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Can Science Shape Human Values? And Should It? NPR Science Friday
Posted: 04 December 2010 11:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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ThatGuy - 03 December 2010 11:24 PM

Large groups of social animals live together (numbering in the thousands and tens of thousands), without morals, and survive very well.

This.

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Posted: 05 December 2010 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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advocatus - 04 December 2010 08:31 AM
George - 03 December 2010 09:28 AM
advocatus - 03 December 2010 08:14 AM

Sure solitary animals don’t need morality, but when we humans began living in groups, we found that we had to have it to live together.

Careful here, advocatus! We didn’t necessarily had to have it, but those who did have it were better adopted to the environment of living in group and passed on their genes to the next generation. As more and more people acquired this adaptive trait, larger groups, such as cities and eventually countries, were able to form. Living in a group and the adequate sense of morality which allowed this to happen must have coevolved simultaneously.

I stand corrected.  If we were going to live in large groups, moral codes made such social groups more coherent and gave them an advantage over groups that didn’t have them.  Is that better?

Here we only have to remember that not all peoples must necessarily form large groups with a moral code similar to ours, to become successful (that is, well adapted). The Pashtun moral code of southeastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan, for example, is very different form ours. This is why they might not be able to form (nor desire to do so) a country as we know it. But this doesn’t imply that our type of society or ethics has an advantage (that is a darwinian advantage, the only truly objective advantage) over theirs.

[ Edited: 06 December 2010 08:24 AM by George ]
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Posted: 05 December 2010 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Thatguy, I’ve avoided entering this discussion until now, however, you really should be more consistent.  Earlier you said, “‘Moral’ is defined as that which pertains to right conduct.”  you didn’t define ‘right’ however you apparently didn’t disagree with the definition of ‘wrong’ which you stated was, “Wrong was generally defined as that which causes suffering of a sentient being.”  Note that sentient is not the same as intelligent, but rather “ability to perceive by the senses”.  So it seems reasonable to extrapolate your definitions to: “Moral is defined as that which pertains to not causing suffering of a sentient being.”

As such, any animal which causes suffering to a member of its group could be said to be indulging in immoral behavior.  It appears that even from your own definitions, Asanta’s statement, “Large groups of animals have well defined rules that the others must follow, or they will be punished or evicted from the group. Even ants” is not confused but is correct.  Further, your earlier definition of morality seems to be strongly at odds with your later statement, “moral standards [are] unique to man.”

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Posted: 06 December 2010 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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ThatGuy - 04 December 2010 06:39 PM

Again, I think that is not a set of morals, but more of a hierarchy of authority and a set of instinctual “rules.”

And it was my contention is that a hierarchy of authority represents the RUDIMENTARY beginnings of the concept of morality.  What part of “rudimentary” didn’t you understand?

I can’t give an example of a society that exists that way because I don’t think there IS one. That is my point. Man has morals. Humanistic evolution says he shouldn’t have a moral code or a conscience.

Then what makes you so sure that “humanistic evolution” requires a society without morals?  Where does this idea even come from?

I sympathize with you, ThatGuy, I really do.  Obviously you’ve been brought up all your life to think “Humanism is Evil; evolution is Evil”, without really trying to understand what either of them really is.

Perhaps Hitler often makes an appearance because he is such a good and well-known example of what happens when one follows out the idea of humanistic evolution out to its logical end.

Wrong!  Where do you come up with this stuff?

  Evolution would dictate that moral standards not evolve, not that they do evolve.

Wrong again.  Once more, you’re making this assumption only because you’ve been taught all your life “if it involves evolution, it must be Evil.”

And no, I don’t think that “murder is wrong” is completely arbitrary. In my worldview, it fits perfectly. But hypothetically speaking, if I were to convert to atheism and commit myself wholeheartedly to humanistic evolution, I would see no “utility” in it at all: because it would prevent the propagation of only the best genes.

No you wouldn’t, That Guy!  If you “converted” to humanistic evolution, you would try to understand it, and then you would see where your entire premise was off on the wrong track!  That’s the only point I’ve been trying to make here, that contrary to your original assertion, we humanists do not “struggle” with morality at all!  We see it as a natural part of our nature as Human beings!

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Posted: 06 December 2010 03:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Ah, and the transition is made from debate to argument. Good show, gentlemen. I’ve enjoyed it.

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Posted: 06 December 2010 05:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Two points: 

1) how do you differentiate between debate and argument?

2) If you check my post above I noted two areas of apparent internal inconsistency in your statements.  Could you either clarify how they are not inconsistent or state your ideas more precisely to obviate those apparent inconsistencies?

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Posted: 10 December 2010 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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I wasn’t so much arguing as asking, ThatGuy.  I really wanted to know where you get this idea that evolution can’t possibly be cooperative, that it’s all about “killing everything weaker than me”.  Wouldn’t that mean that parents would eat their own offspring?  How would life have ever gotten off the ground under those conditions?  You really should read “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins.  I can understand if you don’t want to pay for an atheist book, so see if it’s available at your public library.

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Posted: 12 December 2010 01:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I think science shapes human values simply by informing (in that sense it is crucial) but I do not agree with Harris’s apparent stance that science is somehow able to make moral decisions.

Keke

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