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Author Topic:   Morality! Thorn in Darwin's side or not?
Taq
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Posts: 6406
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 376 of 438 (743584)
12-02-2014 2:59 PM
Reply to: Message 375 by 1.61803
12-02-2014 2:01 PM


Knowledge if founded in facts and beliefs are founded in the mind.
The only time beliefs can be considered knowledge is when they are are in accordance to the truth.

Then what good is belief?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 375 by 1.61803, posted 12-02-2014 2:01 PM 1.61803 has responded

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1.61803
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Posts: 2678
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


(1)
Message 377 of 438 (743586)
12-02-2014 3:03 PM
Reply to: Message 376 by Taq
12-02-2014 2:59 PM


Then what good is belief? Perhaps that it allows one to formulate ideas and evaluate things mentally without the having the facts.

"You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative" William S. Burroughs

This message is a reply to:
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ProtoTypical
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Posts: 1702
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 378 of 438 (743623)
12-02-2014 6:21 PM
Reply to: Message 331 by ringo
11-23-2014 1:47 PM


PT writes:

ringo writes:

Morals evolved. Behaviour that "works" for our species - e.g. helping each other - is generally considered moral. Behaviour that endangers our species - e.g. killing each other - is generally considered immoral.

Is this not an objective base for morality? What 'works' can be seen in hindsight.

ringo writes:

I personally wouldn't call it objective if it can only be observed in hindsight. That's like saying Columbus was objectively searching for America.

No it isn't like that at all. It is like looking for the cure for a disease and then checking to see if your recipe works after you have concocted it. The objective assessment comes from being able to see if the remedy actually works.

In relation to morality, we behave a certain way and then we can see if that behaviour actually helps more people to survive and or thrive. Like gun laws or prohibition. We can make the law and then see in hindsight if it was a good idea. The objective objective of the most good for the most people remains.

In evolution, there is no "higher"; there is no "perfection". There is only fitness for the current conditions.

A creature's ability to adapt to changing environments is an objective measure of greater fitness. Being able to survive in many environments is 'higher' up than being able to survive in only one environment. Being able to survive in any environment is evolutionary perfection.


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AZPaul3
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Posts: 3427
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 7.4


Message 379 of 438 (743629)
12-02-2014 7:43 PM
Reply to: Message 378 by ProtoTypical
12-02-2014 6:21 PM


A creature's ability to adapt to changing environments is an objective measure of greater fitness.

While this may be somewhat correct it truncates what is actually happening here.

First, of course, creatures have no ability to adapt. They are stuck with what they are. The population, however, can evolve by adapting over time to a changing environment with each new crop of babies taking incremental steps in this adaption process. I will take your "creature" as meaning a population. That is probably what you meant anyway.

Second, the way this adaptation occurs is by killing off all those who do not have the necessary traits to survive. So those new crops of babies who have the survival traits get to make even more babies.

It is the "making babies" part that is the definition of "fitness" in evolution. If you make more babies than Joe and your babies go on to make more babies than Joe's babies then you are considered "fitter" for your niche in this environment than is Joe. It has nothing to do with the spread of disparate environments to which a species has become adapted.

There is no higher or lower scale for fitness, just more or less fit. And that is determined by counting the babies.

In almost all cases I can think of, the various populations of a species that each adapt to different environments become what we determine to be different species anyway because of those different survival traits.

Being able to survive in any environment is evolutionary perfection.

Naw. Just human bluster. Back some 150,000 years ago humans spread throughout the globe into different environments and evolved different melanin levels, eye structures and skeletal statures that allowed these populations to survive in their different environments. Well on our way to becoming separate sub-species, and if left long enough, separate species of human. But with that one big evolutionary advantage, intellect, humans built ships and traveled then built planes and traveled to the point now where the genomes are all intermixed.

The only thing that allows us to survive the range of environments we have is we can intellectually devise tools to compensate for our short comings. Even then we cannot survive the deep pressures, extreme temperatures and sulfur energy sources in the environment of the tube-worm. There are and probably will remain many hundreds of environments on this planet where humans cannot adapt to be fit.

The most successful critters on this planet, surviving in just about every environment on the planet, bacteria, only do so by evolving separate species specifically adapted to each different niche.

Like what was said, there is no higher, lower or perfection in evolution.

Edited by AZPaul3, : No reason given.

Edited by AZPaul3, : No reason given.

Edited by AZPaul3, : No reason given.


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edge
Member
Posts: 3800
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 01-09-2002
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 380 of 438 (743632)
12-02-2014 8:11 PM
Reply to: Message 377 by 1.61803
12-02-2014 3:03 PM


Then what good is belief? Perhaps that it allows one to formulate ideas and evaluate things mentally without the having the facts.

Belief allows one to have certainty without evidence. The less evidence one has, the more adamant must be the belief because without a degree of certainty, we become enervate, helpless frightened.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 377 by 1.61803, posted 12-02-2014 3:03 PM 1.61803 has responded

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ProtoTypical
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Posts: 1702
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 381 of 438 (743637)
12-02-2014 8:40 PM
Reply to: Message 379 by AZPaul3
12-02-2014 7:43 PM


First, of course, creatures have no ability to adapt. They are stuck with what they are. The population, however, can evolve by adapting over time to a changing environment with each new crop of babies taking incremental steps in this adaption process. I will take your "creature" as meaning a population. That is probably what you meant anyway.

No you are missing the point. I understand the mechanism and the level at which it works. My point is that, as an individual, I possess the ability to adapt my behaviour to suit my environment. This is an evolved quality that will help me to make more babies.

There is no higher or lower scale for fitness, just more or less fit. And that is determined by counting the babies.

The ability of individual humans to adapt to changing environments = 7 billion humans. This shows that our qualities are more fit than, say, the carrier pigeon's were. It is not the level of melatonin in our skin that has led to so many humans.

There are and probably will remain many hundreds of environments on this planet where humans cannot adapt to be fit.
The most successful critters on this planet, surviving in just about every environment on the planet, bacteria, only do so by evolving separate species specifically adapted to each different niche.

Wouldn't you agree that being able to survive across a variety of environments makes a species more fit than only being able to survive in one?

edit "It is not the level of melatonin in our skin that has led to so many humans." - About this we can be sure.

Edited by ProtoTypical, : No reason given.


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NoNukes
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Posts: 9529
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 3.2


(1)
Message 382 of 438 (743657)
12-03-2014 12:41 AM
Reply to: Message 381 by ProtoTypical
12-02-2014 8:40 PM


The ability of individual humans to adapt to changing environments = 7 billion humans. This shows that our qualities are more fit than, say, the carrier pigeon's were. It is not the level of melatonin in our skin that has led to so many humans.

I'm not sure what this example illustrates. The primary evolutionary defect of the carrier pigeon was that they tasted yummy to humans.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him. Galileo Galilei

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass


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AZPaul3
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Posts: 3427
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 7.4


Message 383 of 438 (743661)
12-03-2014 3:00 AM
Reply to: Message 381 by ProtoTypical
12-02-2014 8:40 PM


Wouldn't you agree that being able to survive across a variety of environments makes a species more fit than only being able to survive in one?

But that is not evolution, is it. That is arresting evolution and using technology in its place. If you want to argue that the technology is a natural result of our evolved intellect then you may have to find a different word to use. I don't think most in the discipline would say evolution includes human technology in its definition and processes.

So, no, I would not say humans were more fit in evolution on this planet than others since it is this technology that brings us the capability to make more babies than evolution would have allowed.

Humans screw up everything we touch. Even our own definitions.

Edited by AZPaul3, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 381 by ProtoTypical, posted 12-02-2014 8:40 PM ProtoTypical has responded

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ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1702
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 384 of 438 (743671)
12-03-2014 5:47 AM
Reply to: Message 383 by AZPaul3
12-03-2014 3:00 AM


I don't think most in the discipline would say evolution includes human technology in its definition and processes.

No perhaps not but they would include human intellect which is where the technology comes from. Being able to build a rocket ship is not really that different, in this context, from being able to build a nest. They both stem from the creature's evolved qualities.


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Replies to this message:
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jasonlang
Member (Idle past 811 days)
Posts: 51
From: Australia
Joined: 07-14-2005


(1)
Message 385 of 438 (743672)
12-03-2014 6:24 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Cedre
03-28-2009 9:05 AM


Sorry for the huge number of edits, but I kinda worked through some of this as I went:

"Adaptation" really has two separate meanings here:

One meaning is in evolution terms, and measures how closely a species' genetics has changed to match environmental needs.

A second meaning "adaptability" is a measure of how well an individual is able to modify their behaviour or physical characteristic depending on the different environment it finds itself in. This in itself is a trait which has evolved: the ability to "match" various environments, so that you don't die just because your genes don't match perfectly with conditions. So flexibility can evolve because it allows organisms to survive hiccups like droughts. Less adaptable creatures die off during the bad years.

So an organism can be "over optimized" for one set of conditions, but if things change, the less-optimized but more flexible organism survives. One example of this is the "chimp video games". Due to chimps simple mental structure they can complete some video games faster and more accurately than humans. They're more specialized at it than we are, but we are better at a wide range of games. Chimps still survive because they're fine-tuned for a single environment, and out-compete us there. But we are more general: in ANY one environment there are animals which beat us. We are not "the best" at any one environment, but we're better at "making do" in any environment.

Links for chimp video games:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsXP8qeFF6A
http://www.insidescience.org/...s-better-kindergartners/1582

The second meaning "adaptability" is short-term and does not imply that genetics have changed over the generations. e.g. Japanese growing ~1 foot taller after WWII, due to better nutrition, is an example of "adaptability" but not an "adaptation" in the genetic sense. BUT the adaptability which allowed that to happen was an adaptation which evolved previously: the ability to modify growth based on nutrition.

In a similar sense, science and technology are example of the exceptional adaptability of humans, and this adaptability itself is a trait which evolved as an adaptation.

As an example: due to evolutionary adaptations, I can learn languages, and can learn Japanese. But that doesn't mean I "evolved to learn Japanese" specifically.

Edited by jasonlang, : No reason given.

Edited by jasonlang, : No reason given.

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Edited by jasonlang, : No reason given.


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JonF
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Posts: 3534
Joined: 06-23-2003
Member Rating: 3.5


Message 386 of 438 (743674)
12-03-2014 8:20 AM
Reply to: Message 382 by NoNukes
12-03-2014 12:41 AM


The primary evolutionary defect of the carrier pigeon...

That's passenger pigeon.


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1.61803
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Posts: 2678
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 387 of 438 (743681)
12-03-2014 10:12 AM
Reply to: Message 380 by edge
12-02-2014 8:11 PM


Edge writes:

Belief allows one to have certainty without evidence. The less evidence one has, the more adamant must be the belief because without a degree of certainty, we become enervate, helpless frightened.

Hi edge, I think this is a true to a great degree for many people.

But this also depends on the person. I know plenty of skeptics and empiricist who hold their beliefs to a high degree of scrutiny.

Beliefs may allow certainty without evidence, but it does not demand it. That's the job of religious dogma imo.


"You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative" William S. Burroughs

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 Message 380 by edge, posted 12-02-2014 8:11 PM edge has not yet responded

  
ringo
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Posts: 13017
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 388 of 438 (743691)
12-03-2014 11:36 AM
Reply to: Message 378 by ProtoTypical
12-02-2014 6:21 PM


ProtoTypical writes:

In relation to morality, we behave a certain way and then we can see if that behaviour actually helps more people to survive and or thrive.


Morality based on body count? I don't think so. I'd say it's the opposite. Much of our morality is based on doing what's best for an individual, even if it puts larger numbers at risk.

ProtoTypical writes:

Like gun laws or prohibition. We can make the law and then see in hindsight if it was a good idea.


I don't think either gun laws or prohibition have much to do with morality. They're just practical matters, like food and shelter.

ProtoTypical writes:

The objective objective of the most good for the most people remains.


But what's "good" is highly subjective.

ProtoTypical writes:

Being able to survive in many environments is 'higher' up than being able to survive in only one environment.


Crocodiles can only survive in a fairly restricted environment, compared to humans, for example - but they've been doing it for a lot longer than we have. Should we measure "higher" in terms of more environments or more "survival/extinction incidents"?
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AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3427
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 7.4


Message 389 of 438 (743706)
12-03-2014 3:39 PM
Reply to: Message 384 by ProtoTypical
12-03-2014 5:47 AM


Being able to build a rocket ship is not really that different, in this context, from being able to build a nest.

I understand what you are saying, but remember, the nest builder does so because natural selection gave that a slight reproductive differential over the non-nest builder. The nest builder did not intellectually devise the nest the way humans devise tools. The nest started as a patch of ground to harbor the brood that became more elaborate as some new mutations to the instincts gave reproductive advantage to some new nest forms.

IMO, there is such a stark difference in the mechanisms of nest instinct versus intellectually preconceived tool development that they cannot be equated even though both ultimately stem from evolved capabilities.

That still does not justify any "higher", "lower" or "perfect" designations vis-a-vis evolution or fitness.

Edited by AZPaul3, : No reason given.


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1.61803
Member
Posts: 2678
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 390 of 438 (743723)
12-03-2014 6:19 PM
Reply to: Message 381 by ProtoTypical
12-02-2014 8:40 PM


we wuz lucky.
Hi ProtoTypical, great discussion.

Prototypical writes:

The ability of individual humans to adapt to changing environments = 7 billion humans. This shows that our qualities are more fit than, say, the carrier pigeon's were. It is not the level of melatonin in our skin that has led to so many humans.

I think it is also a toss of the dice. The particular niche Homo sapiens sapiens now inhabit favors our existence.

This is nothing more than pure luck of the draw. A complete marine environment would of pretty much left us as meat puppets for White sharks and cephalopods as the big non terrestrial environment winners in the intelligence dept.


"You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative" William S. Burroughs

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