3 of 4
3
Morals
Posted: 27 October 2007 08:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  7
Joined  2007-10-27

Lets face it, I’ve had my time with Doug… Idiotic ranting of telling me “This is correct”...“This is not correct”... you’ve got to be kidding me. Go bury Hitler with your trash philosophy.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 October 2007 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  731
Joined  2007-06-20

Idiotic ranting indeed.

 Signature 

PC

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 October 2007 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  7
Joined  2007-10-27
the PC apeman - 27 October 2007 09:20 AM

Idiotic ranting indeed.

Have you ever seen the paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, views from the Asylum, a blue period that is remarkably vibrant in color.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 October 2007 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  731
Joined  2007-06-20

Retracted.

[ Edited: 27 October 2007 10:50 AM by the PC apeman ]
 Signature 

PC

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 October 2007 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15360
Joined  2006-02-14
LiberalAtheist - 27 October 2007 08:34 AM

Lets face it, I’ve had my time with Doug… Idiotic ranting of telling me “This is correct”...“This is not correct”... you’ve got to be kidding me. Go bury Hitler with your trash philosophy.

Yes, idiotic ranting, and sock-puppetry as well.

You are only allowed one username per person on this forum. I was assuming when I saw the welcome message from “Liberal Atheist” that you would cease using Zarcus. Now I see you are intent on using both in the same thread.

Liberal Atheist is being banned, as per rule (3):

Forum members are allowed a single username per person. “Sock puppets” (multiple usernames hiding a single person) are not allowed and will be deleted. Members engaging in such behavior will be considered problem members and are themselves subject to warning, banning or deletion.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 October 2007 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15360
Joined  2006-02-14

For the record, I also find the quotes that Zarcus posted interesting. If we want to have a rational discussion about the source of morality, free from ranting, I am happy to do so. But this sort of abuse will not be tolerated, neither of me nor of anyone else.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 October 2007 07:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

Zarcus, I find that at times I disagree with Doug, however, there is a major difference between rational disagreement and childish demagoguery.  You have fallen into the latter group.  You have the choice of clearly and logically presenting your arguments to show what you perceive as errors in Doug’s statements, or to skip the topic.  For example, I suffer extreme ennui whenever I encounter one of the interminable posts on free-will vs. determinism.  I merely ignore them and go on to the next thread.  You do NOT have the right to denigrate any poster here, member, moderator or administrator.

We moderators put up with a lot of offal, but there are a few behaviors that can cause the poster to be banned.  One of them is personal attacks.

====
By the way, in your reference to Van Gogh, as I recall, artists generally agree that while his paintings got more extreme as sank into madness, there was clear evidence that he also lost his creativity and clarity during that time.

Occam

[ Edited: 27 October 2007 07:45 PM by Occam ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 October 2007 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6008
Joined  2006-12-20
zarcus - 25 October 2007 05:59 PM


As I say, we judge and act on our moral values reflexively as though we fully accepted their status as fact. We do so because we are human and can do no other, just as we judge and behave in the midst of life as though free will were an unquestionable reality. Literally, we can’t help it. Nonetheless, reflection on the implications of materialism show us, I think, that the notion of “moral fact” is an oxymoron. Among philosophers, the logical positivist were famous, or perhaps notorious for insisting on this point. But the logical positivists weren’t original in this respect, merely unusually blunt. Indeed, evolutionary thought, starting with Darwin himself, not only assents to the sweeping implication that materialism renders moral fact illusory, but goes further in that it accounts, quite plausibly, for the material fact that we deceive ourselves into thinking of morality as factual. We are animals who erect moral codes precisely because we are social animals whose very survival, given our hypertrophied cognitive apparatus, necessitates a degree of altruism, generosity, and honesty.” ~

I’m inclined to agree with this.

I don’t really understand what philosophers are trying to do as far as morality is concerned.

Moral behaviour has evolved, we can see other social species behaving morally.

We’ve added one more element I can think of, which is purpose.

Maybe some other species have as well but by enlarge we think they are just doing it.

If we think in terms of just doing, we will not get any moral facts about what is right or wrong from that.

I think if we add purpose, then we can, but there can’t be such a thing as a right or wrong purpose.

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 October 2007 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1214
Joined  2007-09-21
zarcus -
Stephen, I agree with zarcus’s point here too.  But this in no way invalidates ethics or morality.  It also in no way invalidates the usefulness of making moral assertions.  It only contradicts the idea that achieving rational conclusions about ethical and moral choices can be made through appeals to a higher power that is external to us.  It even makes clear that there is no moral measure beyond us.  This ennobles ethics and morality and it ennobles humanity. Ethics involve a practical utilitarian element.  There are complex societal needs that must be met through cooperative agreements and there are values that are socially destructive and harmful toward others and the self.  Morality also involves an empathic element.  Humans are social animals and they generally feel other peoples pleasures and pains.  Knowingly hurting others betrays one’s own sense of moral self fulfillment.  Thus, it inhibits a life well lived.  Both practical utilitarian ethics and moral self fulfillment are legitimate human needs.  I think this is something of a starting point for deciphering what philosophers are “trying to do as far as morality is concerned.”  Many good philosophers are succeeding in much of their efforts. [quote author=“StephenLawrence” date=“1193854253”>we can see other social species behaving morally.
When I come home and catch one of my cats up on the counter top she not only jumps down in order to avoid getting caught, but hides in shame.  Later she apologetically rubs me in hopes of being forgiven.  If I don’t forgive her with some rubbing, she hides some more.  My cat’s guilt and shame may not be morality per se, but these feelings play an important part in morality.  My cat knows that the behavior of being on the counter top is wrong in the sense that it betrays a socially cooperative function.
StephenLawrence - 31 October 2007 07:10 AM
but there can’t be such a thing as a right or wrong purpose.
Well sure, to the degree that it is a private matter and doesn’t interfere with others.  How about someone finding purpose in doing something immoral, such as does a serial killer or a suicide bomber?  I think those are both wrongful “purposes” from the perspective of cooperative ethics.
Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 October 2007 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  573
Joined  2007-08-21
dougsmith - 27 October 2007 11:52 AM

[color=blue]You are only allowed one username per person on this forum. I was assuming when I saw the welcome message from “Liberal Atheist” that you would cease using Zarcus. Now I see you are intent on using both in the same thread.

Ow. Exposed! Zarcus, I’m dissappointed in this kind of behavior. Using an alias simply to bash.

Anyways, back to the subject…

dougsmith - 19 October 2007 03:12 PM

Really, this issue goes back at least to Plato and the Euthyphro argument. Plato argued (successfully, most philosophers believe) that morality cannot be based on the whim of God or the gods. The gods are good because they behave in accord with the moral order that we all accept as true. That is, even for a believer, what is right and wrong is something that exists outside of God’s control.

Aha! Yes, that is the key I’ve been looking for.

 Signature 

Vi veri veniversum vivus vici

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 October 2007 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1900
Joined  2007-10-28

I am reading “Moral Minds” by Marc Hauser. Here is an interview with him in American Scientist:

http://www.americanscientist.org/template/InterviewTypeDetail/assetid/52880

The core idea is derived from the work in generative grammar that [MIT linguist Noam] Chomsky initiated in the 1950s and that the political philosopher John Rawls brought to life in a short section of his major treatise A Theory of Justice in 1971. In brief, I argue that we are endowed with a moral faculty that delivers judgments of right and wrong based on unconsciously operative and inaccessible principles of action. The theory posits a universal moral grammar, built into the brains of all humans. The grammar is a set of principles that operate on the basis of the causes and consequences of action. Thus, in the same way that we are endowed with a language faculty that consists of a universal toolkit for building possible languages, we are also endowed with a moral faculty that consists of a universal toolkit for building possible moral systems.

By grammar I simply mean a set of principles or computations for generating judgments of right and wrong. These principles are unconscious and inaccessible. What I mean by unconscious is different from the Freudian unconscious. It is not only that we make moral judgments intuitively, and without consciously reflecting upon the principles, but that even if we tried to uncover those principles we wouldn’t be able to, as they are tucked away in the mind’s library of knowledge. Access comes from deep, scholarly investigation.

Like language, the notion of a universal moral grammar should not be equated with the rejection of cultural variation.  Like language, cross-cultural variation is expected. But the moral faculty will place constraints on the range of cross-cultural variation and thus limit the extent to which religion, law or teachers can modify our intuitive moral judgments.

For example, in a large sample of moral dilemmas that involve questions concerning the permissibility of harming other individuals, we have found no significant differences in the pattern of moral judgments between people who are religious and people who are atheists. Similarly, for a certain class of dilemmas we have found little effect of education. This is not to say that education and religion have no impact on our moral psychology. Rather, it is to say that certain aspects of our moral intuitions seem to be immune to such experience

To be explicit, the theory that I have developed in Moral Minds is a descriptive theory of morality. It describes the unconscious and inaccessible principles that are operative in our moral judgments. It does not provide an account of what people ought to do. It is not, therefore, a prescriptive theory of morality. That said, I am certain that a better understanding of the descriptive principles will ultimately shape how we develop our prescriptive theories, be they legal or religious. Here’s how and why. Theories or statements concerning what we should do are based on notions about the human condition, about a life well lived and the conditions that support it. We think about freedom and justice, and we then explore this space, constantly reflecting upon the current situation and whether things could be better. But ultimately, any change that we attempt to impose because we think things ought to be different will potentially be opposed or resisted by our evolved psychology. Thus, though our biology does not dictate what we ought to do, we are much more likely to implement changes in our legal, religious or political policies by attending to the psychological predispositions that our biology handed down, and that local culture and recent history may have tuned up

.

 Signature 

I am, therefore I think.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 October 2007 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4076
Joined  2006-11-28

erasmusinfinity,

While I agree with the majority of what you are saying, I had to disagree with:

When I come home and catch one of my cats up on the counter top she not only jumps down in order to avoid getting caught, but hides in shame.  Later she apologetically rubs me in hopes of being forgiven.  If I don’t forgive her with some rubbing, she hides some more.  My cat’s guilt and shame may not be morality per se, but these feelings play an important part in morality.  My cat knows that the behavior of being on the counter top is wrong in the sense that it betrays a socially cooperative function.


If you are like most cat owners, I’ll never convince you (and Mriana will probably beat me senseless), but in many years as a graduate student and researcher in animal behavior, and in more as a vet, I am absolutley convinced the feelings you attribute to you cats are projected on them by you. Humans are pattern-seeking, meaning-seeking animals, and we attribute meaning and agency to natural phenomena where there is none—probably one of the main ways we came to believe in spirtis and gods. Cats respond exquisitely sensitively to your body language, and they know you don’t like them on the counter and will likely shoo them off or even be irritated with them, but they have no guilt, no shame, no social contracts. In many years of studying chimpanzees and other primates, I think a marginal case only can be made in them for sufficient empathy and the ability to imagine the mental state of another (as opposed to sensing it via body language) to argue for the kinds of emotions you are attributing to your kitties. Other species simply don’t demonstrate anything like this when studied in any kind of objective way, however clearly they seem to when observed by owners.

The only reason I nitpick this point is that I see a lot of misunderstanding of pets’ behavior by owners, and it isn’t always a benign illusion. People punish animals because they believe the animals have the capacity to understand they have “done wrong.” They exacerbate behavior problems and come to feel anger because of their belief that the animal understands their feelings, and the animal’s own actions, in a way they really don’t. So I see a lot of suffering for both pets and owners based on a well-meaning but mistaken attribution of human cognitive abilities to these species.

Anyway, sorry to stray off topic, just something I feel strongly about.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 October 2007 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1214
Joined  2007-09-21

mckenzie,

I am not claiming that cats feel moral responsibility in precisely the same manner or to the same extent that humans do.  I certainly don’t believe that cats process thoughts in an identical manner to humans.  They do not posses language as we understand language to be, and are thus not reasoned as we would commonly define one to be reasoned.

I actually don’t shoo my cats down from the counter tops.  When I see them on the counters I gently pick them up and set them down.  They have worked out for themselves, from this alone, that I would prefer them to be elsewhere.  Perhaps the only reason that they wish to please me is to promote their daily feeding.  But, even so, I see a hint at human conscience in this behavior, however conditioned it may be.

I understand cat behavior to be most successfully shaped through gradual and subtle changes in routine, as opposed to through reinforcement with dogs.  I taught both of my cats to use the human toilet entirely without punishments or rewards.  Just gradual manipulation of habits.  Perhaps the response of my cat in my initial counter top scenario is nothing more then a similarly conditioned response.  But, even such a conditioned response hints at or echoes certain elements of what we call a conscience.

Perhaps my point would have been better made if I had phrased things the other way around… not that cat morality is like human morality but that human morality is a bit like cat morality.  There is self motivation behind it and there is utility to it.  Is not conditioned response part of what develops ethical behaviors and attitudes in many humans?  Similar learning processes are effectively used in behavior analysis with children suffering from behavioral difficulties.  Also, similar learning processes have also been extensively developed by the US military under the term behavior modification.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 October 2007 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1214
Joined  2007-09-21

Oh yes, and I realize that my usage of the terms “guilt” and “shame” were rather anthropocentric.  They could be easily taken to mean far more than what I meant when I used them, so I must somewhat retract them.  Perhaps I should have stated that cats behave as though they feel certain hints at “guilt” and “shame.”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 October 2007 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4076
Joined  2006-11-28

Well, if your main point is that human morality stems form the same biological roots as the affiliative social behavior of other species, I agree 100%. I think higher cognitive functions create some important differences, but I think ultimately we evolved internalized systems for regulating our behavior as an adaptation to facilitate social living, whihc has lots of evolutionary benfits.  I only responded as I did to your comment because I see so many people who take literally the emotional labels you chose and then treat their pets unkindly as a result of making moral judgements about their behavior. Now, at what point do words like “morality,” “conscience,” “guilt,” etc cease to be applicable? Not an easy question. SOme here would artgue they imply free will and shouldn’t even be used about people since holding people responsible for their behavior is no different from holding a rock responsible for rolling downhill and crushing someone. I disagree, but I think there is a continuum of cognitive ability, and there are differences between humans and other animals primarily ion our ability to conceptualize, study, describe, and reflect upon our own motives and actions. Words like conscience and guilt imply this sort of self-reflection, and I am convinced cats (and probably all animals except possibly some apes and cetaceans) lack this ability.

Cats are especially interetsing in that they are the exception to the general rule that the animals most succesfully domesticated and adapted to human companionship are naturally highly social amongst themselves, and to some extent we co-opt their innate sociality. Domestic cats are much more social than wild felines (lions excepted), but whether this is a pre-existing tendancy we;ve taken advantage of or a consequence of association with humans I don’t think we know. In any case, as you say they are very different from dogs in how they respond to us and how we shape their behavior, though operant conditioning still can be very effective (ever seen the Moscow Cat Circus?).

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 4
3