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Author Topic:   Biology is Destiny?
Tangle
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Message 106 of 129 (642500)
11-29-2011 12:52 PM
Reply to: Message 104 by NoNukes
11-29-2011 8:56 AM


Re: Biology does not dismiss free will
Lacking a moral compass and acting without knowing what he was doing are two separate ideas, and I've already provided examples to illustrate the difference. Lacking a moral compass does not, in and off itself negate mens re.

Let's just try to agree the principle of the bloody thing or we'll be arguing for weeks about something that is incidental to the point of the thread.

The general point is that an individual can not be liable for a serious offence in law if he did not have 'a guilty mind'. One possible way of not having a guilty mind is by having a damaged brain. As is probably the case with Fred.

I find it difficult to believe that drunk driving is completely a strict liability crime in the UK, although I may be wrong. But if your buddies were to pick up your passed out drunk body off the sofa, dump it into a car, and the push your car down the highway, surely you could not be said to have the mens re to operate a vehicle while drunk if all you did was step on the brake and steer the car to the curb.

Having excess alcohol whilst in control of a motor vehicle is a strict liability offence in the UK - and many other jurisdictions. (Please don't let's argue about what 'being in control means' - just take it that being behind the wheel of a moving vehicle is usually enough.)

If it came to court, you'd be found guilty of being drunk in charge but you'd probably be given an unconditional discharge and the magistrates would be complaining about having the charge put before them.

It's far more likely though that no charges would be brought by the police (against the driver) or failing that the CPS would refuse to prosecute. The 'friends' that put you in the car would probably be prosecuted for reckless endangerment and whatever else the arresting officer/CPS could dream up.

In other news, I hear that the Norwegian mass murderer has been declared insane. So he's not going to prison but hospital (subject to the decision standing)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-15936276


Life, don't talk to me about life.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 104 by NoNukes, posted 11-29-2011 8:56 AM NoNukes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 107 by NoNukes, posted 11-29-2011 1:31 PM Tangle has responded

  
NoNukes
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Posts: 5064
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 107 of 129 (642509)
11-29-2011 1:31 PM
Reply to: Message 106 by Tangle
11-29-2011 12:52 PM


Re: Biology does not dismiss free will
Let's just try to agree the principle of the bloody thing or we'll be arguing for weeks about something that is incidental to the point of the thread.

I'll agree to drop the whole thing without saying another word.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 106 by Tangle, posted 11-29-2011 12:52 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 108 by Tangle, posted 11-29-2011 3:31 PM NoNukes has acknowledged this reply

    
Tangle
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Posts: 2281
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 108 of 129 (642525)
11-29-2011 3:31 PM
Reply to: Message 107 by NoNukes
11-29-2011 1:31 PM


Re: Biology does not dismiss free will
I'll agree to drop the whole thing without another word

No need to go that far :-)


Life, don't talk to me about life.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 107 by NoNukes, posted 11-29-2011 1:31 PM NoNukes has acknowledged this reply

  
caffeine
Member (Idle past 84 days)
Posts: 872
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


Message 109 of 129 (642622)
11-30-2011 9:25 AM
Reply to: Message 105 by NoNukes
11-29-2011 9:08 AM


Re: Mens Rea
I find it difficult to believe that drunk driving is completely a strict liability crime in the UK, although I may be wrong.

Driving offences usually are strict liability in the UK. Others include firearm possessions, leading to such odd cases as someone being convicted of possessing a firearm despite the fact that he could not reasonably have been expected to know it was in his possession (it was in a bag); and a more recent case of someone being prosecuted for bringing into a police station a gun he claimed to have found in a park.

ABE: And I thought the consciousness discussion was drifitng off topic!

Edited by caffeine, : No reason given.


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Tangle
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Posts: 2281
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 110 of 129 (642650)
11-30-2011 11:45 AM


Neurology Matters
Philosophy usually divides morality into two types:
'descriptive' which is the sorts of rules derived by human authority groups (religions, clubs, states) - such as "don't eat meat on friday" "replace your divots" and "don't drive when drunk" and
'normative' which is the universal code of moral actions that humans possess such as those I described earlier (and several objected to). They're mostly of the 'do no harm' sort that google is so fond of - things like, don't murder rape thieve etc.

This is from the neurology papers I posted earlier:

Sociopaths lack moral emotions, empathy, conscience, or remorse and guilt for their acts. Although they have difficulty distinguishing between moral (victim-based) transgressions and conventional (social disorder-based), they have normal moral knowledge and reasoning. Sociopaths have instrumental (cold-blooded and goal-directed) aggression with decreased sympathetic arousal. On psychophysiological measures, they show minimal alterations in heart rate, skin conductance, or respirations when they are subjected to fear or stressful or unpleasant pictures, and they have reduced autonomic responses to the distress of others, as well as reduced recognition of sad and fearful expressions.

Which suggests to me that sociopaths know the (descriptive) rules but it doesn't inhibit their actions because the (normative) impulse not to do harm that is present in 'normal' people is missing. Fred's case goes further. Fred was driven to do the immoral deeds - his brain wanted them (while a 'normal brain would rebel against them).

The paper goes on to say that

Those who have committed violent offences have a high incidence of neurological changes. In one study, nearly two-thirds of murderers had neurological diagnoses, including brain injuries, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, dementia, and others. Neurological examinations often show marked frontal or temporal deficits or changes on neuroimaging or electroencephalography.

So criminals that commit serious crimes are also likely to have neurological pathology.
I'd like to hear what those that believe in absolute morality think of all this.

Life, don't talk to me about life.

Replies to this message:
 Message 111 by Modulous, posted 11-30-2011 11:57 AM Tangle has responded
 Message 117 by NoNukes, posted 12-01-2011 10:26 PM Tangle has not yet responded

  
Modulous
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Message 111 of 129 (642659)
11-30-2011 11:57 AM
Reply to: Message 110 by Tangle
11-30-2011 11:45 AM


descriptive and normative
Philosophy usually divides morality into two types:
'descriptive' which is the sorts of rules derived by human authority groups (religions, clubs, states) - such as "don't eat meat on friday" "replace your divots" and "don't drive when drunk" and
'normative' which is the universal code of moral actions that humans possess such as those I described earlier (and several objected to). They're mostly of the 'do no harm' sort that google is so fond of - things like, don't murder rape thieve etc.

I don't think that's quite right. Descriptive describes what people think is right and wrong (often used to compare different people or groups). Normative is about they way people should behave. Applied is about how to put the normative ideas into practical use. Meta is about understanding what 'right' and 'wrong' actually mean.

Descriptive morality, or ethics, would be saying that Catholics view many contraceptives as morally wrong. Normative would be saying we should not use contraceptives, Applied would be to have sex without the use of contraceptives, Meta would be saying that right behaviour is behaviour that is in agreement with God's will.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 110 by Tangle, posted 11-30-2011 11:45 AM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 112 by Tangle, posted 11-30-2011 2:32 PM Modulous has responded

    
Tangle
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Posts: 2281
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 112 of 129 (642681)
11-30-2011 2:32 PM
Reply to: Message 111 by Modulous
11-30-2011 11:57 AM


Re: descriptive and normative
I don't think that's quite right.

Is it right enough to get by, or do we have to run down the rabbit hole again?


Life, don't talk to me about life.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 111 by Modulous, posted 11-30-2011 11:57 AM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 113 by Modulous, posted 11-30-2011 3:09 PM Tangle has responded

  
Modulous
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From: Manchester, UK
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Message 113 of 129 (642683)
11-30-2011 3:09 PM
Reply to: Message 112 by Tangle
11-30-2011 2:32 PM


Re: descriptive and normative
Is it right enough to get by, or do we have to run down the rabbit hole again?

Just worth keeping in mind if you want to advance the discussion. Your descriptions of normative and descriptive are in error, which may cause problems if you want to discuss the matter in depth.

However, your point that

sociopaths know the (descriptive) rules but it doesn't inhibit their actions because the (normative) impulse not to do harm that is present in 'normal' people is missing.

More or less still works out as a fair position to take. Sociopaths may know that x believes y to be wrong (descriptive) whereas they themselves may not feel compelled to feel that it is wrong themselves (lacking the normative).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 112 by Tangle, posted 11-30-2011 2:32 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 114 by Tangle, posted 12-01-2011 6:39 AM Modulous has responded

    
Tangle
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Posts: 2281
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 114 of 129 (642733)
12-01-2011 6:39 AM
Reply to: Message 113 by Modulous
11-30-2011 3:09 PM


Re: descriptive and normative
Modulus writes:


Your descriptions of normative and descriptive are in error

Just for info and completeness, my interpretation came from here:

Descriptive morality is a code of conduct held by a particular society or group as authoritative in all matters of right and wrong. It focuses on areas beyond no-harm, such as purity, accepting authority, and emphasizing loyalty to the group.1 Normative morality, on the other hand, is a universal code of moral actions and prohibitions held by all rational people, irregardless of their society or groups descriptive morality.1,2

Which in turn apparently came from here:

1. Haidt J. The new synthesis in moral psychology. Science. 2007;316:998-1002.
2. Wilson JQ. The Moral Sense. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster; 1993.

Edited by Tangle, : rubbish grammar


Life, don't talk to me about life.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 113 by Modulous, posted 11-30-2011 3:09 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 115 by Modulous, posted 12-01-2011 7:04 AM Tangle has responded

  
Modulous
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Posts: 6274
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 1.5


Message 115 of 129 (642735)
12-01-2011 7:04 AM
Reply to: Message 114 by Tangle
12-01-2011 6:39 AM


Re: descriptive and normative
I think they got this from an unknown source that actually reads:

quote:
In its first descriptive usage, morality means a code of conduct held to be authoritative in matters of right and wrong whether by society, philosophy, religion, or individual conscience. In its second normative and universal sense, morality refers to an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people, under specified conditions

Which I do agree with. This is slightly different wording, but it changes the meaning considerably, I feel. (I find the above quote all over the net, but I can't find its origins).

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 114 by Tangle, posted 12-01-2011 6:39 AM Tangle has responded

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Tangle
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Posts: 2281
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 116 of 129 (642773)
12-01-2011 1:53 PM
Reply to: Message 115 by Modulous
12-01-2011 7:04 AM


Re: descriptive and normative
Hmmm - ok, here we go down the rabbit hole again.

I don't like that definition of normative:

In its second normative and universal sense, morality refers to an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people, under specified conditions

It's the word 'ideal' that's broken. It pre-supposes we know what's best and can choose or at least list the best morality and (presumably) aspire to it.

My definition says that the normative values are intrinsic to (rational) people. We have them like it or not and those that don't are not normal.

Normative morality, on the other hand, is a universal code of moral actions and prohibitions held by all rational people, irregardless of their society or groups descriptive morality.1,2

For the purpose of this thread I'm proposing that normative morality is a brain function, an emotion and a sixth sense that has sections of the brain allocated to it. It's not some notional ideal state, it's simply (sic) neurology and like all thing physiological it must vary by individual.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 118 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-01-2011 10:49 PM Tangle has responded
 Message 119 by Chuck77, posted 12-02-2011 1:43 AM Tangle has responded

  
NoNukes
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Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 117 of 129 (642818)
12-01-2011 10:26 PM
Reply to: Message 110 by Tangle
11-30-2011 11:45 AM


Re: Neurology Matters
In the law, the definition of criminal is pretty much cut and dried. Criminal acts are those in which constitutionally valid criminal laws (common law or statutory) are violated.

However crimes can be further broken down in to "malum prohibitum" crimes which while criminal are not inherently bad, and malum in se crimes which are for one reason or another acts that are bad regardless of the fact that there are laws against them.

It is understandable that people might have different views about whether criminal acts are bad or benign. I can even agree that some criminal acts are admirable. But with regard to which acts are criminal, the answer is fairly objective. If the law is constitutional, and prohibits an act, then the act is criminal.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


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Dr Adequate
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Message 118 of 129 (642822)
12-01-2011 10:49 PM
Reply to: Message 116 by Tangle
12-01-2011 1:53 PM


Re: descriptive and normative
I don't like that definition of normative:

In its second normative and universal sense, morality refers to an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people, under specified conditions

It's the word 'ideal' that's broken. It pre-supposes we know what's best and can choose or at least list the best morality and (presumably) aspire to it.

Well that is what "normative" means. It may be describing a concept you don't think exists, but then so does "unicorn".

My definition says that the normative values are intrinsic to (rational) people. We have them like it or not and those that don't are not normal.

Yeah, but your definition is wrong, so maybe you should find another word to express what you want to say.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 116 by Tangle, posted 12-01-2011 1:53 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 120 by Tangle, posted 12-02-2011 4:28 AM Dr Adequate has responded

  
Chuck77
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Posts: 742
Joined: 06-06-2011


Message 119 of 129 (642828)
12-02-2011 1:43 AM
Reply to: Message 116 by Tangle
12-01-2011 1:53 PM


Re: descriptive and normative
Tangle writes:

Hmmm - ok, here we go down the rabbit hole again.

This is your fault. You're the one creating the many rabbit holes that ravage this thread. You keep presenting quotes, situations, definitions that are all over the map simply to say free will and absolute morals don't exist (it seems).

What did you expect? It's your responsibility to keep things on topic and what it is you want to discuss but as soon as someone points out to you that some of your reasoning is flawed and tries to show you why all of a sudden it's a "rabbit hole".

Can you try and simplify this thread and say what you mean instead of sending everyone down the rabbit holes you are creating yourself?

Edited by Chuck77, : No reason given.

Edited by Chuck77, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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Tangle
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Posts: 2281
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 120 of 129 (642832)
12-02-2011 4:28 AM
Reply to: Message 118 by Dr Adequate
12-01-2011 10:49 PM


Re: descriptive and normative
Dr Adequate writes:

Yeah, but your definition is wrong, so maybe you should find another word to express what you want to say.

Like I say, I didn't make up the definition it came from here:

Normative morality, on the other hand, is a universal code of moral actions and prohibitions held by all rational people, irregardless of their society or groups descriptive morality.

The Neurobiology of Moral Behavior: Review and
Neuropsychiatric Implications
Mario F. Mendez, MD, PhD

I accept that philosophy uses the word 'normative' to mean an ideal state and that science should probably use another one rather than bend the original out of shape. I think 'Normal' behaviour is closer to what the paper is talking about.

The point I'm stumbling to make is that strong moral behaviours of the 'do no harm' type (and others) are normal and universal in people - I don't think that is too contentious.

The new bit of information is that neuroscience is beginning to pin down areas of brain activity relating to those moral/behaviours/emotions.

This means that there is a moral sense (akin to sight, touch smell etc) with neurology to support it. i.e. Morality has a physical presence in the brain - it's not just a philosophical construct, we can touch it and change it. (And of course, it therefore can not be absolute - except as a philosophical or religious construct)

Now it's not at all surprising to find that morality happens in the brain - where else could it be? - but it is QI to begin to see the physical structures that do it.

To get back to the headline of is Biology Destiny? If we finally identify the seats of morality to parts of the brain the answer must be 'yes'.
To some large extents it must be - whether it's nature or nurture or physical damage that causes those parts of your brain to make you feel and act the way you do, the effect is the same; your brain made you do it.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 118 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-01-2011 10:49 PM Dr Adequate has responded

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 Message 122 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-02-2011 4:36 AM Tangle has responded

  
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