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Posted: 26 July 2007 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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truthaddict - 26 July 2007 12:14 PM

george,

biology and psychology are starting to show different on ethics. if they really were made up as we go then we should see radically different concepts of ethics throughout ages and cultures, but for the most part we dont. they are finding plenty of evidence of universal morals.

the golden rule is a great example.

even the hatfield and mccoy feud is having the behaviors of the mccoys explained by their genes.

The Golden Rule is not a great example at all. Just because bacterium and humans are both made from carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen doesn’t mean that we both have feet. We (probably all of us) accept the Golden Rule, but we differ on others. Indeed, it is not “us” who make these rules. Ethics are “shaped” by natural selection, and we are born with a “grammar” (according to Hauser) of morals. What seemed acceptable to the Eskimos a hundred years ago was repugnant to the rest of the world. Five hundred years ago the king of France used to burn cats alive for fun, and only a hundred years ago we all thought the “white race” to be the superior one. Things have changed. The Golden Rule stays, now we only kill fish and deer for fun. Morals are far from being universal.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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dougsmith - 26 July 2007 02:09 PM

Beautiful poetry, for sure, but no, I don’t think everything is an illusion ...

wink

Right. I know for a fact, for example, that my wife is beautiful and my children are smart… cheese

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Posted: 26 July 2007 03:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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george,

did all French people and all French kings like to burn cats alive for fun? One man hardly represents the whole of humanity

are you really tyring to say that “we all thought the ‘white race’ to be the superior one” 100 years ago? does this fallacy (and the flawed logic it rests on) really need to be pointed out?

there most certainly are universal morals. im not saying all morals are universal and without variations, but fundamental themes to specific morals most certainly are universal.

for example: murder, cheating, lying and stealing are generally frowned upon regardless of what age or culture we are talking about. We might be able to find examples of secluding certain groups or deceptions to get around them, but for the most part these things are considered wrong. even in places where sacrifices happend murder was wrong, which is why when it was done in the name of “sacrifice” or “defense” it was permitted.

the golden rule - treat others as you would like to be treated - is a rule found in nearly every culture we have a record of. Kindness, compassion, altruism, charity, honesty, etc are all things that are considered good.

Besides, I think youre contradicting yourself. Youre saying ethical behavior is shaped via natural selection but then turning around and saying there are no universal morals. Were all the same species and the similarities in our behavior shows in anthropology. Maybe im wrong but folks like David Graeber, Ed Wilson, Robert Trivers and Steven Pinker have been making good arguments while providing evidence to show there is something to sociobiology.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 04:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Truthaddict, a lot of the same things are still the same for both people who rely on the deontological non-evaluating (by this I mean accepting as set in stone and unchanging) idea of universal morals as they are for people who use the thought processes of ethics.  So to say that they are universally set in stone as morals is to ignore the fact that they are principles that people who don’t believe in a universal morality will often also come upon.  That and the fact that to a psychopath, they are not moral makes them non-universal to people as a whole anyway.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 04:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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How am I contradicting myself?  Of course we are all shaped by natural selection, but we are not all shaped equally.  This is not something everybody is willing to discuss these days, but I remember Pinker saying that the average IQ of Ashkenazim Jews is between 108 and 115, and that it could not be attributed to any environmental factors. If natural selection can have this kind of impact on our intelligence I don’t see why it couldn’t affect in a similar way also our morals.  Why do some people enjoy killing fish (“fishing” mad ) and I can’t stand it?

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Posted: 26 July 2007 04:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Because fish are evil - with their evil little fins and their evil little scales - I hate them.  More seriously though, George, I wouldn’t bother with that last point - if these things were determined solely by our genes that would absolutely mean that there are no universal morals anyway.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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narwhol - 26 July 2007 04:06 PM

Truthaddict, a lot of the same things are still the same for both people who rely on the deontological non-evaluating (by this I mean accepting as set in stone and unchanging) idea of universal morals as they are for people who use the thought processes of ethics.  So to say that they are universally set in stone as morals is to ignore the fact that they are principles that people who don’t believe in a universal morality will often also come upon.  That and the fact that to a psychopath, they are not moral makes them non-universal to people as a whole anyway.

the fact that we call them “psychopaths” is precisely the point im trying to make. psychopaths make up a tiny minority of the population. for the most part people share the same concept of right and wrong, regardless where they are from or what time they lived in.

george used the example of racism to argue against it, but despite that not “all” people shared the racist notion, the notion existed largely due to deception/bullshit. malignant features of society are not usually expressed openly and honestly. there is usually a factor of deception. robert trivers and noam chomsky have wrote lots about this. we dont say, “i took his toy because im bigger than him.” we say something like, “he wasnt playing with it” or “it was mine, anyway.” Racists - past or present - usually concocted to silly justifications for their behavior.

and i never said anything about morals being set in stone. of course there are variations. there are an astronomical amount of ways in which ethical behavior can be demonstrated and that broad array of application is precisely where variations come in.

im getting the impression that some are trying to overcomplicate things with semantics

by universal morals I meant - and I stressed - that there are basic concepts of what is good and what is bad throughout most cultures. whether we are talking about Native American culture, Confucism, tribal ethics in australia, etc we can see there are universal morals.

for there not to be universal morals we would expect to see something like murder, rape, cheating or stealing as wrong in some societies but okay in others. fortunately, we dont. why?

[ Edited: 26 July 2007 05:36 PM by truthaddict ]
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Posted: 26 July 2007 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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still means that humans don’t have a universal morality.  Psychopaths are humans too.  And don’t try that one on me.  Don’t come back to me and say that they’re an extreme case when you yourself, not content with a bit of womanizing, have suddenly gone straight on to commiting murder.  The rest of us were quite happy with the womanizing thank you very much.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 06:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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truthaddict - 26 July 2007 05:26 PM

for there not to be universal morals we would expect to see something like murder, rape, cheating or stealing as wrong in some societies but okay in others. fortunately, we dont. why?

People who favour these characteristics would never succeed in developing societies; natural selection would not permit it. This obviously doesn’t mean that such individuals don’t exist.

Also, why is it racist to quote Pinker on the differences of some peoples? It was you who first mentioned his name. Either you “respect” him or you don’t. Make up your mind. (Hmm, maybe you don’t anymore since now I only see you reffering to Trivers and Chomsky.)

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Posted: 26 July 2007 10:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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BTW, truthaddict, the average IQ is between 90 and 100. It is to be understood that the Jews (according to Pinker) are on average more intelligent.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 11:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Pinker does also believe that there are universal moral characteristics, FWIW. And I think he would be more careful about claiming that one group of people was “on average more intelligent” than another. First of all, as you have stated it, the claim was not about “the Jews” but about “the Ashkenazi Jews”, which is a different claim. The second issue is about how we determine intelligence. Presumably Pinker means something like a standard IQ test, but we need to be careful about this. In my experience, Pinker is very careful to clarify the specifics. By leaving out the specifics we inherently falsify the claim.

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Posted: 27 July 2007 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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George - 26 July 2007 10:09 PM

BTW, truthaddict, the average IQ is between 90 and 100. It is to be understood that the Jews (according to Pinker) are on average more intelligent.

Well, IQ test is not free from criticism to meassure ‘inteligence’. As far as I know, IQ test has no previous definition for intelligence, and it’s a kind of circular definition: intelligence is what IQ test meassures.  Does anybody have a deeper understanding of IQ?

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Posted: 27 July 2007 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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If, for example, a genetic mutation offers an advantage in battling the malaria in one group, I don’t see why we couldn’t expect the same with intelligence.

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Posted: 27 July 2007 10:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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George - 27 July 2007 10:24 AM

If, for example, a genetic mutation offers an advantage in battling the malaria in one group, I don’t see why we couldn’t expect the same with intelligence.

Intelligence is a evolutive adventage, beyond any doubt. But solving IQ test is too?.


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BTW, my wife is ashkenazi. She is very intelligent (Well, I know that I am not impartial), I guess she could compensate her parents…  (again, I am not being impartial) wink

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Posted: 27 July 2007 10:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Barto,
HERE is a thread that touches on the issue of IQ. Very contentious, as you can see. I for one am not convinced it is anything like as reliable a measure of anything real as some folks here. Some degree of heritability has been demonstrated, and some correlation with academic performance, but I think human ability is too complex for such a simple numerical measure to capture comprehensively. I like the general idea of Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences, but the psychology folks here tell me it is considere pase in their field these days.

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