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Author Topic:   The difference between a human and a rock
Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 1708 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 91 of 102 (539481)
12-16-2009 7:06 AM
Reply to: Message 90 by Meldinoor
12-16-2009 2:58 AM


Christ, if I have to listen to another poster use a 1001 unnescceasry words to once again brag about all the empirical evidence of evolution, followed by a complete lack of empirical evidence (do you even know what that phrase means?) other than-"Well, it could have happened like this, or don't you think natural selection would favor this...yada yada" I think I will ..well, I think I will probably ignore that person-other than saying "That is not empirical evidence you moron!" That is you supposing!

At least our side has a good reason for saying why they can't show empirical evidence in the way you want, because our suggestion is that life comes from the immaterial, not the material-so of course you can't see it! What is your sides excuse? Its hard to find? t takes a long time.....

You would do a lot better to let someone else finsih their own arguments-your contributions contribute nothing.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 90 by Meldinoor, posted 12-16-2009 2:58 AM Meldinoor has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 95 by Meldinoor, posted 12-16-2009 2:43 PM Bolder-dash has not yet responded
 Message 96 by Otto Tellick, posted 12-17-2009 5:03 AM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

  
Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 1708 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 92 of 102 (539485)
12-16-2009 7:27 AM
Reply to: Message 79 by Briterican
12-15-2009 1:29 PM


Re: We invented morality
It does appear that we are like beasts, capable of creating social strategies and navigating the various challenges that come our way.

I agree wholeheartedly with this, but would extend it a step further to say that we ARE beasts, and the only thing that separates us in these respects from other animals is a long history of intelligent debate about exactly what is right and wrong. The "moral zeitgeist" is a shifting one - what is considered moral by 16th century standards might well be considered reprehensible by today's.

Well, this contention of yours would be not be in agreement with a number of atheist posters here who have suggested that their moral capacity is not something they can rationalize or choose- to them, it is innate and unavoidable. So one of you appears to be wrong.

If you were correct, however, in that one can simply use their own standards to judge morality, based solely on what is best for them and their family-and NOT based on any abstract reality of good and bad-then certainly such an individual would consider death of another as no different from the death of a rock-as long as that individual concurred no survival benefits for that person judging correctness only based on what is good for them.

In that sense, morality, or empathy would not be an inherited trait at all, but instead we would simply have minds to make practical considerations based on what appears good for each of us (with of course no two people having the same ideas of what is good and bad).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 79 by Briterican, posted 12-15-2009 1:29 PM Briterican has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 94 by Modulous, posted 12-16-2009 10:22 AM Bolder-dash has not yet responded
 Message 98 by Briterican, posted 12-17-2009 2:49 PM Bolder-dash has not yet responded
 Message 100 by Capt Stormfield, posted 12-18-2009 2:26 PM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 182 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(2)
Message 93 of 102 (539505)
12-16-2009 10:14 AM
Reply to: Message 89 by Bolder-dash
12-16-2009 1:41 AM


supernatural theory continues to fail
BTW, since you have already determined it as fact, that animals are behaving based on their knowledge of right and wrong, and not based on the threat of violence or reprisals from the stronger animals for not obeying the stronger animals desires

I'm sorry - what's the difference? Seriously - there are clear moral rules in many animal species. It isn't that a stronger animal enforces the rules necessarily (though in the supernatural theory, that is often exactly what happens - an undetectable superhuman enforces morality in an eternal struggle of some kind), the entire social group is often involved. It doesn't matter how strong you are - it is unlikely you are able to overcome your entire social group. So you stick to the rules. You don't have sex with that woman because she is taken, you dedicate some time looking out for predators even though it means you go hungry.

Do you seriously doubt that animals have social rules and that sometimes they sacrifice their own well being or mating chances for the benefit of others? I can provide evidence if you really really need me to.

Could you do me the honour of showing how the supernatural theory does better? Why does the supernatural theory have us differentiating between a human and a rock? No matter how often I ask, I don't seem to get an answer. Is this because the supernatural theory can't get off the ground at all?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 89 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-16-2009 1:41 AM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 182 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(1)
Message 94 of 102 (539506)
12-16-2009 10:22 AM
Reply to: Message 92 by Bolder-dash
12-16-2009 7:27 AM


Re: We invented morality
Well, this contention of yours would be not be in agreement with a number of atheist posters here who have suggested that their moral capacity is not something they can rationalize or choose- to them, it is innate and unavoidable. So one of you appears to be wrong.

Rationalization and choices are innate and unavoidable.

If you were correct, however, in that one can simply use their own standards to judge morality, based solely on what is best for them and their family-and NOT based on any abstract reality of good and bad-then certainly such an individual would consider death of another as no different from the death of a rock-as long as that individual concurred no survival benefits for that person judging correctness only based on what is good for them.

The 200,000,000 people that died in Africa over the past twenty years due to easily prevented problems such as diseases with cheap cures or vaccines, starvation etc are seen emotionally differently than the death of my grandfather, a single human being, twenty years ago.

And Hitler's death makes me smile and think 'it couldn't come sooner'. I'm pretty sure if I had a choice between a 100ct diamond and reducing the deaths in Africa by one person per year for 100 years, I'd be very tempted by the rock.

The supernatural explanation for this is...?

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 92 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-16-2009 7:27 AM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 2887 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 95 of 102 (539525)
12-16-2009 2:43 PM
Reply to: Message 91 by Bolder-dash
12-16-2009 7:06 AM


Hi Bolder-dash,

Let me start off by saying I'm sorry about your recent suspension. I realize it was an unintentional mistake on your part, but the moderation here enforces the rules strictly, no matter who you are, or what your point of view is. That is what makes this forum so much better than most other forums out there.

Bolder-dash writes:

That is not empirical evidence you moron!

It bothers me that you've had to resort to name-calling and insults lately. I would advise you to avoid conducting yourself in this manner, as it angers posters who are trying to engage in civil discussion and runs counter to a productive discussion.

I'm puzzled as to why you demand evidence for evolution in every post. In my last post I restricted myself entirely to factual statements, observable evidence and logical reasoning. All I did was refute your statements, to show you why the facts disagree them.
I'd be happy discuss any of the points I made if you wish to refute them. However simply saying that they're not empirical evidence doesn't cut it. Evidence of what exactly?

I challenge you to pick out any statement I made in my post and tell me why you disagree with it. If you can't I'm going to assume you're just blowing hot air when you claim my post "contributes nothing".


As a sidenote, I'm a Christian. I would prefer if you did not collectively refer to all debators who disagree with you as "Atheist posters".

Respectfully,

-Meldinoor


This message is a reply to:
 Message 91 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-16-2009 7:06 AM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

    
Otto Tellick
Member (Idle past 409 days)
Posts: 288
From: PA, USA
Joined: 02-17-2008


(1)
Message 96 of 102 (539564)
12-17-2009 5:03 AM
Reply to: Message 91 by Bolder-dash
12-16-2009 7:06 AM


Well, Bolder-dash, even though you continue to depend on ignoring or misrepresenting (i.e lying about) the nature of evolutionary explanations, and you curiously insist that direct observation doesn't constitute evidence, there is at least some progress in your line of argument:

Bolder-dash writes:

At least our side has a good reason for saying why they can't show empirical evidence in the way you want, because our suggestion is that life comes from the immaterial, not the material-so of course you can't see it!

So there we have it. The support for your position is immaterial, and thus of course can't be seen by anyone.

What better basis could there be for adopting any sort of moral code? A murderous terrorist or bloodthirsty tyrant would be quite content, and well served, in taking this position -- and indeed, quite a lot of them have done so.

If there were any validity at all to your strawman assertions about atheists (and presumably agnostics as well) being limited in their behavior and judgment to simple-minded, short-sighted self-interest and gratification, I expect we would all adopt your position immediately, since it would suit our "needs" so well, by virtue of involving no sense of accountability or validation through objective, critical and open-minded assessment.

I notice that, among the 22 people (not counting Admin) responding to your posts here -- some of whom are among the many theists and anti-evolutionists who actively participate in the EvC forum -- no one has joined this thread to voice support of your position. (There has been one short post by ICANT that seems to argue against one of the other respondents, but ICANT did not say anything in support of your position. He's quite devout, and may have taken umbrage at your use of the Lord's name in vain, as well as your adolescent reference to sexual prowess.*)

This "singular" distribution of opinions might say something about the acceptability of your position... but of course, this being a matter of direct observation, you probably won't consider it to be "evidence".

(* As others have probably concluded already, this behavior, which contradicts a stated affiliation with theism, together with the persistent use of logical fallacies in place of substantive rebuttal, can be taken as a clear indication of troll behavior. My guess is that Bolder-dash may be falsely posing as an "anti-evolution theist", given that his "arguments" are in fact quite damaging to this position. The only conceivable benefit in his posts for those who truly oppose evolution and atheism is the possibility that he'll incite people to behave as badly as he does when they argue against him. So far, there has been little or none of that, and I'm very grateful to the other respondents.)

Edited by Otto Tellick, : minor grammar fixes


autotelic adj. (of an entity or event) having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 91 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-16-2009 7:06 AM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

  
Admin
Director
Posts: 12579
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 97 of 102 (539571)
12-17-2009 5:32 AM


Moderator On Duty
Hi all!

Some might recall the old Barney Miller sitcom. Barney Miller was a police captain, and a common theme was an arrested person expressing shock and surprise that they'd done anything wrong and been arrested.

This seems to happen a fair amount here at EvC Forum. I usually intervene with a general admonition to everyone to adhere to the Forum Guidelines, figuring the offending people will figure things out and clean things up. If they don't then I step in and single them out, at which point it is very common for them to express surprise that they'd done anything wrong, and to claim that others had been much worse.

I'm expecting the same thing to happen in this thread. So surprise me.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

    
Briterican
Member (Idle past 2027 days)
Posts: 340
Joined: 05-29-2008


Message 98 of 102 (539603)
12-17-2009 2:49 PM
Reply to: Message 92 by Bolder-dash
12-16-2009 7:27 AM


Re: We invented morality
Bolder-dash writes:

Briterican writes:

I agree wholeheartedly with this, but would extend it a step further to say that we ARE beasts, and the only thing that separates us in these respects from other animals is a long history of intelligent debate about exactly what is right and wrong. The "moral zeitgeist" is a shifting one - what is considered moral by 16th century standards might well be considered reprehensible by today's.

Well, this contention of yours would be not be in agreement with a number of atheist posters here who have suggested that their moral capacity is not something they can rationalize or choose- to them, it is innate and unavoidable. So one of you appears to be wrong.

That may very well be so, and given the logical nature of the atheist posters in this thread, I would have to have a step back and rethink what I have said. I think the only point I was trying to make in this context is that, if morality is innate and unavoidable, then it is not constant but rather shifting in nature.

Example: Gender - In Biblical times (and even today in some cultures) women were considered property. If you had lived in Biblical times (or in Saudi Arabia today) you would quite probably feel (or have felt) this way yourself. Chances are you don't feel this way, and instead consider it a reprehensible attitude. It was, nonetheless, the norm in ages past. This view of women is immoral by today's standards but would have been considered moral then.

Another example: Race - Even Abraham Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the states, had this to say...

"...I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people. I will say, in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality."

In his time these comments would have been viewed as acceptable, and probably as "not harsh enough". Uttered in our time, they are disgusting and their speaker would be admonished.

Edited by Briterican, : One dare not make typos when quoting Lincoln.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 92 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-16-2009 7:27 AM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

    
Peepul
Member (Idle past 3096 days)
Posts: 206
Joined: 03-13-2009


(1)
Message 99 of 102 (539666)
12-18-2009 10:51 AM
Reply to: Message 80 by Bolder-dash
12-15-2009 1:45 PM


Re: We invented morality
quote:
I have seen some of the things your side tries to call evidence, such as the Peepul's UoB studies which suggest that people who are generous are more respected in society. Well, well, there you go, no more proof needed! And guess who was conducting these studies? Social scientists who were trying to build a case for survival of the kindest! What do you know, just look and ye shall find!

Bolder-dash,

It's impossible to give you the kind of evidence you are looking for. I could build a very plausible story on top of the evidence we do have - but can I show that this is what actually happened? No.

We have enough evidence to say convincingly that empathy could have evolved, as it's heritable and a beneficial trait.

If you doubt that evolution has occurred atall then that's a different question.

The way I see it, science develops frameworks for understanding and we then allow ourselves to interpret the world using those frameworks, until we find (in some cases) that our interpretation no longer works in the light of new evidence.

Evolution is an example. We are so confident that evolution is true that we feel justified in saying individual traits evolved without having evidence in every case. That's because evolution is now part of the framework for biology. And justifiably so. As we get more and more understanding, the evidence for evolution continues to stack up. The idea of 'evolution in crisis' is a fantasy.

I used to look for a single piece of 'magic bullet' evidence that would prove or disprove evolution. But it's not like maths. The real evidence for evolution is that there are so many different kinds of independent evidence that all point to the same conclusion. It's possible to debate every piece of this evidence individually (and creationists do, mostly without full understanding) but what are the chances of ALL this evidence being incorrect? Very small.

For example, ERVs are good evidence that we are descended from a common ancestor with other primates. If you don't accept ERVS, well there are LINES and SINES. If you don't like those, there are pseudogenes. If you don't like pseudogenes, there are molecular clocks. If you don't like molecular clocks then there are HOX genes. Etc Etc Etc.

If you don't like genetics there is palaeontology, geology, bio-geography, ecology, evo-devo Etc Etc Etc.

In my experience, the vast majority of people who say there is no empirical evidence for evolution are motivated by prior religious belief.

Now if you're saying 'there is a lot of evidence, but personally I don't believe it's enough to prove evolution' - that's a position I can respect. But if you're saying there isn't any evidence, you're in denial.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 80 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-15-2009 1:45 PM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 101 by Peepul, posted 12-21-2009 12:24 PM Peepul has not yet responded

    
Capt Stormfield
Member
Posts: 402
From: Vancouver Island
Joined: 01-17-2009


(1)
Message 100 of 102 (539683)
12-18-2009 2:26 PM
Reply to: Message 92 by Bolder-dash
12-16-2009 7:27 AM


Re: We invented morality
Well, this contention of yours would be not be in agreement with a number of atheist posters here who have suggested that their moral capacity is not something they can rationalize or choose- to them, it is innate and unavoidable. So one of you appears to be wrong.

Doesn't seem all that complicated to me. We, like the other apes, have a hard-wired set of social behaviors. Because our brains have evolved the ability to engage in more abstract thought, and because our social structures and relationships are correspondingly more complex (a "moral zeitgeist"), we have the option to deviate ever more widely from those instincts. We no longer have to live like the other apes, but we still have the same basic set of instincts.

That a modern human can perceive a short term advantage to his offspring in a particular behavior (and may act in an "immoral" way to express it) in no way negates the reality that we carry the genetic program of our forebears, when such actions would have resulted in a decreased chance of his genetic success. The fact that we can identify a genetic basis for our feelings and beliefs doesn't make them any less real.

Some of your comments seem to indicate that you think evolution based morality started when we became identifiable as humans. This is not correct. The effect of society (like religion and so on) on our genes is recent, and, I think, relatively trivial.

To put it yet another way, my current ability to abstractly think of other humans as "rocks" (if I were to choose that option) in no way undermines the reality that my brain, and the instinctive behaviors that it produces, evolved in a time when the possession of genes that favored "smashing" other humans would have had a negative selective pressure on said genes. IOW, being good just feels good to me because of my genes. Don't need a reason. It isn't a calculation all the time. I am quite capable of recognizing both that my genes make me feel a certain way and that I can come up with rational reasons for those feelings in the here and now.

IOOW, the current cognitive reality of most humans most of the time is that certain behaviors just "feel right", despite their biological origin in a "selfish" gene and their subsequent social codification in a variety of different ways.

Why you feel the need to tie such "good" behavior to a deity is your problem, not mine.

Capt.


Is it getting solipsistic in here, or is it just me?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 92 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-16-2009 7:27 AM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

  
Peepul
Member (Idle past 3096 days)
Posts: 206
Joined: 03-13-2009


Message 101 of 102 (539992)
12-21-2009 12:24 PM
Reply to: Message 99 by Peepul
12-18-2009 10:51 AM


Re: We invented morality
This thread seems to have died - but I'm going to post this link anyway.

It looks as if some of our moral feelings are governed by the amygdala and are therefore outside conscious control. Some people (the pro-social) have an amygdala that responds to situations of unfairness - other people don't.

http://www.newscientist.com/...l-for-kindhearted-people.html

My speculation is that this mechanism will also be found to apply in other species.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 99 by Peepul, posted 12-18-2009 10:51 AM Peepul has not yet responded

    
Modulous
Member (Idle past 182 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(2)
Message 102 of 102 (540322)
12-23-2009 8:14 PM
Reply to: Message 88 by Bolder-dash
12-16-2009 1:29 AM


This is your brain on morality
Ah ha, so now the concept of our inherited "innateness" of morality seems to have shifted from the previous argument.

Not even a little bit. That you think there is shifting going on is evidence you haven't understood the position.

Now it is no longer something that just happens to be inside us that we inherited, it is actually something which we can control.

Depends what you mean by 'control', and 'we'. I don't think 'we' can 'control' it.

We now can make a judgment about who are our allies, and who are not and we can shift our morality to suit our situation

That was the position I originally put forward. There has been no change in that regard. It's not a question of shifting our morality, it's a question of thinking different things are more or less moral depending on who we are talking about. In crude terms this can be seen as treating those 'in group' as different to those 'out group' relationships. I mentioned this quite a while prior to the post you are replying to insinuating that my position is changeing in Message 35:

quote:
I think it would be a mistake to think there was a morality gene that just 'popped up'. I'd be more inclined towards the view that the external stimuli that produce a 'threat' tag was modified slightly over time. That brain structures that deal with 'in groups' and 'out groups' develop over many generations into a variety of different strategies.

And it would be short sighted to think that this had a definite benefit to an individual organism. It is easier to consider it as of benefit to the allele in question, as this allows us to consider 'kin selection' effects much more straight forwardly - as per the 'Selfish Gene' concept.


So now, smashing a life that is not our ally is indeed the equivalent of smashing a rock, because they are not needed for us to survive, in fact they are in conflict with us to survive, so indeed we should smash them.

It's probably not a good idea to go from 'is' to 'ought'. The fact is that we do treat out groups differently to in groups. We are more inclined to tolerate the deaths of 'others' than those who are 'close'.

Whether or not we should is dependent on what moral philosophy we adhere to. Whether or not we will is dependent on our innate brain structures and the environments that our brains have experienced.

In a crowded world that would mean smashing a lot of people who are in competition with us for food, resources, mates, etc.. Nothing wrong with this, because as you have just explained, this is how we are wired.

You will note, in places where resources are dangerously low - conflict is inevitable. By invoking 'wrongness' you are again referencing a moral scheme. Is it immoral that humans kill and rape each other at the proverbial drop of a hat? It's just a fact.

That sounds like a definite statement of fact. How did you come to know this? From the statements that follow it appears to be based on nothing but your own incredulity.

Well, now you are not playing fair at all (perhaps that is wired into your being).

I'm sorry for asking you to support statements you make which are made without any tentativity as if they were irrevocably true is seen as unfair. You are allowed to ask me to support anything I say at any time - which seems fair to me.

Everyone of the statements about evolutionary presumptions are not based on fact.

Are you saying that this is not a fact: "in most animals the fertility of the female is limited by egg production which causes a severe strain on their nutrition"?

Odd.

If it is a fact then your sweeping statement that 'every one' of my statements about evolutionary 'presumptions' are not based on facts is falsified.

If you have something specific that I have said that you would like me to provide more support for, let me know and I will do what I can.

If you think it could have been that way, then so it must be.

No. No. No. If someone says 'evolutionary biology implies this about morality', then using evolutionary biology and showing how it does not necessarily imply that is sufficient to start with. If you want to take it to the next step, you should probably provide some support yourself.

Not a shred of anything other than speculation supports this idea of yours

Once again, you declare this as fact, but don't support it. I have cited things such as Bateman's principle, which is more than speculation.

But fine, here is a bunch of things which supports my position.



Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgements, Michael Koenigs, Liane Young, Ralph Adolphs, Daniel Tranel, Fiery Cushman, Marc Hauser & Antonio Damasio.

quote:
The psychological and neurobiological processes underlying moral judgement have been the focus of many recent empirical studies. Of central interest is whether emotions play a causal role in moral judgement, and, in parallel, how emotion-related areas of the brain contribute to moral judgement. Here we show that six patients with focal bilateral damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC), a brain region necessary for the normal generation of emotions and, in particular, social emotions produce an abnormally 'utilitarian' pattern of judgements on moral dilemmas that pit compelling considerations of aggregate welfare against highly emotionally aversive behaviours (for example, having to sacrifice one person's life to save a number of other lives). In contrast, the VMPC patients' judgements were normal in other classes of moral dilemmas. These findings indicate that, for a selective set of moral dilemmas, the VMPC is critical for normal judgements of right and wrong. The findings support a necessary role for emotion in the generation of those judgements.

This demonstrates that the brain is involved in making moral choices and that damaging it can affect moral decisions.


H. A. Chapman, D. A. Kim, J. M. Susskind, A. K. Anderson (2009). In Bad Taste: Evidence for the Oral Origins of Moral Disgust Science, 323 (5918), 1222-1226 DOI: 10.1126/science.1165565

quote:
In common parlance, moral transgressions "leave a bad taste in the mouth." This metaphor implies a link between moral disgust and more primitive forms of disgust related to toxicity and disease, yet convincing evidence for this relationship is still lacking. We tested directly the primitive oral origins of moral disgust by searching for similarity in the facial motor activity evoked by gustatory distaste (elicited by unpleasant tastes), basic disgust (elicited by photographs of contaminants), and moral disgust (elicited by unfair treatment in an economic game). We found that all three states evoked activation of the levator labii muscle region of the face, characteristic of an oral/nasal rejection response. These results suggest that immorality elicits the same disgust as disease vectors and bad tastes.

Which means my chocolate ice cream analogy has more relevance than I had originally thought.


The amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex in morality and psychopathy, R.J.R. Blair, Trends in Cognitive Sciences Volume 11, Issue 9, September 2007, Pages 387-392

quote:
Recent work has implicated the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex in morality and, when dysfunctional, psychopathy. This model proposes that the amygdala, through stimulus-reinforcement learning, enables the association of actions that harm others with the aversive reinforcement of the victims distress. Consequent information on reinforcement expectancy, fed forward to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, can guide the healthy individual away from moral transgressions. In psychopathy, dysfunction in these structures means that care-based moral reasoning is compromised and the risk that antisocial behavior is used instrumentally to achieve goals is increased.


Amygdala-prefrontal coupling depends on a genetic variation of the serotonin transporter
Andreas Heinz, Dieter F Braus, Michael N Smolka, Jana Wrase, Imke Puls, Derik Hermann, Sabine Klein, Sabine M Grsser, Herta Flor, Gunter Schumann, Karl Mann & Christian Bchel, Nature Neuroscience 8, 20 - 21 (2004)

quote:
Major depression is conditionally linked to a polymorphism of the human serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4). During the presentation of aversive, but not pleasant, pictures, healthy carriers of the SLC6A4 short (s) allele showed stronger activation of the amygdala on functional magnetic resonance imaging. s carriers also showed greater coupling between the amygdala and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which may contribute to the abnormally high activity in the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex seen in major depression.


OK, so moral disgust seems to be tied up somehow with the same kind of disgust against certain nasty foods and as animals we react physically similar to each. We can see that the brain certainly influences moral decisions. And it is known that there are various alleles which result in slightly different things going on in the brain which can have an effect on mood and on the decision making regions.

I don't intend to, as I've said before, provide you with a complete story with every single thing sourced fully because that would be exhausting to compile and you might as well go read a book by someone in the field.

However, here is a little substance to the idea that the brain makes moral decisions, and the brain is built by genes, and genes are affected by evolutionary forces.

How's the supernatural theory doing as far as substance?

Here again, you are at odds with the theory others here have put forth, that they have an innate morality inside them for all of humanity, which is beyond reasoning. You suggesting that it is just a reasoning proposition-morality for those we need (allies), and immorality for those we don't need.

Whether or not reasoning is involved is irrelevant. You don't need to engage in reason to identify allies and enemies - though it might help when the situation isn't plain. When an animal with teeth and claws is running right at you - it is generally safe to assume they mean harm if you have evolved in an environment where teethy clawy things are predominantly predators.

Smashing that stranger vying for your job wouldn't seem a very unreasonable thing under your scenario.

Might be a viable thought process for someone under the age of 5 or a chimpanzee.

Seriously, job competitions are not something our brains have evolved to handle. However, social contests are probably something we've learned to deal with. So if killing social competitors is something that might have had negative repercussions for the alleles that influence that behaviour, then we would expect the instinct would be to not go and kill the competitor.

And with our enlarged brain we can even simulate what would happen ahead of time and work out if the expected consequences are worth it. Since it fails both tests (killing your competitors has the likely outcome of not getting you the job, causing a sense of moral disgust, losing support of family and friends, being imprisoned for a long time etc). Of course - if the job was good enough, some people might still go for the murder option. Presumably a more likely state of affairs with people with ventromedial prefrontal cortex damage or perhaps one of the serotonin transporter alleles that has an impact on psycopathy.1

Um, yes my focus on survival is telling. As is your focus on assuming that actions which lesson your chance for survival would somehow benefit your alleles chance for survival.

I made no such assumption.

I just wanted to point out that it is possible for an allele to influence behaviour in one individual that has a net impact of increasing the number of copies of that allele in the next generation.

You suggest that 'bee attacks are mysterious', but only to you and a few others. To those that study the subject they are not. Worker bees rarely reproduce. Most simply die or are killed. So - this means that the alleles they carry are never going to be passed on, right? No, of course not. They inherited those alleles from their mother, the Queen bee. So a worker bee can increase the chances of its own alleles being reproduced by assisting the Queen bee making so many bees the hive splits and a new Queen is born.

So if an allele, upon finding itself in a female, non-queen body, could influence behaviour to including protecting the queen at all costs, that might actually find itself increasing in frequency as hives become defended by fanatics that never reproduce.

Indeed, I decided to look up what one Ethologist had to say about bee attacks to test your hypothesis that 'bee attacks are mysterious' 'as are any genetic traits for a defense mechanism which when utilized causes instant death'.

quote:
Kamikaze behaviour...{is} not astonishing once we accept the fact that they are sterile...a worker bee never bears offspring of its own. All its efforts are directed to preserving its genes by caring for relatives other than its own offspring. The death of a single sterile worker bee is no more serious to its genes than is the shedding of a leaf in autumn to the genes of a tree.

--Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press, 2nd edition(1989) p. 172


Let's try someone else:

quote:
Social insect workers are highly altruistic in their co-operative brood care and colony defence, an extreme example being the kamikaze defence by stinging honey bees that results in the defending individuals death. These self-sacrificial traits have
probably been favoured by enhancing the fitness of the entire colony, lending support to the concept of the colony as a superorganism (Moritz, RFA, Southwick, EE. 1992. Bees as Superorganisms. An Evolutionary Reality. Springer Verlag, Berlin.).

--Manfred Ayasse and Robert J. Paxton in Chapter 5 of Chemoecology of Insect Eggs and Egg Deposition entitled Brood Protection in Social Insects


Not so mysterious really.

Also of side interest are segregation distorters. From wiki:

quote:
All nuclear genes in a given diploid genome cooperate because each allele has an equal probability of being present in a gamete. This fairness is guaranteed by meiosis. However, there is one type of gene, called a segregation distorter, that "cheats" during meiosis or gametogenesis and thus is present in more than half of the functional gametes.

Indeed, you can read more examples over at wiki under Intragenomic conflict. Some of these things are detrimental to their host, yet they still increase in frequency!

Ah, once again, these are observable facts when observed by an evolutionist. Quite convenient. When exactly did you observe an animal knowing the difference between right and wrong as a fact-as opposed to an animal just doing what it wants to do?

When did I claim to have observed an animal 'knowing the difference between right and wrong as a fact'? I mean I suppose, if you are trying to tell me that humans do know the difference as a fact, then I guess I could cite them.

Heck, if that were the case, I guess we wouldn't need to scold dogs, by yelling or hitting at them when they don't do what we want, or petting them or giving them food when they do, we could simply explain what is right and what is wrong, so they could decide for themselves, instead of forcing them to react to the threat of punishment and the promise of free food.

In case you didn't learn this in school, but dogs are incapable of fully understanding any human language - so you'd be wasting your time. Your dog already has a built in moral system surrounding alpha pack mates and co-pack mates. In order to get the dog to do the things you want it to do, it needs to think of you as an alpha pack member. You do this by dominating it and rewarding and protecting it.

This is the same with humans too. Without the threat of punishment, 'immoral behaviour' goes through the roof. The supernatural hypothesis has this covered of course, since it tends to stress punishment and rewards as guarantees rather than only so-probable as they are in this reality.

Again, I know in any argument, people always want to be right, but please don't use the idea of "my story is more believable than your story" to claim your rightness. It is only more believable to you.

I wouldn't dream of it. I'm just going to counter 'it's not possible!" with 'here's how it might be possible - can you show this won't work?'. Until you have something a little more impressive than denial it's all I can really do I'm afraid.



1see for example Serotonin Transporter Gene Polymorphism and Schizoid Personality Traits in Patients with Psychosis and Psychiatrically Well Subjects, Vera E Golimbet‌, Margarita V Alfimova‌, Tatyana Shcherbatikh, Vasili G Kaleda‌, Lilia I Abramova‌ and Evgeni I Rogaev‌
This message is a reply to:
 Message 88 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-16-2009 1:29 AM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

  
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