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Article in New Morality section in the Web magazine “Evolution: This view of life”
Posted: 14 September 2013 08:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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A what, Tim? What does all that mean?

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Posted: 15 September 2013 04:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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TimB - 13 September 2013 07:59 PM

Morality is a system for governing/influencing social behavior.  Any animal that relies on others for survival or in order to thrive (to the point of reproduction), has likely evolved social behaviors and hence may have the potential to behave “morally”.  We humans go beyond that, in that we have evolved advanced verbal behavior abilities that allow us to codify morals, to examine them, to pass them on, and to abide by them, or not.

I would like to stress that word: examine. Morality can evolutionary be explained, but it cannot simply be reduced to it. Think about science: it is obvious that it brings evolutionary advantage. But what such an explanation misses, is that science has intrinsic criteria for its progress: truth, the experimentally proven correspondence between ideas and reality.

Something similar holds for morality: there are intrinsic criteria for justification of morals, even if they are not as rigid as they are in science. Morals may not be objective, but that does not mean that one can do away with them as being totally subjective, or arbitrary. Morals must fit to the values a society has, and the examination of this is a rational discourse.

So seeing morality as a product of evolution is not wrong, and it can help to clarify morals discussions sometimes. But its status cannot be fully explained by it: one must take the intrinsic value and dynamics of it into account.

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Posted: 15 September 2013 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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George - 14 September 2013 01:42 PM

Yes, Mark, it’s called maladaptation. Seems like peoples with the “most advanced” sense of morality experimence the lowest fertility.

Are drones in a bee colony a maladaptation, because they do not produce offspring? It needs at least more than one sentence to make the point that morality as Mark mentions it really is a maladaptation.

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Posted: 15 September 2013 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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It needs only one sentence to say that we are not bees.

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Posted: 15 September 2013 07:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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George - 15 September 2013 06:19 AM

It needs only one sentence to say that we are not bees.

That clarifies a lot.  confused

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Posted: 15 September 2013 12:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Mark Sloan - 10 September 2013 01:47 PM
Lois - 10 September 2013 01:17 PM

Whose morality?

LL

 

The Morality section reports on current progress in understanding the origins and function of moral behaviors as 1) motivated by our ‘moral’ biology such as that underlying our emotions such as empathy, loyalty, shame, guilt, and indignation and 2) advocated by past and present enforced cultural moral codes. Much of that work is described in the literature as the being on the evolutionary origins and function of cooperation and altruism. This work is concerned with what moral behaviors ‘are’, not what they ‘ought’ to be.

While this science has implications for philosophical moralities, such as the best ‘means’ for achieving Utilitarian goals, it, like the rest of science, is silent regarding what our goals ‘ought’ to be., including our goals for enforcing moral codes (the main point of philosophical morality).

If that is not what you were asking, you might clarify your question.

I asked the question mostly out of frustration.  Everyone has his own idea of what morality is and ought to be and will usually be blind to someone else’s definition of it.  Wherever our morality comes from people seem to think theirs is the only true one.  For the record, in my opinion, we develop our morality from living among other people, and it’s driven by our genes, environmenent and experience (as all of our thoughts and decisions are). Some people attribute morality to religion, insisting that’s where morality resides and that it is somehow separate from us as individuals. It looks as if you and I are on the same page.

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Posted: 15 September 2013 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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George - 14 September 2013 08:12 PM

A what, Tim? What does all that mean?

1) Agreeing that human morality is not ONLY a factor of its biological reproduction advantages
2) Reinforcing the point that cultures have other methods (other than promoting biologically reproductive advantages) for sustaining themselves and thriving
3) But pointing out that cultures can ALSO establish morals that promote their sustenance thru promoting biological reproductive advantages
4) AND pointing out that our development of cultures and morals ALWAYS take place within the context of our biologically evolved propensities

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 15 September 2013 02:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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George - 15 September 2013 06:19 AM

It needs only one sentence to say that we are not bees.

You’re assuming that bees don’t have morals.  I don’t think we know whether that is the case or not.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 15 September 2013 04:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Lois - 15 September 2013 12:37 PM
Mark Sloan - 10 September 2013 01:47 PM
Lois - 10 September 2013 01:17 PM

Whose morality?

LL

 

The Morality section reports on current progress in understanding the origins and function of moral behaviors as 1) motivated by our ‘moral’ biology such as that underlying our emotions such as empathy, loyalty, shame, guilt, and indignation and 2) advocated by past and present enforced cultural moral codes. Much of that work is described in the literature as the being on the evolutionary origins and function of cooperation and altruism. This work is concerned with what moral behaviors ‘are’, not what they ‘ought’ to be.

While this science has implications for philosophical moralities, such as the best ‘means’ for achieving Utilitarian goals, it, like the rest of science, is silent regarding what our goals ‘ought’ to be., including our goals for enforcing moral codes (the main point of philosophical morality).

If that is not what you were asking, you might clarify your question.

I asked the question mostly out of frustration.  Everyone has his own idea of what morality is and ought to be and will usually be blind to someone else’s definition of it.  Wherever our morality comes from people seem to think theirs is the only true one.  For the record, in my opinion, we develop our morality from living among other people, and it’s driven by our genes, environmenent and experience (as all of our thoughts and decisions are). Some people attribute morality to religion, insisting that’s where morality resides and that it is somehow separate from us as individuals. It looks as if you and I are on the same page.

Cool.

We (at the Morality section on the evolution website) are interested in engaging with people who “Have some frustration” with the inadequate (dare I say pathetic?) state of moral philosophy in terms of providing a coherent, useful, secular morality. Science may silent regarding what the ultimate ends of morality ‘ought’ to be, but it is gangbusters powerful in what moral ‘means’ are to achieve goals such as increased well-being for all people.

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Posted: 15 September 2013 11:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Mark Sloan - 15 September 2013 04:36 PM

We (at the Morality section on the evolution website) are interested in engaging with people who “Have some frustration” with the inadequate (dare I say pathetic?) state of moral philosophy in terms of providing a coherent, useful, secular morality.

I don’t see that moral philosophy is in such a devastated state as you describe here. Can you please explain? Are you sure your expectations of moral philosophy are not too high?

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Posted: 16 September 2013 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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TimB - 15 September 2013 02:58 PM
George - 15 September 2013 06:19 AM

It needs only one sentence to say that we are not bees.

You’re assuming that bees don’t have morals.  I don’t think we know whether that is the case or not.

I am not assuming anything. Bees have very different reproduction system from us and a “childless” bee is not the same thing as childless human. Let’s not forget that evolution is about genes and bees simply have their own way of getting their genes into the next generation. I am tired of these bees/bonobos analogies.

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Posted: 16 September 2013 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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GdB - 15 September 2013 11:25 PM
Mark Sloan - 15 September 2013 04:36 PM

We (at the Morality section on the evolution website) are interested in engaging with people who “Have some frustration” with the inadequate (dare I say pathetic?) state of moral philosophy in terms of providing a coherent, useful, secular morality.

I don’t see that moral philosophy is in such a devastated state as you describe here. Can you please explain? Are you sure your expectations of moral philosophy are not too high?

I see the present state of moral philosophy as inadequate to the task of providing a coherent, useful, secular morality in the sense that moral philosophy provides no generally agreed on coherent, useful, secular morality. This is after a few thousand years of very smart people attempting to do that.

In contrast, a descriptive science of morality can, I argue, provide a more universal, fundamental grounding for a secular morality than any grounding used in traditional moral philosophy. For example, mainstream moral philosophy (except perhaps for Kantianism) is, at bottom, grounded in either or both 1) our ‘considered’ moral intuitions about extreme applications of proposed moral theories and 2) ideas about what is ‘good’. Science can provide a more fundamental grounding for moral theories because science can tell us WHY our moral intuitions are what they are and why we consider some things good and some bad.

I agree moral philosophy is not in “a devastated state”.

There has been tremendous progress, made by people much smarter than I could ever hope to be, for a long time. The problem as I see it is that moral philosophy has been valiantly trying to determine what morality ‘ought’ to be when no one, until the last 30 years or so, understood what morality ‘is’. Science is now getting ready to definitively tell us what morality ‘is’.  I expect moral philosophy to then make rapid progress in coming to a wider consensus on what morality ‘ought’ to be (a topic on which science is necessarily silent).

[ Edited: 16 September 2013 05:57 PM by Mark Sloan ]
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Posted: 16 September 2013 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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George - 16 September 2013 07:48 AM
TimB - 15 September 2013 02:58 PM
George - 15 September 2013 06:19 AM

It needs only one sentence to say that we are not bees.

You’re assuming that bees don’t have morals.  I don’t think we know whether that is the case or not.

I am not assuming anything. Bees have very different reproduction system from us and a “childless” bee is not the same thing as childless human. Let’s not forget that evolution is about genes and bees simply have their own way of getting their genes into the next generation. I am tired of these bees/bonobos analogies.

In the matter of the evolution (biologically and otherwise) of morals in whatever species, I think that the development of complex verbal behavior is a more critical factor than the particular manner of reproduction.  That being said, I think that a reproductive system that involves a period of time in which the newborn are cared for (and cannot survive without) caregivers, is a key element in a species being a “social” species.  This is because social species are more likely to develop verbal behavior. And verbal behavior requires a listener.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 16 September 2013 05:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Lately I can’t make any sense of your posts, Tim.

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Posted: 16 September 2013 07:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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George - 16 September 2013 05:57 PM

Lately I can’t make any sense of your posts, Tim.

That’s too bad.  If you have (a) specific question/s, I would be glad to try to clear up any confusion.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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