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Author Topic:   Morality! Thorn in Darwin's side or not?
Member (Idle past 1134 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008

Message 153 of 438 (506000)
04-21-2009 11:53 AM
Reply to: Message 148 by Cedre
04-21-2009 6:45 AM

Re: Awareness
You have yet to show how morality could evolve where exactly on the chromosome the morality gene is carried.
Nobody is claiming there is any such thing as a 'morality gene'. The structure of our brains and the various organs which produce hormones and other mood-altering chemicals is dependent on a whole host of genes. Taken together, they mean that human thought works in certain ways - leading us to feel compassion for and empathy with others; and to develop concepts of fairness.
And if it is a genetic in nature than why does it seem to vary greatly from culture to culture? Certain cultures have endorsed killing while others punish killing.
All cultures punish killing, and most endorse it. What changes is the specific circumstances under which killing is acceptable, praiseworthy or abhorrent. The reason for this change is because we don't have a specific set of commandments hardwired into our genes. Rather, our genes determine that we will possess certain traits like compassion, guilt and a sense of fairness. It's from these that people construct moralities, and the specifics are bound to be dependent on the cultural situation.
This claim is not well grounded; I think whether an individual will be rewarded for his altruism will depend on the place and time, and the overall surrounding circumstances. For example if you die during self-defense how can you be repaid for this act? Or if you take care of your pet whose going to reward for taking care of your pet. If you were going to crush a bug underfoot but noticed it just on time who will honor you for that act of mercy.
If we're talking about the genetic basis of morality, then it's irrelevant whether an action will actually benefit you (or your genes, to be more precise). What's important is whether, on average over the course of our evolutionary history, the drives which caused you to behave in that way brought about behaviour which was beneficial for your (ABE: ancestor's) genes.
That sentence was long and confusing, so I'll try anf elaborate. Imagine a much more simple animal, without conscious thought. It works on a few simple instructions to decide its behaviour, as these generally work out well for it and lead to reproductive success. It lives underwater, and needs to come to the surface to feed in the daytime. The simple instruction that causes it to do so is to react to light by swimming towards it, and this all works well.
However, imagine somebody builds an artificial light over the creature's pond. Reacting to the light, it swims to the surface, wasting energy thrashing around for a food source that isn't present and with daytime camouflage causing it to stand out to night time predators. Despite this behaviour being wasteful and dangerous, we wouldn't conclude it was intentionally committed suicide or working to its own detriment. We'd know that it was following rules that are generally beneficial, but in this particular case backfired.
In the same way, if someone behaves in a fashion which disadvantages them, and disadvantages their genetic legacy, we can't just conclude there can be no adaptive reason for this behaviour. They'll just be working on cues which have lead to genetic success for its ancestors in the past, but in this particular instance backfired.
Why should we care about the survival of others?
Throughout most of the history of humanity, we lived in small groups of closely related people. Most people you saw regularly would be close relatives who share similar genes to you. If you have genes which predispose you to help your friends and family, even to your own detriment; they will probably share the same genes. So, anything you do which aids your family's survival and success will lead to the propagation of these 'caring genes' - even if you yourself die or miss out in the process.
It's not about consciously caring. It's about being inclined towards behaviours and attitudes that have lead to genetic success for our ancestors.
Edited by caffeine, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 148 by Cedre, posted 04-21-2009 6:45 AM Cedre has not replied

Member (Idle past 1134 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008

Message 180 of 438 (516738)
07-27-2009 8:50 AM
Reply to: Message 176 by Cedre
07-27-2009 6:37 AM

Re: Simple and obvious
Consider the following dialogue between a man and a boy:
Why did you steal that candy? The man said to the boy after spotting him slip a lollipop down his pants.
I wanted it but I didn’t have any means to pay for it, so I took it.
But what you did is known as stealing and stealing is wrong.
Why is it wrong? The boy looked at the man curiosly.
Because God says it is wrong.
"But why should I care what God says?" The cheeky boy returned after a pause. The man never expected this one, after scratching his head a bit in confusion he finally said to the boy,
Because otherwise he'll send you to hell to suffer in eternal torment.
There being a God doesn't solve any philosophical problems about where an absolute morality can come from. Avoiding the wrath of Almighty God is a good practical reason to do as he says, it doesn't actually tell us why something should be seen as absolutely right or wrong.
This is all irrelevant to the question of whether morality poses a problem for evolutionary theory, though. All that needs to be explained is why people have the idea of morality. The philosophical argument that a morality without God is logically indefensible is a wholly different matter from the question of how unguided evolution could produce a sense of morality.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 176 by Cedre, posted 07-27-2009 6:37 AM Cedre has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 181 by Cedre, posted 07-27-2009 9:38 AM caffeine has replied

Member (Idle past 1134 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008

Message 190 of 438 (516898)
07-28-2009 4:22 AM
Reply to: Message 181 by Cedre
07-27-2009 9:38 AM

What problem for evolutionary theory?
In fact it does, God is an absolutely moral being, meaning that whatever he does is moral and as a result is whatever he instructs us to do. So to the believer the question of where absolute morality comes from has never been a quandary in any way, for the reason that the believer has long recognized that since God is an absolutely moral being, rape, hate, murder and other such acts are immoral because they have been judged to be so by the spring of absolute morality.
All you have done here, though, is define 'moral' as 'what God wants'; which doesn't explain to me why this should matter to anyone other than God.
And, again, this is all still tangential to the actual subject of the thread - does the existence of morality pose a serious problem for Darwinian evolution. For this to be the case, it would be necessary to show that natural selection should not be expected to favour traits which lead people to try and behave morally and create moral rules. If natural selection can do this, then it doesn't matter whether or not those moral rules have a dubious philosophical foundation - they pose no problem for evolutionary theory.
Edited by caffeine, : Corrected gibberish sentence.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 181 by Cedre, posted 07-27-2009 9:38 AM Cedre has not replied

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