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Some questions about ethics

Discuss morality and ethics in this message board.
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John Bruce Leonard
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Re: Some questions about ethics

Post by John Bruce Leonard » June 7th, 2017, 3:00 am

Spectrum wrote:I proposed we give this discussion a break. I believe I have contributed many points as food for thought [some may not be digestible].
Very well, Spectrum, let us break here. I will be willing to continue the discussion if ever you would like to revisit it. Many thanks for your participation.
Spectrum wrote:My current emphasis is researching [in great depth] on Quran-based Islam [not on Ahadith] and 'Why Islam is SO Evil'. Have spent 2.5 years full time on it. Are you interested in discussing and understanding Quran-based Islam?
In this subject I think you will find me a more willing pupil. By all means, I would be interested in hearing about your research. Where would you propose we begin?

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Achim Rohde
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Re: Some questions about ethics

Post by Achim Rohde » July 26th, 2017, 1:21 pm

John Bruce Leonard wrote:To Achim—

Put as simply as I can put it, here is the contradiction: you state at once that morality is the free human decision, and that morality is the product of totally unfree, selfish, often hidden motivations. Can these two views be reconciled? Or must we say that morality, so far from being the result of human freedom, is in fact the result of human slavery?
Hi John Bruce Leonard,

you are right, this would be a blank contradiction. As I am a dedicated determinist my opinion is of course that no human decision is free. So, my alleged statement about man's free decision must be a misunderstanding.


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Re: Some questions about ethics

Post by -1- » July 30th, 2017, 10:03 pm

John Bruce Leonard wrote:2.) the particular cause of all human actions is DNA; and therefore 3.) what we have been calling “social morals” are in fact illusory or irrelevant, for such morals are incapable of influencing human behavior.
John Bruce, you had been following my reasoning pretty accurately up to this point, but you made an error (due to an incorrect assumption? I don't know why) when you state that the particular cause of all human actions is DNA. That I did not say at all. I said all human action is determined because although we make choices, our choices are guided by preceding events, which cause our choices. But DNA is NOT THE ONLY cause. So there is something you wrote which I never asserted.

You made another error in reference to what we have been calling "social morals". They are neither illusory nor irrelevant. They are real and relevant, and opposing your conclusion of what I said they are capable of influencing human behaviour.

For instance, the legal system (social morals) punishes people who steal cars. So very few people steal cars. Those who steal cars are either antisocial, or else they need the car more than they fear jail time.

For instance, you are supposed to marry a girl whom you make pregnant. Most men do, and only those don't who find this a sacrifice unproportionately bigger than the benefit they gain from following the commands of this social moral.

I think you would benefit in re-reading what I had written to you as one of my replies. However, I won't ask you to perform such a sacrified, instead, I shalt recoup what I had stated earlier, in a more concise fashion:

In a nutshell: our decisions are influenced by DNA, by social morals, and by many other things, and we do make choices considering (consciously or being affected by them without being conscious of it) all things that influence our decisions. The things that influence our decisions occur before we make the decision, and since they are all influencing it, we have no discourse, but shape our decision according how these things influence us in totality. Considering this, one can say our decisions we actively make, but they are determined by the things that influence them. (Which is not DNA alone, but social morals as well (as well as a myriad of other things) such as not spitting at someone you generally detest, because the social repercussions, you feel, will be more punitive to you than the satisfaction of expressing your loathing that person.)

I said that was a tough cookie, which you denied, but it actually proved to be a tough cookie, because you did not digest it (mentally, intellectually) well.
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John Bruce Leonard
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Re: Some questions about ethics

Post by John Bruce Leonard » July 31st, 2017, 3:10 am

-1- wrote:I said that was a tough cookie, which you denied, but it actually proved to be a tough cookie, because you did not digest it (mentally, intellectually) well.
I shall quibble that I had actually agreed with you as regards the “tough cookie” bit. I said that I saw no reason our ideas should not be tough cookies.

That aside—I had based my reduction of all human actions to DNA on what you had said; my confusion lies in a misinterpretation of your words, rather than in my simply imposing these ideas onto you. So I beg a little patience as I attempt to get to the bottom of your claims.

My error, I believe, was based on this statement of yours:
-1- wrote:6. As such, there is no difference between genetically predisposed morality and socially enforced morality...
I hastily took this to mean that both of them were reducible to genetic factors, when in fact you simply meant (correct me if I am wrong) that both of them are reducible to external causes, and therefore not to free will. Apologies for the misinterpretation.

Nonetheless, I do not think it is easy to avoid something like the idea I had falsely imputed to you. Let us look a little more deeply into the question of genetics versus social morals. You will agree, I think, that a law in and of itself does not alter anyone’s actions. It requires a corresponding movement within the human organism. To take one of your examples: the legal system punishes people who steal cars. It is not the law against car theft by itself that sways people not to steal cars, but rather it is the fear of the punishment involved. The true cause of our not stealing cars is an inner, and not an outer cause. Or, to be specific, we might say that it is the response of an inner imperative to an outer circumstance.

If this is so, then it seems to me we must really divide human morality exclusively into two parts of DNA-based morality: in the first place, we have that “morality” which is imposed directly by DNA (such as the imperative to eat, to procreate, etc.), and which we might call active morality; second, that morality which is the reaction of our DNA to external factors (laws, perils, etc.), and which we might call reactive morality.

Does this seem correct to you, -1-?

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