that you have free will, that still wouldn't prove your free will, because you have done that simply because you don't like the idea that you don't have free will, so you tried to disprove it. I don't mean to say that we are all just observers; this is what the calculator analogy was for: the calculator doesn't just observe the inputs as they come and go, it does something with them. This isn't just sitting around, but it is still without free will. Also, I don't mean to say that we definitely don't have free will, I was just showing that it is possible for free will to not exist. We live in a world without an apparent set of morals of its own, after all.
The main point I want to make is that there is no reason for us to stray from our feelings. When you feel like you have strayed from instinct, you may actually be following it. For example, if you donate to charity, this is probably because you not only get a good feeling from doing it, but you also feel that it is right. But where would this feeling of what is right and wrong come from? There is no way to prove through logical thought that something is right or wrong, so these morals must come from feelings. And why do we feel things? Feelings cannot be a cause of the mind, because you do not place them upon yourself. You are not the one who chooses to feel sad or angry. You are not the one who chooses to be happy. You can influence your feelings, but you can't control them, and even if you could, then why would you, for no reason at all, choose to feel certain feelings and not others? What logic would you follow to decide to have the feelings you feel? (Remember, you can't follow feelings to determine the feelings you feel, because that would involve a choice of the feelings you feel that hasn't been made yet). Also, for what reason would you choose to feel guilty about doing something like killing someone else? Guilt is a feeling that almost everyone dislikes, meaning that you probably dislike it, too, so there is no reason why you should place it upon yourself.
This means that feelings must come from somewhere outside of you, because there is no way for you to determine your feelings from the 'inside', which means that your morals must come from somewhere outside of you as well, because there is no way for your morals to be determined from anything but feelings that come from outside of you, which means that because you can't choose your morals from the 'inside', though you may or may not have a choice over your actions, you have no choice over your morals.
I do not oppose the idea of free will completely. I did make a small comment that I wasn't trying to take sides. I was only writing about free will because the previous replies to the thread seemed to disregard the fact that humans could be without free will. Also, the possibility of being without free will isn't something to despise. Whether or not we are without free will doesn't change what happens in the Universe, so if it is then it is and if it isn't then it isn't. It's like despising Newton's law of gravity. Despise it if you want, but my stance is that free will may exist, but then again, it may not.exfret - My previous comment was not aimed at you in particular but was just a general contribution to the discussion as I perceived it. And there is the rub, clearly you and I perceive it very differently. There has been a previous, very lengthy thread discussing the issue of free will at a level that was generally way above anything that I could contribute to, but the general basis was to doubt, if not to utterly reject the notion of free will.
Why do you believe that the ability to make choices is so uniquely human? Do you believe that as we developed from apes that this ability suddenly popped up out of nowhere? I think that you have to give the lion some responsibility, even if their ability to make choices (if they have this ability) is nearly nonexistent. I would believe that we can process information better, but I think that lions and humans would still have the same chance of being without free will. After all, the lion still has a brain, which is thought to be the same organ in which thoughts are carried out in the human. What would be different about the human that would not be in a lion?And to me, the point about this being something uniquely human is so glaringly obvious as to make me doubt the prospect of common ground.
The commonality in human morality is because of the common function of that morality – to make society work which is ultimately in the greater interest of every individual within it. Let’s not get dragged off on a discussion about whether or not society is in the greater interests of the individual – the current point is about common purpose. I do not accept your premise that if morality were not genetic then everybody’s morals would be different. Clearly, such a situation would serve no purpose at all, and morality exists for a purpose. Slightly at a tangent, I recall reading an excellent piece on this issue about the conflict between the principles of personal freedom in a liberal society and the need for restrictions to personal freedoms to make that society work, and how, for the most part, liberal societies work because of the restrictions we impose on ourselves with our own perceptions of our roles within that society, rather than restrictions imposed from above by a higher authority within that society. That is a tangent, but it perhaps helps to reinforce the point about how function drives the common themes in a morality system.Morals have to come from genetics, because we wouldn't produce them ourselves, and even if they did (I feel like I have repeated this multiple times before), everyone's morals would be completely different. Everyone's morals aren't different, though. Almost everyone has the same set morals. This is a fact only explainable by genetics.
It is very good of you to invite me to continue with my feeling about the notion of a human being a prisoner of its make-up – believe me, I intend to continue with that viewpoint, whether or not you perceive any reason for it.Despise it if you want,...
And I do not believe that an ability to make any choices at all is uniquely human, but the kind of intellectual capacity required to act against genetic programming is. Doubtless some will point out to me other animal societies that also only work because of something identifiable as a form of morality – most obviously those of other great ape species – but that those systems are far cruder than the one that governs human society is a glaringly obvious point to me. The lion kills the cubs of its defeated rival entirely because it is genetically programmed to do so. It is not good enough to excuse human criminal behaviour on that basis. It would be pointless to imprison the lion for its actions because it would not attach its loss of freedom to its previous murderous act. Again, I am finding it difficult to believe that I am actually having to present this argument…Why do you believe that the ability to make choices is so uniquely human?