reply to post by truthquest
So, it seems like the general idea you are saying is that there is a social contract written into our genes...
Let's be clear about what I mean when I say 'social contract'. It is a phrase with a well-established meaning in philosophy and politics. The man
who coined it, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, defined it thus:
The heart of the idea of the social contract may be stated simply: Each of us places his person and authority under the supreme direction of the
general will, and the group receives each individual as an indivisible part of the whole...
So it is essentially a contract between the individual and society. That contract has a biological foundation because we are a social species. It
isn't written into our genes, but it has evolved because of what is written there.
But morality goes beyond the social contract. What I have been saying all along in this thread is that our instincts provide the ultimate basis of our
judgements of right and wrong. It is the bases of morality that are written into our genes.
Here's an article on The Biological Basis of Morality
by E.O. Wilson, the father of
sociobiology, in The Atlantic Monthly
. I think you will find it interesting, and hope it will make things clearer.
...and that the process of evolution provides a hypothesis on why such a contract should exist.
Evelution must provide an explanation for every human attribute. It explains how we came to be social animals, and explains why we create the social
structures we do. Similarly, it explains the process by which a moral sense evolved in us.
Taking the purse-snatching discussed is evil because the social contract written on our genes states is evil?
Now that's just silly. Intellectually, we can explain why assaulting someone and robbing them is wrong in terms of the social contract, in terms of
individual human rights and so on, but in the end no explanation is required. We know it is wrong because the thought of it, or the sight of it,
appals and frightens us. We know it is wrong instinctively
. This is not because we have 'a social contract written into our genes' but
because we have moral understanding built into us.
And furthermore, the primary reason which we obey that social contract is because of the personal advantage it provides us all?
No. We obey the terms of the social contract because (i) we have an instinct to do what our group demands of us, to 'fit in', (ii) because that
instinct is strongly reinforced by conditioning, or education if you prefer, and finally (iii) because if you don't, those in authority will lock you
Didn't I explain all this before?