Moral Intuition

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Moral Intuition

Post Number:#1  Postby Fooloso4 » April 11th, 2017, 1:58 pm

I would like to look at the question of moral intuition. I think there is an intuitive awareness of value. By intuitive I mean only something that we have not been taught. Value would be such things caring, empathy, and a sense of fairness. Do you agree? If so, what are the implications for our basic understanding of morality? Does it fit well with any existing moral theory?
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Moral Intuition



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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#2  Postby Greta » April 11th, 2017, 7:42 pm

A Capuchin money's outrage at unfair treatment made clear for me that morality did not start with humans. As with tool use, plenty of species had a sense of morality before humans arrived, but the humans took it to another level. I expect that moral intuition is surely evolved in us, passed on by those who survived in part due to their capacity to cooperate with and elicit cooperation from others.
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#3  Postby -1- » April 11th, 2017, 10:58 pm

I agree with you on both accounts, Greta. Morality is an inherent trait, commanding our actions by genetic make-up, not by learning. Also, moral acts have been observed by all warm-blooded animals.

A moral act I define as an act of self-sacrifice for the good of a child, or of a family member, or of other members of the community.

The support of the theory of morals is evident in cats and other mammals, who have been observed to save their young, from fire, for instance.

Also, the protection of the young and weak to jump species boundaries is not an exclusively human trait. Dogs, wolves, ducks, hens, other mammals and bird species have been known to take care of the offspring of a different species.

When a bird's nest is ransacked, and an egg or a young birdling falls out, the parents sing a heart-wrenching song. This is partly to alert the neighbouring birds: beware!! predator in the 'hood. But it is also, I believe, an honest song of emotionality of grief. Much like human ranting and raving in grief.

Morality in my view is just another tool developed by evolutionary random forces and proven to be useful. The aim (helping the self) of the moral sacrifice (sacrificing the self) both point at the self, very interestingly. This is a mechnaism that helps as close a facsimile as possible of the self's DNA to survive. Thus, one will first help him- or herself; when helping an offspring is more likely to be successful, then the self will self-sacrifice for the benefit of the offspring; then, in the next rank, for the benefit of a blood-relative; then, in the rank, for the benefit of a member of the community; then, next in the rank, for a member of the species. Xross-species protection is interesting, but it's a surviving mutation that is not beneficial for the self. This shows that mutations are not "purposeful" or "always right", but survival of the mutation is aided by advantage for the individual. Making other species survive is neutral, thus not detrimental.

-- Updated 2017 April 11th, 11:05 pm to add the following --

Consistent with my point above, the movie "Avatar" was a huge success because, aided also by the spectacular special effects, it has portrayed an interesting moral dilemma and pointed at a satisfactory solution.

In the movie, some members of the human race behaved unfairly with the members of an alien race. Some humans decided to side with the alien race. There was a message in the movie that that was all right, it was morally acceptable, to admit to the wrongdoing of one's own species, and it was okay and furthermore moral, to become a subversive and to betray one's own race.

I believe this was at the time a statement that Americans should see that their country and leadership betrayed the human race by treating peoples of the Middle East unfairly; and that it was morally acceptable for Americans to turn on their own nation for this grossly and grotesquely unfair act that they had committed against humanity by starting a war on drummed-up reasons and therefore unfairly, resulting in the devastation of the lives of millions of innocent others.
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#4  Postby Spectrum » April 12th, 2017, 1:34 am

-1- wrote:I believe this was at the time a statement that Americans should see that their country and leadership betrayed the human race by treating peoples of the Middle East unfairly; and that it was morally acceptable for Americans to turn on their own nation for this grossly and grotesquely unfair act that they had committed against humanity by starting a war on drummed-up reasons and therefore unfairly, resulting in the devastation of the lives of millions of innocent others.

Yes, all humans are born with a potential to express basic moral values.
There are lots of research on innocent babies [less than one year old] on this subject.

The fundamental grounding of morality is driven by the need to produce the next generation and thus the preservation of the species.

Humans are endowed with the faculty of reason and thus should use reason to drive morality and ethics within humanity to continual optimal levels against the highest possible ideals.

I am not an American but I don't see the affairs in the Middle-East at present as solely a one-sided issue and merely an American-based problem. In the present evolutionary phase it is very natural the stronger will take advantage of the weak but there is progress within humanity where exploitation and bullying are being questioned and self-restraints are being exercised with the dis-assembling and falling of empires.

Note what happened when dictators in the Middle-East are eliminated, what we get is worst evils in terms of ISIS and others.
I believe in the present [not future] there is a need for a lesser evil [modulated] to contain the greater evil, i.e. the revival of empire building by SOME very zealous Muslims who are born with an active evil tendency and are inspired by evil laden verses from the Quran and Ahadith.

What is critical for humanity at present is to develop an effective Morality and Ethical Framework and System to expedite the moral and ethical intelligence of the individual[s] and the collective.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#5  Postby -1- » April 12th, 2017, 6:08 am

Spectrum, it's interesting what you write about the Middle East. I stopped trying to understand it after the second desert war. Americans destroyed a working country, under the leadership of George W.Bush, which was even more democratic than the majority of the others in the region, and thus befitting the American "ideal" of spreading democracy around the world.

Since then, from my point of view, the region descended into chaos. Everyone just grabs what they can, from petty kidnappers who demand ransom for captured foreign journalists, to overlords with variously sized armies who fight against each other and ransack the population. In my opinion, which could be totally wrong and off, each overlord or general is as evil as the next, no matter who backs him (Saudi, USA, Russia, ISIS or independent), and just as vicious and sinful (however you define sin) as the other. Ideological support is almost impossible by foreign supporters. So powerful countries make their bets, support this or that local overlord, but it's basically all random, even if you support a properly elected leader of a country there.

Please tell me if the above makes any sense, or if I am crazy or ignorant.

And this all started in a potentially explosive, but relatively stable region due to a senseless American retaliation for 9-11.

(Remember how they catch monkeys is sub-Saharan Africa?)

----------------

Further to my private opinion, I sense that America has wanted to control the world's oil supply. Not necessarily own it or make money on it (the wars in the middle east already cost more to america than all the price and worth of the oil deposits there), but america wants to CONTROL oil. As far as they are therefore concerned, the Middle East oil is now uncontrolled, so they wash their hands: they don't mind having lost control, as long as nobody else has gained control of it.

America's headache, instead, is China, and China's advance into the South China Sea, which is rich in fish and oil. All of a sudden. This is big, because China is not a fluffy little nothing country that the USA can blow off the map just like that. Like Nicaragua, or Yugoslavia or Kuwait. It is a BIG mofo of a country, so big, that it is bigger than life. And they are in the process of controlling their own oil, taking the prerogative out of American hands. THIS is what the administration is up against, and they got Trump who is incapable, or in the least erratic, who wants to build a wall to keep immigrants out. (Wall? In the age of airplanes and extensive air travel? The guy is a flaming idiot.) (The Great Wall of China did not keep any invaders out, either. And in those days everyone travelled on foot or on camel- or horseback.)
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#6  Postby Fooloso4 » April 12th, 2017, 10:31 am

Spectrum:

The fundamental grounding of morality is driven by the need to produce the next generation and thus the preservation of the species.


It is not only a matter of the value of life but of a life of value. Reproduction does not ground morality, value does.

… the affairs in the Middle-East …


Off topic. There are places to discuss this, but not here. The topic is moral intuition. You may think your opinions on the Middle-East are based on moral intuition, and that is something worth discussing, but only in the general sense of the extent and reliability of moral intuition.
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#7  Postby Dissimulation » April 12th, 2017, 10:52 am

I contend that morality is possibly intrinsic if it is understood to be a guiding behavior in response to survival. I agree with Greta to some extent that morality is developed in human consciousness, however I disagree that morality (as it is currently generally understood) is shared by any other species due to mental limitations. Conceptual thought , personal Identity, reasoning, beliefs, value (beyond basic survival) etc are not shared by even our closest relatives (so far).
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#8  Postby -1- » April 12th, 2017, 3:21 pm

Dissimulation, two moral mechanisms: fair trade and self-sacrifice for the sake of the survival of the offspring has been observed in animal behaviour. Also grief and revenge, and anger, but those are more like emotions than moral codes of behaviour.
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#9  Postby Spectrum » April 13th, 2017, 1:45 am

Fooloso4 wrote:Spectrum:

The fundamental grounding of morality is driven by the need to produce the next generation and thus the preservation of the species.

It is not only a matter of the value of life but of a life of value. Reproduction does not ground morality, value does.

Reproduction per-se do not actually ground morality.

It is the need to produce the next generation and thus preservation of the species. In the future humanity many depend on cloning [scary to think of but nevertheless a possible option] and other non-sexual means to perpetuate the human species thus reproduction and even sexual reproduction may be not the significant factor.

But as evident empirically all living things has that inherent program to ensure the continuation of its species and this is what ground morality, not on an absolutely absolute basis but on a relative absolute basis.

Value [axiology] is a the currency of morality and ethics.
What is of highest value is the preservation of one life to ensure production of the next generation till the inevitable.
This is why the top most absolute Moral Rule is 'Thou Shall Not Kill' period! not ifs nor buts.
[this is related to killing another human being only]
The grounding of this rule is preservation of the human species, i.e. if ALL are permitted to kill another human being, the human species will potentially be extinct.

As I had stated this absolute moral standards is merely an ideal guide and not to be enforceable at all but nevertheless what is critical here is its grounding which is at least objective and not like 'because my God said so'.
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#10  Postby Felix » April 13th, 2017, 4:20 am

Fooloso4: Does it fit well with any existing moral theory?


I would say it corresponds with Aristotle's theory of ethics, i.e., our innate recognition of the distinction between natural needs (rights) and acquired desires.
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#11  Postby Belindi » April 13th, 2017, 6:31 am

Fooloso4 wrote:

(Spectrum had written)
The fundamental grounding of morality is driven by the need to produce the next generation and thus the preservation of the species.


(Fooloso4)It is not only a matter of the value of life but of a life of value. Reproduction does not ground morality, value does.


But didn't Spectrum imply that morality is one function of living in societies which in turn is a function of how the species survives? I think that Spectrum omitted to explain the connection between natural selection and social animal.

-- Updated April 13th, 2017, 6:35 am to add the following --

https://www.simplypsychology.org/kohlberg.html

Kohlberg's stages of moral development
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#12  Postby Fooloso4 » April 13th, 2017, 1:35 pm

Spectrum:

The grounding of this rule is preservation of the human species, i.e. if ALL are permitted to kill another human being, the human species will potentially be extinct.


The reason (if such exists) for not killing another human being cannot be survival of the species. I think it morally suspect to treat an individual as first and foremost a propagator, and thus conclude that killing a person is wrong because it means one less propagator.

Felix:

I would say it corresponds with Aristotle's theory of ethics, i.e., our innate recognition of the distinction between natural needs (rights) and acquired desires.


Aristotle begins with the observation that we are social animals. I think this is the most reasonable and promising starting point.

Belindi:
But didn't Spectrum imply that morality is one function of living in societies which in turn is a function of how the species survives?


I do not think we became a social species because being social provides survival benefit. That problem had already been worked out early enough that there are common traits in other social animals. At least some of our morally intuited values came from common social evolutionary ancestors. My dog is caring and emphatic, although I do not know if dogs have a sense of fairness. At least some apes do.

This is not denying that morality provides species survival benefit. Traits are passed down because the species survives, but these traits developed in response to social challenges. Survival is always a problem, but I do not think that morality developed in response to the problem of survival, but rather in response to the problem of social living.
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#13  Postby Belindi » April 13th, 2017, 4:22 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:

I do not think we became a social species because being social provides survival benefit. That problem had already been worked out early enough that there are common traits in other social animals. At least some of our morally intuited values came from common social evolutionary ancestors. My dog is caring and emphatic, although I do not know if dogs have a sense of fairness. At least some apes do.

This is not denying that morality provides species survival benefit. Traits are passed down because the species survives, but these traits developed in response to social challenges. Survival is always a problem, but I do not think that morality developed in response to the problem of survival, but rather in response to the problem of social living.


I agree that social behaviour is a given for all social species.

I wonder what breed or sort of dog you have. The traits of domestic dogs are relative to the breed and sort. My lurcher is a clever sneak thief with less caring than my deceased German Shepherds, although her empathy is in good shape enabling her to predict what I am feeling and going to do. Some other domestic dogs are bred to be killers although they can be socialised otherwise. Domestic dogs are bred to be adjuncts of various human requirements.
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#14  Postby Gertie » April 14th, 2017, 12:42 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:I would like to look at the question of moral intuition. I think there is an intuitive awareness of value. By intuitive I mean only something that we have not been taught. Value would be such things caring, empathy, and a sense of fairness. Do you agree? If so, what are the implications for our basic understanding of morality? Does it fit well with any existing moral theory?


I've explained my position to you elsewhere. The gist of which is that as social mammals we evolved a variety of predispositions which encourage caring and cooperation (attuned to a tribal setting), alongside our older evolved tendencies for self care/self-interest - sometimes pulling in different directions. Different situations, along with past experience, tending to trigger different types of responses.

And that as we started living in larger and larger groups of strangers, trading with other groups and spreading, the predispositions which work well 'up close and personal' had to become codified and institutionalised, and at some point the concept of morality was born, and regarded as something objectively true, there being Rights and Wrongs for us to discover (via God's revelation, reason, or whatever) and get correct or incorrect.

So the question for us today, in light of this knowledge, is how do we come to a consensus on non-objective Oughts?

I'd say the answer lies in the fact that conscious creatures, humans and other species, have a quality of life, and there-in lies the basis for Value/Morality, or as I'd put it, Mattering. Because it matters how you treat an entity with the ability to suffer, be happy, etc. And that entails Oughts.

I think this fits with most existing moral theories, it simply justifies them in a way consistent with current knowledge. A way which hopefully we can build an informed consensus around.
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Re: Moral Intuition

Post Number:#15  Postby LuckyR » April 14th, 2017, 2:17 pm

A lot of the posts in this thread point to an observation of this or that behavior which is then labeled post hoc as "moral" or evidence of morality. Let's stipulate that the observations are accurate, this state of affairs is not actually proof of causality, that is that the behavior occurs because of a moral imperative. Another explanation which fits the data is selection bias, namely that behaviors happen randomly or at least not based on causality and the observer recalls the behaviors that they (as moral beings) recognize and are specifically looking for to promote their theory of universal morality or moral intuition as it were.
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