• Andrew4Handel
    2.3k
    If you want to increase the benefits of cooperation in ways that will better achieve your goals, then you ought to follow your cultural moral norms when they will predictably solve cooperation problems and abandon them when they will create cooperation problems”.Mark S

    Cultural moral norms have been destructive and abusive. Cooperation can be a bad thing. There was a lot of cooperation and self sacrifice in the two world wars and amongst Nazis and in other acts of cruelty and destruction.

    Maximising cooperation would only be moral or good if people were not being harmed by the goals involved.

    I don't accept there is a science of morality or the authors analysis of moral norms.

    You could study religion in the same way and make a compilation of religious aspirations and beliefs and see what commonalities were between them but it wouldn't validate the beliefs.

    It seems a very arbitrary and self serving analysis to try and find some kind of unifying feature to very diverse data.

    The notion of what a benefit is will be subjective based on individual preferences even if these individual preferences are widely shared they are not universalizable.
  • Banno
    19.9k
    I don't accept there is a science of morality or the authors analysis of moral norms.Andrew4Handel

    I agree. Science is about how things are, ethics is about what to do; these are very different questions.

    At the core, that we do cooperate does not imply that we ought cooperate.
  • Mark S
    28
    Science is about how things are, ethics is about what to do; these are very different questions.
    At the core, that we do cooperate does not imply that we ought cooperate.
    Banno
    Of course, science and ethics answer different questions.

    “How should I live?” – this is a question for moral philosophy about what to do.

    “Why do cultural moral norms exist?” - this is a scientific question about what things are.

    “That we do cooperate does not imply that we ought cooperate.” Right. To think otherwise would be a category error confusing what is with what ought to be.

    Where do you think my OP or the rest of my comments contradict either of your two points?
  • SophistiCat
    2.1k
    The “mysticism” of cultural moral norms that science debunks is the mystery of their origins and why they have the strange intuitive properties (that John Mackie described as queerness) of bindingness and violations deserving punishment.

    By explaining the “queerness” of our intuitions about cultural moral norms as subcomponents of cooperation strategies, science debunks the mysticism that shields cultural moral norms from rational discussion.
    Mark S

    Science can only "dubunk" the mysticism of moral norms when it is opposed to mystical narratives concerning their origins and operation, such as those offered by some religious traditions. But we are not talking about that. There is no mysticism involved in accepting moral norms without or independently of an awareness of history and mechanism. (The "queerness" of which Mackie wrote is something else - it concerns moral "properties" when viewed alongside items in a naturalistic ontology of properties.)

    And while conservative religious societies may indeed oppose the kind of scientific research into the anthropology of morality that you have been championing in this thread, somehow I don't think that is what you have in mind when you talk about debunking and shielding. What then? The questions that science opens to rational discussion concern the whats and the hows of morality: What norms are there? How did they arise? How do they operate in society and in individual? Etc. What it cannot do is advance the discussion of norms as such - that is, whether one ought to accept them - except indirectly and arationally, similarly to how learning and life experience can over time affect one's moral outlook.

    Science reveals an objective basis for evaluating cultural moral norms as instrumental oughts. If you want the benefits of cooperation, you ought not follow cultural moral norms when they predictably will create rather than solve cooperation problems. That seems simple to me.

    We can set aside the question of naturalizing morality via scientific insights into its origins, which I think has not progressed much in this discussion, and talk instead about putting those insights to practical use. But I don't know how much there is to be said here. Morality is a social institution, and just about anything having to do with sociality involves cooperation strategies - even conflict above individual level. "Solving cooperation problems" can describe everything that goes on in society, from family life to wars.
  • Banno
    19.9k
    Where do you think my OP or the rest of my comments contradict either of your two points?Mark S
    Contradiction? Perhaps not.

    Could this knowledge help resolve disputes about moral norms?Mark S

    But as you agree, it does not tell us what to do. Sure, cooperation is a core characteristic of humanity, but it is adept at doing wrong as at doing right.

    That seems to be pretty much the same critique as , , , and so on.

    The scientific study of cultural moral norms reveals that, as heuristics for cooperation strategies, advocating or not advocating cultural moral norms can be justified as an instrumental ought.Mark S
    it looks like you want to keep your cake and eat it.
123Next
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.