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Forum: Morality and Stuff!
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6 years ago
I don't think that morality came directly out of the need to survive in the past, but more like they were created along with society to defend the people IN the society from each other. And since then, morals have been passed along in teaching of the young of a society. Example, if you look at the classic 1984 the current generation there has MUCH different morals and thoughts than Winston does, because the morals were taught to them differently(and it doesn't help them survive).
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6 years ago
I suppose the issue here is in determining what helps us survive. Even though I believe a right answer always exists, it is very rarely an easy answer to come up with. The question I always ask myself is whether or not violent fascism helps us survive. Certainly, in the case of a Hitler or Stalin-like figure, the fact that millions were killed means it was wrong. But if I were to take a more Machiavellian perspective, we have a more interesting question. If I kill, say, 10 or 20 people to make the public fear the state, thus making them more likely to obey "just" laws (don't murder, don't steal) that help us survive, is that right? See, it's hard to tell, because there are too many variables. How strong will the fear be? What are the risks of the often irrational behavior that comes with fear? What about those close to the 10 or 20 victims? Will they want revenge? The point is, we have no idea what helps us survive. A casual observer (particular one raised in a democratic society) would instantly say that the murder of these 10 or 20 people would be wrong. And we really have no way of determining if this casual observer is right. So, whether or not the morals you mentioned help us survive is probably an equally deep question.
If you're trying to say that the intent of these morals wasn't to survive, well, I hardly consider that relevant. I was, for the most part, referring specifically to our moral emotions, rather than the voice of our superego (a term coined by Freud essentially saying that the values our parents teach us as children "follows" us for the rest of our life). There are some clear rules we can find when we examine humanity as a whole. Anyone who isn't a sociopath (and I wouldn't consider a sociopath a person) would have a severe emotional reaction to killing someone for absolutely no reason. Of course, there are a few areas where people's feelings don't match up with what is clearly right (non-sociopaths have killed for money). Well, as I said, this is because our moral feelings were shaped by evolution, which has not caught up with modern society. In one study performed, some psychologists dropped a bunch of wallets at certain locations and measured how many of the wallets were returned. None of the wallets had anything other than a picture. What the psychologists were really testing was how much of an impact the content of the picture had. Some wallets had no picture, some had a picture of a baby, an elderly couple, a puppy, etc. I'll spare the details, but the wallets with the picture of the baby were about five times as likely to be returned as the wallets with no picture. The only explanation the experimenters can come up with is that the mind can't tell the difference between a picture and reality, so the subconscious drives us to return something as important as a baby to its owner. Even when we discuss something as simple as photographs, our minds haven't caught up to modern society. People killing for money is a much more extreme example, and I admit I can't be 100% certain why that happens, but I can guess. Most of these criminals are narcissists, and narcissism has become a common phenomena due to our generations focus on self-esteem
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This happened because some researchers (the scientific method is a relatively new thing) found a relation between self-esteem and performance (they were ignoring the rule of research: "correlation does not imply causation", but that's hardly important for this discussion) and thus promoted the idea of boosting self-esteem. This opinion could only be heard because modern society has made communication to the masses much easier. And thus violent narcissists were created. This could not have happened to humanity in any era other than our era of modern society. If I were to guess, I'd venture that in generations past, narcissists only existed among the ruling class. As I said at the beginning of this post, using violence to create order is a more interesting moral question than it seems. It's entirely likely that rulers being narcissists was a good thing back then.
That's not to say that morality was ever perfect in the first place. Evolution grants us what helps us survive best. If something imperfect is helping us survive, it won't be fixed. The reason we rely on emotions for morality instead of rationally calculating what the most moral course of action is is proof of this. Not only would it take an intellect superior to our current one to do so, but I assume it would be much harder for evolution to nudge us in this direction. It's easier for DNA to control our emotions than our cognition.
So yes! Immoral behavior either comes from sociopaths, miscalculations, or outdated aspects of human nature.