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Monkeys have a sense of morality, say scientists

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posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 11:27 PM
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Originally posted by The All Seeing I
reply to post by Illusionsaregrander

Maybe you couldn't pick up on my satire.


Actually, I was responding to the other poster, they all see all or whatever his/her name is and their comment.

I actually did get your point on how morality is often "presumed" as something that humans get from religion or other learned sources, and that this type of study undermines that belief.

I dont disagree with that. Thats the only reason I didnt respond to your posts directly. You said nothing I explicitly disagreed with, nor did I feel what you said needed any further elaboration. I was just confused by the other guys point, and hoped he would clarify how we could possibly judge ape morality if "universal morals" are both a requirement to do so, and simultaneously non-existent.




posted on Feb, 17 2009 @ 11:37 PM
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reply to post by johnsky

Thank you for the heads up. It didn't occur to me that someone would use such a lame angle/tactic. All i can say is... if we have something called the "soul" then monkeys must have it ... as well as cats, dogs, pigs, cows, horses, sheep and dolphins. In other words, any attribute we can recognize as conscious.

reply to post by Illusionsaregrander

Actually it was my bad, you were replying to "they see ALL" and for some odd reason i had a dyslexic moment and thought you were replying to me.


[edit on 17-2-2009 by The All Seeing I]



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 12:20 AM
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Theres no such thing as morals just a sence of what is write and wronge and it differs from species to species and culture to culture.

Chimps also have been known to canibalize rival chimps. While it may be immoral to some of us I think it comes down to what is socialy exceptable because there are also cultures of people around the world that practice canibalism. Some of those cultures have had very little contact with the modern world and to them theres nothing wrong with it. So if canibalism were immoral and we all have a since of morals then why do some practice it and some don't?

I think all animals including humans that develope in social groups have a set of rules that is excepable within the group (right and Wrong) or morals to some.

It's probobly something thats hard wired into us since surviving in groups ment a better chance of survival.

The sense of right and wronge is probobly a primitave way to maintain order within a group setting.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 08:07 AM
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reply to post by wantsome

I think you nailed it. Culture is the difference. We see cannibalism all the time yet it doesn't register as such. Thorough out history we have accounts of land/property acquired through murder. Consuming another person's body of work. We see a similar process take place in business, note all of the mom & pops that have been consumed by corporations and corporations consuming one another. We don't question the morality of such things, it's all a part of the evolutionary process.

Just as well, you could say when Catholics perform the ritual of consuming the blood and body of Christ, they are partaking in a symbolic form of cannibalism. This could also be another expression of our genetic link to monkeys.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 11:59 AM
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Anybody who denies evolution need only look at the similarities between ourselves and apes.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 12:20 PM
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So that recent chimp that attacked the lady felt bad before they shot him..Or the ones recently shown on TV special that killed a man in Africa feel bad now..Good what is the point?



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 12:22 PM
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Ummm...

Tell that to the lady who just got her face ripped off by the chimp. I'm sure she'll tell you that the chimp had morals and knew right from wrong!


www.nydailynews.com... 2009-02-17_911_tape_captures_chimpanzee_owners_horr-2.html



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 12:32 PM
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reply to post by ou_sooners_19
 


I don't think you would deny that Humans have morals, and yet man has done, do and will do things infinitely more cruel and wrong.

What exactly is your point?



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 12:33 PM
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reply to post by ou_sooners_19
 


Not really a fair example, a man just cut his own wife's head off. Just because a creature knows the difference between right and wrong, doesn't mean rage won't overpower the decision making. They are wild animals and that ape was given xanax, animals tend to panic when drugs start to take effect since they don't understand why they are feeling different...that panic may have triggered the fight or flight reaction and the ape saw the woman as an intruder or threat because her hair was reportedly different and she came to help wrangle the chimp back into the house.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 12:51 PM
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reply to post by The All Seeing I
 


My Dog has a understanding of Right and Wrong, so I don't know why this is a surprise for scientists.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 12:51 PM
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Originally posted by wantsome
So if canibalism were immoral and we all have a since of morals then why do some practice it and some don't?

I think all animals including humans that develope in social groups have a set of rules that is excepable within the group (right and Wrong) or morals to some.

It's probobly something thats hard wired into us since surviving in groups ment a better chance of survival.


I think it is very likely that what is "moral" is simply that which helps us survive, and that which is "immoral" is that which carries great potential harm.

For example, cannibalism. Although some cultures do practice it, it is generally reserved for 'special" circumstances. Either ritual, as a way to keep ones loved ones with you, (and in the culture best known for this, protein just so happens to be scarce, so how much is just ritual and how much grim necessity remains to be sorted,) or more commonly, out of dire need in times of starvation.

en.wikipedia.org...


A well known case of mortuary cannibalism is that of the Fore tribe in New Guinea which resulted in the spread of the prion disease Kuru. It is often believed to be well-documented, although no eyewitnesses have ever been at hand. Some scholars argue that although postmortem dismemberment was the practice during funeral rites, cannibalism was not. Marvin Harris theorizes that it happened during a famine period coincident with the arrival of Europeans and was rationalized as a religious rite.


In no culture can we say for certain that other humans are farmed and raised like livestock only as a food source. And many claims of ritualistic cannibalism may have been exaggerated by those reporting it for various reasons. Personal gain being one.

en.wikipedia.org...


According to a decree by Queen Isabella I of Castile and also later under British colonial rule, slavery was considered to be illegal unless the people involved were so depraved that their conditions as slaves would be better than as free men. This legal requirement may have led to conquerors exaggerating the extent of cannibalistic practices, or inventing them altogether, as demonstrations of cannibalistic tendencies were considered evidence of such depravity.[19]


What we do observe is that when times are really, really, rough, and the entire group is in danger of dying out, humans will eat other humans. Including Europeans. When other sources of food are plentiful, humans do not eat humans, and it is generally taboo. Now, we may know why. Prion diseases seem to be passed very readily via cannibalism. Such as mad cow disease after the practice of feeding cows to cows began, and Kuru among the Fore tribe of New Guinea.

Other "moral" crimes, such as incest, which is generally frowned upon in all cultures with special exceptions allowed, (royalty in some places and times) also are known to have a detrimental effect on the whole group.

Theft, murder, and other behaviors also are problematic, as they lead to disunity within the group, infighting, which can allow an outside group to more easily conquer, and exterminate the group. Moral behavior, when looked at this way, simply seems to be "what helps the group survive" and tends to run counter to the more "selfish gene" theory that says the individuals survival and benefit trumps all.

In modern human society, we have two sets of morals. We have the "group" morals being practiced by the majority. And we have the "individual" morals practiced by the few. The very wealthy. Allowing them to benefit both from the group and their own selfishness. They seek evolutionary advantage by benefiting from the altruism of the group, which is our primary survival strategy, but seek individual advantage by not being altruists themselves, which is technically only a workable strategy if you have altruists to farm.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 01:06 PM
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Great discussions going on here.
At this point in my life, I have to disagree with the comments above that state morality is solely subjective or culturally based.
While its true that many cultures around the world vary to a degree in what is considered right or wrong (cannibalism, nudity, bigamy, religion etc) you'll find that there are basic morals which seem to be ingrained in every culture. There are universal (as far as I know) taboos against murder, theft, etc.
It would appear then, that certain principles of fairness, or right or wrong, are innate in humans, and apparently in monkeys as well. In fact, if humans and monkeys didn't have these morality traits, it would be impossible for them to function at such a level of social complexity. It is "morality" which makes social existence possible.
Now, imagine an alien culture advanced enough to build cities and spaceships. Is it possible to imagine such a culture while also imagining that it could have a set or morals completely different than our own? Could they have built such a culture without moral maxims against murder, for example? I strongly doubt that they could.
Morality is an evolutionary necessity for cultural and "spiritual" advancement on this planet, and I would argue anywhere in the universe. And I would argue that anywhere in the universe you have any type of culture you will find similar sets of moral codes in place, suggesting that the codes of morality for social beings are just as constant, just as universal, as the basic rules of math and logic.
I think the author of this article is coming dangerously closed to arguing that their are sets of genes that will determine if a person is moral or immoral. I think this is a gross oversimplification.
Kant believed morality comes from what he called "pure reason". Without going too much into what he meant, I would say that it is our advanced ability to think and reason that gives birth to our moral systems, as it does to lesser degree in chimps and other animals. I think that when an animals offspring shows a similar capacity for morality as its parent, it is because it has inhereted that parents capability to make reasonable judgements. This is why a parent and a child can both exhibit strong reasoning skills, but have different points of view concerning specific moral dilemmas. We don't inherit our parents beliefs, we inherit the capability to hold such beliefs, or to hold other beliefs of equal complexity.
Our moral belief systems evolve as minds evolve. As our brains develop the capacity to process more and more information, our notions of goodness and fairness evolve as well. Those notions are not something that we inherit solely through accidental mutation and natural selection, just as the laws of physics and mathematics are not the sole product of mutation and natural selection. They are universal principles, existing "out there," that we have developed the cognitive ability to discover through evolution.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 01:13 PM
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Originally posted by outsider13
It would appear then, that certain principles of fairness, or right or wrong, are innate in humans, and apparently in monkeys as well.


Yes.

With the caveat of being in most, and also to a degree culturally-bound.


think the author of this article is coming dangerously closed to arguing that their are sets of genes that will determine if a person is moral or immoral. I think this is a gross oversimplification.


Weeeell, why not? I think psychopaths are the best example. It's fairly likely that it has a degree of genetic basis, with potential environmental inputs (i.e., genes & environ). The funny thing with psychopaths is that they know morality, they just don't put it into action. In fact, it doesn't appear to be a reasoning problem




Kant believed morality comes from what he called "pure reason". Without going too much into what he meant, I would say that it is our advanced ability to think and reason that gives birth to our moral systems, as it does to lesser degree in chimps and other animals.


No, Kant was wrong. Hume kicks his ass. Only to a degree mind, morality (judgment/decision-making) is a conflict between emotion and cognition/reason and passion.

Amazingly, even though philosophers like Kant have suggested that their deontology comes from reason, I tend to agree with Joshua Greene that it is actually emotion-based. With utilitarianism/consequentialism being the more reason-based (and neuro studies support this).

[edit on 18-2-2009 by melatonin]



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 01:33 PM
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reply to post by The All Seeing I
 


This is funny cause today at work my boss and I had a big conversation about this exact topic, and morals in general, I totally agree you, we dont need to be taught right from wrong, Today we are too worried about whats politically correct rather than whats WRONG AND RIGHT. We tolerate too much, therefore creating new doors to be opened to what is right and wrong. Soon enough the things that should be wrong will be right and the right will be wrong, by law. Its a messed up world lately. We can hope for Revolution, But the end is NEAR!



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 01:59 PM
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Morality is a hard enough quality or definition to nail down in humans. Adding apes and monkeys to the equation becomes ever more problematic. I have a faith in altruism and the belief that some of our positive actions are spontaneous and without thought of reward.

Unfortunately, we have to avoid some of the philosophical speculation in psychology that every action has the potential of reward. Maybe not physical, sometimes in self-esteem points. The argument goes that altruism is a human construct...

Again, enter the monkeys...link to altruism study in Rhesus monkeys...or the HTML .... This study indicates that altruism is demonstrated by monkeys. If we combine indications of morality and altruism the case for common ancestry is further reinforced...

Not all monkeys are at ease with morality and altruism...



Another big argument based on a recent and speculative study is emergent commerce in apes; namely Orangutans...


Researchers from the University of St Andrews found orangutans could learn the value of tokens and trade them, helping each other win bananas.

The discovery is the first evidence of "calculated reciprocity" in non-human primates, according to an article in Biology Letters. The research found two orangutans - Bim and Dok - who live in Leipzig Zoo, Germany, were especially good at helping each other.

Initially, they were given several sets of tokens. One type of token could be exchanged by an orangutan for bananas for itself, another type could be used to gain bananas for a partner, and a third had no value.
Daily Telegraph

Based on the direction the evidence is going, it appears we will come to see more parallels than differences.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 01:59 PM
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I had posted this to the thread about the Woman who was attacked, but it seems more related to this thread.

A few months ago, I recall watching a documentary where a group of Chimps went to war with a second group that were encroaching on their territory. They wiped them out in a planned attack. The footage was very brutal. They apparently eat their enemy when they are done killing.

Bonobos are Canibals

In three separate instances, the primates were observed successfully hunting and eating other primates' infants, after they've had enough fruits to eat...

...But scientists supervising some populations in the LuiKotale region of the Salonga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, witnessed with amazement as packs of bonobos hunted down, killed, and then ate mangabey offspring three times, before daring to report this discovery to the international community.


More on our friends the Chimps


previously thought gentle females are equally aggressive, but it's a common practice to kill and eat the babies of other females...

...Jane Goodall was the first to observe this infamous female behavior in 1976 in a cannibalistic mother-daughter duo, the chimpanzees being named Passion and Pom...

...A team led by comparative psychologist Simon Townsend at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland witnessed a cruel infanticide: a bleeding mother with a one-week-old baby was chased by six females, five of which with clinging offspring themselves.
In 10 minutes, after a noisy struggle, the infant was taken and killed with a bite.


Chimps and War?


In 1998, researchers in Uganda saw a group of male chimpanzees beating on and swaggering around another male chimp’s freshly killed body. Its windpipe, fingernails and testicles were torn out.

The finding added to a growing number of documented incidents of chimpanzees ganging up on, hunting down and killing each other—activities in which some researchers find eerie parallels to human war.


Chimp Chews Off Mans Face


Several chimps broke free and went on the rampage causing serious injuries to St. James Davis and his wife who were visiting the center to celebrate the birthday of one of the chimps they had donated.

Officials told reporters that Davis suffered serious injuries as the monkeys chewed most of his face off and that he would have to undergo surgery to have his nose attached. His wife suffered a bite to the hand.


More about the above.


The chimps chewed off St. James Davis' nose and severely mauled his genitals and limbs Thursday before the son-in-law of the sanctuary's owner shot the animals to death, authorities said.


A good article.


Today, we know that chimpanzees everywhere eat mainly fruit, but are also predators in their forest ecosystems. In some sites the quantity of meat eaten by a chimpanzee community may approach one ton annually...

...After three decades of research on the hunting behavior of chimpanzees at Gombe, we already know a great deal about their predatory patterns. We know that although chimpanzees have been recorded to eat more than 35 types of vertebrate animals (Uehara 1997), the most important vertebrate prey species in their diet is the red colobus monkey...

...Jane Goodall has noted that the Gombe chimpanzees tend to go on "hunting crazes," during which they would hunt almost daily and kill large numbers of monkeys and other prey (Goodall 1986). The explanation for such binges has always been unclear...


We are talking an animal up to 7 or 8 times as strong, pound for pound and we should pray they never declare war on us.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 01:59 PM
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Originally posted by melatonin

Weeeell, why not? I think psychopaths are the best example. It's fairly likely that it has a degree of genetic basis, with potential environmental inputs (i.e., genes & environ). The funny thing with psychopaths is that they know morality, they just don't put it into action. In fact, it doesn't appear to be a reasoning problem.


Actually, they do put it into action, the degree to which they recognize "other as kin" varies among psycho- and socio-paths. In extreme cases, "only self" is kin. In others "kin" extends to relatives, ethnicity, etc. They just dont apply the same rules of morality to themselves as they do to others to the same degree the majority does. They exploit group morality, (cooperation and altruism) for their own individual benefit. They are "kin cheaters."

www.msu.edu...


In this paper we demonstrate the existence of kin selection in the Avida digital evolution ystem and investigate an aspect of the theory that is often unexamined; whether kin that cheat on their relatives are favored by natural selection. We accomplish this by comparing organisms that are altruistic towards close relatives (kin-altruists) and those that are only altruistic towards identical copies of themselves (clone-altruists). We refer to these clone-altruists as ‘kincheaters’ to emphasize that they are not altruistic towards non-identical kin even though such non-identical kin are altruistic towards them. Most theorists have overlooked the potential success of this type of cheater. We investigate whether the assumption generally made by theorists that kin-cheaters should not be selected for is a valid one.


If you read the whole study, which is fascinating, you see that there is an evolutionary advantage to exploiting groups in this way. If you look at our society, you see the same advantage being had by some groups. The trick is not getting caught at it. If the group you are living with is very accepting, and does not select against you and your "cheating" by benefiting from the group without sacrificing your own individual benefits, you have the opportunity to do quite well.

Because it can provide an extraordinary evolutionary advantage, there is a good likelihood that there is a genetic component. What gets these "cheaters" caught out is when the variation is so great, the selfish individuality so total, that they are unable to pass in the "collective" as kin and are eradicated.

However if you can maintain the illusion of "kinship" by not making your cheating too obvious, it is a very good system. For the cheater. The more cooperative always suffer for the cheaters.

Evolutionary biology has to move away from Dawkin's "selfish individual gene" theory just a tad and recognize group selection more. It is beginning to.


[edit on 18-2-2009 by Illusionsaregrander]

[edit on 18-2-2009 by Illusionsaregrander]



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:06 PM
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Originally posted by Blaine91555
We are talking an animal up to 7 or 8 times as strong, pound for pound and we should pray they never declare war on us.


Well, they do lack firearms. Regardless how strong they are, they only have an advantage in hand to hand combat. If they declared war on us, it would be an evolutionary disaster for them.

Interesting cases, but how did you mean it to apply to a thread on morality?



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:16 PM
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They may have an evolved way of communal living, just like ants have a structured society. To say that they are moral creatures, I think, is highly speculative. In a situation where a monkey has an option to choose between two courses of action, does the monkey choose between a "moral" and "immoral" choice, or is it merely following the instincts that have evolved out of necessity? Compare this to a human, who we can say with some certainty expresses autonomy and introversion, and I think you'll see a difference. To be a moral creature, you have to express moral autonomy, meaning you understand the difference between right and wrong and can choose between the two, rather than just responding to outside stimuli. It's a fine line but I think it should be observed before we start equating "monkey morals" with "human morals."

[edit on 18-2-2009 by Viral]



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:19 PM
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Originally posted by Ahabstar
reply to post by SLAYER69
 


I would like to disagree with the comment in the video.

Since chimps can display ethics and other human traits and the attack showed planning and tactics, then the cannibalizing of the dead enemies may have nothing to do with extra protein but have everything to do with gaining the spirit of the enemy. Which is no different than human tribes of cannibals today. The open sharing at the end when the other chimp requests a piece might back that idea up.


For them to eat the others in order to "gain the spirit of the enemy" that would imply that monkeys have religion. monkeys dont have religion.

They have been studied for years and years. Monkeys dont gather and worship any kind of god....

Monkeys are just VERY agressive when they attack. They do not mess around. They litteraly rip off the ears, the hands the feet, the testicles etc...

Did you hear in the news recently the story of that pet chimp that attacked and tore up that woman? Did you hear the 911 audio? She apparently had her face ripped off. It wasnt done in some effort to gain the spirit of the woman. It was done because it was pure instinct. when a wild animal attacks their insitnct ist NOT to hurt it is to KILL.

Simple as that. Monkeys dont practice religion and they dont eat the meat of their dead enemies to gain their spirit.



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