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Saitan

Do You Think People are Born With Morals?

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Saitan

So, my dad is a big christian, and me and him were arguing about whether or not morals (sense of right and wrong) are with you as soon as you are born. I say people learn them from their parents (or other people), while he argues people have a sense of right of right and wrong from the beginning. I would go more into the details of the argument, but that is another debate altogether.

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Carnage1120

You learn them, its not like you are born with the knowledge that killing someone will break the victims family's heart, that is learned.

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Vercetti21
I would go more into the details of the argument, but that is another debate altogether.

Not really...

 

If children know right and wrong from birth, what purpose does discipline serve, if any?

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Saitan
I would go more into the details of the argument, but that is another debate altogether.

Not really...

 

Well, it is, because we were arguing about religion, and this is just a small piece of the argument i'm talking about here.

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K^2

There is a born-with component. Sort of. Humans, as well as most complex animals, learn by imitation of others of their kind. They learn to walk and communicate from other creatures around that are most similar to themselves. Inherent in such behavior is feeling of compassion. If you see someone get hurt, you picture yourself in that someone's place. This is mostly biological, and is there to help you learn from others' mistakes and to strengthen cooperation between members of the species. This can also extend to members of other species, as long as we can somehow relate to them.

 

This much is wired into most individuals. Of course, compassion is not exactly morality. There is a difference, but I can see how someone can make a stretch and call one a component of the other.

 

Morality is the set of rules for behavior in society. These are most certainly learned. Most of these are going to be closely tied to the feeling of compassion. Stealing feels "wrong" because it is easy enough to picture the feeling of loss one experiences when something dear to them is taken away. But it doesn't feel wrong because its immoral. Rather it's immoral because it causes harm to another, and it feels wrong because you have compassion towards that someone. And many rules are purely cultural as well. Many people would say that its wrong to just walk around naked, but putting on clothes is without a question a learned behavior. Not to mention that what is and isn't proper attire changes from culture to culture very strongly. In some cultures, it's perfectly alright to have woman's breasts exposed, in another it's wrong and immoral to expose even the face.

 

So yes, learned behavior, definitely, but the fact that it has some biological roots in many cases will result in completely different cultures have many similar notions on what is and isn't moral.

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ElBoricua94

To me, Morality doesnt exist suicidal.gif

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Saitan
To me, Morality doesnt exist suicidal.gif

Ok, Mr. Manson. biggrin.gif

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K^2

No, I agree with him. Morality shouldn't dictate your behavior. If you live as part of society, simple rational behavior should lead you to making right decisions. Antisocial behavior makes people hostile towards you, and so rarely makes sense. If you have a good head on your shoulders, you don't need to think about whether your actions are moral or not. Just whether or not they are beneficial to you in the long run. If society makes antisocial behavior more reasonable than social one, then such society should not exist, and any instability you cause to it is still for greater good. If a society is organized towards getting people to work together by law and social interaction, morals are redundant to a rational person.

 

Furthermore, not clinging to morals allows for more flexible society. Many factors forming morality change as society evolves. Social behavior should evolve with it. Morality tends to hinder such evolution. Look at developing 3rd world countries and problems they are having with old customs.

 

But of course, it is useful to keep in mind that most morals exist for a reason. If you find yourself in a situation where you are going against what is accepted as "moral", it should raise some red flags for you.

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fueledonepicness

Well if you go to different countries with different laws, I don't see how you can be born with the same morals as them because someone in your city lets say is allowed to say something about somebody doing something wrong. But another country that person may have been taught its against the law to do something like that.

Why do you think people get arrested on foreign soil?

 

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chapapote

I think this is becoming this topic very fast.

My personal opinion is that people are born completely amoral, this is to say, they lack any kind of conscience that tells them what they can and they can't do. Talking using Freud's terms, the Super-Ego, the conscience or morality doesn't appear until later, because of their interaction with society. The Ego, being formed after both the Id and the Super-Ego, doesn't appear at birth as well. Children only work by their Id, without any kind of moral. I find funny when people like Rousseau that people are good by nature and society makes them evil, when it's actually the opposite thing: people are evil by nature (they only have Id, and therefore they only work using the pleasure principle, being selfish being as a result), it's only because of the interaction with society that their Super-Ego is created and they become more or less good.

 

 

The mind of a newborn child is regarded as completely "Id-ridden", in the sense that it is a mass of instinctive drives and impulses, and needs immediate satisfaction. This view equates a newborn child with an id-ridden individual—often humorously—with this analogy: an alimentary tract with no sense of responsibility at either end.

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major underscore

 

There is a born-with component. Sort of. Humans, as well as most complex animals, learn by imitation of others of their kind. They learn to walk and communicate from other creatures around that are most similar to themselves. Inherent in such behavior is feeling of compassion. If you see someone get hurt, you picture yourself in that someone's place. This is mostly biological, and is there to help you learn from others' mistakes and to strengthen cooperation between members of the species. This can also extend to members of other species, as long as we can somehow relate to them.

 

This much is wired into most individuals. Of course, compassion is not exactly morality. There is a difference, but I can see how someone can make a stretch and call one a component of the other.

 

Morality is the set of rules for behavior in society. These are most certainly learned. Most of these are going to be closely tied to the feeling of compassion. Stealing feels "wrong" because it is easy enough to picture the feeling of loss one experiences when something dear to them is taken away. But it doesn't feel wrong because its immoral. Rather it's immoral because it causes harm to another, and it feels wrong because you have compassion towards that someone. And many rules are purely cultural as well. Many people would say that its wrong to just walk around naked, but putting on clothes is without a question a learned behavior. Not to mention that what is and isn't proper attire changes from culture to culture very strongly. In some cultures, it's perfectly alright to have woman's breasts exposed, in another it's wrong and immoral to expose even the face.

 

So yes, learned behavior, definitely, but the fact that it has some biological roots in many cases will result in completely different cultures have many similar notions on what is and isn't moral.

I don't think that morality is necessarily only set in the context of society, in the interactions with other humans or animals (or vegetables or minerals, depending on your world view). There is also morality when it comes to how you live your life even if you live in total isolation (like a hermit), which actions are proper and which are not. Some people infer such rules from a belief in the existence of a deity (in this case morality could be said to refer to the relationship between the person and the deity), but this is not strictly necessary, especially for individuals who are in the habit of introspection - in this case morality could deal with the perceived purpose of a person's existence and how this translates into a code of conduct, or could simply be the inference from already held beliefs about morality.

 

But most commonly we consider morality as it relates to our interactions with other people.

 

I think that there is a biological factor when it comes to morality. For example, psychopaths lack the ability to view other humans as having inherent value apart from what they can do for the psychopath; observance of social rules are thus only a means for the psychopath for getting what he or she wants - if breaking those rules benefits the psychopath, the rules will be broken.

 

Provided that such unfortunate biological factors do not inhibit the development of a sense of morality in a particular individual, morality is learned as an individual develops, but there is also morality that emerges through contemplation - codes of conduct that are developed that may be in contrast to the sense of morality in the rest of society. For example, I watched a TV show about highly intelligent children and it turned out that many of those children become vegetarians even though no one in their family or close surroundings were. Surely this code of conduct is in most cases inspired by other vegetarians and thus not completely independent, but the adoption of such practices is not purely an adaptation of behaviour to suit the social norm, as this norm would in this case suggest that eating meat, fish, etc. is acceptable. From a nutritional perspective the adoption of the morality that leads one to adopt a vegetarian diet could be rationally viewed as harmful to the individual, considering the risk of a lack of food causing the person to either get malnurished or suffer from the mental penalties of breaking the code of conduct that this individual views as moral.

 

 

No, I agree with him. Morality shouldn't dictate your behavior. If you live as part of society, simple rational behavior should lead you to making right decisions. Antisocial behavior makes people hostile towards you, and so rarely makes sense. If you have a good head on your shoulders, you don't need to think about whether your actions are moral or not. Just whether or not they are beneficial to you in the long run. If society makes antisocial behavior more reasonable than social one, then such society should not exist, and any instability you cause to it is still for greater good. If a society is organized towards getting people to work together by law and social interaction, morals are redundant to a rational person.

Morality should definately heavily impact your actions. Merely doing what the individual considers "rational" can lead to very bad results.

 

A theoretical example: You are a stranger in a strange town with no relations to any of the townspeople. You get an opportunity to wipe out the whole town through the pressing of a button with an absolute guarantee that no one will ever suspect that you did it, and for this be rewarded one billion untraceable dollars.

 

A person acting from what he believes is rational could very well press that button, unless, of course, morality would tell him he that this behaviour is wrong.

Edited by major underscore

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chapapote

 

I don't think that morality is necessarily only set in the context of society, in the interactions with other humans or animals (or vegetables or minerals, depending on your world view). There is also morality when it comes to how you live your life even if you live in total isolation (like a hermit), which actions are proper and which are not. Some people infer such rules from a belief in the existence of a deity (in this case morality could be said to refer to the relationship between the person and the deity), but this is not strictly necessary, especially for individuals who are in the habit of introspection - in this case morality could deal with the perceived purpose of a person's existence and how this translates into a code of conduct, or could simply be the inference from already held beliefs about morality.

I don't agree. While there may be a genetic predisposition to a concrete morality, the main influence will be the one coming from the society

 

 

Morality should definately heavily impact your actions. Merely doing what the individual considers "rational" can lead to very bad results.

I think so overall, but my personal opinion is that behaviour is (or rather should be) much more complex that either of you have said, and that it should be a combination of both rationality and morality, with a predominance of the latter. For me, an act is good whenever if fits these three principles:

  • The person must have a good goal on mind when performs that act.
  • All good occasionated by the act must be greater than all harm occasionated by the act.
  • If there are several choices to accomplish the wanted goal, the chosen choice should be the one which creates the least harm.
While morality is a key factor on all three principles, rationality should be very important too, as it should tell whether the act is causing or not harm, and if there's a choice which would cause less harm. Edited by chapapote

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Rhoda
So yes, learned behavior, definitely, but the fact that it has some biological roots in many cases will result in completely different cultures have many similar notions on what is and isn't moral.

This is the comment that rang most true with me. I read the rest and while I agree on the differences in morals between cultures, I'm going to think a bit broader and generalize humanity. Perish the thought, I know.

 

It's already been suggested in this topic that morals are in fact taught, and while many biological traits will eventually teach us what's right and wrong from what we feel physically (putting your hand into a fire - it isn't strictly a moral, but it's an example) we can't say that a child will realistically take on a "moral template" simply from growing old. Consider feral children. There have been such instances where children have been raised by animals, and therefore taken on their characteristics, language and skills. Not so out there; after all, children learn almost everything they do from their surroundings, both environment and other human beings. Now, if you think of the morals this child will have, they will differ completely from those of, say, me or you, or that seven year old girl over there that I've just made up and brought to the table. It's hard to say what morals she will have (at least from my point of view, I don't understand wolves and dogs enough to know their morals to tell the truth) but they will adopt the same principles of right and wrong from who they are raised by.

 

A bit of a deviating example, but that's just to illustrate that I believe true morals are taught, not assigned at birth. If you want a simpler example still, think of just putting a baby in a box. Put aside the complications of raising it and feeding it, but just think that by the age of 10, will it have the same concepts of "killing is wrong" as a regular child?

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major underscore

 

I don't agree. While there may be a genetic predisposition to a concrete morality, the main influence will be the one coming from the society

This was my conclusion as well. I agree that most people's morality is to the largest extent learned rather than inherited, but I also expanded on 1) a situation where biological factors clearly play a role in the development of morality, 2) that morality need not solely emerge through interaction and 3) that morality need not be limited to the context of interaction with other humans, animals, etc.

 

 

For me, an act is good whenever if fits these three principles:

 

The person must have a good goal on mind when performs that act.

 

All good occasionated by the act must be greater than all harm occasionated by the act.

 

If there are several choices to accomplish the wanted goal, the chosen choice should be the one which creates the least harm.

 

While morality is a key factor on all three principles, rationality should be very important too, as it should tell whether the act is causing or not harm, and if there's a choice which would cause less harm.

I disagree for the simple reason that what you've outlined is very close to the utilitarian ethical theory, which I disagree with. There are plenty of grounds for criticising that theory, many of which are outlined in the article I linked to.

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General Goose

Well, we learn them for the most part, like what is right and wrong, what is socially acceptable etc.. Consider how the moral and ethical values of someone from Saudi Arabia, America and Japan vary. But emotions that can influence our judgement, like guilt, remorse and compassion, most of us start off with from birth.

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Oxidizer

Of course we're not. If we were born with morals we wouldn't sh*t our nappies and laugh while we do it (not exactly the best example but the only one I can think of).

 

Morals are something you learn. There's no question about it.

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K^2
Morality should definately heavily impact your actions. Merely doing what the individual considers "rational" can lead to very bad results.

No. Acting purely rationally never has and never will be a bad thing. Problem is not with thinking rationally. Problem is with thinking you are thinking rationally, but really making mistakes in judgement. Its for these situations that morals are useful as an extra checklist. But if you find yourself in a situation where killing another human is rational, that's the right thing to do, however moral or immoral that may be.

 

Of course, in order to make rational decisions, you first must decide what your goal is. If that goal disagrees with general well being of the society, the later should retaliate, at very least, forcing a compromise. E.g., if your goal is to get rich, society should create situation where it is more rational for you to do this by legal means, and by contributing to economy, rather than by stealing. If society fails to do that, it is the problem with society. Not with morals of the person who steals. On the other hand, people who steal in society with strong legal system and get caught, have acted wrongly, as their actions were irrational.

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major underscore

 

Morality should definately heavily impact your actions. Merely doing what the individual considers "rational" can lead to very bad results.

No. Acting purely rationally never has and never will be a bad thing. Problem is not with thinking rationally. Problem is with thinking you are thinking rationally, but really making mistakes in judgement. Its for these situations that morals are useful as an extra checklist. But if you find yourself in a situation where killing another human is rational, that's the right thing to do, however moral or immoral that may be.

 

Of course, in order to make rational decisions, you first must decide what your goal is. If that goal disagrees with general well being of the society, the later should retaliate, at very least, forcing a compromise. E.g., if your goal is to get rich, society should create situation where it is more rational for you to do this by legal means, and by contributing to economy, rather than by stealing. If society fails to do that, it is the problem with society. Not with morals of the person who steals. On the other hand, people who steal in society with strong legal system and get caught, have acted wrongly, as their actions were irrational.

I could not disagree more. What you are describing is a society of might - as long as you are strong enough to make sure that no one dares retaliate or cunning enough not to get caught it's ok to do whatever you want to achieve your goals. It is not. I do agree that the rules of society should be such that people's energies are focused in productive ways rather than robbing or stealing from your fellow man, but even in a society where such crimes are punished there will always be situations where a "rational" person would find it more beneficial to steal than to not steal. This is where morality comes in, telling you that you should not steal even if you know you won't get caught. The only way to prevent such situations from occurring would be very far-reaching surveillance of each individual at all times, and even in such a society there would be the risk of corruption.

 

You can simply not remove the responsibility of the individual and blame an imperfect society. A paedophile who is rationally raping children to satisfy his urges should be blamed his acts, not society. What society can do is to enforce laws against such acts, but even in the best of societies there will always be situations where such acts cannot be prevented, or society would become too controlling of its citizens.

 

I would very much like you to comment on my example in my previous post about the person given the choice to wipe out the people of a town in exchange for money and tell me why this not a bad thing.

Edited by major underscore

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Vercetti21

I agree with K^2. I was always under the impression that in order to "be moral", you must sacrifice something or it must cause some inconvenience for you. For example, you help an old man walk across the street because he happens to be going along the same crosswalk as you. You figure, "might as well", give him a hand, and then walk away from the situation feeling absolutely golden about yourself. Is that really moral, when you gained more than you gave? Suppose the same situation presents itself when you're running late for work, and the man is crossing from the opposite side of the street. If no one else is around to help him, do you go out of your way to lend a hand, even if it means losing your job? The moral thing to do would be to help the poor guy, but the rational thing to do would be to make it to work on time so you can provide for your family. That may mean you're being immoral at the present time, but you're still doing the right thing because you're benefiting the most people.

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K^2
I could not disagree more. What you are describing is a society of might - as long as you are strong enough to make sure that no one dares retaliate or cunning enough not to get caught it's ok to do whatever you want to achieve your goals. It is not.

Alright. Why? Give me one good reason. Why should a person sacrifice own well being for doing something that is moral. Especially, when morality is relative to society.

 

The only reason to want to follow the rules of society is to benefit from being a part of it. If you can benefit more from going against society, that's what you should do. No questions about it.

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major underscore

 

I could not disagree more. What you are describing is a society of might - as long as you are strong enough to make sure that no one dares retaliate or cunning enough not to get caught it's ok to do whatever you want to achieve your goals. It is not.

Alright. Why? Give me one good reason. Why should a person sacrifice own well being for doing something that is moral. Especially, when morality is relative to society.

 

The only reason to want to follow the rules of society is to benefit from being a part of it. If you can benefit more from going against society, that's what you should do. No questions about it.

So, let me get this straight. If you were a paedophile (I am not suggesting that you are), that is, a person who is sexually attracted to children, then you would find no fault in you raping children as long as you wouldn't get caught as this would rationally benefit you through sexual satisfaction?

 

How about my previous example of wiping out a whole town for money? Any qualms there?

 

If you are, for whatever reason, not able to grasp this aspect of basic human decency then that is a sad state indeed.

 

I am not writing about "following the rules of society". I am writing about basic moral thought, being able to mentally separate actions that as inherently bad (child rape) and inherently good (not raping children) and act accordingly.

 

It is quite possible to arrive at a moral code that runs counter to that of general society and it is also quite possible for a society to adopt ethics that are seriously flawed (such as allowing child rape). That is no reason why you as an individual should not contemplate the moral or immoral nature of specific actions and draw conclusions that affect your actions.

 

What you seem to be arguing is either a) that you don't even bother thinking about whether an action is good or bad, as long as you benefit (other than, I suppose, to the extent that you have to predict how other people would react, as they would want to stop you), or b) that you do see a difference but that you simply do not care as long as you yourself are not directly negatively affected.

Edited by major underscore

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Saggy

 

I could not disagree more. What you are describing is a society of might - as long as you are strong enough to make sure that no one dares retaliate or cunning enough not to get caught it's ok to do whatever you want to achieve your goals. It is not.

Alright. Why? Give me one good reason. Why should a person sacrifice own well being for doing something that is moral. Especially, when morality is relative to society.

 

The only reason to want to follow the rules of society is to benefit from being a part of it. If you can benefit more from going against society, that's what you should do. No questions about it.

So, let me get this straight. If you were a paedophile (I am not suggesting that you are), that is, a person who is sexually attracted to children, then you would find no fault in you raping children as long as you wouldn't get caught as this would rationally benefit you through sexual satisfaction?

 

How about my previous example of wiping out a whole town for money? Any qualms there?

 

If you are, for whatever reason, not able to grasp this aspect of basic human decency then that is a sad state indeed.

 

I am not writing about "following the rules of society". I am writing about basic moral thought, being able to mentally separate actions that as inherently bad (child rape) and inherently good (not raping children) and act accordingly.

 

It is quite possible to arrive at a moral code that runs counter to that of general society and it is also quite possible for a society to adopt ethics that are seriously flawed (such as allowing child rape). That is no reason why you as an individual should not contemplate the moral or immoral nature of specific actions and draw conclusions that affect your actions.

 

What you seem to be arguing is either a) that you don't even bother thinking about whether an action is good or bad, as long as you benefit (other than, I suppose, to the extent that you have to predict how other people would react, as they would want to stop you), or b) that you do see a difference but that you simply do not care as long as you yourself are not directly negatively affected.

Well, I want to preface this by saying that I personally see sexual activity with children as detrimental, and I don't want to be misinterpreted as thinking it's okay. Personally I don't, but since this is all about morality, I have to put myself at a completely objective standpoint. I don't want to go so far as to say that I think pedophiles should burn in hell or die or all that, but I definitely think it's something unnatural and that kids shouldn't be subjected to. Anyway, going on...

 

What you call child rape, is just simple procreation to some, and even consensual love to others, hell from what I've read the Greeks regarded it as "practice". Most cultures go by rather arbitrary numbers ( some go as low as 14 for the age of consent I've heard ) like 18 or something of that nature, but in many other parts of the world, it's sorted by development rather than age, and in many cultures what we would see as "child rape" is not even considered sex to them. Even down to examples involving very young children, in some cultures what would be regarded as sexual education would be considered molestation to many. So yeah, point is the whole "child rape" thing definitely isn't universal, but even saying that its the result of faulty thinking is really only making assertions from one's personal viewpoint and may be no more accurate.

 

This is starting to echo some discussions I had in a previous thread, not sure which...

 

However, how do you regard the morality of male and female circumcision? Both are altering someone's body without their consent, and both are justified by either religious or cultural reasons or bunk medical reasoning. How is male circumcision "moral" and how is female circumcision "immoral"?

 

I inferred neither A or B from K^2. What I saw him talking about was a society's natural inclination to learn toward "morals" that benefit themselves and society as a whole. For example, compare something like Amazon headshrinkers who kill and shrink the heads of their "enemies" to something like our society. They live in very primitive villages in the forest with no power, eating food that barely sustains them, in very small numbers that are constantly clashing and warring with other tribes. On the other hand, in a Western world, we have laws against killing, and laws with justice and a sense of "morals" that tell us that killing someone like a headshrinker would is "wrong" and for the most part this allows our society to flourish peacefully. It works out equally well for everyone in the end to believe that killing someone for vengeance or perceived harm is not right, because everyone lives, sorts their problems peacefully, and violence isn't just repeated. ( Well we'd like to think but remember we're comparing this to headshrinkers )

 

However, it's not just the U.S. I'm talking about, those very headshrinkers have been changing their customs ever since Christian missionaries began to convince them that it was "wrong" in the 60s. What the missionaries showed them was simply a lifestyle that was healthier than ritualistic superstition that ends in murder and violence. Obviously "morality" has been learned here, but where? Did the headshrinkers learn that "morally" it's okay to kill their enemies and shrink their heads if it protects them and their villagers? Did the Christians learn that "morally" you shouldn't kill anyone?

 

Forget about them both and then ask yourself about a society like the U.S., and more specifically yet Texas. How is it that a state with such a rich Christian culture could also be rich in support for capital punishment? Morally they have justified "an eye for an eye". So if a person can learn that "morally" killing someone is okay if they killed someone first, or that "morally" it's okay to shrink someone's head if it's protecting someone... If they "learn" those morals, what's to say that the "moral" question of whether killing is wrong in the first place is not also learned?

 

In such a situation you would expect to find people in society that did not "fit in" that didn't follow the rules, that had their own morality. And indeed you do. Serial killers, murderers, child rapists, all at some point learn morality differently than someone else. A street hustler in Brooklyn might learn that "morally" it's okay to shoot someone in the head if they're going to turn you into the cops; a serial killer might find it "morally" okay to "put people out of their misery"; a child rapist might find it "morally" okay as long as the child "consents". You can label all of these missteps in logic, poor reasoning or judgment, but in the end that has lead them to adopt faulty morals. In other words, people learn their morality whether they misinterpret things about their environment or not. You can try to convince all of these people that morally they are wrong, but by their mere action alone it shows they have justified it with themselves. To me that just means that morality is learned, and can be learned very differently, and inconsistently from the rest of society. I mean, let's just back off all of the extreme and complex examples for a little while, but what leads one person to find French kissing in a movie theater immoral and the other sitting next to them to find it completely fine? Differences in upbringing, culture, etc. but ultimately the fact that they learned different morality.

 

When you jump back to such an extreme example like murder or child rape though, it becomes far less likely that something of that nature would be learned very differently from one person to another, but of course it happens. If a child grows up with their mother or father molesting/abusing/raping/beating them, they're likely to learn moral concepts that would predispose them to the same thing. It ties in with that "ignorance breeds ignorance" idea, except when really it's just morality is inherited by the morals of the people and society you're raised in. Consequently, if you're raised by people whose morals clash with the majority of the rest of society's, you may find that your concept of "right" and "wrong" is very different from the rest of society's.

 

I throw around the word "justify" a lot too, but there is a fundamentally different view of what is just to some people. Think back on the street hustler; his version of justice is radically different than ours, and it serves to a different purpose. To us, a "snitch" is someone who has done good, that has stopped crime, that has helped someone from getting hurt. To them, a snitch is someone who has betrayed them to help themselves, is going to get many others hurt. They have no concept of, "Oh well, I wasn't supposed to be doing this, so I guess I'm in the wrong," because they've already come to a moral acceptance with themselves they're doing no wrong, simply beacuse that's what they need to do; once you then throw in a threat like an informant, it becomes obvious why one "society" would see them as morally corrupt according to their morality, and the other just the complete opposite.

 

Is it universally wrong to kill a man? Not in self defense, not to save someone else, not to punish... Is killing another person for any reason wrong? The fact that we don't all agree on that very question should be evidence that there is no universal morality, but past that the very fact that we deliberate on such things at all shows that our "justice", our "morality" or concepts of "right" and "wrong" are nothing but the results of logical endeavors undertaken in our own personal psyche. It is true that they compete with instincts and emotions like self-preservation and compassion, but logic is never separate from dealing with these things anyway. It's only natural that people will confuse their emotional or instinctual response for "morality" and believe everyone feels or thinks the same, but the fact remains that not only are some people more prone to other instincts and emotions, their environments and their personal experiences play a great role in determining that as well.

 

I mean, if killing someone was thought to be "universally" wrong, then what makes a person like Jeffery Dahmer? He killed and ate several people, and then later went on to be baptized and the preacher who baptized him... Well, anyway, I'll just let the quote do my speaking:

 

 

Since taking on the opportunity to minister to Dahmer in 1994, Ratcliff has discipled prisoners in a number of Wisconsin prisons. He later wrote a book about his experiences ministering to Dahmer titled Dark Journey, Deep Grace: Jeffrey Dahmer's Story of Faith (2006). After Dahmer was murdered in prison, Ratcliff conducted his funeral service on December 2, 1994, delivering these words:

 

    Jeff confessed to me his great remorse for his crimes. He wished he could do something for the families of his victims to make it right, but there was nothing he could do. He turned to God because there was no one else to turn to, but he showed great courage in his daring to ask the question, ‘Is heaven for me too?’ I think many people are resentful of him for asking that question. But he dared to ask, and he dared to believe the answer.''

 

I've seen interviews with Roy Ratcliff on a National Geographic program that would be very prudent to discuss here. It was titled, "The Science of Evil". My favorite part of the program involved putting research participants in an MRI or a CT scan ( not sure which ) and measure the blood flow to various portions of the brain when presented with a moral dilemma. Here are the two dilemmas....

 

1. You're walking home at night after attending a party, and you see a woman bleeding on the side of the road. She says she's been attacked, and she needs your help. You begin to help her, but then realize that if you do, you'll get blood on your designer suit, and decide, that since no one is around, you could just leave her, it's not your problem... Do you leave her or not?

 

2. You're a mother with an infant child in hand, hiding from a militant force that will kill all of you if you're found. Your baby stirs and begins to cry, so you stifle it. The guards are right outside of the house, and if you remove your hand, your baby will cry and they will discover everyone in the room. If you don't remove you hand, you will smother your baby. Do you kill your baby to save everyone else's life?

 

 

I don't recall the specifics, but basically what they found was that when confronted with such a moral dilemma, blood flows to two portions of the brain responsible for logical reasoning and emotion and compassion. If I remember correctly, people who chose not to help the woman in the first example had more blood flowing to the logical portion of their brain, while in the latter example they found that blood flowed to both portions of the brain. Not surprisingly most people chose to help the woman, and number two had a lot of varied answers.

 

I don't want to reflect on what that means specifically because I can't remember if that's exactly what they said, but it is a very good program and I thought I'd mention it since those two examples are really great. Even though I cannot remember specifically how the brain was effected, it does show that there is no "universal" moral answer and that there is something significant occuring with brain chemistry. That show was dealing more with the idea that "evil" might actually exist, but I think it's relevant here in the discussion of morality.

Edited by SagaciousKJB

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K^2
So, let me get this straight. If you were a paedophile (I am not suggesting that you are), that is, a person who is sexually attracted to children, then you would find no fault in you raping children as long as you wouldn't get caught as this would rationally benefit you through sexual satisfaction?

 

How about my previous example of wiping out a whole town for money? Any qualms there?

 

Let me try to take this apart step by step. Take the child rape example first. And I'll give you fact that any sex with a prepubescent child is rape as fiat. You are making it look like the only two factors going into consideration is desire to have sex with said child, and whether or not you get caught. But that's nowhere near all of it. First of all, getting caught is a risk. It cannot be reduced to zero completely. Statistically, this is a negative either way, but may be possible to minimize to be bellow perceived satisfaction from the act. Next, we have public perception. Even if nothing is proven, if there is some suspicion, the negative consequences can be nearly as bad. Next, the anxiety from fear of being caught. Constant thinking of whether or not someone knows something that might give you out. Last, but not least, you are causing harm to another person. Feeling of compassion is fundamentally there for most people.

 

I cannot possibly be asked to evaluate this for every single person, but net cost/benefit of alternatives, such as keeping it in your pants or seeking help seems like a better solution for nearly all if not all cases.

 

Similar arguments can be brought for your town example. It's not just the money vs getting persecuted. It's a whole lot of other factors as well. But in either of these cases, if benefits outweigh the costs, then the action is the right one, regardless of any stigma you wish to attach to it.

 

If you are, for whatever reason, not able to grasp this aspect of basic human decency then that is a sad state indeed.

And what is that basic human decency? Are you saying that there is a universal set of rules for right and wrong? What are they? What are they given by? Who decided on them.

 

And I have not even gotten to the big question. Does the choice actually matter? If you choose not to harm someone, do you save them from suffering caused by said harm? All evidence we have on nature of time and history is that history is not unique. For every choice you make, the history where you made a different choice exists. If you have an opportunity to harm another being, even if you choose not to, the time and place where you do harm that being still exists. Now, you may wish to exist in a time line where that suffering did not take place, and that might have a great weight for you in decision making, but to think that you actually have a choice on whether that suffering takes place at all or not is the highest form of arrogance that has no basis in fact.

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808

I think that the 'people are born with morals' thing is an excuse for christians as to why people who have never heard of the christian god have their own morals which are very similar to ours.

If you think we are born with morals, then how come there are so many killers, rapists etc? If we were all born with them we would all be good.

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ThePhenom92

I don't think people are born with morals. I believe that they have been taught, whether it be via parents, friends, television, radio computer etc. No child is born with the thought of what is right and wrong, or let alone know what it is. It's why kids touch and grab everything, because they don't know right from wrong. A child can grab a gun, shoot his father and laugh, because the kid didn't know what he did. He probably saw it in a movie because children tend to imitate anything, and think it's ok. If I were to shoot someone in front of a kid, he won't know what I did, but think that it's ok, and he may end up doing it himself, because he didn't know that killing someone can put an entire family through mourning for years. I'm sure that most of us grew up in a not so bad household, we were taught what to do, and what not to do, and it's why today we do and don't do many things. We were told not to do drugs, to use a condom, never partake in any crime, to say thank you, because to kids, they don't know. Although if we grew up in a bad household, we would of learned many wrong things, that we would think is the right thing. Nobody is born an Angel, nobody is born a jerk, we learn how to become an Angel or a jerk growing up. May we all of a sudden change as we grow up? Sure, but we still keep in mind what's right and what's wrong.

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major underscore

 

I think that the 'people are born with morals' thing is an excuse for christians as to why people who have never heard of the christian god have their own morals which are very similar to ours.

Richard Dawkins, famous atheist, on evolutionary roots of morality:

 

 

 

There is a difference between claiming that people are born into a particular set of morals (such as any of those mutually exclusive sets taught by various religions) and that the development of morals is an evolutionary beneficial trait. The monkey whose genes tell him to kill his fellow monkeys whenever he has the upper hand in order to get more bananas for himself may rationally satisfy his own needs, but will also carry inside himself genetic traits that will make the local monkey population as a whole fail the evolutionary test of time.

 

 

If you think we are born with morals, then how come there are so many killers, rapists etc? If we were all born with them we would all be good.

We live in an imperfect world. There is no need to assume that just because there are people (killers, rapists, etc.) who do not act according to morals shared by most people that the seeds of morality is not genetically within them. It may very well be that some people realise that what they are doing goes against their moral judgement, but that they go ahead and do it anyway. Even devout religious people may sin although they are convinced that those sinful deeds go against their sense of morality.

 

@K^2: Sorry for not responding to your most recent post. Doing so would take too much time and unfortunately time is limited.

Edited by major underscore

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Vercetti Gangsta

I believe in tabula rasa... I don't exactly see how we're born with morals when kids do pretty much anything imaginable unless they are told not to...

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