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Article in New Morality section in the Web magazine “Evolution: This view of life”
Posted: 21 September 2013 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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There is no morality other than what humans make up. If “dog eat dog” helps us survive, we will create a “dog eat dog” society, which is exactly what we’ve done. Somewhere along the line some humans found survival to be affected by cooperation, so they decided, “Oh, yeah! That’s what morality must be. Let’s go with that.”

Humans will do what they think they must do to survive.  And they will talk endlessly about how their “morality” helped them survive, without a scrap of evidence.

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Posted: 21 September 2013 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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Mark Sloan - 21 September 2013 01:45 PM

No, “agent” is just the name in game theory for the independent actors in the game.

No, I think you are framing “morals” as an agent.  Why else would you assign a cost to them?
People innately know that acting “morally” is as much a benefit to them as it is to everyone.  Thus no cost!
And that is Innately. It’s not even thought out most of the time. It just “is”.  That’s social behavior dynamics.
Nothing costs anything.

Lots of behaviors have nothing to do with morality.

Yes but all morals are based on behavior.

How do you define “make the social group work’? I define it as increasing the benefits of cooperation, the chief benefit of living in a society.

Absolutely not.  There has to be tensions. There has to be certain levels of competition and violence. Some may subjectively see this as immoral, but it’s not.
It’s the balance.  It’s human behavior.  It’s about cooperation, yes.  But not increasing the level of cooperation. If it was about increasing the level, then by now we would have already lived in a Utopia since the stone ages.

“Costly cooperation strategies” are strategies in game theory that expose the initiating agent to exploitation. Unacted on morals don’t cost anything. But to act morally must be costly, in some sense at least in the short term, or it would not be admirable. And yes, morality is a force for good.

I can already tell I don’t like “game theory” whatever that is. 
I will counter with this:  If it cost anything then it would have withered on the evolutionary vine eons ago.
Get rid of this “cost” meme. That leads nowhere.  It’s obvious what the impetus is behind that.  It suggests numbers, and calculations, and possible ways to reduce costs. It suggests “oughts” and things I can’t even explain right now. I can’t think of it right now.
It’s contrived.  It’s trying to put value on completely automatic actions. It suggests deficits.

So “Dog eat Dog” is an enforced moral code in some society, meaning people who refuse to act this way are thought to deserve punishment? What society is this?

No, I don’t know where I said that. It’s not enforced.  It’s not what we would label moral either. But it is just as powerful as the behaviors we would label as moral.

“Dog eat Dog” does describe a kind of behavior, and can eve be expected behavior in a culture (and therefore a “norm”), but it has nothing to do with morality.

Sure it does.  What “moral” actions could we exert if there was no “dog eat dog”?

[ Edited: 21 September 2013 04:21 PM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 21 September 2013 04:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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Lois - 21 September 2013 03:14 PM

There is no morality other than what humans make up. If “dog eat dog” helps us survive, we will create a “dog eat dog” society, which is exactly what we’ve done. Somewhere along the line some humans found survival to be affected by cooperation, so they decided, “Oh, yeah! That’s what morality must be. Let’s go with that.”

Humans will do what they think they must do to survive.  And they will talk endlessly about how their “morality” helped them survive, without a scrap of evidence.

Right.  I agree.

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Posted: 21 September 2013 07:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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Morals are one kind of rules. Rules are verbal.

In terms of Behavior Analysis, in rule-governed behavior, the behavior requires verbal antecedents.  Hence moral behavior, to this extent, is not just your run of the mill, contingency shaped behavior.

Also, as I have said previously, moral behavior can have different consequential contingencies than other forms of rule governed behavior (e.g., laws, instructions).

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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: 22 September 2013 04:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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Sorry Mark, I get a bit lost in where you position your ‘costly cooperation strategies’ principle. Is it meant as a scientific principle to understand moral behaviour only, or also as modern-day replacement of Kant’s categorical imperative (or utilitarian ‘the highest good for the most people’), i.e. as a guiding principle that leads us to unambiguous moral rules?

I am also not sure that it works in the ‘one man for five people’ example. Wouldn’t it be very cooperative if we were all willing to sacrifice our selves for the greater good on the long term? Would that also not be evolutionary advantageous?

You regular mention that science is silent about ‘ultimate ends’. I agree. I would go even further: there are no such ultimate ends. No ethical discourse has the promise to converge to some absolute justification, because the outside criterion just does not exist. This in contrast with science, where the outside reality exists that, via observation and experiment, in the end decides if our theories are correct or not.

So we only have our cultural values as a measure of our moral rules. These are not fixed, so the moral rules will not be either. But that does not mean taking these values blindly as our starting points. Rationally grounding a moral rule means that if somebody makes a moral claim about a behaviour, he must be prepared to defend his position. In that he can refer to values we share, nothing more. He can refer to values we have in common, there are no ultimate ends we can refer to. In the worst case, when we do not share values, we must bring the discussion to the higher level of discussing these values themselves, and try to find common ground. I don’t know if your principle of ‘costly cooperation strategies’ leads to unambiguous results.

The idea of moral justification makes no sense if we do not presuppose such a moral discourse in the background.

Mark Sloan - 21 September 2013 12:02 PM

Therefore the function of morality cannot be changed by “free discourse” or “open, fair and rational discourse”.

This sentence somehow lets me shiver: function of morality? Morality standing outside an open, fair and rational discourse? Maybe I do not understand you.

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Posted: 22 September 2013 04:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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Lois - 21 September 2013 03:14 PM

Somewhere along the line some humans found survival to be affected by cooperation, so they decided, “Oh, yeah! That’s what morality must be. Let’s go with that.”

So here you say that morality is based on the improved survival because of cooperation.

Lois - 21 September 2013 03:14 PM

Humans will do what they think they must do to survive.  And they will talk endlessly about how their “morality” helped them survive, without a scrap of evidence.

And here you say there is no evidence for it.

Can you please explain?

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Posted: 22 September 2013 05:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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GdB - 22 September 2013 04:25 AM
Lois - 21 September 2013 03:14 PM

Somewhere along the line some humans found survival to be affected by cooperation, so they decided, “Oh, yeah! That’s what morality must be. Let’s go with that.”

So here you say that morality is based on the improved survival because of cooperation.

Lois - 21 September 2013 03:14 PM

Humans will do what they think they must do to survive.  And they will talk endlessly about how their “morality” helped them survive, without a scrap of evidence.

And here you say there is no evidence for it.

Can you please explain?

GdB you really are taking statements out of context here.  What she said was survival is sometimes based on cooperation.
She began and finished her statements with the point that “morality” doesn’t exist.
You didn’t quote the entire post.

[ Edited: 22 September 2013 05:24 AM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 22 September 2013 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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VYAZMA - 22 September 2013 05:19 AM

GdB you really are taking statements out of context here.  What she said was survival is sometimes based on cooperation.
She began and finished her statements with the point that “morality” doesn’t exist.

Hmmm…

Cooperation can help survival. OK.
We call this cooperation ‘morality’. OK.
There is no evidence that this ‘morality’ helps survival. No, not OK, that is a contradiction.

And I don’t know what ‘morality does not exist’ means. If you mean objectively, out there, yeah, you are right. But if you deny that it exists as a human praxis, no, that is not true. Norms, rules, behaviour according to rules, these all exist. Just not in the same way as bricks and stones. That’s why I am stressing all the time that a moral discourse differs from a scientific discourse, and that we cannot apply the same criterion to it.

I think you want to see morality in the same objective way as scientific facts. That is wrong of course. But that does not mean a moral discourse is meaningless: it influences our behaviour, and we can reflect on these rules.

[ Edited: 22 September 2013 05:36 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 22 September 2013 05:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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GdB - 22 September 2013 05:33 AM
VYAZMA - 22 September 2013 05:19 AM

GdB you really are taking statements out of context here.  What she said was survival is sometimes based on cooperation.
She began and finished her statements with the point that “morality” doesn’t exist.

Hmmm…

Cooperation can help survival. OK.
We call this cooperation ‘morality’. OK.
There is no evidence that this ‘morality’ helps survival. No, not OK, that is a contradiction.

And I don’t know what ‘morality does not exist’ means. If you mean objectively, out there, yeah, you are right. But if you deny that it exists as a human praxis, no, that is not true. Norms, rules, behaviour according to rules, these all exist. Just not in the same way as bricks and stones. That’s why I am stressing all the time that a moral discourse differs from a scientific discourse, and that we cannot apply the same criterion to it.

I think you want to see morality in the same objective way as scientific facts. That is wrong of course. But that does not mean a moral discourse is meaningless: it influences our behaviour, and we can reflect on these rules.

Ok, lets put Lois’ comments aside.  I know what she meant by them.  It was a quick statement to describe more complicated things.
Let’s not get too far off course.  The thing is, as in many of these philosophical forays people begin taking liberties with terms and concepts.
And rightly so!  I do it.  For example we are all using the term “morals” here.  But we use the term in our specific context, and then try to describe that context or meaning.
So even if someone says “morals” don’t exist, they generally keep using the term “morals” anyways.  To expedite the debate.
Above Lois said we call this cooperation “morals”.
I have to go now.  Hope to see you all later.

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Posted: 22 September 2013 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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Morality doesn’t exist? What does that even mean? It’s one thing to say that moral realism doesn’t seem likely, but morality?

Also, our morality evolved the way it did because it resulted in being advantageous, through survival and reproduction. We don’t come up with moral codes to survive and reproduce. Evolution doesn’t give a flying hoot about our ideas on what we may think is the “right” thing to do. Neither do we randomly follow some law of “dog eat dog.” The process of evolution is anything but chaotic. I still have no idea what any of you are taking about here.

[ Edited: 22 September 2013 05:57 AM by George ]
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Posted: 22 September 2013 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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I didn’t bother getting involved in this thread until George’s post spelled it out.  I agree with him quite completely.  smile

Occam

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Posted: 22 September 2013 12:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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Those of you who don’t understand what the topic is about feel free to change the channel.

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Posted: 22 September 2013 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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George - 22 September 2013 05:54 AM

Morality doesn’t exist? What does that even mean? It’s one thing to say that moral realism doesn’t seem likely, but morality?

Also, our morality evolved the way it did because it resulted in being advantageous, through survival and reproduction. We don’t come up with moral codes to survive and reproduce.

We decided to leave evolution out a page or two ago.  It just confuses things, like you’re doing.
You see your italicized comments?  You have no way of even proving that or explaining the differentiation between those 2 synonymous expressions.

Evolution doesn’t give a flying hoot about our ideas on what we may think is the “right” thing to do. Neither do we randomly follow some law of “dog eat dog.” The process of evolution is anything but chaotic. I still have no idea what any of you are taking about here.

Nobody’s disputing that morals come from evolution. In the sense that everything comes from evolution.
What’s the term evolution?  I could correctly state that a pencil eraser comes from evolution!
Taking one part of your statement again…where did anybody say we randomly follow a “dog eat dog” law? Where is that quoted from George?
So are you just making up quotes here to bounce off of?
This is why threads like these get all muddled up.

[ Edited: 22 September 2013 12:41 PM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 22 September 2013 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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Occam. - 22 September 2013 10:44 AM

I didn’t bother getting involved in this thread until George’s post spelled it out.  I agree with him quite completely.  smile

Occam

Oh yeah Occam?  Including the false quotes?
It’s like Fox News for Philosophy.

[ Edited: 22 September 2013 12:46 PM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 22 September 2013 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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GdB - 22 September 2013 05:33 AM

And I don’t know what ‘morality does not exist’ means. If you mean objectively, out there, yeah, you are right. But if you deny that it exists as a human praxis, no, that is not true. Norms, rules, behaviour according to rules, these all exist. Just not in the same way as bricks and stones. That’s why I am stressing all the time that a moral discourse differs from a scientific discourse, and that we cannot apply the same criterion to it.

I think you want to see morality in the same objective way as scientific facts. That is wrong of course. But that does not mean a moral discourse is meaningless: it influences our behaviour, and we can reflect on these rules.

No, no no.  I agreed with Lois’ statement.  But my agreement came with my interpretation of her statement.
Which I assume to be the correct interpretation. 
if somebody says “morals” don’t exist I get the gist of what they are saying.

I believe our understanding is the same on this matter.
I completely agree with morals being a “praxis” or a recognized set of behavioral rules that humans more or less consistently follow in a given space and time.
And that these “morals” are an innate, evolved, behavioral mechanic.
I also agree that they cant be “scienced” up for the most part due to the reasons you stated mostly, about looking outside of the 2 “praxises” if you will.
You stated that one can look outside of the scientific praxis at the real world and compare with it objectively. This can’t really be done with morals. I agree.
That was why one of my thrusts was the “cost” aspect of my rebuttal.

I had said let’s put Lois’ comments aside. I think she was speaking in another context.  I got it.
Now she may come on here and bite my head off for interpreting her stuff but oh well.  That’s what I thought I got.
I said I agreed with it.  And I still do. We can communicate with each other on different levels. 
Perhaps that muddles up the waters just as bad. Won’t be the last time…

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