reply to post by Occam
I think a perfectly valid human morality - which includes your precepts - can be constructed on the basis of our natural instincts.
Evolutionary biologists have already shown us that altruism towards members of the kin group, a premium on truthfulness and fair dealing, an
(apparently sexually-selected) preference for kindness and tolerance and many other moral traits are actually innate in us. They exist because they
have survival value. And this gives us a place to start.
However, we also have plenty of what might be termed 'morally negative' instincts - hostility towards 'outsiders' and the urge to resort to
violence when other means of obtaining what we desire have failed being two of the most salient.
Of course, these 'morally negative' instincts also have survival value. Or rather, they had survival value during the evolutionary past.
Hamilton's equation suggests the location of the fault-line: the 'positive' instincts come into play when dealing with others who are rather
closely related to us in genetic terms. The 'negative' instincts come into play when dealing with those who are 'unrelated' (or rather less
closely related) to us. Of course, primitive humans, or apes, or whatever, couldn't exactly judge the degree of relationship, so personal familiarity
became the criterion for which complex of instincts came into play.
If, today, we acknowledge that all humanity is part of one global tribe or nation, all members of the same 'kin group', so to speak (or, as our
religious friends might phrase it, that 'all men are brothers'), the basis for a humanist morality based on what evolutionary biology has taught us
becomes very clear.
Clearer still, when we recognize that Homo Sapiens
is a highly uniform species, genetically speaking.
Religious belief is superfluous to morality. Some (myself among them) would say it is actually inimical to it.
Nice lecture by the way, Melatonin - but what a strange accent Sir Harry has. What is that - New England on top of Liverpool?