Not trying to stir up inter-religious trouble here, but people with Hindu or Buddhist backgrounds (or anyone who believes in the Golden Rule) might also say that the reason we act morally is because we know that "what goes around comes around" - whether it's in a future life or just farther along in our present life. This means that we could just be acting morally out of our own self-interest and awareness of natural consequences: for example, the knowledge that if we start eating people and turning cannibalism into a societal norm, we too might someday turn into somebody else's Happy Meal...
Quantum: "I would argue that your examples of whole societies aren't valid."
Alright, I'll conceed that point :P But you will agree that there have been and still are entire societies that have and still do evil things, where almost every man, woman and child agree with? Think the Motilone Native Americans for one. My question is: from an evolutionary worldview, how would you explain it?
"I'm talking about irintnsic morality here, which you can't ignore because it's imprinted in your genes"
Hmm. In short back to the original question "Are humans inherently ethical". Thank you for that, Quantum. I suppose we must ask the question then: where does morality come from?
I'm wondering: how can you get morality, a non-material concept, woven into your DNA?
But Ellen, the "Golden Rule" as everyone can see, isn't actually true. I'm having trouble with seeing how so many people can believe this. You have lying, cheating, generally underhanded people in positions of great influence and power and you have to wonder: being the powerful people they are, what good did they do to get them there (from the perspective of believing in the Golden Rule).
In short, what I'm saying is: what goes around actually doesn't come around, as can be seen by the testement of so many people's lives. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. I don't mean to sound frustrated or anything haha. Well maybe I am...a little. Hehe.
As a side note: I'm strictly speaking in terms of this life, as I do believe a judgement of all our actions will come around to us in the next life (eternal life)--we could all go into that, but as it would derail the thread and everything hahahaha! So I'm strictly speaking: in this life.
First off, sorry for the slow response. I’m kind of grounded from all things that use electricity; so, I had to barter for time to write a response.
Ok… having written a gigantic response to your post I decided to look back and read over our previous posts. Looking back, I have found that I have done something really stupid. I’ve gotten ahead of myself. This is a problem that I often have and am working on. so, let me kind of restart and give you my point of view.
What do you mean by universal and intrinsic morals? I had thought you had meant objective. I now realize what an assumption that is.
Also, I have gotten ahead of myself by not giving you the reason I’m debating this. The reason I reply is because I don’t think you can have objective morals from evolution. Of course the whole debate started because I had assumed that by universal you meant objective. Sorry about this, I just get ahead of myself.
Ok, if you can just answer the question that I should have originally asked, then I can either post the reply I have written or write a new one. Once again, sorry, I should slow down.
Smitty: My universal or intrinsic morals, I mean moral ideas we see in all (non-psychotic/sociopathic) humans. In other words, the ones that can be attributed to our genes (and thus evolution) and not to culture. I would argue that the fact that universal and intrinsic morals exist is evidence enough that morality can be shaped (and created) by evolution.
I don't know whether that counts as "objective" morality for you or not. That system of morality determined by evolution clearly doesn't have any universal significance, but not much (if anything) humans do does. It is however a basic, objective set of morality across humanity. Does that make sense?
DrBug: Morality can be woven into our DNA because our DNA determines the creation of our brains, which in turn houses the intinsic (and culturally created) sense of morality that humans have. In short, if one sees some sort of trait intrinsic to humanity, the logical conclusion is that it is genetic, not cultural. Yes, morality is complicated, but so is the immune system for example. There isn't any reason to think that our brains are special in their form of complexity.
It would be just as easy though, to say that morality is a part of your soul, nonphysical being, right? That is, if one were to assume the body and soul are two seperate entities, yet one, if you know what I mean lolz. I know I can be confusing.
Also, if morality comes from evolutionary causes, then wouldn't it be changable, therefore negating any objective power it might have?
Doctorbug: Yup. You could just as easily say that morality comes from a soul. But I don't see why we should introduce a soul to explain it, if we can explain it within the existing biological framework.
And if morality comes from evolution, yes that does mean it is changeable (in the very long term). As I said to smitty above, I don't know if it being imprinted in our DNA counts as objective to you or not. A morality described in this way clearly isn't a universally objective moral system, but I personally don't see any evidence that such a universal system exists, or why we should care if it does.
Obviously, if you believe in God, such universal systems are not only possible, but required, so I know you disagree. That said, I hope you can at least understand my perspective on it. I'd say its a bit of a toss up which one of us is right (although of course I think the odds/logic lean(s) towards my opinion or else I wouldn't have it).
Hahaha, Quantum, you are of course always fair :)
You are right, I do disagree with the whole evolution and morality thing, but I'll leave that at that. I can see how morality imprinted in your DNA can seem like objective morality to you, as you believe in like "eras" right. And this morality we have now is the morality for this "era" of evolution. I would say that we have morality imprinted on our soul, like I'd said above, much like having it in our DNA, only I don't think objective morality could actually be imprinted in your DNA as DNA is coruptable and changable, hence one of the reasons I choose to believe there is a body and a soul. It all ties into a huge network of interconnecting beliefs :)
Also, actually, I've been thinking about extra assumptions and stuff, and it occurred to me, if something is actually true, it wouldn't be an extra assumption. What I mean is what you have is
> body and soul
You have a choice. Eiether choose only the body existing, or you can choose to believe both the body and the soul exist. Choosing either one would require only one choice, savvy? So this thing about assumptions and probabilities really has me stimied. I could put whatever I wanted in blank one and two and you could have the craziest assumptions, but doing that wouldn't make any one any more true, or any more likely true. Wouldn't it just make sense to make logical assumptions and leave it at that? I mean, like the assumptions you need to make before you can understand anything?
I know you've taken time away from college to really talk on this thread hahaha, I appreciate it...but we do miss you Quantum! :'(
I actually agree that evolution-based morality isn't objective. But then I wouldn't expect it to be. Morality is a human-level idea, not some universal law.
As for the whole assumptions thing, since we all know from observation that we have a body I wouldn't say that is an assumption. So what we really have are:
These are both assumptions to an extent. With no objective evidence for something it could still exist, so if I choose "no soul" I am in a sense making an assumption. So I agree that both are assumptions. However, going off your point about making logical assumptions, I think it is more logical to assume the non-existance of something you haven't seen evidence for, as opposed to assuming its existance.
At the risk of echoing a trite (and somewhat weak) argument against the existance of God, everyone would agree that it is irrational to believe in the flying spagetti monster. There is not evidence for his existence, but of course he could exist. But the logical assumption is since we haven't seen him he doesn't exist.
That is just common sense. However, as a bit of a disclaimer, I'm still pondering why exactly that is the logical assumption. It seems obvious, but I have to figure out a precise objective explaination for why we should assume the non-existance of something until proven otherwise. (If anyone knows of one, please enlighten me).
i say yes and no. Because we were given freewill, it is up to us whether what we do is "wrong' or "right" in the eyes of others.