application of evolution

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Aedes
 
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 08:02 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Nature is amoral, why would you assume nature has any morality to bestow...
Ah, a tricky one. So let's rephrase it. In nature humans as well as other animals are known to commonly behave in ways that we humans would judge as moral. And this behavior not only transcends education, culture, and religious belief among humans, but it also transcends species in some cases.

So perhaps it's natural to behave in a way that we'd regard as moral -- even if the idea of moral vs immoral is a purely human judgement?

In other words, nature IS moral. It just doesn't know it!
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 08:08 pm
@Aedes,
Wow, Aedes, I've never thought to approach the matter in this way. Now I'm probably going to have to spend a great deal of time thinking about what you've said.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 08:11 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
My views on this are very influenced by this article in the NY Times Magazine, which I've referenced here a few times. I've even gone and looked at a couple of the source studies and talked with a junior faculty member at UNC in Philosophy and Cognitive Science about this (we may collaborate on a study at some point).

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 09:37 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Ah, a tricky one. So let's rephrase it. In nature humans as well as other animals are known to commonly behave in ways that we humans would judge as moral. And this behavior not only transcends education, culture, and religious belief among humans, but it also transcends species in some cases.

So perhaps it's natural to behave in a way that we'd regard as moral -- even if the idea of moral vs immoral is a purely human judgement?

In other words, nature IS moral. It just doesn't know it!


Aedes,Smile

It is true that nature appears to produce a potential for moral behaviour but as you have pointed out in another thread, if the context is not of a particular nature it might not evoke that possiabilty or potentiality. For lack of a better word for it, it is an emergent quality in the individual organism, which arises only in a group dynamic. If it is as I understand it, compassion is the essence of all morality, and the essence of compassion is the ability to identify with the self in others, then the group/society is essential to there being any morality at all. So yes nature does seem to produce moral potenial in the creation of life consciousenss, by it requires other to evoke it. In a practical sense the greater the identification with other the more likely is the compassion. This can actually be seen in examples of humanitarian aid, where the focus group for potential fund raising are much more generous if the needy more closely resemble themselves.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 10:02 pm
@boagie,
Boagie,

I make no case for nature producing behavior that corresponds identically to human ideals of morality.

My point is that morality is a judgement. And it so happens that the behaviors we judge as morally good are often those that we do anyway -- like compassionate things.

And it sure stands to reason that we would evolve to socially judge things as good if they're to our advantage, as morally good things usually are.

Thus, the moral behavior is largely innate because it is advantageous, and the moral judgement has arisen to reward this advantageous behavior.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 24 Jul, 2008 11:58 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes,

Yes, I understand now, amazing the ways of self interest is not. A lot of morality and/or ethics might be understood this way, as the biological extension of ones self interest. Do you think it has this universal application across the board?
 
mashiaj
 
Reply Fri 25 Jul, 2008 12:41 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Boagie,

I make no case for nature producing behavior that corresponds identically to human ideals of morality.

My point is that morality is a judgement. And it so happens that the behaviors we judge as morally good are often those that we do anyway -- like compassionate things.

And it sure stands to reason that we would evolve to socially judge things as good if they're to our advantage, as morally good things usually are.

Thus, the moral behavior is largely innate because it is advantageous, and the moral judgement has arisen to reward this advantageous behavior.


yes i agree morality is for our advantage, hot to kill, not to harm, etc.
but religious morality not at all because it is in opposition with the survival instincts and behaviors such as sex, material wealth, greed, violence etc.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Fri 25 Jul, 2008 05:30 am
@OntheWindowStand,
OntheWindowStand wrote:
All society does really is protect you from people doing some things deemed wrong. But when it comes down to it you might have to do some of that, then it is no longer beneficial to follow the contract of society so to speak


The social contract theory is not a good model for many reasons, first and foremost of them is that our biology prevents us from making rational social decisions.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Fri 25 Jul, 2008 05:38 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
In other words, nature IS moral. It just doesn't know it!


I imagine you said this for more of a lark than for profundity, but this is a remarkably self-centered way of looking at it. Unfortunately it is the way most of our species look at nature.

The apparent fact of the matter is, however, that morality does not revolve around what we think to be moral, (even if we perfected some Kantian rational morality) but what nature programs into our social behavior. The morality of nature is certainly not coincidental, and should it so deem, nature could have changed what is "moral" altogether.
 
boagie
 
Reply Fri 25 Jul, 2008 07:21 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
I imagine you said this for more of a lark than for profundity, but this is a remarkably self-centered way of looking at it. Unfortunately it is the way most of our species look at nature.

The apparent fact of the matter is, however, that morality does not revolve around what we think to be moral, (even if we perfected some Kantian rational morality) but what nature programs into our social behavior. The morality of nature is certainly not coincidental, and should it so deem, nature could have changed what is "moral" altogether.



Mr. Fight the Power,Smile

It will be interesting to hear something further along this line Mr. Fight the Power. I have not found in the past that I often disageed with you. You make it sound however as though nature had intend something, that nature has a consciousness, admittedly certain behaviour were selected out, and nature undoubtedly give us the mental prowess to make evaluations/ judgements through selection. Morality is quite a meaningful concept, obviously it could only, like all other meanings, be the property of a conscious subject. I have heard something of this nature in the past that somehow there is an objective morality--a naturalized epistemology. I did not understand it then, and I do not understand it now, perhaps as this dialogue moves along however, I will see the errors of my ways.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Fri 25 Jul, 2008 07:30 am
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
A lot of morality and/or ethics might be understood this way, as the biological extension of ones self interest. Do you think it has this universal application across the board?
No, I think we're far too complex for any single explanation to suffice. But it does help illustrate the ontogeny of our moral systems.

mashiaj wrote:
but religious morality not at all because it is in opposition with the survival instincts and behaviors such as sex, material wealth, greed, violence etc.
You think material wealth, greed, and violence are necessary for survival in a species that evolved to live in social communities? Not ALL religious morals are counterproductive -- I mean look at the kashrut laws in Judaism. The dietary restrictions, restrictions on how to handle a dead body, etc, were all basically public health / hygiene laws that were codified into religious commandments.

Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
I imagine you said this for more of a lark than for profundity
It was the concluding sentence of a longer post in which I elaborate the view a bit more...

Quote:
but this is a remarkably self-centered way of looking at it. Unfortunately it is the way most of our species look at nature.
I don't at all understand this comment. We are PART of nature. It's incongruous for us to believe that our moral judgements are somehow outside of it. That doesn't abdicate our responsibility by any stretch, nor do I ever make that case. Insofar as we CAN control ourselves we have responsibility towards nature -- but that's not what this post is about.

Quote:
The apparent fact of the matter is, however, that morality does not revolve around what we think to be moral
There are many cultural variations, including some that have produced patently immoral things. But that has more to do with our penchant for creating complex belief systems, which codifies morals that are ever far away from what's natural. After all, do you really think the Christian ideal of chastity is really natural? No, but at the same time the idea of charity probably is somewhat innate.

Quote:
The morality of nature is certainly not coincidental, and should it so deem, nature could have changed what is "moral" altogether.
Note how I qualify in my subsequent post that "I make no case for nature producing behavior that corresponds identically to human ideals of morality" and "it so happens that the behaviors we judge as morally good are often those that we do anyway -- like compassionate things."

Would having read my subsequent post have changed your response to me?
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Sat 26 Jul, 2008 07:07 am
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Mr. Fight the Power,Smile

It will be interesting to hear something further along this line Mr. Fight the Power. I have not found in the past that I often disageed with you. You make it sound however as though nature had intend something, that nature has a consciousness, admittedly certain behaviour were selected out, and nature undoubtedly give us the mental prowess to make evaluations/ judgements through selection. Morality is quite a meaningful concept, obviously it could only, like all other meanings, be the property of a conscious subject. I have heard something of this nature in the past that somehow there is an objective morality--a naturalized epistemology. I did not understand it then, and I do not understand it now, perhaps as this dialogue moves along however, I will see the errors of my ways.


No, I do not believe nature to be conscious or intentional.

I only meant to point out that we like to think that we decide what is right or wrong, better or worse, more advanced or less advanced, and judge nature by this. In doing this, we neglect the fact that it is not we but nature who decides this.

When I drop the rhetoric and admit that nature is the causal algorithm that it is, it simply means that there is no ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, better or worse, more advanced or less advanced.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Sat 26 Jul, 2008 07:20 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
Aedes,

Hopefully my response to Boagie clears up my original objection, and please don't believe "self-centered" was an attempt to call you into question. I simply mean that that viewpoint tends to treat humans as the center of the universe.

I just wanted to point out that it is not coincidental that morality appears in nature. It is the same factors of evolution that produce morality in nature as produce morality in our social behavior, but since we wish to associate things as our own (and everyone is wont to believe that he or she is the ultimate judge of right and wrong), we like to act as if we decide what is right and wrong and are amazed when it is reflected in the "wild".

It is the same thinking that causes people to consider humans more advanced than bacteria. Such thinking is only reasonable in the context of what it is to be human. Certainly a bacteria, if it could think such thoughts, would consider humans to be undesirably fragile.
 
 

 
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