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Immortalist
2009-06-08 21:47:08 EST
By NICHOLAS WADE

Where do moral rules come from? From reason, some philosophers say.
>From God, say believers. Seldom considered is a source now being
advocated by some biologists, that of evolution.

At first glance, natural selection and the survival of the fittest may
seem to reward only the most selfish values. But for animals that live
in groups, selfishness must be strictly curbed or there will be no
advantage to social living. Could the behaviors evolved by social
animals to make societies work be the foundation from which human
morality evolved?

In a series of recent articles and a book, “The Happiness Hypothesis,”
Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist at the University of Virginia,
has been constructing a broad evolutionary view of morality that
traces its connections both to religion and to politics.

Dr. Haidt (pronounced height) began his research career by probing the
emotion of disgust. Testing people’s reactions to situations like that
of a hungry family that cooked and ate its pet dog after it had become
roadkill, he explored the phenomenon of moral dumbfounding — when
people feel strongly that something is wrong but cannot explain why.

Dumbfounding led him to view morality as driven by two separate mental
systems, one ancient and one modern, though the mind is scarcely aware
of the difference. The ancient system, which he calls moral intuition,
is based on the emotion-laden moral behaviors that evolved before the
development of language. The modern system — he calls it moral
judgment — came after language, when people became able to articulate
why something was right or wrong.

The emotional responses of moral intuition occur instantaneously —
they are primitive gut reactions that evolved to generate split-second
decisions and enhance survival in a dangerous world. Moral judgment,
on the other hand, comes later, as the conscious mind develops a
plausible rationalization for the decision already arrived at through
moral intuition.

Moral dumbfounding, in Dr. Haidt’s view, occurs when moral judgment
fails to come up with a convincing explanation for what moral
intuition has decided.

So why has evolution equipped the brain with two moral systems when
just one might seem plenty?

“We have a complex animal mind that only recently evolved language and
language-based reasoning,” Dr. Haidt said. “No way was control of the
organism going to be handed over to this novel faculty.”

He likens the mind’s subterranean moral machinery to an elephant, and
conscious moral reasoning to a small rider on the elephant’s back.
Psychologists and philosophers have long taken a far too narrow view
of morality, he believes, because they have focused on the rider and
largely ignored the elephant.

Dr. Haidt developed a better sense of the elephant after visiting
India at the suggestion of an anthropologist, Richard Shweder. In
Bhubaneswar, in the Indian state of Orissa, Dr. Haidt saw that people
recognized a much wider moral domain than the issues of harm and
justice that are central to Western morality. Indians were concerned
with integrating the community through rituals and committed to
concepts of religious purity as a way to restrain behavior.

On his return from India, Dr. Haidt combed the literature of
anthropology and psychology for ideas about morality throughout the
world. He identified five components of morality that were common to
most cultures. Some concerned the protection of individuals, others
the ties that bind a group together.

Of the moral systems that protect individuals, one is concerned with
preventing harm to the person and the other with reciprocity and
fairness. Less familiar are the three systems that promote behaviors
developed for strengthening the group. These are loyalty to the in-
group, respect for authority and hierarchy, and a sense of purity or
sanctity.

The five moral systems, in Dr. Haidt’s view, are innate psychological
mechanisms that predispose children to absorb certain virtues. Because
these virtues are learned, morality may vary widely from culture to
culture, while maintaining its central role of restraining
selfishness. In Western societies, the focus is on protecting
individuals by insisting that everyone be treated fairly. Creativity
is high, but society is less orderly. In many other societies,
selfishness is suppressed “through practices, rituals and stories that
help a person play a cooperative role in a larger social entity,” Dr.
Haidt said.

He is aware that many people — including “the politically homogeneous
discipline of psychology” — equate morality with justice, rights and
the welfare of the individual, and dismiss everything else as mere
social convention. But many societies around the world do in fact
behave as if loyalty, respect for authority and sanctity are moral
concepts, Dr. Haidt notes, and this justifies taking a wider view of
the moral domain.

The idea that morality and sacredness are intertwined, he said, may
now be out of fashion but has a venerable pedigree, tracing back to
Emile Durkheim, a founder of sociology.

Dr. Haidt believes that religion has played an important role in human
evolution by strengthening and extending the cohesion provided by the
moral systems. “If we didn’t have religious minds we would not have
stepped through the transition to groupishness,” he said. “We’d still
be just small bands roving around.”

Religious behavior may be the result of natural selection, in his
view, shaped at a time when early human groups were competing with one
another. “Those who found ways to bind themselves together were more
successful,” he said.

Dr. Haidt came to recognize the importance of religion by a roundabout
route. “I first found divinity in disgust,” he writes in his book “The
Happiness Hypothesis.”

The emotion of disgust probably evolved when people became meat eaters
and had to learn which foods might be contaminated with bacteria, a
problem not presented by plant foods. Disgust was then extended to
many other categories, he argues, to people who were unclean, to
unacceptable sexual practices and to a wide class of bodily functions
and behaviors that were seen as separating humans from animals.

“Imagine visiting a town,” Dr. Haidt writes, “where people wear no
clothes, never bathe, have sex ‘doggie style’ in public, and eat raw
meat by biting off pieces directly from the carcass.”

He sees the disgust evoked by such a scene as allied to notions of
physical and religious purity. Purity is, in his view, a moral system
that promotes the goals of controlling selfish desires and acting in a
religiously approved way.

Notions of disgust and purity are widespread outside Western cultures.
“Educated liberals are the only group to say, ‘I find that disgusting
but that doesn’t make it wrong,’ ” Dr. Haidt said.

Working with a graduate student, Jesse Graham, Dr. Haidt has detected
a striking political dimension to morality. He and Mr. Graham asked
people to identify their position on a liberal-conservative spectrum
and then complete a questionnaire that assessed the importance
attached to each of the five moral systems. (The test, called the
moral foundations questionnaire, can be taken online, at www.YourMorals.org.)

They found that people who identified themselves as liberals attached
great weight to the two moral systems protective of individuals —
those of not harming others and of doing as you would be done by. But
liberals assigned much less importance to the three moral systems that
protect the group, those of loyalty, respect for authority and purity.

Conservatives placed value on all five moral systems but they assigned
less weight than liberals to the moralities protective of individuals.

Dr. Haidt believes that many political disagreements between liberals
and conservatives may reflect the different emphasis each places on
the five moral categories.

Take attitudes to contemporary art and music. Conservatives fear that
subversive art will undermine authority, violate the in-group’s
traditions and offend canons of purity and sanctity. Liberals, on the
other hand, see contemporary art as protecting equality by assailing
the establishment, especially if the art is by oppressed groups.

Extreme liberals, Dr. Haidt argues, attach almost no importance to the
moral systems that protect the group. Because conservatives do give
some weight to individual protections, they often have a better
understanding of liberal views than liberals do of conservative
attitudes, in his view.

Dr. Haidt, who describes himself as a moderate liberal, says that
societies need people with both types of personality. “A liberal
morality will encourage much greater creativity but will weaken social
structure and deplete social capital,” he said. “I am really glad we
have New York and San Francisco — most of our creativity comes out of
cities like these. But a nation that was just New York and San
Francisco could not survive very long. Conservatives give more to
charity and tend to be more supportive of essential institutions like
the military and law enforcement.”

Other psychologists have mixed views about Dr. Haidt’s ideas.

Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard, said, “I’m a big fan
of Haidt’s work.” He added that the idea of including purity in the
moral domain could make psychological sense even if purity had no
place in moral reasoning.

But Frans B. M. de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University, said he
disagreed with Dr. Haidt’s view that the task of morality is to
suppress selfishness. Many animals show empathy and altruistic
tendencies but do not have moral systems.

“For me, the moral system is one that resolves the tension between
individual and group interests in a way that seems best for the most
members of the group, hence promotes a give and take,” Dr. de Waal
said.

He said that he also disagreed with Dr. Haidt’s alignment of liberals
with individual rights and conservatives with social cohesiveness.

“It is obvious that liberals emphasize the common good — safety laws
for coal mines, health care for all, support for the poor — that are
not nearly as well recognized by conservatives,” Dr. de Waal said.

That alignment also bothers John T. Jost, a political psychologist at
New York University. Dr. Jost said he admired Dr. Haidt as a “very
interesting and creative social psychologist” and found his work
useful in drawing attention to the strong moral element in political
beliefs.

But the fact that liberals and conservatives agree on the first two of
Dr. Haidt’s principles — do no harm and do unto others as you would
have them do unto you — means that those are good candidates to be
moral virtues. The fact that liberals and conservatives disagree on
the other three principles “suggests to me that they are not general
moral virtues but specific ideological commitments or values,” Dr.
Jost said.

In defense of his views, Dr. Haidt said that moral claims could be
valid even if not universally acknowledged.

“It is at least possible,” he said, “that conservatives and
traditional societies have some moral or sociological insights that
secular liberals do not understand.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/18/science/18mora.html?pagewanted=print

Rupert
2009-06-09 02:00:05 EST
What exactly is his evidence that these mental systems are genetically
based? Has he done empirical work to try to confirm this?

Immortalist
2009-06-09 02:10:21 EST
On Jun 8, 11:00 pm, Rupert <rupertmccal...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> What exactly is his evidence that these mental systems are genetically
> based? Has he done empirical work to try to confirm this?

Actually I am reading a book that has some evidence and I am trying to
research it, I have a ways to go, here is the "just-so-story" as it
is;

The mind is composed of a large number of mental modules each designed
to solve a specific problem. For example, there is one mechanism for
perceiving three dimensions, another for anger, another for falling in
love. The mind is like a Swiss Army knife; i.e., it has lots of
specialized tools. There is no such thing as general intelligence,
general learning, or any other general ability to solve problems.

http://www.csulb.edu/~kmacd/463evolpsyIQ.html

...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.

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/11/marc-hauser-mor.html

Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal
Sense of Right and Wrong - by Marc Hauser
http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Minds-Nature-Designed-Universal/dp/0060780703

If across the globe and throughout history, human beings have engaged
in a variety of religious practices and have held a diversity of
religious beliefs and these phenomena have been explained in a variety
of different ways by anthropologists, psychologists, and other
scholars, as well as by religious practitioners themselves, with
varying degrees of success, then perhaps more puzzling, and just in
need of an explanation, is the fact that all human beings have
religion in the first place.

If religion is a by-product of the way our minds evolved to negotiate
the natural and, more importantly, the social world and the
explanation for religious beliefs and behaviours is to be found in the
way all human minds work.

Religious concepts activate various functionally distinct mental
systems, present also in non-religious contexts, and ‘tweak’ the usual
inferences of these systems. They deal with detection and
representation of animacy and agency, social exchange, moral
intuitions, precaution against natural hazards and understanding of
misfortune. Each of these activates distinct neural resources or
families of networks.

The Inferential Instinct: ...a naturalistic account of cultural
representations that describes how evolved conceptual dispositions
make humans likely to acquire certain concepts more easily than
others. The aggregated result of these individual acquisition
processes channels cultures along particular paths, with the result
that some concepts are both relatively stable within a group and
recurrent among different groups.

Our brains have been "designed by evolution" to employ particular
cognitive systems that help us to make sense of "particular aspects of
objects around us and produce specific kinds of inferences about
them." There are, for instance, brain–systems in this sense that deal
with inanimate objects, others that deal with human persons, and yet
others that deal with supernatural agents. Just as our brains have
become by evolution such that they inevitably (and mostly
unconsciously) deploy the complex inferential systems that permit us
to survive and get around in a world of inanimate objects, so they
also have become such that we find ideas about full–access strategic
agents to be plausible because these ideas generate for us rich
inferences about how to behave and what choices to make, and they do
so with particular richness in a social context in which we can
reasonably assume that everyone else shares such ideas.

Scientists themselves thus reverse many traditional attempts to
explain religion away. It is not that we invent the gods because by so
doing we can meet needs otherwise difficult to satisfy, or because
they permit us to explain things otherwise hard to explain, or because
they give us the illusion of comfort in a harsh and comfortless world,
or because they give us persuasive reasons to act morally. It is,
rather, that evolution has equipped us (or most of us) with certain
proclivities or dispositions to explain misfortune, gain scarce social
goods, and act morally (roughly, acting in such a way as
evolutionarily to benefit either ourselves or the tribe).

Moreover, these proclivities dispose us to accept and act upon the
idea that there are gods—or, if you prefer, full–access strategic
agents. Evolution makes all of us likely worshipers in much the same
way that it makes all of us likely language–users. We are innately
predisposed for both, and so such disparate religious traditions as
Christian theology, Islamic law, and Buddhist metaphysics are merely
different forms of baroque ornamentations added on to an evolutionary
edifice.

Religion Explained: The Human Instincts That
Fashion Gods, Spirits and Ancestors
by Pascal Boyer
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0465006965/

Dutch
2009-06-09 03:07:42 EST
Rupert wrote:
> What exactly is his evidence that these mental systems are genetically
> based? Has he done empirical work to try to confirm this?

I saw a report where researchers watched chimp families over long
periods of time and there were clear signs that family members exchanged
favors, tit for tat, like grooming in exchange for food sharing.

It makes sense that in a social species where cooperation in groups is
an evolutionary advantage that it would be selected for. Aggressive,
antisocial individuals could be shunned and banished by the combined
force of the group, and that actually happens in primate troupes, and
never breed.

S*@gmail.com
2009-06-09 05:25:25 EST
On Jun 9, 12:07 am, Dutch <n...@email.com> wrote:
> Rupert wrote:
> > What exactly is his evidence that these mental systems are genetically
> > based? Has he done empirical work to try to confirm this?
>
> I saw a report where researchers watched chimp families over long
> periods of time and there were clear signs that family members exchanged
> favors, tit for tat, like grooming in exchange for food sharing.

But tit for tat is not, "Do unto others," it is,
"an eye for an eye."

T*@earthlink.net
2009-06-09 05:59:09 EST
On Jun 8, 9:47 pm, Immortalist <reanimater_2...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> By NICHOLAS WADE
>
> Where do moral rules come from? From reason, some philosophers say.
> From God, say believers. Seldom considered is a source now being
> advocated by some biologists, that of evolution.
>


Someday, we will have a discussion here in which the distinction is
kept between "what is morality" and "what is moral".

Apparently not yet.

-tg





> At first glance, natural selection and the survival of the fittest may
> seem to reward only the most selfish values. But for animals that live
> in groups, selfishness must be strictly curbed or there will be no
> advantage to social living. Could the behaviors evolved by social
> animals to make societies work be the foundation from which human
> morality evolved?
>
> In a series of recent articles and a book, “The Happiness Hypothesis,”
> Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist at the University of Virginia,
> has been constructing a broad evolutionary view of morality that
> traces its connections both to religion and to politics.
>
> Dr. Haidt (pronounced height) began his research career by probing the
> emotion of disgust. Testing people’s reactions to situations like that
> of a hungry family that cooked and ate its pet dog after it had become
> roadkill, he explored the phenomenon of moral dumbfounding — when
> people feel strongly that something is wrong but cannot explain why.
>
> Dumbfounding led him to view morality as driven by two separate mental
> systems, one ancient and one modern, though the mind is scarcely aware
> of the difference. The ancient system, which he calls moral intuition,
> is based on the emotion-laden moral behaviors that evolved before the
> development of language. The modern system — he calls it moral
> judgment — came after language, when people became able to articulate
> why something was right or wrong.
>
> The emotional responses of moral intuition occur instantaneously —
> they are primitive gut reactions that evolved to generate split-second
> decisions and enhance survival in a dangerous world. Moral judgment,
> on the other hand, comes later, as the conscious mind develops a
> plausible rationalization for the decision already arrived at through
> moral intuition.
>
> Moral dumbfounding, in Dr. Haidt’s view, occurs when moral judgment
> fails to come up with a convincing explanation for what moral
> intuition has decided.
>
> So why has evolution equipped the brain with two moral systems when
> just one might seem plenty?
>
> “We have a complex animal mind that only recently evolved language and
> language-based reasoning,” Dr. Haidt said. “No way was control of the
> organism going to be handed over to this novel faculty.”
>
> He likens the mind’s subterranean moral machinery to an elephant, and
> conscious moral reasoning to a small rider on the elephant’s back.
> Psychologists and philosophers have long taken a far too narrow view
> of morality, he believes, because they have focused on the rider and
> largely ignored the elephant.
>
> Dr. Haidt developed a better sense of the elephant after visiting
> India at the suggestion of an anthropologist, Richard Shweder. In
> Bhubaneswar, in the Indian state of Orissa, Dr. Haidt saw that people
> recognized a much wider moral domain than the issues of harm and
> justice that are central to Western morality. Indians were concerned
> with integrating the community through rituals and committed to
> concepts of religious purity as a way to restrain behavior.
>
> On his return from India, Dr. Haidt combed the literature of
> anthropology and psychology for ideas about morality throughout the
> world. He identified five components of morality that were common to
> most cultures. Some concerned the protection of individuals, others
> the ties that bind a group together.
>
> Of the moral systems that protect individuals, one is concerned with
> preventing harm to the person and the other with reciprocity and
> fairness. Less familiar are the three systems that promote behaviors
> developed for strengthening the group. These are loyalty to the in-
> group, respect for authority and hierarchy, and a sense of purity or
> sanctity.
>
> The five moral systems, in Dr. Haidt’s view, are innate psychological
> mechanisms that predispose children to absorb certain virtues. Because
> these virtues are learned, morality may vary widely from culture to
> culture, while maintaining its central role of restraining
> selfishness. In Western societies, the focus is on protecting
> individuals by insisting that everyone be treated fairly. Creativity
> is high, but society is less orderly. In many other societies,
> selfishness is suppressed “through practices, rituals and stories that
> help a person play a cooperative role in a larger social entity,” Dr.
> Haidt said.
>
> He is aware that many people — including “the politically homogeneous
> discipline of psychology” — equate morality with justice, rights and
> the welfare of the individual, and dismiss everything else as mere
> social convention. But many societies around the world do in fact
> behave as if loyalty, respect for authority and sanctity are moral
> concepts, Dr. Haidt notes, and this justifies taking a wider view of
> the moral domain.
>
> The idea that morality and sacredness are intertwined, he said, may
> now be out of fashion but has a venerable pedigree, tracing back to
> Emile Durkheim, a founder of sociology.
>
> Dr. Haidt believes that religion has played an important role in human
> evolution by strengthening and extending the cohesion provided by the
> moral systems. “If we didn’t have religious minds we would not have
> stepped through the transition to groupishness,” he said. “We’d still
> be just small bands roving around.”
>
> Religious behavior may be the result of natural selection, in his
> view, shaped at a time when early human groups were competing with one
> another. “Those who found ways to bind themselves together were more
> successful,” he said.
>
> Dr. Haidt came to recognize the importance of religion by a roundabout
> route. “I first found divinity in disgust,” he writes in his book “The
> Happiness Hypothesis.”
>
> The emotion of disgust probably evolved when people became meat eaters
> and had to learn which foods might be contaminated with bacteria, a
> problem not presented by plant foods. Disgust was then extended to
> many other categories, he argues, to people who were unclean, to
> unacceptable sexual practices and to a wide class of bodily functions
> and behaviors that were seen as separating humans from animals.
>
> “Imagine visiting a town,” Dr. Haidt writes, “where people wear no
> clothes, never bathe, have sex ‘doggie style’ in public, and eat raw
> meat by biting off pieces directly from the carcass.”
>
> He sees the disgust evoked by such a scene as allied to notions of
> physical and religious purity. Purity is, in his view, a moral system
> that promotes the goals of controlling selfish desires and acting in a
> religiously approved way.
>
> Notions of disgust and purity are widespread outside Western cultures.
> “Educated liberals are the only group to say, ‘I find that disgusting
> but that doesn’t make it wrong,’ ” Dr. Haidt said.
>
> Working with a graduate student, Jesse Graham, Dr. Haidt has detected
> a striking political dimension to morality. He and Mr. Graham asked
> people to identify their position on a liberal-conservative spectrum
> and then complete a questionnaire that assessed the importance
> attached to each of the five moral systems. (The test, called the
> moral foundations questionnaire, can be taken online, atwww.YourMorals.org.)
>
> They found that people who identified themselves as liberals attached
> great weight to the two moral systems protective of individuals —
> those of not harming others and of doing as you would be done by. But
> liberals assigned much less importance to the three moral systems that
> protect the group, those of loyalty, respect for authority and purity.
>
> Conservatives placed value on all five moral systems but they assigned
> less weight than liberals to the moralities protective of individuals.
>
> Dr. Haidt believes that many political disagreements between liberals
> and conservatives may reflect the different emphasis each places on
> the five moral categories.
>
> Take attitudes to contemporary art and music. Conservatives fear that
> subversive art will undermine authority, violate the in-group’s
> traditions and offend canons of purity and sanctity. Liberals, on the
> other hand, see contemporary art as protecting equality by assailing
> the establishment, especially if the art is by oppressed groups.
>
> Extreme liberals, Dr. Haidt argues, attach almost no importance to the
> moral systems that protect the group. Because conservatives do give
> some weight to individual protections, they often have a better
> understanding of liberal views than liberals do of conservative
> attitudes, in his view.
>
> Dr. Haidt, who describes himself as a moderate liberal, says that
> societies need people with both types of personality. “A liberal
> morality will encourage much greater creativity but will weaken social
> structure and deplete social capital,” he said. “I am really glad we
> have New York and San Francisco — most of our creativity comes out of
> cities like these. But a nation that was just New York and San
> Francisco could not survive very long. Conservatives give more to
> charity and tend to be more supportive of essential institutions like
> the military and law enforcement.”
>
> Other psychologists have mixed views about Dr. Haidt’s ideas.
>
> Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard, said, “I’m a big fan
> of Haidt’s work.” He added that the idea of including purity in the
> moral domain could make psychological sense even if purity had no
> place in moral reasoning.
>
> But Frans B. M. de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University, said he
> disagreed with Dr. Haidt’s view that the task of morality is to
> suppress selfishness. Many animals show empathy and altruistic
> tendencies but do not have moral systems.
>
> “For me, the moral system is one that resolves the tension between
> individual and group interests in a way that seems best for the most
> members of the group, hence promotes a give and take,” Dr. de Waal
> said.
>
> He said that he also disagreed with Dr. ...
>
> read more »


Dutch
2009-06-09 15:03:34 EST
s*k@gmail.com wrote:
> On Jun 9, 12:07 am, Dutch <n...@email.com> wrote:
>> Rupert wrote:
>>> What exactly is his evidence that these mental systems are genetically
>>> based? Has he done empirical work to try to confirm this?
>> I saw a report where researchers watched chimp families over long
>> periods of time and there were clear signs that family members exchanged
>> favors, tit for tat, like grooming in exchange for food sharing.
>
> But tit for tat is not, "Do unto others," it is,
> "an eye for an eye."

It's that too, but tit for tat is also a cooperative strategy.

Dutch
2009-06-09 16:00:19 EST
t*g@earthlink.net wrote:
> On Jun 8, 9:47 pm, Immortalist <reanimater_2...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>> By NICHOLAS WADE
>>
>> Where do moral rules come from? From reason, some philosophers say.
>> From God, say believers. Seldom considered is a source now being
>> advocated by some biologists, that of evolution.
>>
>
>
> Someday, we will have a discussion here in which the distinction is
> kept between "what is morality" and "what is moral".
>
> Apparently not yet.
>
> -tg


What is the point you're making? He posted a piece on the
origins of morals. I think it's true, human morals and
ultimately rights evolved from primate social behaviours.
The behaviour of watching each other's back is a successful
evolutionary strategy. tit for tat, both benefit.

The discussion about the nature of those morals and rights
goes on all the time.

T*@earthlink.net
2009-06-09 16:26:25 EST
On Jun 9, 4:00 pm, Dutch <n...@email.com> wrote:
> tgdenn...@earthlink.net wrote:
> > On Jun 8, 9:47 pm, Immortalist <reanimater_2...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >> By NICHOLAS WADE
>
> >> Where do moral rules come from? From reason, some philosophers say.
> >> From God, say believers. Seldom considered is a source now being
> >> advocated by some biologists, that of evolution.
>
> > Someday, we will have a discussion here in which the distinction is
> > kept between "what is morality" and "what is moral".
>
> > Apparently not yet.
>
> > -tg
>
> What is the point you're making? He posted a piece on the
> origins of morals. I think it's true, human morals and
> ultimately rights evolved from primate social behaviours.

And you are making the same kind of error, or worse, since now you are
bandying about the term "evolved" as if it has some meaning in this
context.

Let's begin by having you explain what a 'human moral' *is*.

-tg




> The behaviour of watching each other's back is a successful
> evolutionary strategy. tit for tat, both benefit.
>
> The discussion about the nature of those morals and rights
> goes on all the time.


S*@gmail.com
2009-06-09 18:27:22 EST
On Jun 9, 12:03 pm, Dutch <n...@email.com> wrote:
> shrikeb...@gmail.com wrote:
> > On Jun 9, 12:07 am, Dutch <n...@email.com> wrote:
> >> Rupert wrote:
> >>> What exactly is his evidence that these mental systems are genetically
> >>> based? Has he done empirical work to try to confirm this?
> >> I saw a report where researchers watched chimp families over long
> >> periods of time and there were clear signs that family members exchanged
> >> favors, tit for tat, like grooming in exchange for food sharing.
>
> > But tit for tat is not, "Do unto others," it is,
> > "an eye for an eye."
>
> It's that too, but tit for tat is also a cooperative strategy.

But I don't think it counts as a moral
imperative. It's just expedient game
theory applied to enlightened self-interest.
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