• Jacques
    91
    That's a toughie, given that the law of God as taught by most religions runs counter to the laws of nature; that good moral behaviour requires that one suppress one's animal instinct and repudiate one's animal drives.Vera Mont
    Mark Twain's point is precisely that the law of God is that which governs the planets, rivers, plants and animals (including man). In other words, that the laws of nature are the law of God.
  • Jacques
    91
    we can go against instinct if we so wish.Benj96
    This is a difficult hypothesis to prove.
    We can be as self serving or as socially cooperative as we like. It is likely that we have more control over instinct than most animals do. Sacrifice and suicide being prime examples of how we overcome our primal instinct to self preserve.Benj96
    This is a deception, we can do many things but we cannot go against the laws of nature and against our instincts. Freud for example attributed suicide to the death instinct,
  • Jacques
    91
    Well the way I see it is that nature itself is creative and destructive. It's chaotic and ordered. And natural living things embody this - acting in both ways either in service of themselves or in service of their community (social animals - packs, prides, squads, troops etc).Benj96

    I have a similar view: mutations are random and chaotic, and so are the conditions that favor a few individual mutations and eliminate most of them. Both, mutations plus letal environmental conditions, in their interaction are called evolution.
  • Christoffer
    1.9k
    What do you say?

    In my opinion, people only do something if they expect it to benefit them, and not because they ought to do it.
    Jacques

    Maybe that's why humanity always searches for what we ought to do because we recognize the selfishness in our nature. Then again, a selfish act can also benefit others. People help others all the time, without any thought of direct feedback with rewards. It might be that this is naturally hard-coded into us just like any other self-preservation. We instinctively know that if we help the group we help ourselves, so we do things for others.

    But then again, we also do more for other people when we are close to death. Are we merely want to be remembered well, or are we in those moments understanding that we can only give others something since we have no future for ourselves? Maybe tap into that and see if morality can be objectively found for our species.
  • Jacques
    91
    Maybe tap into that and see if morality can be objectively found for our species.Christoffer
    Many theologians and philosophers have tried to find an objective morality, but without success. The last one I know of is John Leslie Mackie. In his book "Ethics - Inventing Right and Wrong" he says:

    I have given abundant reasons why almost everyone should, in his own interest, welcome the fact that there is, and hope that there will continue to be, some system of morality, and why, even if the existing system does not suit him, his aim should be to modify it, at least locally, rather than to destroy it. But this [...] leaves unanswered the question 'Why should I not at the same time profit from the moral system but evade it? Why should I not encourage others to be moral and take advantage from the fact that they are, but myself avoid fulfilling moral requirements if I can in so far as they go beyond rational egoism and conflict with it?' It is not an adequate answer to this question to point out that one is not likely to be able to get away with such evasions for long. There will be at least some occasions when one can do so with impunity and even without detection. Then why not? To this no complete answer of the kind that is wanted can be given. — John Leslie Mackie
  • Christoffer
    1.9k
    Many theologians and philosophers have tried to find an objective morality, but without success. The last one I know of is John Leslie Mackie. In his book "Ethics - Inventing Right and Wrong" he says:Jacques

    Even if I'm not fully convinced that there are some objective morals for humans, there's no denying that there are psychological hints. For instance, if there aren't any oppressive power structures keeping people from helping each other, then if people see someone getting attacked on the street, most people actually act, against their own safety without knowing the context. People actively de-escalate conflicts and violence, why? People save others they don't know and when asked they cannot find the answer "they just did". This hints at some hard-coded care for the group, for the social sphere, and for other people even if they are strangers.

    I think many have stared blindly into the darkness of humanity only to find nihilism while not looking carefully at the times people act out of kindness and care. We look so hard at wrongdoings when thinking about morality that we forget to include good deeds into the mix.

    If there are some objective morals to be found for us, it is in there that we will find them. It's in the good acts that happen without an ought or a thought.
  • Jacques
    91
    I think many have stared blindly into the darkness of humanity only to find nihilism while not looking carefully at the times people act out of kindness and care. We look so hard at wrongdoings when thinking about morality that we forget to include good deeds into the mix.Christoffer

    This is a misunderstanding; I by no means wanted to say that all people are evil. My experience is that people are different: some are friendly, helpful, and generous, while others are unfriendly, hostile, racist, chauvinistic, or cruel. Fortunately, the former are in the majority, or at least I hope so.

    I don't find the question of whether there is an objective morality to be so crucial. It has emerged in the course of dialogues between cultures with different moral beliefs, as can be read in Wikipedia under "Value Pluralism.":

    "In ethics, value pluralism (also known as ethical pluralism or moral pluralism) is the idea that there are several values which may be equally correct and fundamental, and yet in conflict with each other. In addition, value-pluralism postulates that in many cases, such incompatible values may be incommensurable, in the sense that there is no objective ordering of them in terms of importance."

    From my perspective, the question of the effectiveness of morality is more important than that of its objectivity. Personally, I believe that moral prescriptions do not deliver on what they promise, which is to improve people's behavior. They may be effective and necessary for children, but most adults tend to have a more rejecting attitude towards moral teachings. In general, adults want to decide for themselves what they do and what they refrain from, and they perceive anything else as arrogance and patronization. Many do not want to conform to what they refer to as "political correctness." My experience is that such people who disadvantage or discriminate others do not respond to moral appeals; instead, they need to be dragged into court.

    Although many people are convinced otherwise, I do not believe that moral systems and teachings are indispensable for the existence of society (except for children, as I said before). I see them as rather ineffective and annoying, and sometimes even harmful (especially in strict religious systems), and therefore, I reject them.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Although many people are convinced otherwise, I do not believe that moral systems and teachings are indispensable for the existence of society (except for children, as I said before). I see them as rather ineffective and annoying, and sometimes even harmful (especially in strict religious systems), and therefore, I reject them.Jacques

    I tend to agree. I think most people just intuit what they ought and ought not to do based upon their own presuppositions. I'm not sure moral systems have much impact and even amongst the religious, a set of moral teachings is interpreted subjectively and variably, even within one religious tradition. Matters like law and order, climate change, and resource allocation will be decided (or not) by other mechanisms, even if the vestigial traces of moral systems flicker off and on during debates.
  • Jacques
    91
    I think most people just intuit what they ought and ought not to do based upon their own presuppositionsTom Storm

    What is the use of someone knowing what he ought to do if he is not willing to do it. There is, after all, the saying: "Man always remembers only nine of God's commandments, except the commandment he is about to transgress". I think there is some truth in it - knowledge is not everything, there is also wanting, desire, lust... etc

    Have you ever heard of someone correcting an injustice just because it was pointed out to them that what they were doing was immoral? I haven't.
    A reversal only occurs when otherwise unpleasant consequences would be imminent, that is my experience.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Have you ever heard of someone correcting an injustice just because it was pointed out to them that what they were doing was immoral? I haven't.Jacques

    That's mostly true. You do see this is some alcohol and drug recovery programs, where people go around and apologize and even make amends for the wrongs they have done to people they know. I've also known a few people to gain insight into their actions over time and try to correct behaviors they now realize to be wrong.

    What is the use of someone knowing what he ought to do if he is not willing to do it.Jacques

    Sounds like a working definition of morality. :wink:

    "Man always remembers only nine of God's commandments, except the commandment he is about to transgress"Jacques

    Yes. But what is even more odd is that Christians when asked to name the commandments rarely remember more than 3. Not to mention the fact that of the 10 commandments, there's really only 4 that pertain to morality in any real sense. The rest are all worship and dogma related.
  • Jacques
    91
    You do see this is some alcohol and drug recovery programs, where people go around and apologize and even make amends for the wrongs they have done to people they know. I've also known a few people to gain insight into their actions over time and try to correct behaviors they now realize to be wrong.Tom Storm

    Agreed, there are such things. However, I meant actual cases in which one deceives, disadvantages, oppresses, or exploits another. In the cases I am aware of, moral appeals have had no effect, the abuses could only be stopped by legal proceedings.

    But what is even more odd is that Christians when asked to name the commandments rarely remember more than 3. Not to mention the fact that of the 10 commandments, there's really only 4 that pertain to morality in any real sense. The rest are all worship and dogma related.Tom Storm

    You are right - interesting point! I would add that even if these commandments have failed to achieve their main purpose - the improvement of humanity - (otherwise they wouldn't be necessary to this day), they still provide historians with valuable insights into the lifestyle of the inhabitants of ancient Palestine. We learn that they occasionally ...

    1. worshiped foreign gods,
    2. misused the name of God,
    3. did not sanctify the holidays,
    4. did not honor their parents,
    5. killed their fellow citizens,
    6. committed adultery,
    7. stole,
    8. bore false witness against their neighbors,
    9. coveted their neighbor's house or
    10. their wife, servant, maid, and livestock.

    In a similar way, the code of conduct of the boarding school at the Thomasschule in Leipzig provided surprising insights into the way of life of its students during the time of Johann Sebastian Bach. :smile:
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