Evolutionary Origins of Morality

 
Paul Armstrong
 
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Paul Armstrong
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05 February 2011 12:00
 

I’ve become interested in the Evolutionary Origins of Morality ever since I heard of the story (in Sagan’s Cosmos) of the monkey that starved itself rather than push the lever to get food which also gave a painful electric shock to his conspecific neighbor.

Does anyone know if Dr. Harris’ book confronts this issue, or should I look elsewhere?

TIA

 
 
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gragor
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15 February 2011 16:35
 

I imagine his book would.

 
 
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sinusoid
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28 February 2011 05:29
 

If monkeys can establish what is morally right without science, why do humans need science to establish same?

 
 
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gragor
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28 February 2011 13:55
 

Monkeys use tools for enforcing and establishing a moral order. Science is merely a tool. Religion is also a tool. Science may establish just as to how outmoded religion is as a tool. Religionists tend to not see their brains as tools (therefore not see their brains as a scientific tool), but tend to see their brains as truth itself (rather than a tool to discover the direction of truth). The consequence being that their beliefs become their truths. But belief is merely a function of the brain, and sometimes a belief may turn out to be a fact and sometimes turn out to be false when presented with other facts. Religion, therefore, is more like a monkey view of the world because it establishes a hierarchical moral order. A tribal form of moral order.

 
 
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DarkStar
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07 August 2012 18:34
 
sinusoid - 28 February 2011 05:29 AM

If monkeys can establish what is morally right without science, why do humans need science to establish same?

Because monkeys can fail in blatantly obvious ways and they have no way to discern one from the other.

Science is a set of methodologies we have developed over the ages for removing sources of factual error, illogical reasoning, and cognitive biases from our conclusions.  Do you think you are better off leaving in known sources of errors, illogic, and bias?


We used to think it immoral NOT to beat children to teach them to behave—now we know it actually does long-lasting harm.  We know this through careful observation and study.

That doesn’t mean that simple empathy-driven behaviors cannot be positive, it just means the less obvious questions require more careful thought sometimes.

 
SeaCommander
 
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SeaCommander
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10 February 2014 15:36
 

There’s much more coming down the pike on the Evolutionary Origins of Morality.  We’ve only scratched the surface of this field.

1. Thou shall not kill.  (live by the sword, die by the sword)

2. thou shall not steal.  (Stealing gets you killed too)  (in evolutionary terms, of course)

3. Thou shall not shag your neighbors wife.  (gets your ancestor killed in short order)

4. Thou shall not bear false witness etc.  (gets your ancestor killed over the long term)

albeit some of the other commandments are’nt so evolutionarily explainable.