I've pondered this question a while and I have always been very on the fence. So now I turn the question to you with "Are humans inherently ethical?", meaning are humans naturally morally correct?
I would say yes, because ethics are universal and anyways, if they weren't inherent then they would have to be taught/learned - and who would teach you, or how would you learn? "Blind leading the blind" comes to mind.
Also, just btw (for anyone who cares), I might show up a little more despite having previously written this forum off for good. It was hella depressing there for a while. But a lack of outlets for intellectual discussion has brought me back with my tail between my legs XD
But who is to say they are universal? Are ethics not something humans created with structured society and culture? Considering that, would some animals be considered structured to ethics according to our culture's defintion of ethical?
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
It's getting late, but I thought I'd just throw that verse out there. I'll go into a full explanation as soon as I have the time.
God bless. ♥
They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, (Romans 2:15) :P
And yeah, morality may differ between cultures, but that wasn't the question - I was talking about basic morality/morality in some form. Although maybe that's not what you meant.
My point being, were humans then, not ethical until they created the standard of ethics, or were they ethical before that? To clarify quickly, Jade.I.Am, you agree that humans created ethics, correct?
No, that they were ethical before.
How far back do you think that goes, though? All the way back to the first anatomically modern humans? Back to the beginning of the H.om.o group? Back to the first bipedal primates? Back to the first primates at all?
Who are you addressing the question to?
That was addressed to you. Sorry I wasn't clear on that.
Okay :P Well that's a really good question. And honestly I don't know. Maybe it developed over time, like any other evolutionary trait - but then at some point it was still genetic/hereditary, so the question remains. I definitely think it's both nature and nurture, but we all have some concept of morality that's our own.
This is an interesting discussion - humans have a tendency to want to be good and evil both (often to impress others in both cases). And we don't tend to want to be completely good - we may want to be nice sometimes, but we also get angry pretty easily. We definitely are naturally selfish which I consider "unethical" so I agree with half.note that we are unethical to start with.
Another thing to think about on this is who taught you to lie? Nobody. You just start doing it.
And KB has risen from the dust:p
Morality comes from one place and that is from God. Though not everyone on earth is a believer. God has created everyone on this earth. And in that process, he's instilled a sense of right and wrong in everyone. It is nourished by anyone who raises the child. But everyone for the most part follows basic man made laws.
Don't steal, lying is bad, murdering is definitely a no no. But see, these weren't man made. God was the first to declare them and man decided to pick up on some of His commandments and disregard others, whether they knew what they were doing or not.
Here's my position: We all know in our hearts what is evil and what is ethical (you will find that most societies have the same laws regarding extreme things like murder and ra.pe and theft). However, I also believe that we as humans are inherently evil (have the sin nature) and are prone to do the wrong thing given the opportunity, the right victim and a lack of "preventers of crime" being present.
Okay...here's the scientific argument for human morality and ethics and the degree to which it is inherent.
So...clearly there are some universal ideas of morality. It is wrong to murder. Incest is bad. Stealing and lying are wrong (but many people will do these things if they can get away with it). Where does this come from? The answer is of course evolution. Specifically group evolution. Early humans lived in small tribes or groups that competed among each other like individuals do in normal individual-level evolution. Thus, the groups that worked the best together survived, whereas the others did not. What are some things that would help a group work well together? Ethics for one. Shared belief in the supernatural (that punished those who weren't ethical). Music. All of these things can be traced back to group evolution.
But, there are also individuals within the tribes. And it is there best interest to reap the benefits of the group while still advancing their personal success. Thus our "evil" nature. That's why many people will do unethical things if they think they won't get caught.
So in conclusion, we are inherently (due to the pressures of evolution) both bad and good. Culture and societies also place on another layer of moral and ethical codes that aren't as fundamental. But, I'm an optimist, so I think that in general we are largely good.
What would you say about whole societies doing something most other societies would see as unethical (like Stalin's Soviet Russia or today's North Korea)? I mean, on the one had we do have humans that know what is right, but on the other hand we have entire societies doing the wrong thing.
You would pair it with the question: in the early evolution of the human race, wouldn't it be more profitle for one tribe to go and murder and pillage another nearby tribe? Most people have allways thought and still do in short term rewards.
Let’s assume that your view is correct. The strongest, largest tribe to survive would pass on its morals to us because theirs were the most efficient for survival. (Correct me if I’m wrong)
1)Wouldn’t the tribe that en.sl.av.ed other tribes have a larger, less expensive, work force? They could get more work done. Collect more resources and such.
2)Wouldn’t the tribe that r.a.p.e.d women, had p.o.l.y.g.a.m.o.u.s relationships, had ch.ild bri.des be the tribe with the most people? They would have enough people to protect the tribe if need be and to su.bj.ug.ate the sl.av.es they own.
3)Wouldn’t Can.ni.ba.li.st.ic tribes have an entirely new, virtually untapped, food source? Yes they could get diseases, but if famine struck their tribe, they would be able to survive.
4)Wouldn’t hostile tribes have more land? War would help them sustain their level of sl.av.es. It would also give them more women and resources.
5)Wouldn’t the tribe that stole have more resources? This one is pretty self-explanatory.
This sounds like a strong, large, and efficient tribe.
Given these obviously beneficial acts, why would a tribe create morals that were counter intuitive? Also, why should modern society adhere to morals created by a tribe long ago that is now obsolete? Bottom line, why shouldn’t I do things you or society considers wrong?
Finally I had to try four iterations to get it to go through.
Doctorbug: I would argue that your examples of whole societies aren't valid. In those situations the condemened acts are those of individual dictatorial, soc.iopathic leaders not the whole society.
As for it being profitable for one tribe to go pillage another. Yeah, of course that would be profitable. Look at history - only very, very recently would one argue that it is immoral to attack the "other" and I think that is definitely a cultural moral construct, not an inherent one.
Smitty561: 1) See my answer to Doctorbug. I don't think my argument accounts for moral behavior towards those the tribe considers the other. Also, only very recently has it been considered that if you can take something by force you don't have the right to do so. That is cultural, not inherent.
2) Po.lygamy and child brides would probably be fine, and if you look into the past quite common. Once again those are cultural expectations of morality, not inherent ideals. As for r.ape I would argue that that is inherently immoral (unless, as usual, its the "other"). And I don't think r.ape would lead to more children (or at least not successful children), so I don't think there would be an evolutionary pressure towards that.
3. Can.ibal.ism is interesting. I don't know whether that is an intrinsic taboo or not. I don't think so given that there are cultures where that's okay. Thus I think our aversion to c.anib.ilism is cultural. Of course the killing required is intrinsically immoral due to evolution (assuming its not an enemy you're killing).
4/5. As I've said, this evolution accounts for morality amongst the group. Outside the group its perfectly acceptable (even preferable) to kill/steal/etc.. And human history definitely shows that to be true.
"Why would a tribe create morals that were counter intuitive?"
Hopefully I've answered this question above, but I will point out that they aren't creating morals. This isn't a conscious decision - its evolutionary pressure. And clearly the morals that are intinisic were beneficial or else evolution wouldn't have selected for them.
"Why should modern society adhere to morals created by a tribe long ago"
Once again, they weren't created. We can easily ignore the cultural moral norms (and we do). I'm talking about intrinisc morality here, which you can't ignore because its imprinted in your genes.
"Why shouldn't I do things you or society considers wrong?"
Because society will punish you for it. Also, are you religious? This question has the obvious implication that a god is needed for morality. I may be wrong, but its giving me some serious de ja vu.