Why do humans create morals?

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Kroni
 
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 03:06 pm
Every known human civilization has speculated the existence of a higher power such as Morality and God. We are aware of ourselves in a way that no other animal has ever been. We make judgements about our actions and ponder on existential thought. But why do humans think this way? Why do we have an internal need to be morally correct people? And to be ironic, why am I asking this question?
 
prothero
 
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 03:16 pm
@Kroni,
So we can live together in a social setting with a minimum of conflict and violence. The same reason we create customs and laws. Behaviors have their own evolutionary causes and patterns.
 
Kroni
 
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 03:23 pm
@prothero,
What about when being morally correct towards others comes at a high expense? (If a mother and father spend their retirement savings to pay for a heart transplant for their son.) Logically, the old couple would be physically better off having retirement money than their son, but the love for their son overrides their desire to minimize conflict in life.
 
prothero
 
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 03:26 pm
@Kroni,
Kroni;103038 wrote:
What about when being morally correct towards others comes at a high expense? (If a mother and father spend their retirement savings to pay for a heart transplant for their son.) Logically, the old couple would be physically better off having retirement money than their son, but the love for their son overrides their desire to minimize conflict in life.
Well who said morals were logically derived or that human behavior was driven by reason. Reason is a thin veneer for human behavior.
 
Kroni
 
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 03:38 pm
@Kroni,
That's my point. When you answered my original question you said that we use moral guideliness to minimize conflict and violence, which is a rational solution to a problem. But with my example I have shown that by using those same moral guidelines my actions will result in something irrational. The social contract is flawed because it demands that following morals should result in the best possible result for everyone, yet we will still choose to save the life of a family member over our retirement money. This implies that to us having that person around is more important than our ability to minimize financial conflict, which means that there is a deeper reason for why we develop our moral attitudes.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Wed 11 Nov, 2009 04:25 pm
@Kroni,
Because its biologically rational to preserve your offspring, and in situations where altruism isn't for offspring, that is simply a rational transference.
 
Kroni
 
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 01:24 pm
@GoshisDead,
Rational transference? A soldier in Iraq was engaged in a shootout when a grenade landed near his platoon. Even though he had time to escape, he chose to jump on the grenade and die in order to save the rest of the soldiers. You can try to say that anything can be rationalized and is only a biological reaction, but in my opinion self-sacrifice is not rational for any living being. Even the social contract theory would say that self-sacrifice is too much to expect from another human being, and is therefore not a part of our natural agreement to cooperate and mutually benefit.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 01:42 pm
@Kroni,
Kroni;103352 wrote:
Rational transference? A soldier in Iraq was engaged in a shootout when a grenade landed near his platoon. Even though he had time to escape, he chose to jump on the grenade and die in order to save the rest of the soldiers. You can try to say that anything can be rationalized and is only a biological reaction, but in my opinion self-sacrifice is not rational for any living being. Even the social contract theory would say that self-sacrifice is too much to expect from another human being, and is therefore not a part of our natural agreement to cooperate and mutually benefit.



Human behavior is not rational in the way logic is rational. A soldier jumps on a grenade. The biological imperative = altruism to save my offspring, the social imperative = people are basically the same and worthy in general of my effort and I have a certain role in society to preform. And in this specific example the fraternity of soldierhood emotionally creates a familial bond. As exemplified in popular media "never leave a man behind" "the captain goes down with the ship" and so forth. It is completely rational for a soldier to end his life for those of his brothers, it is the biological imperative modified by the social situation.

This goes for many other altruistic scenarios as well, even for those of perfect strangers. It is an inherent doctine in many religions as exemplified by John 10:13 - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Heroic altruism is glorified in stories, legends, comic books, television, movies, and news stories. It may not be requisite to the 'social contract' but it is glorified and mythical, and thus a rational choice for human so make given the circumstance.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Fri 13 Nov, 2009 07:19 pm
@Kroni,
Kroni;103030 wrote:
Every known human civilization has speculated the existence of a higher power such as Morality and God. We are aware of ourselves in a way that no other animal has ever been. We make judgements about our actions and ponder on existential thought. But why do humans think this way? Why do we have an internal need to be morally correct people? And to be ironic, why am I asking this question?


I believe that there are evolutionary reasons for why we value morality. For starters, I believe that morals can be reduced to inherent emotions that are shaped by environmental influences. Emotions like empathy, sympathy, pain, pleasure, happiness and suffering have evolutionary value. It is important for our individual survival that we are able to experience pain and joy. Empathy and sympathy are important for interpersonal reasons, for we are a social species (the most social species in the world). Some of us are lacking in these emotions (psychopaths and sociopaths), and this lacking leads to destructive behavior, both for the individual and for the society.

The economic, political, and religious elite have been manipulating these emotions to their liking for thousands of years. Because of this, we should always question the authoritarian enforcement of morals, and societal norms, but we shouldn't reject them for the sake of rejection.

---------- Post added 11-13-2009 at 08:21 PM ----------

Kroni;103038 wrote:
What about when being morally correct towards others comes at a high expense? (If a mother and father spend their retirement savings to pay for a heart transplant for their son.) Logically, the old couple would be physically better off having retirement money than their son, but the love for their son overrides their desire to minimize conflict in life.


This also has evolutionary value. Parents of a child, especially female parents, are more likely to sacrifice their own well being for the well being of their offspring. This psychological altruism evolved because it helps to secure the survival of the next generation.
 
validity
 
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 02:26 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;103391 wrote:
For starters, I believe that morals can be reduced to inherent emotions that are shaped by environmental influences.
It is an interesting comment. Emotions have historically been intentionally discarded due to subjectiveness. Yet I all I am familiar with is emotion based morals. Is there any benefit in emotionless morals? I am somewhat lost in this topic. Should the setting of morals be founded upon an emotional response?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 09:10 am
@validity,
validity;103754 wrote:
It is an interesting comment. Emotions have historically been intentionally discarded due to subjectiveness. Yet I all I am familiar with is emotion based morals. Is there any benefit in emotionless morals? I am somewhat lost in this topic. Should the setting of morals be founded upon an emotional response?


I don't believe in emotionless morals. If you were to make it so that everyone would be emotionless, we would be some cold agents, and we would make purely logical choices. Some moral thinkers advise that you rationalize your emotions so that you can make sound moral judgments, but you should never completely suppress your emotions. For example, bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WW2 was logical, but many would agree that it was atrocious and immoral.
 
salima
 
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 07:39 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;103823 wrote:
I don't believe in emotionless morals. If you were to make it so that everyone would be emotionless, we would be some cold agents, and we would make purely logical choices. Some moral thinkers advise that you rationalize your emotions so that you can make sound moral judgments, but you should never completely suppress your emotions. For example, bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WW2 was logical, but many would agree that it was atrocious and immoral.


it would seem impossible to be emotionless. either emotion is expressed or it is repressed. (though i have know at least one person i would never see any emotion and swear it did not exist. maybe it is a sort of pathology, but rare.)

i really dont see why logic should not be enough to conclude what is ethical or moral and what is not.

as for your example, i dont believe bombing is ever logical. nor is war. and i find both to be immoral. how much do my emotions contribute to this opinion i wonder? i never thought about it before. i am certainly more emotional than most people, but lots of emotional people want to bomb the bejeebers out of everyone else.

this was something i thought about a long time, whether a moral system could be based totally on logic, i was working on it in blogs. i believe it can.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 07:54 pm
@salima,
salima;103962 wrote:
it would seem impossible to be emotionless. either emotion is expressed or it is repressed. (though i have know at least one person i would never see any emotion and swear it did not exist. maybe it is a sort of pathology, but rare.)

i really dont see why logic should not be enough to conclude what is ethical or moral and what is not.

as for your example, i dont believe bombing is ever logical. nor is war. and i find both to be immoral. how much do my emotions contribute to this opinion i wonder? i never thought about it before. i am certainly more emotional than most people, but lots of emotional people want to bomb the bejeebers out of everyone else.

this was something i thought about a long time, whether a moral system could be based totally on logic, i was working on it in blogs. i believe it can.


I agree that it's probably impossible for a person to be emotionless, but a person can learn to suppress their emotions. Also, keep in mind that not all emotions are gentle and caring. Let's not forget the emotions of anger and hatred.

I don't believe that a moral system can be based entirely on logic because emotions are the underlying forces behind moral judgments. Your belief that bombing and war is always immoral is strongly grounded in passive emotions. What if you knew that some really bad people were coming to kill you and your loved ones and the only way you could stop them was to bomb them? What about a war that could save thousands of innocent people from slaughter, like Sudan?
 
salima
 
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 08:09 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;103964 wrote:
I agree that it's probably impossible for a person to be emotionless, but a person can learn to suppress their emotions. Also, keep in mind that not all emotions are gentle and caring. Let's not forget the emotions of anger and hatred.

I don't believe that a moral system can be based entirely on logic because emotions are the underlying forces behind moral judgments. Your belief that bombing and war is always immoral is strongly grounded in passive emotions. What if you knew that some really bad people were coming to kill you and your loved ones and the only way you could stop them was to bomb them? What about a war that could save thousands of innocent people from slaughter, like Sudan?


yes, i do understand that both negative and positive emotions can be behind immoral decisions as well as moral ones. and i also believe emotions may at times need to be controlled or ignored rather than expressed. in other words, if reason shows that those emotions are a cause of bias...

i would run and hide before bombing anyone in a personal situation. trying to take your questions seriously, what kind of bomb is there i could use that would kill these people without harming others as well?

and as far as sudan, that is part of the world i havent studied, so i am not sure of the situation. are you speaking about another country intervening and declaring war on a government that is killing its own people? if so, by the outside power dropping bombs they could not know who they were killing, and would only add to the deaths.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 08:28 pm
@salima,
salima;103966 wrote:
i would run and hide before bombing anyone in a personal situation. trying to take your questions seriously, what kind of bomb is there i could use that would kill these people without harming others as well?


You could just plant a bomb in their hideout or something.

salima;103966 wrote:
and as far as sudan, that is part of the world i havent studied, so i am not sure of the situation. are you speaking about another country intervening and declaring war on a government that is killing its own people? if so, by the outside power dropping bombs they could not know who they were killing, and would only add to the deaths.


They would know who they were bombing because it would be based on intelligence information. They could also go into the country and do a ground invasion.
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 09:44 pm
@Kroni,
Kroni;103030 wrote:
Every known human civilization has speculated the existence of a higher power such as Morality and God. We are aware of ourselves in a way that no other animal has ever been. We make judgements about our actions and ponder on existential thought. But why do humans think this way? Why do we have an internal need to be morally correct people? And to be ironic, why am I asking this question?

You are asking because you do not know; and if you can believe Duke Ellington; if you have to ask (what Jazz is), you will never know...

We understand because we are human, and for that reason we can recognize patterns, and name them, as ideas, notions, concepts, or forms... We, meaning society, which has a longer life span than the individual, recognize that certain patterns of behavior are bad for society, and bad for the individual, and from this understanding, all law and morality follow... We learn morality before we learn anything rationally... We have a natural fear of strangers, and a natural love of those who are close to us... We have a natural affinity to all living things which makes pain and suffering painful for children to witness, so they must learn to be violent, and only then to enemies...But primarilly, it is health, and those behaviors which contribute to the wellbeing of society which are encouraged, and the opposidte sort, that is destructive of society which are forbidden...The first, and universal morality made a taboo of incest... It must have been pretty obvious because a father daughter consanguineous relationship has a fifty percent chance of resulting in a genetic anomaly... People saw the pattern and adjusted their behavior...And this is true of all organized morality, that it grew out of a recognition of a problem and an official sanction...

People are generally moral, and this is because we all need society to a greater or lesser degree... No one is more a part of their society than they accept the standard morality...It is a choice all people must make...Some people do not accept the morality of society in the least, and though they may never break a law, nor do any wrong. they stand out side of their society as much as any fully formed outlaw...
 
salima
 
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 01:27 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;103969 wrote:
You could just plant a bomb in their hideout or something.

They would know who they were bombing because it would be based on intelligence information. They could also go into the country and do a ground invasion.


suppose i plant a bomb in their hideout and before they come back little red riding hood stops to get a snack and the bomb goes off and kills her? or would i use a sophisticated trigger that would only be set off by a photo alarm of the enemies who would be recognized by it and only then go off? any remote device is liable to malfunction. no, i would just run away.

and we already know the wonderful results from following 'intelligence information', like bombing red cross hospitals and overturning governments for wmp which they never had. getting into a country and doing a ground invasion is also lame-look at vietnam. how many villages were wiped out with those little big guns? who even knew who the enemy was and who was innocent in those days? same thing is going on today in iraq-try to stop a car at a checkpoint because you are alone and afraid they are suicide bombers and they are afraid you are going to kill them, and they take off and you murder them all and find out the car was full of women and children going to visit a relative or something.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 03:38 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;103964 wrote:
I don't believe that a moral system can be based entirely on logic because emotions are the underlying forces behind moral judgments.


Do you think compassion is an emotion? Do you think all emotions are more or less the same kind of thing? Are there 'noble' emotions (such as altruism and compassion) and base ones (such as moodiness and self-indulgence)?

---------- Post added 11-17-2009 at 08:45 PM ----------

Incidentally, I believe there is a connection between ethics and reality. In this view, which is basically the view of any religion, the universe itself has an ethical dimension. I am practising the Buddhist discipline, which says that there is a moral law, called Dharma 'that which holds everything together'. I can't see a lot of purpose in a universe that...well...doesn't have a lot of purpose. I guess you can say there is no purpose, but I do wonder what purpose that argument would serve, because if it is true, it wouldn't matter.
 
salima
 
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 04:27 am
@Kroni,
you can put emotions behind the reasons for opinions and you can put reasons behind the emotions that lead to decisions. it is my contention that language may be the only separation here between human beings and the animals. what if we did not analyze verbally nor try to define conceptually...what if we could not?

I mention animals because most people assume they are devoid of both reason and emotions-and it would follow, also morals. we know there are instances of animals coming together to save one of their own kind from a predator, and we know a single animal will send a warning from a safe place in case any other of his kind is in the area if a predator is near. so what are these behaviors coming from? dont human beings have the same capacity to make similar decisions without the use of either logic or emotion? I realize that in order to thoroughly and efficiently defend my ideas I need to do more research on animal behavior. it has been brought to my attention that animals do things that would be considered unethical in human society. so the question to ask is whether the behavior patterns they have is ethical according to the kind of animal they are.

there is an ongoing debate as to whether there are absolute moral values. I prefer to contemplate the question without using the word 'moral'. it seems to me that at any given time in any condition if a decision needs to be made by any being there should be one best answer. isnt that an absolute? I have trouble trying to explain this. it is not relativism, because the answer comes from outside the mind of the creature asking it. it would be shared by any objective observer. but this answer often eludes us because we are a race (human race) that has become accustomed to deluding ourselves with all our faculties, as though that was their purpose.

how do I define 'best'? it doesnt matter, does it; I presume it to be the only answer, an absolute-all I have to do is find it. I suspect it is connected to what is known as instinct in animals, which in human beings includes, or perhaps is synonymous to conscience. what is unfortunate is that we have either intellectualized or emotionalized away whatever vestiges of it that remain.
 
Fido
 
Reply Tue 17 Nov, 2009 08:14 am
@salima,
salima;104000 wrote:
you can put emotions behind the reasons for opinions and you can put reasons behind the emotions that lead to decisions. it is my contention that language may be the only separation here between human beings and the animals. what if we did not analyze verbally nor try to define conceptually...what if we could not?

I mention animals because most people assume they are devoid of both reason and emotions-and it would follow, also morals. we know there are instances of animals coming together to save one of their own kind from a predator, and we know a single animal will send a warning from a safe place in case any other of his kind is in the area if a predator is near. so what are these behaviors coming from? dont human beings have the same capacity to make similar decisions without the use of either logic or emotion? I realize that in order to thoroughly and efficiently defend my ideas I need to do more research on animal behavior. it has been brought to my attention that animals do things that would be considered unethical in human society. so the question to ask is whether the behavior patterns they have is ethical according to the kind of animal they are.

there is an ongoing debate as to whether there are absolute moral values. I prefer to contemplate the question without using the word 'moral'. it seems to me that at any given time in any condition if a decision needs to be made by any being there should be one best answer. isnt that an absolute? I have trouble trying to explain this. it is not relativism, because the answer comes from outside the mind of the creature asking it. it would be shared by any objective observer. but this answer often eludes us because we are a race (human race) that has become accustomed to deluding ourselves with all our faculties, as though that was their purpose.

how do I define 'best'? it doesnt matter, does it; I presume it to be the only answer, an absolute-all I have to do is find it. I suspect it is connected to what is known as instinct in animals, which in human beings includes, or perhaps is synonymous to conscience. what is unfortunate is that we have either intellectualized or emotionalized away whatever vestiges of it that remain.

Language is made of forms, ideas which are themselves bits of knowledge, and judgement; so yes, they do tend to force reason forward...On the other hand it is not our means that are unreasoned, but our motivation in emotion -to reach a certain end regardless of reasonable consequences...We have plenty of reason... We need to apply that to ourselves and ask: Why am I pursuing this course...

Every time a mother defends her young you see the basis of morality... We are able to conceive of a relationship that is many dgrees more complex...Many of our words describing complex biological relationships come from our former social relationships... Gen for clan, philum for cousin, species for nation...It is in relation to our communities that we are moral, and honorable...
 
 

 
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