Senate The roots of Morality: Why are we good?

Discussion in 'Community' started by LostOnHoth, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    It depends on whether you believe all people are actually "human beings". I am referring here to the practices of slavery in the US and elsewhere, where it was perfectly acceptable to kill, rape, torture slaves because they were not deemed to be completely human, they were deemed to be inferior beings. The same is true for how the first European settlers in Australia regarded Aborigines - as savages, something less than human. So it is a bit of both, an exercise in oppression but it also boils down to social/cultural elements regarding how different people should be regarded and treated, based upon their characteristics. In this regard there are no absolutes - for example, it was immoral to rape a free white girl but not a black slave. Killing a child was immoral, but not killing an abnormal child, born to incest. Killing, stealing from and raping Jews was actively encouraged in times gone past, but not killing, stealing from or raping Protestan Christians. Moral standards are applied differently because of some subjective characteristic which defines different people as either "in" or "out" in terms of their humanity and inherent worth.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Jan 15, 2014
  2. timmoishere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 6
    Atheism isn't a belief first of all. Second, all standards and morals are products of the societies and times we live in. Morals change and evolve over the centuries; you can bet that if someone from 200 years ago saw how we are today, he would be utterly shocked at how different our behaviors are.

    You have to remember that these morals apply on a general basis. You'll get some aberrations who go outside of this moral structure, and that's where murderers, thieves and rapists come from. No gods required.
  3. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Except, some people totally would do that, and NOT see a problem. I'd also point out that people don't agree on Star Wars, but that doesn't prove that George Lucas is a god. The presumption that "if humans invented morality we'd all agree on it" is entirely an unfounded assumption.

    Again, it's a matter of axioms, and that people have different ones. I consider slavery to be immoral based on the axiom that all people are equal on a fundamental level. And I think that axiom is far more defensible than saying that people are not equal, but those without that axiom certainly can come to the conclusion that there's nothing wrong with slavery, so long as you're enslaving the right sorts of people.
  4. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    This "if humans invented morality we'd all agree on it" argument is the silliest thing I have ever heard, ever. If you are trying to win people over by arguing that there is other no other explanation for our moral framework except the existence of a god then you are failing miserably. Of course human beings invented morality, it is a function of our brains, our consciousness, or emotional being. Morality it tied to our feelings of empathy, compassion and our basic biological imperative to create a stable social environment for ourselves. Morality is a learned social process which passes from generation to generation. It is learned within the family unit and during your school years and within the framework of social interaction.

    I just have to reject as demonstrably false the premise that some behaviours are wrong for everyone. That is not the case and never has been, as is evidenced by the historical, anthropological and sociological record from the dawn of time. There are certain common behaviours which are socially sanctioned among human societies everywhere, but it is not necessary to construct a "goddidit" approach to explain that. Human beings have the same basic needs and biological functions wherever they are, so it is hardly surprising that you see common rules of behaviour.
  5. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Yes, this is described as "the Golden Rule" which dates back to the dawn of time and antiquity. These are pretty decent articles:

    http://www.thinkhumanism.com/the-golden-rule.html

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/goldrule/
    anakinfansince1983 likes this.
  6. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    i would add a discussion of the evolutionary origins of reciprocal altruism:

    Simple and complex reciprocity in primates

    Obviously I agree with LostOnHoth that the discussion is incomplete without recognizing that primates don't naturally extend their good nature to social group outsiders, or even consider them human necessarily for that matter, which is why we have things like racism and war and have evolved (evolved in a different sense) human institutions like religion in order to extend the reach of our genetic moral sense in large societies where interaction extends far beyond the extended family and local community .
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jan 16, 2014
  7. beezel26 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
    Humans didn't invent morality. They learned it, It was learned behavior not taught by anyone. If you are religious you could say god invented morality but at the same time God didn't invent morality either. If you want people to love you and worship you, you can't be a dick. You have to be loving and kind. Help them when they need it. Give them loving discipline when they mess up to let them understand why they need morality. Same as a parent to a child. Like VLM said its survival instinct. In a way it just makes good sense. The golden rule itself is an extension of that. It always has. I see the second article as a failure to understand what it actually means. They are just trying to understand the golden rule from a winners of history perspective. Yet those who follow the golden rule don't lead nations. They don't lead a lot. They do live quiet unassuming lives that are peaceful and benefit all. They are the ones that pull over on the side of the road when we are broken down. They are the ones that give up their place in line for someone. The satisfaction they get is in their hearts. The satisfaction of showing loving kindness towards all. Why because the golden rule is more then just words its a way of life.

    You don't have to be Catholic, Christian, Jewish or Confuscious or even Atheist or Agnostic to understand it and practice it. You just have to have love in your heart.
    Last edited by beezel26, Jan 29, 2014
  8. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    To that extent, I don't even think it's entirely right to say that it was learned behavior, as I think some portion of it is, in part, hardwired into most people. Some of it does seem to be instinct, and is in part why it's seen in far more species than just us.