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Author Topic:   Morality! Thorn in Darwin's side or not?
Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 1 of 438 (504426)
03-28-2009 8:28 AM


It has been quite some time now that I have posted anything on EvC, and I guess one could say that this is my comeback endeavor. So rather than bumming about let me get right at it; for a long time now I have sat down and tried to understand an evolutionary world view against a moral world, that none of us will contend is the case.
I have weighed many efforts by many sincere researchers who have themselves been baffled by this enigma and so have gone out in search for answers, and however I have to say the answers they unearthed had a very stingy impact on the question being considered raising instead other questions.
The question that recurred in my mind was why there is goodness or in other words why righteous men exist who strive day by day to become less selfish and more selfless. Why do folks care about the feelings or welfare of others when it has no bearing on their own welfare? Put in evolutionary terms, why is there such a thing as if you would unbeneficial humanitarianism where an individual’ survival success will not be impacted or rather positively impacted directly or indirectly by his or her care giving/taking of others.
Someone once answered this question as follows that perhaps the giver of these seemingly selfless acts is committing them because he too may require them sometime in the future if he also falls into the same position that the current recipients of his love and care have fallen into at the moment. Therefore if one should judge it from this angle it turns out that it was never unbeneficial humanitarianism but still the same old selfishness. The problem with this reply is that it is cheap and tacky it hardly answers the question or even describes it well.
Lets for a second analyze what I actually mean by unbeneficial humanitarianism; many times when we are good to others almost never do we think about the future much less about our selfish futures we in fact try to concentrate on the present and how we can best help the person who is in need, this is the experience of even the individual who argues from the selfish standpoint that I have given above that is that we do good things to others because we will benefit in the end.
Yes we might benefit such that we will feel good about ourselves for being good to someone else, this brings us yet to another point that I will discuss in a while. Like I was saying we might benefit in some areas but how will this help us to survive, and reproduce, for this selfless acts to be dismissed as your typical selfishness in disguise they should ultimately increase the survival of the giver to be precise and not anyone else apart from the giver. Until that is proved these selfless acts should be regarded as being at odds with Darwin’s model of a cold impersonal selfish world and a solution must be sought.
Now what is that which I was about to get to, it is the feeling that we all get, I don’t care what color your skin is or how tall or short or scientific or unscientific you are, no one will claim that they don’t experience a surge of good feeling just after having been voluntarily kind to a fellow human being. This is a fact it could almost be grounded as a law, that we all feel good when we help others and that when we are bad or mean we feel bad about ourselves and even feel bad, I’m not saying that this is the rule of the day but it is for best part of the day.
Christians have provided one of the most satisfying answers to this enigma. Having been created in the image of God and since he is a good God they apologize we also enjoy doing good as a result but due to our fallen nature can’t help to be bad to the degree that we enjoy being bad in certain areas though not all. Allow me to give an example here. When you someone has wronged you you hate them for a while or in some cases for a long stretch of time, but try me on this when you finally forgive this individual it feels like a great stone has been lifted off of you, and you feel good and proud. The point of my babbling is that we shouldn't strive to be good to others and even worse feel good after being good.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.

Replies to this message:
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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 3 of 438 (504432)
03-28-2009 9:05 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by Admin
03-28-2009 8:43 AM


This isn't a strange word when it comes to science, to be sure many great discoveries were a result of being baffled by a phenomena, so I don't perceive what your issue is with this word. Perhaps we diverge at the meaning of the word, I mean the normal curiosity that arises as a result of not having a clear understanding of a phenomena. Perhaps this was the confusion.
Now your second point, what i meant here is that if in fact survival of the fittest is the natural order of things and what drives nature and survival than these selfless acts and states of mind should not exist but they do and everyone has them from time to time.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by Admin, posted 03-28-2009 8:43 AM Admin has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Admin, posted 03-28-2009 9:36 AM Cedre has replied
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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 5 of 438 (504439)
03-28-2009 9:59 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Admin
03-28-2009 9:36 AM


Do post the thread I'm not as ignorant about this subject as the impression you give of me. I'm more than eager to hear what new if there is anything new others have to add to this topic.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.

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 Message 4 by Admin, posted 03-28-2009 9:36 AM Admin has not replied

  
Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 22 of 438 (504511)
03-30-2009 3:34 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by Blue Jay
03-30-2009 12:43 AM


Re: Conscious Evolution
First of all thank you all for your contributions to this thread so far; the reaction at this point I should say is pleasing. However judging from your own answers to this question I can safely say that it is no doubt a tough nut to crack, but crack it we shall ultimately; hopefully this is one of the fortes of having a critically analyzing brain. Enough about that time to get down to brass tacks.
Firstly I’m not completely at ease with the argument from inclusive altruism or survival of the genes model. This is a response that I have heard mentioned one too many times already and it let me down each time. I’m not saying that it is plain useless but it’s just not a satisfactory reply to this question.
Let me make my claim.
We are aware that in normal circumstances that it is the individuals of a population that harbor the fitter that is the more suited genes to that given setting that are responsible for protecting the population’ weaker and more vulnerable components and warding off potential dangers. Now let us take following invented but possible example:
Let us assume that a strange disease is sweeping a squirrel population everyone’s affected save one squirrel that is somehow immune to it. Victims are defenseless and are much too in agony to mind their circumstances. Suddenly danger looms and the unaffected member spots it alone he sounds the relevant distress signal and the population right away reacts and starts finding safe haven. The only healthy member is quickly devoured by the fearsome predator having exposed his location and the others manage to sneak away on their last legs. The entire population may die down later on if the sickness is deadly or they may recover but they have lost the only gene that is resistant to the sickness. Here we have survival of the weakest and not the fittest.
Is this a remote case? Hardly, the stronger fitter members always risk their lives to protect the weaker members at their own expenses thereby risking the passing on of fitter genes. No matter how we argue survival of the fittest deals directly with the individuals’ survival predominantly and maintaining his/her genes, and it has no business with the survival of others because natural selection is not a conscious process.
Furthermore why should individual be willing to keep its competition alive? When resources get so limited and survival is the rule of the day, it makes more sense for individuals to be selfish and fight for resources.
We see this kind of behavior often in social cats and even primates they will fight for the resources because at the end of the day this is the best way to survive in a world with limited resources. This is what is also happening inside the business world, generally selfishness and greed is what keeps many companies to stay on top of their game, it would be a fatal move for a business guy to bail out his competitor when his business is going bust, and not doing this is what nurtures survival of the fittest and not survival of the weakest.
Another vital point worthy of mention is that looking at our own species; the stronger tougher folks are those ones who have had it tough, who have received the least care an affection from others they become the gritty business man/women and they know how to survive, on the other hand those who have had it easy will be less likely to make a success in the world. Here’s the mechanism for natural selection, you need a dodgy environment to develop new structures to counter the new dangers and limitations that face you, this will pressure you body to cope in new ways. But when you always feel secure as everyone around you is feeling sorry for you and always helping you, your body will have no need to develop ways to better survive. This counters the true spirit of natural selection.

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Replies to this message:
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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 23 of 438 (504513)
03-30-2009 4:04 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by Blue Jay
03-30-2009 12:43 AM


Re: Conscious Evolution
Bluejay writes:
I think you've missed something rather important with this explanation:
You have missed the point of that statement, my point is that we do things even if they don't benefit our survival we help others we are kind to them awe are gallant. This is strange in world where our prime purpose is to survive, why do we take care of the sick when
they will have no affect on our own survival why do we look after terminal patients to the last breath. This can not be explained by the studies committed on altruism. In fact altruism is bad for evolution, look here as an example, when plants compete for resources the stronger plants will cause the demise of the weaker ones by being tough competitors, however when weaker plants survive through competition it may develop ways in which to become better competitors, and when they do the previously strong but now weaker competitors will also be pressured into developing new ways to survive. This is what drives natural selection to start with "competition".
Bluejay writes:
There is no need for evolution to be stingy. Bees visit flowers to get nectar and pollen for food. But, it inadvertantly helps the flower propagate itself. Thus, there is clearly no need for an action to completely deny benefits to all but ones own self. Furthermore, designing such an action such that nobody else could benefit from it would probably require more forethought than selfish altruism."
Again you have missed the mark with this one, Evolution has to be stingy in order to be effective. Bees are attracted to the brightest sweetest smelling flowers aren't they. If your a dull little tiny scentless flower in the shadow of your bigger flower neighbors, your chances of having a bee land on you are meager compared to you brighter larger counterparts, in this way the flowers also compete to be more attractive and they may also find new ways of disseminating their pollen or fertilization.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by Blue Jay, posted 03-30-2009 12:43 AM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 36 of 438 (504568)
03-31-2009 4:03 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by Granny Magda
03-30-2009 8:27 AM


Re: Conscious Evolution
Granny Magda writes:
No we don't. That is simply not true. Take my rabbit example. Will the rabbit with the best genes always be the one who spots the predator? Clearly not. The rabbit with the lousiest genes in the group might be the one who spots it. Any rabbit that spots a predator will drum out a warning, not just those with the "best genes".
In the statement this reply is directed at I wasn’t necessarily making reference to alarming the population of imminent danger, I was rather referring to those instances characterized by a physical confrontation with the intruder or aggressor where lives are on the line, such as in pride takeover attempts.
In prides the male and female lions both defend the pride against intruders, but this burden usually falls onto the younger males and or the male populace in general, this is due to the reason that they are almost certainly the strongest members of the pride, the young are not bothered with this task and so are the old and fading.
The same thing happens in Hyena populations and societies. Border patrols are occasionally conducted by groups of resident males. But in general, females are more likely to lead border patrol, clan wars, and are more willing to take more risks in territorial defense than males, for the reason that they are stronger larger and much more aggressive than the males.
Cheetahs also exhibit this trend the stronger males in coalitions, according to Wikipedia will attempt to kill any intruders and fights result in serious injury or death. Where defense is required and it isn’t necessarily a shared burden the stronger and fitter individuals will normally take on that duty.
Granny Magda writes:
Let's not assume that. It's a terrible example and it is extremely unrealistic. My rabbit example happens every day. In your example, all but one squirrel is doomed, so the whole group is doomed anyway.
It would only seem extremely unrealistic if viewed with a closed mind, but extremely unlikely events happen as well and no one who believes in beneficial mutations will dispute this statement.
Granny Magda writes:
Just to reiterate, this is not the case. Also, "fitter" in an evolutionary sense need not mean "stronger". I think you are already aware of this, but none the less.
That is why you saw me use both words and not just one of them to mean both. But note that the average predator typically goes for the weakest members of the population, this are the most unfit individuals in the given circumstance as they draw the greatest predation. And in other words the stronger members should then be defined as the fittest because they draw the least predation and are most likely to survive in terms of predation.
Granny Magda writes:
The very fact that many creatures display co-operative behaviour is enough to prove that selfish individualism is not always the best way; sometimes it is simply more effective to co-operate.
Example; African hunting dogs. Theses are social animals. They live in family groups/packs. They live socially and hunt co-operatively. Indeed, they could hardly do otherwise, since a lone dog makes a poor hunter. They depend upon each other to survive. Exiles from the pack would be doomed.
An agreeable response. But not a true one for the most part. Firstly let me caution that we not to stray too far from the matter under discussion here which is morality. But also let me inform you that I agree with you when you say that selfish individualism is not always the best way, it is not always because some individuals thrive better individually. But returning to the purpose of this thread. How does showing that animals can co-operate demonstrate that they are somehow being moral or unselfish? To be sure co-operative behavior cannot be equaled to morality or even altruism. For the mere fact that selfishness can still exist in co-operations and it does and I will give you two prime examples of this.
Members of co-operations join co-operations to get something out and not needful to help others, that is group members join groups only if what they desired was involved. Hardly will a satiated lion join a pack hunt. In plain English members don’t use co-operations to help others but use others in co-operations to help themselves. This is still selfishness and by no means altruism. My example of this would be the hyenas:
“Studies strongly suggest convergent evolution in hyena and primate intelligence. Spotted hyena societies are more complex than those of other carnivorous mammals, and have been reported to be remarkably similar to those of cercopithecine primates in respect to group size, structure, competition and cooperation.” Wikipedia in their article on the spotted hyena
Apart from this spotted hyenas are successful pack hunters as well. They are good co-operations at least until it comes to enjoying their triumphs and loots. They often squabble over the spoils, either among themselves or with other powerful animals like lions. Female hyenas and their young will however eat ahead of all males in the group, and mothers at times will not share with even their children.
Lions are my second example:
Lions will share their kills, yes but males have a tendency of dominating the kill after it has been brought in by the lionesses. In fact they are most likely to share the kill with cubs as opposed to the females since this way they’ll end up having the lion’s share. To boot male lions rarely share the food they kill. What’s more kills aren’t always dragged to the pride location but are devoured at the hunt site in greed. And lions will more willingly share the larger kills and be a little greedy with the smaller ones. If this isn’t selfishness than I don’t know what is?
Granny Magda writes:
Absolutely not. This is completely wrong. All you need for natural selection to take place is a genetically varied population and an environment that has changing requirements. The environment need not be especially harsh.
You’re just describing what I’ve described already using less detail. An environment that has changing that has changing requirements is exactly one with either novel dangers novel limitations or new challenges or both. Whichever the case is one is given reason to adapt. The less fit individuals will yield to the evils of selection and the survivors will experience its joys.
Granny Magda writes:
Have you read the news lately? Selfishness and greed are what has caused a global frickin' recession! Ask Bernie Madoff's investors if they are pleased about how greedy he was.
The business world is a poor metaphor for natural selection in my opinion
This is in fact survival of fittest in full swing, mother business is reading the world of business for its next evolutionary leap, who will survive by adapting and who will fade away. Let the best man survive.
A final point that I would like to call to mind is this. There is this thing among scientist, they attribute whatever is present to natural selection because it is present, this is a smart argument and hard to invalidate not due to the evidence that supports it but just because it’s not falsifiable, so in essence it is a jerry-built notion. It’s like saying stones for example are an example of natural selection because they exists the same for everything else in the world. But know the questioned is begged is natural selection the best explanation yet for the existence of morality or altruism. Hardly biblical creationism can also give a good answer to this question, morality exist in humans and both in nature if it did because a good moral God wouldn’t create an amoral world but a moral one.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by Granny Magda, posted 03-30-2009 8:27 AM Granny Magda has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 39 by Granny Magda, posted 03-31-2009 8:33 AM Cedre has replied
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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 42 of 438 (504584)
03-31-2009 10:10 AM
Reply to: Message 39 by Granny Magda
03-31-2009 8:33 AM


Re: Defining Altruism
Granny Magda:
And yet later in your message, you characterise lion and hyena behaviour as essentially selfish.
Yes I did but not first without giving you good examples, with the examples I provided I have shown that these creatures are in fact selfish at heart. If you want to invalidate my conclusion mere trying to reason it away won't be of much use. You'll have to present me with counter examples wherein a hyena or a lion is observed giving away an entire carcass to a weaker or less significant member of the group out of compassion or love.
Granny Magda:
Is defence of the social group altruistic in your view?
Not in the slightest. These animals especially male lions are lousy hunters, they are clumsy, overheat fast due to that heavy mane, and they don't exactly boast A+ stamina. This is an animal that is made for partnerships, individualism simply isn't its sort of thing. And in this case wouldn't they commit their lives to maintaining this partnership lest they be scattered.
The tendency of a species to form into societies is considered to be caused by the influence of natural selection not altruism. During the process of natural selection, individual animals of a particular species that formed into societies like lions or hyenas were more likely to survive than those animals that remained isolated from one another.
So A lion if he wants to proliferate has to stick to other lions. So you see protecting your pride isn't actually altruistic just like in a war the soldiers aren't just laying their lives down but actually have their best interest in heart as well, like their freedom.
Granny Magda:
But you were originally talking about an individual with immunity to a specific disease.
This was an independent example and was never intended to represent my entire position in this area of my argument.
Granny Magda:
Are you kidding me? In what way is looking after a wounded pack member not altruistic? Think about it. The selfish thing to do would be to abandon the wounded dog. The altruistic course of action is to help stay in the pack and share food with it. How is that not an example of altruism?
This was not a part of the behaviors that I concluded is not altruistic if you read me carefully I made sure I didn't include this in my argument. But as for the rabbit scenerio, I wouldn't let it easily slight as an example of altruism. As altruism has to be a conscious choice by the doer, it is not something that should be automated by instinct, which is what the rabbit behavior seems like an instinct that all rabbits will respond by in times of danger. It's almost as if the rabbit has no control over its altruism this is better described an in born behavior.
Genuine morality is a choice because it is a choice we have moral people and immoral/amoral people existing at the same time, proving that our altruism isn't instinct based like is the case with the rabbits in your example.
Therefore before we can say that any behavior is altruism in action we need to determine if the individual displaying it has the capability not to display it at will, and also if the act is squeezed out of the individual. Remember God describes love as a choice, that is why he didn't create us like programmed robots who would follow his every command.
Granny Magda:
You are never going to find an altruistic act, in humans or animals, that cannot have a selfish motive attached to it.
I'll just take it that you didn't think ahead before making this grand pretentious claim. First of all morality can exist devoid of egocentricity. A few examples will show this to be true. Imagine a mother and her three children not babies, living on a farm, this mother isn't really in the spotlight perse and by taking care of her children will not really be rewarded for being good to her children she could just as well be an evil mom.
But lets get back to your original example of giving out alms to the poor.
In normal human situations people don't usually get rewarded for tossing a dollar in someone's hat or basket, in fact the people who were around to witness the above charity act may probably not meet this person in hi/her future to reward them for what they did back then. In fact the bible urges us to perform charitable acts not to draw attention to ourselves but to humble ourselves rather.
And in fact when somebody that you've helped returns the favor we usually decline with the excuse that they need it more, thus denying our would have been reward, adding to our list of charitable acts.
Granny Magda:
Nonsense. If survival of the fittest were applied to the financial sector, the governments of the world would not be propping up failed banks.
This may well be because humans have some goodness in them being made in God's image to sacrifice their survival in order to maintain somebody else'. Or Or it may just be selfishness again, the government of the world profits immensely from banks so they would only make sure that (banks) continue on, think of a symbiotic relationship.
Granny Magda:
With the wide range of altruistic behaviors observed in the animal kingdom the answer would appear to be yes. No other explanation comes close to providing a serious model for the development of altruism.
Mention this range. What about the explanation given by the bible certainly it shouldn't be ignored as a viable explanation, seeing that the bible on the whole has been successful at satisfying millions already with its answers on not just this issue but many more other issues.
Granny Magda:
Well then, that must prove creationism false, since the world we live in is full of amorality and even immorality.
Does the mention of Satan ring a bell? Knew it would.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by Granny Magda, posted 03-31-2009 8:33 AM Granny Magda has replied

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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 53 of 438 (504643)
04-01-2009 4:08 AM
Reply to: Message 51 by Granny Magda
03-31-2009 7:37 PM


Re: Defining Altruism
You must be content thinking that you have come up with ‘case-closed’ evidence. Well watch as I turn that very evidence back in your face. Let me start by saying that evidence is a like a person, and if you torture it long enough, you can get it to say anything you‘d like it to say. In the wording of Rev. Dr Francis H. Wade. Now one thing I hate is having to repeat myself after I have been so crystal clear the first time, but let me do it anyway just in case I give you the impression that you are winning.
Granny Magda:
How can they be selfish? If you define altruism as requiring conscious choice, of a kind that is clearly restricted to humanity, how can lions and hyenas be considered guilty of the reverse?
Whether you are consciously selfish or not according to the definition of selfishness you still are which is defined as stinginess resulting from a concern for your own welfare and a disregard of others.
Let me give you a different example but which relates to the above as well. If I go into an office and mindlessly take something off the desk put it in my pocket and walk out with it. Wouldn’t that still be committing theft? For sure it would, and upon the realization that I’ve taken something that isn’t mine I will have to return it if I’m a morally correct individual, I will feel obliged pressed by my values to return that item. Just because I wasn’t conscious of the deed of stealing I still was committing a crime irregardless of my knowing about it or not.
So this would mean that an individual can also be altruistic unconsciously like the rabbits thus the rabbits are also being moral in that they are risking their lives for others even if they don’t know about it. No, because unlike the rabbits that have no choice but to exhibit this behavior humans have a choice to act morally or immorally, so morality is a conscious choice and not merely a conscious act it is also a choice. And I exhibit morality by returning the item to the office rather than just nipping it.
Now if morality was instinct based it would be something to this effect:
There is a TV show I enjoy watching called ‘The Power of One’ it is a show where a professional hypnotists makes people to do the silliest things the mind can conjure, flap like a chicken, pour alcoholic drinks down your top and so on.
Now in this show the hypnotist will usually condition the brains of his subjects to react to particular stimuli, e.g. snapping of his fingers, clapping of his hands and the like. In one of his tricks he had a subject programmed to spank himself each time he (the hypnotist) blows a whistle and to stop again at the second whistle blow, as you might expect this is exactly what happened, each time the whistle was blown once the subject began spanking himself and each time the whistle was blown for the second time the subject ended the spanking. This is how an instinct operates on and by stimuli.
An example of such instinctive responses to stimuli in nature is the fire ants of America. Fire ants are gritty little fellows almost all measures of control have failed and their (ants) numbers are out of control. This ants were originally imported from south America thus they aren’t native to America, however the weird thing is they aren’t a pest problem in their native home, this is partly due to the existence of a little tiny insect the decapitating fly, also called phorid flies. These flies are native to South America and are not found naturally on North American soil in South America they regulate the fire ant populations.
So the best number of fire ants that populate North America have never encountered a phorid fly. But now just one future encounter with this little fly is all that needed to turn a normal fearless fire ant become a hysterically unstable lunatic, that runs around like a headless chicken even before the phorid fly has attacked. This is a good example of an instinct. To be sure you cannot equate this behavior with morality that exists in human circles.
Granny Magda:
You seem to accept that the hunting dogs are behaving altruistically. Is this correct? Are the hunting dogs being altruistic?
Let us suppose that they are being altruistic, so what God created a moral universe so indeed to find goodness in and around the world shouldn’t blindside us.
But before we say that what the dogs were doing is an act of morality we have to ask were they acting out of love or out of instinct or perhaps they were full and didn’t mind sharing their food with a sick animal or they were trying to keep all members of the group alive to maintain the group. But then there are other possible reasons that could account for this seemingly altruistic behavior.
Granny Magda:
They are comparable though. Altruistic behaviour in animals provides us with a window to explore the evolution of our own morality. Drawing an arbitrary line and saying that anything below that line is not altruism is missing the point. True human altruism is a more complex form of animal altruism. There exists a clear continuum. That we can make more complex and conscious moral choices than a dog or rabbit is a function of our more advanced intelligence and its interaction with our ancient moral instincts.
How can you compare two things that are not the same, as I have shown above you cannot compare morality with instinct that the rabbits obviously display. The rest of this statement is speculative, you're just saying it for the sake of saying it.
Granny Magda:
Drawing an arbitrary line and saying that anything below that line is not altruism is missing the point
How is this missing the point if I draw the line to what should be regard as stealing and what shouldn’t am I missing the point. We need boundaries in life otherwise we would end up in a huge mess and we don’t want that.
Granny Magda:
So you are arguing that if any self-serving urge is present, an action cannot be considered altruistic?
Not necessarily because we may be doing something with a good intention and no selfish thought but we may reap by doing that good thing. However the morality I’m discussing are those in which you wouldn’t necessarily gain, why else would we call them selfless acts. But with the African pack dogs they may be helping the other which is the right thing to do but perhaps their reasons for doing so are selfish and as such are not genuine altruism. People may try to be good for a couple reasons for show, for other selfish reasons or simply out of love.
Granny Magda:
Not true. Just because a behaviour can be consciously modified, does not mean that it is not instinctive. Instinct can be very difficult to overcome, but it is still possible to do so.
First prove that we operate on instinct and then provide examples that are already happening in nature.
Granny Magda:
Instinct is the foundation stone of human morality. It is not the last word, but it is the starting point.
Baseless.
Granny Magda:
Allow me to stop you there. Forget God.
No ways morality has everything to do with God.
Granny Magda:
This is a science thread and he doesn't belong here.
No correction science doesn’t belong here.
Granny Magda:
You said you wanted to talk about evolution, not mythology.
Don’t force words into mouth.
Granny Magda:
False. When the mother treats her children well, she is rewarded, whether anyone else knows of her actions or not. First there is the fact that the children may one day grow to thank her, a clear self-serving motive. Then there is the matter of conscience.
The mother may be old and dying and the kids may still be young. The kids may even be a menace giving her grieve but no worries her goodness hasn’t been dampened by this.
Granny Magda:
The mother will be rewarded for altruistic actions toward her offspring by an inner feeling of pleasure at having done the right thing. This inner reward is ever present. What's more, if she had treated her children badly, she would have been punished, again by an inner mechanism. her conscience. With the exception of psychopaths, all of us have this inner reward/punishment mechanism. You can't escape it. By this means we are rewarded or punished for our moral choices whether others know of them or not. Thus, any moral choice will, by necessity, contain an element of selfishness; we are after the feel-good reward that our conscience provides.
Is this a conscious decision? No. It is an instinct. It is innate and cannot easily be consciously overcome. This is a clear indication that, whilst it is in some ways more complex than in animals, human morality is still founded in instinct. In this, we are just like the rabbit, just like the hunting dog.
All of this is useless for evolution; evolution is after survival not feelings. But interesting point you mention about feeling good I address this feeling a little in my opening post, do refer to that. What I say there though is that we are created in the image and likeness of God, note the word likeness, therefore since God is good we are too and we feel good when we are good to others.
Granny Magda:
Both the children and the chimps displayed the same instinctive urge to help others. It doesn't matter what motivates this behaviour. The point is that humans and chimps show similarities in their moral behaviour. This is clear evidence that humanity is instinctively moral and that we share some of this moral instinct with chimps. it would have been present in our most recent common ancestor.
The entire research you are citing can be used just as well to supports the bible’s take on human goodness; we are created in his likeness. Are you starting to see how different conclusions can be arrived at by considering the same evidence?
You talk of mirror neurons, how does this prove that humans somehow copied being good from other humans? This is a speculation as far as true operational science is concerned. But note something funny as well, the research you have cited completely goes against the neuron idea because it proves that we have altruistic characters from birth and we do copy them as such.
About neurons maryjean see this statement Wikipedia makes,
Some scientists consider mirror neurons one of the most important findings of neuroscience in the last decade. Among them is V.S. Ramachandran,[2] who believes they might be very important in imitation and language acquisition. However, despite the popularity of this field, to date no plausible neural or computational models have been put forward to describe how mirror neuron activity supports cognitive functions such as imitation.[3] The function of the mirror system is a subject of much speculation. Mirror neuron - Wikipedia
There it is in black and white, to boot they haven’t actually found mirror neurons on the human brain, they simply speculate that they are there:
However, the results of brain imaging experiments using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have shown that the human inferior frontal cortex and superior parietal lobe is active when the person performs an action and also when the person sees another individual performing an action. It has been suggested that these brain regions contain mirror neurons, and they have been defined as the human mirror neuron system.[21]. Mirror neuron - Wikipedia
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.
Edited by Admin, : Add missing / in closing blockquote.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 51 by Granny Magda, posted 03-31-2009 7:37 PM Granny Magda has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 54 by Percy, posted 04-01-2009 5:54 AM Cedre has replied
 Message 61 by Granny Magda, posted 04-01-2009 12:24 PM Cedre has not replied
 Message 64 by SammyJean, posted 04-01-2009 5:17 PM Cedre has replied

  
Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 55 of 438 (504650)
04-01-2009 6:56 AM
Reply to: Message 54 by Percy
04-01-2009 5:54 AM


Re: Defining Altruism
Evolution encourages characteristics that improve the likelihood of contributing to the next generation. An evolutionary interpretation of morality holds that certain emotional instincts and behaviors provide survival advantages and so are more likely to be passed on. Whether you personally find this interpretation acceptable, the fact remains that it explains a great deal of behavioral phenomena.
Let us analyze your first statement and tie that to morality with an example let us consider for this example the brown moth given as example of natural selection. lets say that instead of only the black moths surviving the brown ones too, eventually the two types of moth procreate together, and we assume that a new generation of moths are birthed exhibiting codominance characteristics let’s assume they have brown and black patterned wings. It would be easy for the preying birds to make out all the butterflies now. Look at how the less suited butterflies have contaminated the entire butterfly population in the area increasing predation risks and even possible extinction.
But now even worse lets take this same example a notch higher and assume that the brown butterflies, were dominant and that the black were recessive. This would be disastrous for the butterfly community in this area when the two butterflies crossmate, suddenly the gene itself is in danger. If the unfit brown butterflies had just died out in the first generation of butterflies, this disater would never have ensued.
Helping weaker members of a population to survive can result in this above scenario, because healthy humans constantly have children with disabled humans (I have nothing against the disabled, this is merely for the sake of demonstration) we cannot rid ourselves of disability. So, no being altruistic isn’t the best course of action for evolution.
Note evolution is survival of the fittest don’t take away from this definition that Charles devised, by trying to include the entire population fit and unfit. Just like the brown moth example in strict evolutionary sense altruism doesn’t exist we see that in animals that do not exhibit altruism they do just as well at surviving as those animals that are said to exhibit altruism.
Whether you personally find this interpretation acceptable, the fact remains that it explains a great deal of behavioral phenomena.
It attempts to explain a great deal of behavioral phenomena, whether or not it has been successful is a point of debate.
You seem to be arguing that they are many, many behaviors that morality doesn't explain, or that run counter to morality, but no one would deny that such examples abound, indeed must abound. Morality is just one behavioral aspect among many.
This is exactly the opposite of what I'm saying. I,m saying that evoltuion doesn't give a satisfactory answer to the question of morality. I am arguing about supposed altruism that has evolved into insticnts in certain animals. I find this to be not true because insticnt is not equal to morality.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 54 by Percy, posted 04-01-2009 5:54 AM Percy has replied

Replies to this message:
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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 66 of 438 (504710)
04-02-2009 2:27 AM
Reply to: Message 64 by SammyJean
04-01-2009 5:17 PM


Re: Defining Altruism
Dear SammyJean I followed your link and have analyzed its content.
Mirror neurons have indeed been found in the macaque monkey. However even your own cited research has not claimed to have found mirror neurons in Humans in the flesh, like the Wikipedia article have stated scientist who dare to presume the existence of such tissue in the human brain are no more than doing guesswork or suggesting in the words of the Wikipedia article. Here is what your Nature Clinical Practice Neurology article says:
A large number of studies based on noninvasive electrophysiological (e.g. EEG, magnetoencephalography [MEG]) or brain imaging (e.g. PET, functional MRI [fMRI]) techniques have demonstrated the existence of the mirror mechanism in humans.8, 9 Brain imaging studies have enabled the mirror areas to be located. These studies showed that the observation of transitive actions done by others results in an increase in blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal not only in visual areas, but also in the IPL and the ventral premotor cortex, as well as the caudal part of the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). These latter three areas have motor properties and closely correspond to the areas that contain mirror neurons in the monkey (Figure 3)
Nature Reviews Neurology.
Did you simply decide to ignore this quote or perhaps it was genuine mistake? I don't know.
For the plain reason that actual mirror neurons haven't been happened upon touched and studied in the human brain denotes that any number of other known or unknown properties of the human brain could be triggering this mirror neuron-like activity in this brain parts said to harbor the mirror neurons.
Here is an interesting quote from slate in their article "Cells That Read Minds?What the myth of mirror neurons gets wrong about the human brain."
First, it suggests that we can generalize directly from other animals to people. The evidence for individual mirror neurons comes entirely from studies of macaque monkeys. That's because you can't find these cells without inserting electrodes directly (though painlessly) into individual neurons in the brains of living animals. These studies haven't been done with chimpanzees, let alone humans. What the myth of mirror neurons gets wrong about the human brain.
Follow the above link to see the full-length article.
Here's another mind-blowing statement from the same article
The trouble is that macaque monkeys don't have language, they don't have culture, and they don't understand other animals' minds. In fact, careful experiments show that they don't even systematically imitate the actions of other monkeysand they certainly don't imitate in the prolific way that the youngest human children do. Even chimpanzees, who are much more cognitively sophisticated than macaques, show only very limited abilities in these areas. The fact that macaques have mirror neurons means that these cells can't by themselves explain our social behavior.
SammyJean says: Right there in black and white, and from a respectable scientific publication not wikipedia!
I'll urge you SammyJean not to slander the largest internet encyclopedia just because it doesn't rhyme with you on a certain points
Edited by Admin, : Fix quoting.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 64 by SammyJean, posted 04-01-2009 5:17 PM SammyJean has replied

Replies to this message:
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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 68 of 438 (504724)
04-02-2009 9:19 AM
Reply to: Message 67 by Percy
04-02-2009 8:23 AM


Re: Defining Altruism
Percy let me reply you with a scenario. Suppose that my neighbors do not have electricity and at sunset instead get about the house by the aid of candles, so each time one of them pass by anyone of the windows all one gets to see are their shadows. Suppose also that my neighbors are extremely introversive and as such I never got a glimpse of them at any time, what they actually look like. Would it be wise of me to conclude that they are a black family, of six children, that the youngest child is named lulu and the oldest daughter is named Sarah, John has a scar on his right cheek because he is so fond of skirmishes.
In fact I would be able to conclude all of these things because there is no end to my imagination. The only way I can be certain of who my neighbors actually are is to pay them a personal visit and to meet with them face to face. The two techniques used to infer mirror neurons in human brains (noninvasive electrophysiological magnetoencepholography and brain imaging)is not too different from what I have done with my neighbors .

This message is a reply to:
 Message 67 by Percy, posted 04-02-2009 8:23 AM Percy has replied

Replies to this message:
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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 70 of 438 (504727)
04-02-2009 9:50 AM
Reply to: Message 69 by Percy
04-02-2009 9:41 AM


Re: Defining Altruism
Point for point break down why any one of my examples analogies whatever were horrible. I allow you to start with the latest one. Point for point bearing in mind that neurologist haven't directly tested the presence mirror neurons in human brains. While your at it also explain how these scientist have come to agree on the conclusions that they've agreed on based on almost nothing but inferences. When I read their conclusions, that language, autism morality the list goes on, that all these various things can be accounted for by the presence of something which hasn't actually been seen and felt in the brain.
The strength of a position is not measured by one's ability to issue denigrating judgments,
Now read what you say about my examples and tell me if this isn't denigration.
They correspond as poorly to each other as your squirrel and moth examples did to reality.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 69 by Percy, posted 04-02-2009 9:41 AM Percy has replied

Replies to this message:
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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 72 of 438 (504730)
04-02-2009 10:17 AM
Reply to: Message 68 by Cedre
04-02-2009 9:19 AM


Re: Defining Altruism
Not so BlueJay, let me draw the parallels between my latest example and what scientists are doing with this whole mirror neuron thing.
First of all scientist see some activity in parts of the human brain (the inferior frontal cortex and superior parietal lobe) when a person sees another individual performing an action and also when the person him/herself performs an action, and based on this activity they (relevant folks) infer that we have mirror neurons in these parts and without even establishing this they even go so far as to give it one those fancy scientific names "mirror neuron system", Wow a system not having witnessed a single mirror neuron they resolve that we got a system.
In my example I also see the shadows of my neighbors, and thus infer that people must live there just like the scientist when seeing this brain activity infer the mirror neurons are there, they should first establish that the action is caused but nerve cells/neurons and in fact this is the best they can do without seeing and testing the cells to determine what sort of nerve cells these are. But I end up inferring more than the data on hand will allow me just like the scientist have done. I conclude that they are a black family of six that the youngest child is named lulu and the oldest daughter is named Sarah, John has a scar on his right cheek because he is so fond of skirmishes. And so on. Now point out which part of my example doesn’t compare to what the neurologist are doing.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.
Edited by Cedre, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 68 by Cedre, posted 04-02-2009 9:19 AM Cedre has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 74 by Blue Jay, posted 04-02-2009 10:22 AM Cedre has replied
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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 75 of 438 (504734)
04-02-2009 10:32 AM
Reply to: Message 74 by Blue Jay
04-02-2009 10:22 AM


Re: Defining Altruism
There are probably other cells as well that can account for this and other factors may also account for this activity. I also have solid evidence that people live there, just like the neurologist have solid evidence that this activity is neuron related, what both I and the scientist lack is what kind of people/neurons is causing the shadows/activity in the windows/brain. We are in the same boat and the conclusions they draw don't make sense because the conclusion they draw for the humans are not even observed in the very monkeys that the mirror neurons have actually been detected in and studied.
The trouble is that macaque monkeys don't have language, they don't have culture, and they don't understand other animals' minds. In fact, careful experiments show that they don't even systematically imitate the actions of other monkeys”and they certainly don't imitate in the prolific way that the youngest human children do. Even chimpanzees, who are much more cognitively sophisticated than macaques, show only very limited abilities in these areas. The fact that macaques have mirror neurons means that these cells can't by themselves explain our social behavior.
Another thing there are several structures that have the same function in different organism but are actually not the same. they are analogous.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 74 by Blue Jay, posted 04-02-2009 10:22 AM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
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Cedre
Member (Idle past 1598 days)
Posts: 350
From: Russia
Joined: 01-30-2009


Message 77 of 438 (504737)
04-02-2009 10:49 AM
Reply to: Message 76 by Percy
04-02-2009 10:37 AM


Re: Defining Altruism
based upon remarkably cloudy thinking let them be, though I don't believe this why didn't you criticize BlueJays examples too, I sense favoritism in this chat room. Anyway the bottom line remains you haven't been able to refute any of my examples significantly although accusing them of being poor, if they're so poor then why haven't you demolished them already. What's more I'm sensing that you're trying brush the evidence I provide aside and only focusing on such things as the examples I proved.
Please quite trying to invalidate my style of making claims and start dealing with my claims.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 76 by Percy, posted 04-02-2009 10:37 AM Percy has replied

Replies to this message:
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