• T Clark
    3k
    It's very easy to make a statement like that, but would you care to offer an actual argument?MonfortS26

    This is an discussion that has been covered in many threads in the forum. I have participated in many of them. Here's my position and I think there is factual support for it - Humans are social animals. If you want to pick nits, yes, sociality is one of our evolutionarily developed strategies for survival. If that's all you mean, no argument. If what you mean, rather, is that there is some sort of generalized built in survival instinct, then we disagree. In most cases, we don't help our family and friends so they will help us later, we help them because we like them. We have a sense of common purpose with them.
  • T Clark
    3k
    We are mostly human culture.
    I don't think it is possible to distill what is human nature as it is so far subsumed by cultural logic, endemic assumptions, and normative imperatives.
    charleton

    I disagree. Here is a link to a thread called "Does Morality Presuppose There Being a Human Nature" that talks about these issues.

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/2208/page/p1#OP
  • MonfortS26
    250
    I mean yeah I agree that humans are social animals. What do you mean by a generalized survival instinct though? I think all of our traits can be traced back to the concept of survival and I don't really see the difference between that and what someone could call a survival instinct. And I agree we don't help our family and friends so they will help us later, but it is likely that we evolved to like them because we have something to gain from them.
  • T Clark
    3k
    I mean yeah I agree that humans are social animals. What do you mean by a generalized survival instinct though? I think all of our traits can be traced back to the concept of survival and I don't really see the difference between that and what someone could call a survival instinct. And I agree we don't help our family and friends so they will help us later, but it is likely that we evolved to like them because we have something to gain from them.MonfortS26

    As I said in my post

    Sociality is one of our evolutionarily developed strategies for survival. If that's all you mean, no argument.T Clark

    Sounds like there is no argument. Although - to say that all aspects of humanity evolved for survival, while probably true, is pretty meaningless. Opposable thumbs evolved for survival. Nose hairs evolved for survival. Capacity for language evolved for survival. Kind of misses the point.
  • MonfortS26
    250
    The Münchhausen trilemma has been on my mind lately so the concept of survival has come up a lot, but I think understanding the survival aspect behind my behavior helps to ground my thoughts and give them structure
  • T Clark
    3k
    The Münchhausen trilemma has been on my mind lately so the concept of survival has come up a lot, but I think understanding the survival aspect behind my behavior helps to ground my thoughts and give them structureMonfortS26

    Ah. Ha, ha. Yes. The Munchhausen Trilemma, I know it well. Actually, I've never heard of it. Looked it up. Has a nice ring to it. Rolls off the tongue.

    I have no problem with that way of thinking, although I've been trying it out since I first read this post and I'm not sure how it's helpful. To me at least. I'm still thinking about it. I know some disagree, but it's always seemed to me that general behavioral tendencies or capacities, sociality for example, are probably built in but specific behaviors are not. Sociobiology has never made much sense to me. I certainly don't have any credentials to have strong opinions.
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    There's an incentive to do evil, and there's often an incentive to not do good. The comparison is invalid. Most people do not do evil, even though there're incentives. Most people do not do huge amounts of good either, but that can be explained with incentives to not to.BlueBanana

    Exactly. We are motivated by incentives rather than by moral considerations. Don't you find that immoral?
  • dog
    89
    In short, I think the positive/negative distinction in morality is true and useful.TheMadFool

    I hear you. It has its uses. I even suspect that most ways of talking that have caught on have their uses. That's why they caught on. We philosophers tend to make things absolute in a way they weren't intended to be, though. For instance, ordinary talk uses 'certain' comfortably and vaguely and usefully, while philosophical talk dreams up some ideal and elusive certainty that has nothing to do with life.

    As I said above a moral truth leads to positive (obligatory) deeds and negative (forbidden) actions.TheMadFool

    I suppose. But I often think of moral truths as somewhat vague ideal ways of being. I have a vague blurry image of a noble or wise or good person. Depending on my recent behavior I can take pleasure in identifying with or approximating this image or suffer pain in the perception of myself as having been petty or cruel. I can't always specify the good or the bad. I remember a complex situation and feel bad or good about myself. I can then search for the words. I can clarify a gut-level reaction. I can add a conceptual system to something that is more visceral in its functioning.
  • MonfortS26
    250
    Has a nice ring to it. Rolls off the tongue.T Clark

    My favorite part of the name is the meaning behind it. It's a story about a guy who tries to pull him and his horse out of a lake by his own hair lol. Such a perfect analogy

    Sociobiology has never made much sense to me. I certainly don't have any credentials to have strong opinions.T Clark

    I'm glad you mentioned Sociobiology cause I've never heard of it before and it seems like a scientific approach to memetics which is actually the concept that led me to the trilemma. Thanks!
  • MonfortS26
    250
    Exactly. We are motivated by incentives rather than by moral considerations. Don't you find that immoral?TheMadFool

    Considering that an incentive is defined as something that motivates someone to do something, i'm not sure how you can view that as immoral. Is the incentive to be altruistic immoral?
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    Is the incentive to be altruistic immoral?MonfortS26

    Yes and No. Yes because there's something to gain from being altruistic and you can't deny that. No, because it's impossible to do anything without the prospect of gain.
  • BlueBanana
    840
    Most people do not do evil, even though there're incentives.
    — BlueBanana

    Exactly. We are motivated by incentives rather than by moral considerations.
    TheMadFool

    What, no. It's exactly the opposite. If we do things that contradict incentives that means we're not motivated by incentives, which here means that we're more motivated by morality.
  • MonfortS26
    250
    Yes and No. Yes because there's something to gain from being altruistic and you can't deny that. No, because it's impossible to do anything without the prospect of gain.TheMadFool

    What makes personal gain immoral?
  • MonfortS26
    250
    What, no. It's exactly the opposite. If we do things that contradict incentives that means we're not motivated by incentives, which here means that we're more motivated by morality.BlueBanana

    Or you could say incentivized by morality. Motivation and incentive are effectively synonyms. Saying we're not motivated by incentives is the same as saying we're not incentivized by motivation. It makes no sense.
  • BlueBanana
    840
    Motivation and incentive are effectively synonyms.MonfortS26

    To motivate and to incentivize, maybe. Motivation and incentive, not so much. Motivation is internal, incentives are external (although incentive can be a source of motivation).
  • MonfortS26
    250
    What is the source of this internal motivation then? And how does that differ from the concept of incentive? Why can't incentive be internal? Incentive's yes, but incentive itself no. I don't see any valuable distinguishment between those two words.
  • BlueBanana
    840
    What is the source of this internal motivation then?MonfortS26

    How the heck do I know, but altruistic self-sacrifice often does not have an external incentive yet people decide to do so.

    I guess incentives and motivation could also be differentiated by having instrumental or intrinsic value if that's preferred.

    I don't see any valuable distinguishment between those two words.MonfortS26

    In the context of this discussion, the distinction means my comment makes sense - people do things motivated by their inner moral codes with intrinsical value, even though there are external incentives or motivators with instrumental value.
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    What makes personal gain immoral?MonfortS26

    Let's take the perfect state of goodness, altruism. Even the best altruist gains something from being good. You can't deny that the altruist is happy to be one. So, in actuality, altruism is not what it's defined to be - selflessness.

    That said, I think we have to be fair and recognize the sentiment of altruism as uniquely different from what we call selfishness. After all, the altruist does put others before him. Also, taking the self out of the moral equation is impossible. Why hold that against him?
  • Kellen
    3
    Selfless acts are are not selfless acts.

    Every action we do on this earth, thought to action is selfish. Yes, giving away money is selfish. Donating is selfish. For even through these things, we make ourselves feel good about ourselves hence why it is selfish. Or it is selfish because we are selfish of the idea that we are in turn being humble.

    Again. Morality is subjective. Hitler thought he was doing right by eliminating the Jews. The terrorists believe they are fulfilling their duty to their religion by killing others. I believe by not fighting back, I’ll accomplish more than my defending myself. This all stems from ones sense of morality to another. Because morality is subjective, Man is neither good nor bad, unless and only unless, one can clearly and simply argue for a universal sense of morality.
  • MonfortS26
    250
    Let's take the perfect state of goodness, altruism. Even the best altruist gains something from being good. You can't deny that the altruist is happy to be one. So, in actuality, altruism is not what it's defined to be - selflessness.TheMadFool

    How is altruism the perfect state of goodness? I agree that it is itself, selfish. I just don't understand how it is perfect goodness
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