Morality

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by thirdwind, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Everyone is susceptible to bias. It would be very unscientific not to recognize that. In addition, recognizing confirmation bias is how one develops the ability to overcome confirmation bias.

    Beyond that you are stating a false equivalency since I change my conclusions based on new evidence. You believe you have the right conclusion, new evidence would not matter.
     
  2. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Getting one's scientific knowledge primarily from Youtube videos is not going to provide the most comprehensive view of the evidence.

    Experiments can be designed to determine what an animal is thinking without reading its thoughts directly. For example, recognizing one's image in a mirror is not true for all species. That can clearly be shown by study design. That's just one example, there are many more.
     
  3. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Forgot to address this:
    You're defining morality as an absolute and we've already seen there is no such thing as a universal absolute morality.

    When you define morality as a biology driven emotional sense, it's easier to see how that would differ from species to species and individual to individual. It doesn't negate the fact moral thinking/behavior exists.

    We have empathy. We have a sense of fairness. We can be altruistic. These are nature-nurture emotion based behaviors and thoughts.

    Stealing food is not immoral to some non-human primates. I think I recall other non-human primates have been observed punishing their too greedy group members. There are those who would argue humans are immoral because they kill for reasons other than survival. (Note Jane Goodall observed serial killer chimpanzees and chimp wars.) And there are circumstances humans stealing food is not considered immoral.
     
  4. JJ_Maxx

    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    How is it a false equivalency when you yourself have also come to a conclusion and evidence would not matter? Unless you are open to the existence of God, something that your repugnant attitue refutes. The fact that you deride and belittle the possibility of the existence of God leads me to believe that emotion, not fact, drives your dialogue and conclusions. Earlier you claimed to have no motive to disprove the existence of God but I would say that pride and arrogance are motive enough.

    What is the core of science if not observation of the natural world? Even the most elaborate scientific studies are just observations of created enviroments and subjects, right? So the study that shows a chimpanzee that will not pull a lever to get a banana, because it hurts another, is claimed to be evidence of empathy and therefore, morality. My contention is the possibility that the Youtube video of a dog dragging a dead dog out of the road, and the million-dollar study of the chimps is basically the same thing.

    We observe actions in animals and do our best to understand or translate them into this human notion of morality. I propose that the actions are instinctual and genetic and some of them are more complex and therefore, harder to decipher but that doesn't mean that we can slap a label on the behavior.
     
  5. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Where's the catch 22? I don't need evidence to show that animal behavior is evidence of morality. I'm arguing that such evidence doesn't exist. On what basis are you and those researchers assigning moral values to actions? For example, how can you say that a particular act is moral or immoral?

    I haven't defined morality like that at all. Please show me where I did. By asking those questions, I was implying that you should use whatever definition of morality you choose.

    The only people who define morality in terms of biology are proponents of evolutionary ethics. I don't subscribe to that theory, and if you want to know why, I can give you several arguments.

    We also have anger and jealousy. We are capable of not being altruistic as well. A lot of people conveniently forget these "negative emotions."

    How do you know it wasn't immoral? Because the primate wasn't punished? Because the other primates didn't react negatively?

    So because the primate was punished, it was an immoral act? What if another group of primates had commended him for being greedy? Would that then make it a moral act?
     
  6. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    ftfy. Evidence would matter. If there was valid evidence of real gods, I'd have no reason not to accept it.


    I'm only going once on this, you're welcome to give your rebuttal.
    I can see why you believe I'm trivializing your beliefs by referring to gods as mythical human inventions and magical thinking, but those are the most accurate ways I have to describe what god beliefs are.

    A lot of people ask, do gods exist and/or can we prove they don't? I asked a different question. What does the evidence say about god beliefs? We have plenty of evidence of beliefs, but no evidence of real gods. Why do we have these beliefs, from where do they come?

    Have you heard the quote (attribution in question) that, we are both atheists, I just believe in one less god than you do?

    There is overwhelming evidence humans invent god myths. Surely you don't believe in Zeus, Pelé or Thor? We even have a modern example of humans observed inventing a god myth, Cargo Cults.

    In no case, past or present, is there evidence of real gods existing, (other than people saying they believe).

    At some point one can safely conclude no god beliefs are any more believable than another. They can't all be true, but they can all be false.



    I've already addressed your other point about Youtube videos being as valid as years of complied research and carefully designed, peer reviewed studies. Anecdotal evidence is some of the weakest evidence and is pretty much meaningless unless it is systematically collected with controls to rule out other variables.
     
  7. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Rather than go round and round on this I'm going to stop here and just recognize we have different underlying premises about morality. It's like not understanding the other's language and you can't communicate. It's too complex to debate the entire field of animal behavior research, the science of evolution, the biology of the brain and the philosophical concepts of morality.

    It's more than I care to spend the time on here. My apologies.
     
  8. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm glad you and Lemex brought up Kant because I like the guy, though I have two issues (at the moment) with Kantian ethics.

    First, he assumes that there is such a thing as a priori knowledge, which is something I never quite understood. According to him, a priori knowledge is the result of spontaneity and doesn't have any external causes. I think of it as instinct, though I don't know if this is the right way of thinking about it. Anyways, I interpreted this to mean that we have some innate knowledge of morality that appears to us without reason or logic. He also uses a priori as a synonym for universal, which I may not have a problem with because I don't believe in universal truths when it comes to morality.

    Second, he claims that moral virtue is greater than happiness because happiness arises out of moral virtue. So should we sacrifice our own happiness and the happiness of others in the name of moral virtue?
     
  9. Makeshift

    Makeshift Active Member

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    Regarding animal morality, there is a lot of good evidence that the things we mean when we talk about morality are present to a lesser extent in other animals. I read a book by Franz de Waal on animal morality and just with chimpanzees and bonobos, we see clear moral rules. They have created rules among themselves, for example ways to settle disputes and keep fights from going too far. They also express sympathy and help disabled individuals. Some studies have shown that they also have a sense of fairness. Elephants clearly mourn their dead. Animal empathy even extends beyond their own species in many cases. Dogs protect their owners, elephants have buried dead bodies from other species(I read about a case where they attempted to bury a human who they thought was dead), chimpanzees have been observed feeding turtles and there's anecdotal evidence of dolphins protecting humans from sharks.
     

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