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nerner

How do we construct our sense of right and wrong?

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nerner

Well, as a GCSE student, I am forced by the institutional forces to study RE to GCSE level. Or as it is now known, Philosophy and Applied Ethics. Being completely honest I don't see the point and I just use it as a vehicle where I can air my controversial opinions. However I was thinking in one lesson about a certain debate which we had had about one subject. The same two questions kept popping up:

  1. How do we form our conscience and our morals?
  2. Can any external factors influence this or are we born with these moral foundations?
How do we form our conscience?

 

When we do something which is wrong, we generally experience a feeling of guilt afterwards, that is only natural and it is apparently our conscience telling us that we have done something which goes against our moral code. But was it there at the beginning of our life or was it developed over time? I tend to believe that we base our moral standing on two main principles:

  • Obviousness;
  • Sacrosanctity of certain rules.
The first principle which I have mulled over is that of obviousness. That, in essense, being: Can I get away with this? No better is this principle explained than by sports, especially team games such as rugby, American football and association football. An american football defenseman or a rugby union flanker may spend their entire career encroaching/offside at the breakdown or the line of scrimmage, however they will in all likelihood hardly ever rough the passer or spear tackle anyone. That is simply because of the questions that they are subconsciously asking themselves at the start of every play, "Should I do this? Will I get caught? What will the relative penalties be?" And the difference in the main between a rugby player being offside and spear tackling someone is quite huge.

 

While American football has many referees/umpires, many other sports don't. Rugby has one main official and two sideline officials who's job it is to signal when the ball goes out of play, they rarely do anything more than this. A player who is a yard offside is killing the game by making it more difficult for the opponents to pass the ball out to the wings but the one official is probably on the lookout for other offenses which are perceived to be more serious. The one official can't see everything and so he concentrates on more serious offenses, thus leaving the player free to do it again and again and again. Meanwhile, since for a player to be spear tackled they generally have the ball in their hands and the referee is payed to watch what happens to the ball, a spear tackling player is hardly likely to escape punishment. The referee is watching out for this as it represents a reckless disregard for the safety of his fellow player and so the tackler will certainly be punished.

 

The other question was about how the punishments will be organised. An offside player may cost his team a penalty. But at the most that generally leads to 3 points for the other team, generally not even that given where most penalties are awarded, which is in between both teams 22 yard lines. A player who has speared someone will not only concede a penalty but will also face a yellow or a red card depending on the severity of the offense. This leads to an advantage for the other team, who could score any number of points while the offender is off the pitch, especially if he plays an integral role in team performance.

 

The other important principle is sacrosanctity of certain rules and laws. Some laws are considered so important, that they form the cornerstones of religious belief systems, such as Christianity with the 10 commandments. A true Christian who follows those rules wouldn't steal, cheat, defraud or lie because that would be, in essence, disobeying God and ignoring the collective wisdom contained within the bible. Different rules are sacrosanct for different cultures and as the landscape of belief changes, so does the response to those beliefs. A woman who commits adultery in the UK may be shunned by her work colleagues, she may get divorced and she may even lose her job. However in the Arab world she could easily find herself imprisoned or even killed by stoning just for giving a guy a handjob in the bed that she shares with her husband. Homosexuality is another commonly argued point which overlaps these borderlines somewhat; in some places gay people can freely march down the street without any fear of assualt based on sexual preference while in others they may be lynched, or even punished just as stringently as murderers and rapists.

 

Summary: Our thought regarding right and wrong can be summed up by the phrases: "Can I get away with it?" and "Is it sacrosanct?" The latter is generally applied not on spur of the moment decisions but on decisions which take time and require thinking. These two principles contradict themselves quite often but they overlap also. Finally, sacrosanctity is very subjective, it changes regularly and often depends on various external factors such as religious beliefs and teachings, the media and the culture in which people are brought up.

 

Sources:

The Offside law and its application in modern day rugby union.

Information on the Spear Tackle.

 

A modern interpretation of the 10 commandments.

LGBT rights in Iran.

 

What external factors can influence this?

 

Since the above is a collection of observations about the human conscience and our moral compass, different people will have different interpretations. But can we really examine which factors are most likely to interfere with our judgements about right or wrong?

 

One example is murder. It is generally accepted as sacrosanct that: "Thou shalt not kill." But yet people continue to do so, why? There must be some sort of mitigating set of circumstances which can change our perceptions of what is right and wrong, otherwise why would anyone ever resort to taking someone else's life?

 

To answer that questions I guess it is important to understand why people kill. We can split murderers up into two categories which are handily provided by the common law system:

  1. First Degree;
  2. And Second Degree.
Murder of any kind is wrong, however 1st degree is worse than 2nd because it requires more forethought. Specifically put: "The aggravating factors that distinguish first degree murder from second degree are first degree murder requires a specific intent to kill and premeditation and deliberation. In addition murder committed by acts such as strangulation, poisoning, or lying in wait are treated as first degree murder."

 

2nd degree crimes are generally spur of the moment occurences. You are unlikely to stop to think "Hey, wait a second, murder is supposed to be wrong as it says so in the bible," when you see your beloved wife sharing the love with the milkman or your next door neighbour. Out comes the claw-hammer and you are suddenly in prison for murder in the sedond degree.

 

As for first degree murderers, Michael Stone has devised a scale which rates killers on a scale from 1-22, with 22 being the most evil. Most of the people on the show rank above 13, otherwise I guess it wouldn't be a great show to watch for gore hungry viewers, and some of the crimes involved are quite simply horrific to think about. If you look back at the lives of those who rank 22 out of 22, and there are quite a few of them, you will see several mitigating circumstances which lead to a downward spiral of decline towards committing heinous crimes. This is basically a catalogue of broken homes, abusive parents and manic depressives. This leads me to my first conclusion, background is important in imposing sancrosanctity on certain rules. You won't see many killers who were brought up as Catholics for example.

 

Another important thing to consider is cultural upbringing. As Aaron Hill once said:

 

"Customs form us all, our thoughts, our morals, our most fixed beliefs; are consequences of our place of birth."

 

An easy example for this is attitudes towards homosexuality. In the so-called "Western World" homosexuals may not be embraced but they are tolerated and respected for what they actually are, people. While in Iran and other countries they are executed for their actions and their sexuality. People are brought up to think that this is a correct thing to do, to punish them for their sins. It is almost akin to brainwashing in a sense. Except done on a massive scale, with the backing of Sharia Law and several states to legitamise actions which I personally find disgusting.

 

Another example would be female circumcision. There are 4 types which are predominantly practiced in Africa and South East Asia. In the West there have been concernas about it for many years because of the consent (or lack thereof) which most patients give. However in places like the Sudan over 90% of women have experienced such genital mutilation. Such differences can only be put down to cultural differences. The West finds this procedure horrible, while in African states it is the done thing and marks the transition between childhood and womanhood. The only logical explanation is that cultural differences have a marked impact on the perceptions of certain crimes and actions which may be considered immoral.

 

Summary: Murderers don't necessarily need a warped moral compass to commit their crimes, if their crime is a spur of the moment affair or if they are indeed acting in self-defense. Two major factors which can influence such murderous behaviour are:

  • Upbringing: abused, depressed, related to another killer, etc.
  • Cultural upbringing: Female circumcision and Sharia law and its teachings regarding homosexuals.
Sources:

Wiki article on Murder.

Difference between 1st and second degree murders.

The evil scale developed by Michael Stone, with examples.

Example 1: Depressive teenager becomes killer.

Example 2: Abusive father bears two murdering children.

Link to Aaron Hll quote.

Sharia Law: A simple explanation.

Types of female circumcision, diagram.

 

Well that's about it from me really. If anyone has anything to add, please say it. I welcome alternative views, that's why I created this topic. And I know most people don't link to their sources in this debating area but I figured that if we are all reading the same material we can all come to a collective decision easier. I realise that this may have been a bit long but I did summarise what I wanted to say at the end of each piece so I won't take too kindly to people who quite obviously didn't read this post. I'll probably cry.

 

That's about it really. I look forward to partaking in the discussions that may arise.

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Pac.

You may think i'm a monster, But people are always saying how Drug dealers, Gangsters and commting crimes are immoral aswell as killing, well humans think this because of the recent laws against it, there is no proof of a God and i think that drug dealers have a right to sell coke, i don't see it as immoral, sure they are killing people but thats the way they work, to be honest i have nothing against it yet, it's their choice, who are we to say it's wrong.

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coin-god

I don't feel like reading your whole first post now nerner, but I will.

 

I have a similar opinion to Pac's. The good or bad things are only human inventions, we were raised being told wich things are good and wich things are not. This affects the way in wich we grow up, and how we decide what to do.

The good or bad things can actually change according to each person culture and social status.

 

An extreme example of this could be the ancient cultures from America. Some of them thought Sacrifism was a good thing, a great way of showing respect to the gods, and many people even wanted to be sacrified. For them this was good.

 

But for us, today, this would be something "crazy" and totally wrong.

How can we tell whats good and whats bad? We actually base that on the way we were raised.

 

Im not saying that out perseption of Good and Bad is stupid or shouldn't be used. In my opinion this modern way of saying wich things are good and bad were introduced to change the way humans behave, for good. This way less wars are being fought, less people die, more people can have a "happy life" and everyone is satisfied.

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nerner
You may think i'm a monster, But people are always saying how Drug dealers, Gangsters and commting crimes are immoral aswell as killing, well humans think this because of the recent laws against it, there is no proof of a God and i think that drug dealers have a right to sell coke, i don't see it as immoral, sure they are killing people but thats the way they work, to be honest i have nothing against it yet, it's their choice, who are we to say it's wrong.

Sacrosanctity in the form of the common law system in which we are brought up is based almost entirely on the opinions of the majority and the sacrosanctity of various religious scriptures. Whether those scriptures are the Bible or the Granth Sahib is just by the by.

 

Drug dealing is in fact comparable to aspiring to being a sportsman at a high level or an actor. Many want the money but very few have the talent. So I do see where you are coming from there. And to answer your question, we are in the majority, so we have the right.

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Tyler

Nice post Josh, I enjoy reading a well thought-out discussion starter. First is first, I disagree wholly with Pac's statement. Humanity can't be allowed to do what they want. Would you let a country attack someone with nuclear technology just because they wanted to? What about the person getting killed? I'm sure he didn't want to get nuked, so why not follow his way? Since we're on the matter of Morals, I'm sure it'd be arbitrary to explain the reason for taboo of drugs and such, but I'll go ahead.

 

Pac, imagine that you just ate a good bowl of food. Your mind tells you that you should get more of that, so you do. It's just so good, and nothing bad is happening, so why not right? Now you have none left, and you tell your mind to stop asking for it. You go to sleep, and wake up in cold sweats as your body aches and garbles throughout. Now your body is telling you that if it doesn't get that bowl of food, then you're going to die. You think it's impossible, but you just got addicted.

 

Now obviously, not all drugs are like that. I was using a sort of reference to Heroin specifically - or any major depressant. Marijuana isn't like that - sure - I'll agree with you there. But why should someone be able to sell something that has extremely addicting properties - for the sole reason of knowing that person will get addicted and come back for more. I guess being an American I should get the capitalism aspect of it all, but I just don't see why. Call it my morals. Drugs aren't the only addictive substance out there, sure. That argument doesn't mean that they should be legal by any means.

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Wolfenhoffen

 

How do we construct our sense of right and wrong?

First we have to ask ourselves: When did the sense of right and wrong enter the human psyche and why?

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vinnygorgeous

Pac, imagine that you just ate a good bowl of food. Your mind tells you that you should get more of that, so you do. It's just so good, and nothing bad is happening, so why not right? Now you have none left, and you tell your mind to stop asking for it. You go to sleep, and wake up in cold sweats as your body aches and garbles throughout. Now your body is telling you that if it doesn't get that bowl of food, then you're going to die. You think it's impossible, but you just got addicted.

 

Now obviously, not all drugs are like that. I was using a sort of reference to Heroin specifically - or any major depressant. Marijuana isn't like that - sure - I'll agree with you there. But why should someone be able to sell something that has extremely addicting properties - for the sole reason of knowing that person will get addicted and come back for more. I guess being an American I should get the capitalism aspect of it all, but I just don't see why. Call it my morals. Drugs aren't the only addictive substance out there, sure. That argument doesn't mean that they should be legal by any means.

In the case of heroin, sure it is addictive but if its pure it is no more damaging to the human body than sugar. The only issue is its addictive but as its extremely cheap to produce there is absolutely no moral reason why it should not be legally harvested and distributed to addicts and to anyone who wants it. It is entirely a social construct that it is viewed as damaging and dangerous.

Heroin is the most reliable pain killer we have, it is crazy to restrict its use and use unreliable and dangerous counterparts simply because of a an historical abnormality. Studies had also indicated it is more effective as an anti depressant than any of the commercial giants currently on the market.

 

It is just like the prohibitionists to compare a drug to food, if we compared cancer drugs to Corn Flakes you would arrive at a similar conclusion that the one that has a significant effect on the body must be morally wrong but you would hope that most people could empathise enough with sufferers of cancer to not ban them. Why is it that people cannot do the same for those with mental afflictions for whom heroin may be the only hope of living a normal life.

 

If you consider heroin in the Darwinian morality paradigm it is actually counterproductive to control it in the way we do but just like most morals that have become entwined in law they have been subjected to group interaction each vying for their own optimum result, which is why it is foolhardy to view law and morality together. But you could also argue that modern society has in itself disproved the Darwinian school of thought, as the successful members of the group are not altruistic, they are selfish and constantly strategising against other members of the society. If the Darwinians were right we would not have capitalism or indeed any materialistic basis for defining our relationships.

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nerner

 

In the case of heroin, sure it is addictive but if its pure it is no more damaging to the human body than sugar. The only issue is its addictive but as its extremely cheap to produce  there is absolutely no moral reason why it should not be legally harvested and distributed to addicts and to anyone who wants it. It is entirely a social construct that it is viewed as damaging and dangerous.

Heroin is the most reliable pain killer we have, it is crazy to restrict its use and use unreliable and dangerous counterparts simply because of a an historical abnormality. Studies had also indicated it is more effective as an anti depressant than any of the commercial giants currently on the market.

 

It is just like the prohibitionists to compare a drug to food, if we compared cancer drugs to Corn Flakes you would arrive at a similar conclusion that the one that has a significant effect on the body must be morally wrong but you would hope that most people could empathise enough with sufferers of cancer to not ban them. Why is it that people cannot do the same for those with mental afflictions for whom heroin may be the only hope of living a normal life.

 

To say that heroin is no more damaging to the human body than sugar is completely wrong. Although on the street it is often cut with other materials such as talcum powder and quinine, in its pure form it damages people just as much as any other illegal drug, if not more. Some of the effects which long-term Heroin usage can cause are:

 

  • Collapsed Veins;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Addiction;
  • Muscle Weakness;
  • Decreased Liver Function.
It isn't a social construct that this is a dangerous drug. It simply is, no matter which way you argue it.

 

Heroin is no more reliable as a pain killer than Morphine or Oxycodone. However it is more fat soluble which means that it is more potent in small doses and is therefore better in terms of palliative care to avoid giving people more injections than are necesary as part of their syringe driver. However considering the potential side effects, I would probably rather have more Morphine, thanks. In the UK we have never restricted the use of Diamorphine (Heroin) as a painkiller; in fact, it is governed by exactly the same rules and regulations which determine the medical usage of Morphine and Fentanyl. The misuse of drugs act of 1971 makes all of these drugs Class A. There is no prejudice against it as far as I know. Although saying that Morphine has traditionally been easier to get hold of, especially during 2005 when there was a Diamorphine shortage in the UK.

 

As for its use as an anti-depressant, that is rather subjective; at least one common kind of depression can be seen as an anxiety disorder at heart. Or if you prefer, generalised anxiety disorder often manifests as depression (or sometimes cycling as you repeatedly exhaust yourself with worry). This is why SSRIs can be prescribed for depression as well as anxiety (well, that and the willingness to sell drugs to all possible takers of course). Your brain is a mishmash of inhibitory and excitatory connections, and any substance you can take is going to make changes all around. You're still scrambled, just in a new way that gives you a different perspective for a while. The key is to make the most of it while it lasts. If the depression is linked to addictive behaviour, then that means making a leap of faith to a whole new (or long-forgotten) way of dealing with the world. I suppose that means an opiate-containing antidepressant could be viewed as a way of weaning from an opiate dependency.

 

People self-medicate for depression and anxiety with all sorts of stuff, some of it externally chemical and some not. What's being sought in the brain is a chemical change either way, even if it's just stamp collecting. The real question is whether your behaviour, possibly including a substance, is sustainable and makes you better off in the long term. Without some goal other than just RELIEF, you're not actually going to get better at life, and that's really what you need to do when you have depression and anxiety.

 

Drug treatments for depression are the first few rungs of the ladder. They might be able to give you something to stand on long enough to work out what the problem is, but they're not for long-term use. This is why drug therapies combined with cognitive-behavioural therapy (like talk groups) works so much better - they're complementary. And the CBT will also make chemical changes happen, because in your brain, chemistry is all there is.

 

As for comparing cancer drugs to cornflakes, I don't follow. Cancer dugs can save lives, cornflakes can't. That is a moot point as far as I'm concerned. Heroin isn't the only hope of living a normal life. It represents a change of lifestyle, sure, however manic depressives can't just start taking Heroin to make everything alright. CBT at varying levels will also be required. To be honest I'm still mind-boggled about the comparison which you have just made.

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Vercetti27
How do we construct our sense of right and wrong?

First we have to ask ourselves: When did the sense of right and wrong enter the human psyche and why?

humans develop this naturally. as a kid your told how to behave in society and what right or wrong is

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vinnygorgeous

To say that heroin is no more damaging to the human body than sugar is completely wrong. Although on the street it is often cut with other materials such as talcum powder and quinine, in its pure form it damages people just as much as any other illegal drug, if not more. Some of the effects which long-term Heroin usage can cause are:

  • Collapsed Veins;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Addiction;
  • Muscle Weakness;
  • Decreased Liver Function.
It isn't a social construct that this is a dangerous drug. It simply is, no matter which way you argue it.

 

Heroin is no more reliable as a pain killer than Morphine or Oxycodone. However it is more fat soluble which means that it is more potent in small doses and is therefore better in terms of palliative care to avoid giving people more injections than are necesary as part of their syringe driver. However considering the potential side effects, I would probably rather have more Morphine, thanks. In the UK we have never restricted the use of Diamorphine (Heroin) as a painkiller; in fact, it is governed by exactly the same rules and regulations which determine the medical usage of Morphine and Fentanyl. The misuse of drugs act of 1971 makes all of these drugs Class A. There is no prejudice against it as far as I know. Although saying that Morphine has traditionally been easier to get hold of, especially during 2005 when there was a Diamorphine shortage in the UK.

 

As for its use as an anti-depressant, that is rather subjective; at least one common kind of depression can be seen as an anxiety disorder at heart. Or if you prefer, generalised anxiety disorder often manifests as depression (or sometimes cycling as you repeatedly exhaust yourself with worry). This is why SSRIs can be prescribed for depression as well as anxiety (well, that and the willingness to sell drugs to all possible takers of course). Your brain is a mishmash of inhibitory and excitatory connections, and any substance you can take is going to make changes all around. You're still scrambled, just in a new way that gives you a different perspective for a while. The key is to make the most of it while it lasts. If the depression is linked to addictive behaviour, then that means making a leap of faith to a whole new (or long-forgotten) way of dealing with the world. I suppose that means an opiate-containing antidepressant could be viewed as a way of weaning from an opiate dependency.

 

People self-medicate for depression and anxiety with all sorts of stuff, some of it externally chemical and some not. What's being sought in the brain is a chemical change either way, even if it's just stamp collecting. The real question is whether your behaviour, possibly including a substance, is sustainable and makes you better off in the long term. Without some goal other than just RELIEF, you're not actually going to get better at life, and that's really what you need to do when you have depression and anxiety.

 

Drug treatments for depression are the first few rungs of the ladder. They might be able to give you something to stand on long enough to work out what the problem is, but they're not for long-term use. This is why drug therapies combined with cognitive-behavioural therapy (like talk groups) works so much better - they're complementary. And the CBT will also make chemical changes happen, because in your brain, chemistry is all there is.

 

As for comparing cancer drugs to cornflakes, I don't follow. Cancer dugs can save lives, cornflakes can't. That is a moot point as far as I'm concerned. Heroin isn't the only hope of living a normal life. It represents a change of lifestyle, sure, however manic depressives can't just start taking Heroin to make everything alright. CBT at varying levels will also be required. To be honest I'm still mind-boggled about the comparison which you have just made.

I researched this subject for a paper whilst at university. I did search for the medical journal to properly reference the claim that heroin is no more damaging to the body than sugar but unfortunately I could not find it. But even if you just google it there are a few hits, probably a fair number if you did a comprehensive search and if anyone is currently at university they will have free access to academic journals and could find it in any number of medical or sociology journals. It is surprising but not wrong just like it is surprising that tobacco is more addictive than heroin. One hit, although the sugar comparison was absent, was http://www.addictinthefamily.org/chapthree.html#harmful never heard of the guy but he is apparently a decorated doctor in this field.

 

You suggest that pure heroin could be more harmful than its street counterpart, I am curious to know if this is what they teach in schools so called drugs education today as it is medically unfounded and I doubt you could produce one study that has even found coincidental evidence of this. I am fairly certain that all studies of groups prescribed pure heroin have had zero fatalities. The 1994 Swiss trials where the Swiss government implemented nation-wide heroin prescription overwhelmingly supported the social benefits of heroin maintenance for addicts and found the participants physical health improved enormously. You could also consider the second world war veterans who became addicted to pure heroin and who lived to ripe old ages. I also offer the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine, 1996, p.184-5 which basically states that most of the serious harm that accompanies heroin use could accompany any intravenous drug use.

 

Clinical heroin is not as widely used as it should be, in the immediate past there was a supply problem mid decade that resulted in Morphine being used as a substitute. And mainly as a result of doctors unease with such a demonised drug it never found its way back into common usage but it was not a medical decision. Its medical usage was also damaged by the actions of Harold Shipman. I am also fairly certain that the laws surrounding morphine are much looser than with heroin.

 

The study that found heroin to be more effective than currently prescribed antidepressants (not including Mirtazapine which I believe is a relative newcomer) were referenced in the same journal I mention earlier but was unable to find. But as far as I know it is the only such study, which is a shame because morality should not interfere with this type of medical research. But heroin along with other illegal drugs have become such a political and distorted issue that even researchers are reluctant to publish objective findings.

 

Just look at the treatment of one of Britain’s leading experts, Professor Nutt, who is head of psychopharmacology at the University of Bristol. He was tasked by the government to assess the current classifications, he was then sacked when he suggested that the law should be based on science and not morality and politics. And if it was simply a scientific basis alcohol and tobacco would be class A substances. His research also found that alcohol is more harmful to society than heroin, and there is certainly more of a moral question over harm to others than to oneself. And he was not a lone voice most drug experts agree with his findings, for instance Colin Blakemore, professor of neuroscience at Oxford University and former chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said that the treatment of Nutt is likely to mute academic and clinical experts who are the very people we should be listening too and not politicians who have been demonising a limited number of drugs for various self serving reasons for decades. Often in such a way that their very stance becomes comical and prime material for mocking documentary feature films.

 

The comparison between cancer drugs and Cornflakes was in response to the post I was replying to, I did quote it so it appeared at the top of the post. It used an analogy of an imagined food that contained the same properties as heroin. Well if you had Cornflakes with the same properties as some of the cancer drugs it would paint an equally bleak picture.

 

I am surprised that you didn’t engage with the third paragraph as that contained a moral perspective. I am happy to debate the medical merits of heroin but as this is a morality thread and in keeping with the leading question. There is nothing inherently moral or immoral about any drug. The most clear evidence of this is to consider Britain or America before the 1920s. When it was not viewed as immoral and even the Royal Family routinely had large quantities of today’s illegal drugs delivered to Balmorals. Its also worth noting that although heroin use was both legal and widespread addiction rates were considerably lower than today.

 

Drugs as a moral issue is entirely a social construct. Other people have outlined the history of prohibition in other threads but it is a good example of what I previously mentioned about law being shaped by competing groups each maximising their own potential benefits. The Temperance movement only became truly successful when wealthy industrialists became involved, believing that they would benefit from an entirely sober workforce.

 

We of course now know that all prohibition does is undermine the fabric of society, mainly through the creation of criminal syndicates that now rival fortune five hundred companies. 13 years of alcohol prohibition corrupted every level of government in the US as well as transforming the mafia from a collection gangs operating in single neighbourhoods to an all pervasive and immovable object blighting the country. Its no secret that today many people are doubting the wisdom of drug prohibition but after 90 years the sums of money that have been accumulated are so vast that the syndicates will have the resources to expand into every walk of life they can make money from.

 

I’m sure other people have mentioned the vast sums of money that have been spent “educating” people that illegal drugs are both dangerous and immoral. And if you were looking for a case of moral engineering by the state then I think drugs is about as clear example as you will find.

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Finn 7 five 11

THis may not be the most well thought out post i warn.

 

Someone mentioned drug dealing, well for me i used to think of this as a very despicable thing to do and it was wrong, i always said to my self i would not want to a know a drug dealer, well i met some people who deal drugs (i don't touch the stuff or anything) and they aren't really bad people, so i don't think drug dealing is wrong, IF you don't sell it to kids or mentally challenged people since they probably don't know any better.

 

1. How do we form our conscience and our morals?

2. Can any external factors influence this or are we born with these moral foundations?

 

I think that a majority of right and wrong is taught to us by our parents as young kids, and by our experience (drug dealing example above) also wisdom plays a large role in morals.

 

When you are a kid your parents will tell you stealing is wrong and it is un-fair to take other peoples things you probably won't steal once your parents teach you that, but i said probably, sometimes if you don't believe this you will not consider it wrong, so what you are taught coupled with your experience and thought processes make up whether or not you should steal.

 

One moral that i think we are born with is that most people cannot bring themselves to kill someone, or even think about seriously killing someone, as far as i can remember my parents hadn't taught me murder was wrong, but i knew it anyway, i would never try and intentionally kill someone.

 

Wisdom/experience, how does being wise or gaining wisdom and intelligence influence our morals?

I will use another example of my short life, when i was a kid i would kill bugs all the time (as many kids would) because i don't like them or they were fun to kill, but now i realize just because i don't like ants it doesn't mean i should destroy their nest, i could just avoid the nest and let them live in peace as they don't bother me, or if i see a spider on the wall, i might catch it and put it outside rather than immediately squashing it, using my knowledge/wisdom i realized that these bugs or insects don't mean to be annoying, it is just their nature, using this knowledge i now think that unnecessarily killing bugs/insects is wrong.

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Tyler

 

I think that a majority of right and wrong is taught to us by our parents as young kids, and by our experience (drug dealing example above) also wisdom plays a large role in morals.

 

That's obviously a bit subjective. We are trying to find the root of Moral, so there is no way that the 'chicken came before the egg' in this scenario, get me? To elaborate, I'm saying it's impossible for the root of morality to come from the forefathers, because they must have learned it from somewhere else. There is a long chain of a questionably incorrect dogma concerning the values of right and wrong - and I think parents are usually coined with the label as the giver to just avoid having to explain further.

 

When you are a kid your parents will tell you stealing is wrong and it is un-fair to take other peoples things you probably won't steal once your parents teach you that, but i said probably, sometimes if you don't believe this you will not consider it wrong, so what you are taught coupled with your experience and thought processes make up whether or not you should steal.

 

 

This I can agree with to a point. Children that I grew up with came from all backgrounds, and I knew a few of what some people would call 'bad apples' - like anyone else here. Those 'bad apples' were usually not unlike me, without a proper home to live in and usually the victim of abuse (Me only being the former.) The early years are pretty much the factors of your future. What you are influenced then will decide almost all of your concrete thinking and lifestyle. But is that really the case for morality as well?

 

 

One moral that i think we are born with is that most people cannot bring themselves to kill someone, or even think about seriously killing someone, as far as i can remember my parents hadn't taught me murder was wrong, but i knew it anyway, i would never try and intentionally kill someone.

 

Another thing we can pretty much agree with. My theory is that our brain comes with a starter kit of morals to go with our emotions, and as such one of the taboos our mind decided to input was that murder of another was wrong. Really, you can break it down into three people - people who think murder is wrong, people who think murder of humans is wrong, and people who think murder is okay.

 

It's a case-by-case basis of course, but those would be my categories in decided morality. Of course, just like mental differences and loss (Ie, ADD, Schizophrenia, Sociopath etc), there are those who can lose the sense, or even be born without it - god forbid. It's all dependant on your life before your life. By that I mean your parents, and theirs and so forth.

 

 

Wisdom/experience, how does being wise or gaining wisdom and intelligence influence our morals?

I will use another example of my short life, when i was a kid i would kill bugs all the time (as many kids would) because i don't like them or they were fun to kill, but now i realize just because i don't like ants it doesn't mean i should destroy their nest, i could just avoid the nest and let them live in peace as they don't bother me, or if i see a spider on the wall, i might catch it and put it outside rather than immediately squashing it, using my knowledge/wisdom i realized that these bugs or insects don't mean to be annoying, it is just their nature, using this knowledge i now think that unnecessarily killing bugs/insects is wrong.

 

When I think of wisdom I think of sheer balanced information gathered on both sides of the same subject. What you propose is more or less not wisdom completely, but a biased system of learning you were given by your parents - like we mentioned earlier. It will influence your decisions forever, and it is probably what you think of when you think morality. Of course, we still haven't gotten down to the point of exactly what morality stands for, but we can get to that another time.

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dog_day_sunrise
How do we construct our sense of right and wrong?

First we have to ask ourselves: When did the sense of right and wrong enter the human psyche and why?

humans develop this naturally. as a kid your told how to behave in society and what right or wrong is

I don't think that people brought up outside of society, or in an environment where the usual rules of morality are abused, are necessarily doomed to be immoral. Rather, our sense of morality is based on nothing more than a primal desire to see the furthering and prospering of the species and the principal rules of morality- do not anger others, do not kill ect, are designed solely to maintain the species.

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vinnygorgeous

I had a university lecturer who believed that we are born with the cumulative knowledge of all human existence that is, we are all born with a defined sense of morality and we are all connected to the past within our own consciousness. At least I think that was what he said he only said it in passing during a conversation about something else.

 

I am personally a firm believer in altruism and loathe egoists with the way they think they are having the guts to stare the reality of nature in the face and not flinch. They reduce any act of altruistic behaviour down to being a fundamentally selfish act. To even go as far as saying that a soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save the lives of his friends is only doing so to bask in the glory of being hero and knowing that he will continue to be hero in death. So it is a self serving act.

 

According to this way of thinking any moral act is merely seeking an angle of furthering oneself. It is the science of being a b&stard as I see it but the scary thing is its actually quite similar to the organisational basis of British/American society. The dominant political ideology of the last thirty years assumes that we are all basically too selfish to be moral and our only concern is what we (and possibly our immediate family/friends) can get.

To make the sums work, humans are reduced to information processors constantly strategising against everyone else and are generally understood to be implacably hostile to one another.

 

I personally believe that you cannot underestimate the establishments influence over our very cognitive processes. As an example you often hear people say that capitalism reflects nature therefore its natural. And its unnatural to want to act morally at your own expense, it may be justified under some guise like, “You only feel sorry for the downtrodden masses because you have been conditioned to do so, you were not born with those instincts.”

 

Its here where I have some sympathy with my former lecturer because I would rather believe that we are born good and conditioned to behave selfishly than the other way around. And it has been argued that evolutionary theory actually proves, not that we are born saints but that we are born capable of genuinely altruistic behaviour and if we weren’t we never would have survived beyond primitive tribes.

So it goes that every generation is supposedly more moral than the last. Though I think if you are considering our societies over the last 200 years within the capitalist epoch its becoming more and more apparent that societies norms and values override our evolutionary instincts. Or at least with many anyway. But like I say I loathe Egoists, Public Choice Theorists and all the other theories that say its only natural to be a selfish b&stard.

Edited by vinnygorgeous

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Tyler

Vinny, you remind me of the theory of Collective Memory. Ever heard? It would actually be a basic way to understand why we as humans are born with anything already implanted into our minds, although basic Darwinism could account for most of it as well. Like you said - morality could just be there to keep our species going.

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d0mm2k8

 

Like you said - morality could just be there to keep our species going.

Like in the sense that baby turtles know how to swim from immediate hatch?

(sh*t analogy, I know, but you get what I mean)

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vinnygorgeous
Vinny, you remind me of the theory of Collective Memory. Ever heard? It would actually be a basic way to understand why we as humans are born with anything already implanted into our minds, although basic Darwinism could account for most of it as well. Like you said - morality could just be there to keep our species going.

It didn't ring a bell other than that was probably what the lecturer was talking about.

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