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Monkeys have a sense of morality, say scientists

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posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:20 PM
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Right and wrong or conscience is inherent in the spiritual entity. It's a matter of are they paying attention the higher part of themselves. Every life form is a spiritual entity one life time human another some other form. I'm sure if they looked they could find some sense of "morals" in many other forms.




posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:21 PM
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Originally posted by Viral
It's a fine line but I think it should be observed before we start equating "monkey morals" with "human morals."


But that's not what the article claims either.

In fact if you read the first paragraph of the article you will find:

MONKEYS and apes have a sense of morality and the rudimentary ability to tell right from wrong, according to new research.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:27 PM
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reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
 


I see the act of Cannibalism as a morality issue and even more so the act of killing and eating infants in their own community, which appears to be quite common. But I see it through Human Eyes, not an Apes eyes.

I don't see how you can apply a Human morality to any other species in the first place. I see it as a false logic. What we call murder, to an Ape may be survival through population control. What we consider Cannibalism and immoral, to them is likely just not letting food go to waste.

How can we in fact judge what is moral or immoral where a Chimp is concerned? Or any other Species for that matter. Is a Mother Cat immoral when it eats its weakest kittens right after birthing them?

I see morality as a Human invention that only applies to us. Our morality is not as we perceive but is in fact part of our evolved instinct to survive. When we developed our heightened intellect and awareness, we also developed the actual ability to wipe out our own Species. A single individual could conceivably wipe out all of our Species, whereas a Chimp could do no such thing and has no need to have a morality beyond their own young.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:28 PM
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I think the scientists have been smoking a little something honestly monkeys are much stupider than people give them credit for.

The truth is you could find the stupidest dog on earth and it would easily outsmart the smartest monkey people only think they are smart because they look a little like tiny ugly people.

It's the same with dolphins they are no smarter than any other fish and we shouldn't feel bad about eating them.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:43 PM
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reply to post by The All Seeing I
 


This is a pretty cool story, I wonder when morality became necessary for our survival (because I assume if it wasn't for survival it wouldn't have evolved in the first place)...

Lots of people like to pretend that religion is the origin of our moral code or necessary to keep society moral but truth is for having so many rules most religions have been very loose with their own moral codes, just look how long Thou Shalt Not Kill lasted for Judaism and Christianity... I've met plenty of amoral Christians and plenty of atheists in moral upstanding, so religion is irrelevant to morals...

One thing though, how do scientists know this monkey and ape behavior has existed for a while, perhaps its a new evolutionary development, perhaps the apes are evolving...

A Planet where Apes evolved from men!?



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:50 PM
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Purty cool if true! Homosapiens and chimpanzees are genetically very similar! If monkeys have a sense of morality, shouldn't humans? I'm just not too sure they still do. Theres always hope though!



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 02:50 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
Actually, they do put it into action, the degree to which they recognize "other as kin" varies among psycho- and socio-paths. 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...


Heh, that's an evolutionary model. I do know what you are speaking about here, though - cheaters, grudgers, and suckers etc etc.

But I'm actually speaking about the actual nature of human psychopathy. The point I'm making is that they know the rules (although, they see moral rules like any other rule), they just don't apply them. The reason they don't apply them is very very likely due to an emotional deficit, rather than a pure reason deficit.


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.


Yup. In fact, our society might actually reward low level functional psychopaths. One or more studies show high levels of psychopathic traits in the 'captains of industry'.


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.


I agree. It's a sort of super-machiavellianism, and it's one approach to social interaction and does pay off well against suckers. There's a few studies that show 'cheater' behaviour can be stable in a population. But others have cheater detection systems (Tooby & Cosmides)


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


Suckers certainly do. Grudgers do better.


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.


Perhaps. But I'm not sure that really relates to my post. I do somewhat like the idea of group selection, but I would tend to see it more at the memetic/cultural level. It's an interesting area, though.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:12 PM
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Originally posted by converge

Originally posted by Viral
It's a fine line but I think it should be observed before we start equating "monkey morals" with "human morals."


But that's not what the article claims either.

In fact if you read the first paragraph of the article you will find:

MONKEYS and apes have a sense of morality and the rudimentary ability to tell right from wrong, according to new research.




The other part of my post said that monkeys may not even have this rudimentary ability to discern, but are rather responding to outside stimuli and following their evolved instincts. Apologies if I wasn't clear enough the first time.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:13 PM
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Monkeys have a sense of morality, say scientists

Pet Chimpanzee Shot After Mauling US Woman
www.abovetopsecret.com...

LOL



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:16 PM
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they obviously are extremely moral since on the news today was a story about a woman treating her chimp like her own child and it killed her for no reason...guess that monkey can just claim it was mentally unstable



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:18 PM
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Originally posted by nj2day
Oh SNAP! lol

Kinda takes the wind out of the sails for the whole "without jesus, we'd all be amoral bastards" arguments doesn't it?

Nice find! I'll be adding this to my growing list of "ammunition"

(did I just say "Oh SNAP?" what was I thinking....)




Agreed! it is added to the list of why we can be decent without religion. It is instinct and genetic makeup.....



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:36 PM
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Originally posted by Blaine91555

I don't see how you can apply a Human morality to any other species in the first place. I see it as a false logic. What we call murder, to an Ape may be survival through population control. What we consider Cannibalism and immoral, to them is likely just not letting food go to waste.


But Chimps dont eat their own dead regularly. Nor do humans. What we see, when we just look at it without assuming we are different, is a very similar set of behaviors. That cannibalism occurs in both species. And that it is most often directed outward, towards competitors for resources, (enemies) and that it happens within groups most often in times of food scarcity. When we do it we may create more elaborate stories for it, by saying "well, we are incorporating the qualities of our foes into ourselves to make ourselves stronger." And when Chimps do it there may not be this elaborate storytelling, but does that mean it is truly different behavior? Or does it just mean humans story tell to rationalize their behaviors in a way chimps do not? After all, war among groups of chimps occurs most often when one group impedes on anothers resources. ( I would argue that the same thing happens among humans but we rationalize it so heavily it is not immediately clear that resources are the main cause of conflict. ) So a chimp that eats the competitors for its food is, in fact, incorporating the enemy into itself, whether or not it has a story to tell about it.

As for murder, if we called killing in war "murder" which we generally do not, is that not just "survival through population control?" When you look at murder within groups of humans and chimps, murder often occurs over resources as well. Money for humans, food for chimps.

news.softpedia.com...


We know chimps can be really nasty and male aggressiveness is already recorded in our closest species, including the male infanticide. But this goes too far: not only previously thought gentle females are equally aggressive, but it's a common practice to kill and eat the babies of other females.

Scientists can only guess that the habitat loss and human encroachment on chimpanzee territory could lead to fight for resources and aggression amongst chimps.
Primatologist 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.

The duo killed and ate together at least three chimp infants at Gombe Park in Tanzania, Goodall intervening and saving a fourth one by shouting and throwing sticks and stones.
At the time, this was considered an isolated behavior. But new observation revealed three more infanticidal attacks by females in the Sonso chimpanzee community in the Ugandan Budongo Forest.




Originally posted by Blaine91555
How can we in fact judge what is moral or immoral where a Chimp is concerned? Or any other Species for that matter. Is a Mother Cat immoral when it eats its weakest kittens right after birthing them?


Most mother cats dont eat their weakest kittens. I have only seen one mother cat consume any part of her kitten and it was a first time mother who chewed the cord too close and ate some of the baby's abdomen by mistake. Accidents happen in incompetent parents of any species.

And how we could judge the "morality" of another species is if we quit pretending our own were the result of individual judgment and choice, and accepted that it was a built in drive in us, much like it is in any social species. If we accepted that there is a biological basis, an evolutionary one, to what we call "moral" behavior, we could directly compare the two. The facts dont get in the way, human rationalization of our behavior prevents this.


Originally posted by Blaine91555
I see morality as a Human invention that only applies to us.


How we rationalize morality does only apply to us. Marginally. Often times our rationalizations for our morality do not actually fit the facts of our own behaviors. Which can lead to 1000+ year debates among philosophers. Mostly because these people assume rational decision making in moral choices, when in fact what we see are instinctual moral decisions being made, (or emotional for those who like that word better) and then rationalization happening after the fact. Very different from the common assumption that we choose based on reason.


Originally posted by Blaine91555
Our morality is not as we perceive but is in fact part of our evolved instinct to survive. When we developed our heightened intellect and awareness, we also developed the actual ability to wipe out our own Species. A single individual could conceivably wipe out all of our Species, whereas a Chimp could do no such thing and has no need to have a morality beyond their own young.


Well, I agree with the first part. But not the portion about how morality has evolved only in humans because we have developed the technology to wipe out species, our own or others. Morals, it appears to me, evolved because we lived in groups. It appears to me to be "group selection." Groups that behave certain way, cooperatively within the group, have advantages against groups who are uncooperative and highly competitive within the group. A cooperative group who acts together can overcome a group torn and weakened by infighting and non-cooperation such as food sharing. A group that practices infanticide on a regular basis within the group does not grow as large as a group that works together to ensure more of the groups young reach adulthood.

Evolution cannot have made humans moral because we now have nuclear weapons. That putting the cart before the horse. Our technology is not the cause of our morality, our morality is the cause of our technology. Humans have nuclear weapons because we have cooperated to such a degree that we have the free time to pursue technology. If we were uncooperative, and it were every man/woman for himself, we would not have the technology we do. What we have is the sum total of many generations of cooperation. No one human would be able to individually produce a nuclear bomb, if they were raised entirely independent of other humans with no input other than physical care. No matter how high their IQ.

What one would expect is that all social animals would have some "moral" sense. And, like someone else pointed out, the things that would be considered moral are likely to be very similar. Dont cheat others of your own kind, dont kill them except in self defense, help them survive when you can, (at times even if this means sacrificing your life for the group) and band together against those who want to kill or exploit your group.

What sets humans apart is that over history, we have been slowly widening our awareness of what is "our own kind." From the parent/child, to the trice, to the nation, to the trade union, to the species, and for some, to the Earth and all her inhabitants. But that is a difference in degree, not of type.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:54 PM
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Originally posted by Shamanator
I think the scientists have been smoking a little something honestly monkeys are much stupider than people give them credit for.

The truth is you could find the stupidest dog on earth and it would easily outsmart the smartest monkey people only think they are smart because they look a little like tiny ugly people.

It's the same with dolphins they are no smarter than any other fish and we shouldn't feel bad about eating them.


OH the irony of this post. FYI, dolphins are different from "other fish" in that they are mammals, they are more closely related to YOU than to fish.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 04:05 PM
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Originally posted by melatonin

Heh, that's an evolutionary model. I do know what you are speaking about here, though - cheaters, grudgers, and suckers etc etc.


Well that one set of data in this line of reasoning. I would argue it isnt the be all and end all however. Meta analysis should be applied to all the data we have regarding this type of behavior. What you are calling "grudgers" are those who display selective altruism, in the language used by the authors of the paper I linked to. Which is the best strategy in their evolutionary model.



Originally posted by melatonin
But I'm actually speaking about the actual nature of human psychopathy. The point I'm making is that they know the rules (although, they see moral rules like any other rule), they just don't apply them. The reason they don't apply them is very very likely due to an emotional deficit, rather than a pure reason deficit.


I am speaking about the actual nature of psychopathy and sociopathy too. The actual nature being that they do have a moral sense. The are just playing by a different set of morals. If the average human is playing "I cooperate, you cooperate too" the sociopath or psychopath is playing "You cooperate, I do not." It is a moral strategy. (if one accepts that morals are evolutionary strategies) It is just a moral strategy for cheaters, and one that is taken to the extreme of the range of cheater strategy. Where the "group" is narrowed down. Low level psychopaths are those who still have a group, "my company" "my family" "my clique." We call those people "successful" in modern society. Extreme sociopaths have only one member of their group. Themselves. It is the same strategy, but the beneficiary of the strategy is only the individual. We, (the majority) simply recognize these extreme cheaters as cheaters, where we often do not recognize the slightly more broad cheaters as cheaters. We do not "grudge" the cheaters who cooperate in more limited terms, (the successful) even though they are harmful to the majority also. We apparently are confused by their pretense of cooperation.


Originally posted by melatonin
I agree. It's a sort of super-machiavellianism, and it's one approach to social interaction and does pay off well against suckers. There's a few studies that show 'cheater' behaviour can be stable in a population. But others have cheater detection systems (Tooby & Cosmides)


I will have to see their data. I think it can be in the short term. I will have to see how they arrived at that conclusion. I dont think it has to be in the population however. I think ideally the "suckers" would become more grudging, which would eventually drive the cheaters out. I think that here you also have to look at the way social codes (like laws) are constructed and who benefits from them. I would argue that many of our social codes have a built in benefit for the cheaters to protect them from the grudgers.


Originally posted by melatonin
Perhaps. But I'm not sure that really relates to my post. I do somewhat like the idea of group selection, but I would tend to see it more at the memetic/cultural level. It's an interesting area, though.


Well, if you consider that "morals" are simply evolutionary adaptations of individuals to a collective, then it absolutely relates to a discussion of morals. Calling it a meme implies that it is an idea that is chosen.

en.wikipedia.org...


A meme (pronounced /miːm/ - like theme) comprises a unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices; such units or elements transmit from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. The etymology of the term relates to the Greek word mimema for mimic.[1] Memes act as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate and respond to selective pressures.[2]


If these are memes only, you would not expect to see these behaviors in all or most social animals. Dawkins had to create "memes" to explain group selection, as his own proposition focused on the survival of the individual. It was too narrow and did not consider things like altruism giving one a physical genetic advantage. However, if one considered that the "meme" (the "rationalization") for the behavior is one thing, and the behavior itself is another, a genetic thing, you dont need memes to explain how certain traits and behaviors arise and thrive in groups. Memes revert to "rationalizations" for behavior, not causes of them.

Again, the question is, are humans rational choosers? Or are they emotional/instinctive choosers who rationalize after the fact? I would say it is obvious that with only some few exceptions, humans are rationalizers after the fact, not rational choosers.

[edit on 18-2-2009 by Illusionsaregrander]



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 04:09 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
Mostly because these people assume rational decision making in moral choices, when in fact what we see are instinctual moral decisions being made, (or emotional for those who like that word better) and then rationalization happening after the fact. Very different from the common assumption that we choose based on reason.


Intuitive would be the preferred term (emotion-based for morality, but intuition need not be*). Mainly because it allows both instinct (innate) and social learning to act in a rapid and automatic fashion. For example, Jonathan Haidt's 'social intuitionism'.

Haidt actually proposes that almost all moral reasoning is just a post-hoc justification of the rapid intuitions. But I tend to think not. The intuitive nature of morality can be shown in some moral dilemmas:

"Julie and Mark are brother and sister. They
are traveling together in France on summer
vacation from college. One night they are
staying alone in a cabin near the beach.
They decide that it would be interesting and
fun if they tried making love. At very least
it would be a new experience for each of
them. Julie was already taking birth control
pills, but Mark uses a condom too, just to
be safe. They both enjoy making love, but
they decide not to do it again. They keep
that night as a special secret, which makes
them feel even closer to each other. What
do you think about that, was it OK for them
to make love?"

Haidt has found that many people become morally 'dumbfounded' with such scenarios. He suggests they just know its wrong, but can't really justify it.

*A bat and a ball cost $1.10. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much was the ball?

[edit on 18-2-2009 by melatonin]



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 04:17 PM
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Originally posted by melatonin

Haidt has found that many people become morally 'dumbfounded' with such scenarios. He suggests they just know its wrong, but can't really justify it.


Yes, but if one recognizes that morals are not "rational" and instead are biologically driven, one would recognize that there is no dilemma here.

One would recognize that the "moral" objection to incest arose because inbreeding is biologically detrimental to the group over time. One might still have the "sense" that it was "wrong" but if one was capable of rational choosing, (overriding the biological built in objection to incest) with reason, "well they arent reproducing and so no harm is done," there is no dilemma.

There is only a dilemma if one misunderstands the "reason" for the moral objection.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 04:26 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
I am speaking about the actual nature of psychopathy and sociopathy too. The actual nature being that they do have a moral sense. The are just playing by a different set of morals. If the average human is playing "I cooperate, you cooperate too" the sociopath or psychopath is playing "You cooperate, I do not."


Hmmm. Not sure I agree. They give lip service to morality. They can readily cooperate. Indeed, can be very endearing when its suits them, but only if its in their best interests.

We're trying to see this from different levels.


It is a moral strategy. (if one accepts that morals are evolutionary strategies) It is just a moral strategy for cheaters, and one that is taken to the extreme of the range of cheater strategy. Where the "group" is narrowed down. Low level psychopaths are those who still have a group, "my company" "my family" "my clique." We call those people "successful" in modern society. Extreme sociopaths have only one member of their group. Themselves. It is the same strategy, but the beneficiary of the strategy is only the individual. We, (the majority) simply recognize these extreme cheaters as cheaters, where we often do not recognize the slightly more broad cheaters as cheaters. We do not "grudge" the cheaters who cooperate in more limited terms, (the successful) even though they are harmful to the majority also. We apparently are confused by their pretense of cooperation.


Aye, a pretense. But they know the rules sufficiently to play the game, for a while.


I will have to see their data. I think it can be in the short term. I will have to see how they arrived at that conclusion. I dont think it has to be in the population however. I think ideally the "suckers" would become more grudging, which would eventually drive the cheaters out.


It's just a part of social cognition. The ability to assess trustworthiness. Indeed, we make rapid judgments on such traits (milliseconds) and remember those people well.


Well, if you consider that "morals" are simply evolutionary adaptations of individuals to a collective, then it absolutely relates to a discussion of morals. Calling it a meme implies that it is an idea that is chosen.


I know, but my post was also about deontology vs. consequentialism. Kant vs. Hume etc. Had only a little to do with evolution.


If these are memes only, you would not expect to see these behaviors in all or most social animals. Dawkins had to create "memes" to explain group selection, as his own proposition focused on the survival of the individual. It was too narrow and did not consider things like altruism giving one a physical genetic advantage. However, if one considered that the "meme" (the "rationalization") for the behavior is one thing, and the behavior itself is another, a genetic thing, you dont need memes to explain how certain traits and behaviors arise and thrive in groups. Memes revert to "rationalizations" for behavior, not causes of them.


I'm not sure he created them for that purpose at all. I think you are misinterpreting Dawkins' 'selfish gene' idea. Altruism and kin selection readily fits the notion of selfish genes.


Again, the question is, are humans rational choosers? Or are they emotional/instinctive choosers who rationalize after the fact? I would say it is obvious that with only some few exceptions, humans are rationalizers after the fact, not rational choosers.


I mentioned that above before I seen this, lol. Much of our life is unconscious and we make an ongoing narrative to explain our behaviour. I think the intuitive process is adaptive and helps make us 'rational', so take out the emotion and people become less 'rational'.

But it depends what you mean by rational behaviour (i.e., just reason-based or reasonable?).

[edit on 18-2-2009 by melatonin]



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 04:33 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
Yes, but if one recognizes that morals are not "rational" and instead are biologically driven, one would recognize that there is no dilemma here.


You're making the same mistake as Haidt.

Studies show that morality is based on both emotion and cognition (i.e., reason). Although cognition is still based on biology, lol.


One would recognize that the "moral" objection to incest arose because inbreeding is biologically detrimental to the group over time. One might still have the "sense" that it was "wrong" but if one was capable of rational choosing, (overriding the biological built in objection to incest) with reason, "well they arent reproducing and so no harm is done," there is no dilemma.


Actually, most people rapidly say it is wrong, go through the normal reasons which don't apply, laugh/snort/ahem etc, then say something like 'it's just wrong, I know it is, I can't explain it' - i.e., intuitive.


There is only a dilemma if one misunderstands the "reason" for the moral objection.


I think the real criticism about labelling these scenarios 'dilemmas' is that some attract very strong consensus (thus, no real dilemma for most people). Although, the crying baby dilemma is a real dilemma.

[edit on 18-2-2009 by melatonin]



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 06:39 PM
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Originally posted by melatonin


Hmmm. Not sure I agree. They give lip service to morality. They can readily cooperate. Indeed, can be very endearing when its suits them, but only if its in their best interests.

We're trying to see this from different levels.


I agree that we may be viewing this from different levels. I dont see a problem or conflict between what we are saying but you do. You are focusing on the behavior itself, where I am focusing on the underlying strategy. No matter whether the psychopath decides it is in his best interest to pretend to cooperate or not, he is not in fact, cooperating. His rule set is "you sacrifice, (cooperate) I do not. There is no altruistic, sacrificing, motive. Any pretense of it is a move to gain advantage. It is never actually a giving up of individual advantage on their part in the other persons favor. Whereas most people really will give up personal advantage to help another. Such as those who die trying to rescue another, or go to war when they do not enjoy it, to save their group.

A sociopath or a psychopath may also go to war, but their motive will not be to sacrifice themselves for the group. If they go at all it is because they see opportunity for themselves, personally, perhaps in looting, killing, to avoid execution for refusing, whatever. No matter what behavior they adopt, their underlying motive is personal (or extremely closely related to self) rather than cooperative and for the broader group. The outward behavior is superficial, the core "moral" strategy is a constant.



Originally posted by melatonin
Aye, a pretense. But they know the rules sufficiently to play the game, for a while.


Indeed. But they are never playing the same game. They know how to pretend to play by societies "morals" when it furthers their own "moral" interests to do so. But they are never actually behaving altruistically. So they are in fact, never actually playing by societies moral rules, even if superficially they appear to be.


Originally posted by melatonin
It's just a part of social cognition. The ability to assess trustworthiness. Indeed, we make rapid judgments on such traits (milliseconds) and remember those people well.


I remember the terms grudgers, suckers, etc. I am sure I have read this work. I just dont recall the data about stable levels in population. I will have to refresh on that and see how they got to the conclusion and what level they are proposing.




Originally posted by melatonin
I know, but my post was also about deontology vs. consequentialism. Kant vs. Hume etc. Had only a little to do with evolution.


I suppose what I am arguing in response to that is you cant argue about morality without understanding its origin. If you assume it is human rationality, as most philosophers who focus on morals do, you will always come up with a mucked up theory. Whether you are a deontologist or a consequentialist, if you misunderstand why a thing is "right" or "wrong" morally, you will come up with erroneous conclusions.

If you misunderstand why something is "moral" to the majority, as a deontologist, you will end up with dogma that actually can work against the function of morality, enhancing group survival. If you are dont understand these issues as a consequentialist;

en.wikipedia.org...


* What sort of consequences count as good consequences?
* Who is the primary beneficiary of moral action?
* How are the consequences judged and who judges them?


you may decide that any ends justify the means, when the evolutionary perspective would say no, the ends has to be collective to justify the means. Or you end up with Psychopaths.



Originally posted by melatonin
I'm not sure he created them for that purpose at all. I think you are misinterpreting Dawkins' 'selfish gene' idea. Altruism and kin selection readily fits the notion of selfish genes.


No offense, but I doubt I have misunderstood Dawkins position on group selection. Particularly at the time he coined the term "meme." How he is softening to it in the current time frame I am not sure. Most of his recent press relates to his stance on God, so I have not read anything of his recently on socio-biology.

en.wikipedia.org...


Although Richard Dawkins and fellow advocates of the gene-centered view of evolution remain unconvinced (see, for example, [14][15][16]), Wilson & Sober's work has been part of a broad revival of interest in multilevel selection as an explanation for evolutionary phenomena.


Although I agree that there need be no conflict between group selection and selfish genes. With Dawkins, as often happens, people get locked into their own theories and reject conflicting ones. I acutally enjoy Dawkins work, but I am not a fan. Meaning I am not a follower. Like all scientists, he has areas of strength and weakness and I accept what he does well and accept that he is not the God of socio-biology. Nor is another one of my favorite people, E.O. Wilson, who coined the term. The nature of science is that no matter how earth shattering your proposal, someone will come along later and refine it, or overturn it completely.



Originally posted by melatonin
But it depends what you mean by rational behaviour (i.e., just reason-based or reasonable?).


I use the term "rational" in line with the assumptions of philosophy. (And most people) That a rational creature is one who reasons first, then acts because of that reasoning. When I use it I mean that the basis for action is reason. Not only that the action be reasonable considering the circumstances. (Which could happen without conscious decision, quite serendipitously)

I use "rationalize" to describe a creature who acts first, (and you can call the motivator for that action "emotion" "intuition" or "instinct" I suspect they all arise from a similar place) and then after the fact rationalizes or reasons to explain those actions. The basis for action in this creature is something other than reason, regardless how reasonable that action may seen considering the circumstances.

I would argue that humans are rationalizers, not rational. In most cases. We act first, then reason why we did what we did in order to justify it. Not reason first and then act based on that reasoning.

Which is why I feel so many fields that study human behavior are off base in many cases. They assume a rational human, not a rationalizer. Evolution did not require us to know why we did what we did. It only required that we act in specific ways. The fact that our actions are often "reasonable" considering the circumstances is due to selective pressure. If one acts emotionally/instinctively,/intuitively in a way that is unreasonable, considering the circumstances, one is less likely to survive. We did develop (or are developing) the capacity to reason, consciously, and we may someday become rational in the true sense. But we arent there yet.



posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 06:53 PM
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Originally posted by melatonin

You're making the same mistake as Haidt.

Studies show that morality is based on both emotion and cognition (i.e., reason). Although cognition is still based on biology, lol.


I would have to say I dont see why that is a mistake on my part. I think that the mistake is that some people who do studies confuse rationalization after the fact, with moral decision making based on reason prior to that decision making. Being able to produce reasoning for something does not mean reasoning is the basis of that decision, does it?


Originally posted by melatonin
Actually, most people rapidly say it is wrong, go through the normal reasons which don't apply, laugh/snort/ahem etc, then say something like 'it's just wrong, I know it is, I can't explain it' - i.e., intuitive.


And that, I would argue, is the proof. There are some things that are so widely accepted as "moral" that the individual has not had to rationalize to another "why" it is moral. If there "moral" sense was BASED upon reason, they would not have to struggle to rationalize it. The reasoning would by necessity already be in place or they would not have come to that conclusion. The fact that they are caught out when asked, and have no rational for it, demonstrates that reasoning is not the basis. If you gave them time, they could construct a rationalization. But that still would not demonstrate that reason was the basis of their moral sense. It would only demonstrate that they can rationalize their moral sense when forced to and given time to.


Originally posted by melatonin
I think the real criticism about labelling these scenarios 'dilemmas' is that some attract very strong consensus (thus, no real dilemma for most people). Although, the crying baby dilemma is a real dilemma.


The crying baby? I missed that one in your posts. Do you mean the scenario where a group is hiding, (usually from the Nazis) and the baby begins to cry and the mother must decide to suffocate it or let the whole group perish?

If you do mean that one, from an evolutionary standpoint, it still would not be a dilemma. She should suffocate the baby from that view, no dilemma. And that one is true regardless whether individual selfish genes or collective ones are considered.

In fact, humans have in many time frames sacrificed babies to save adults in the group from starvation.

It is more difficult for people when two instincts collide, the instinct of a mother to protect her child and the instinct to protect the collective, but when those twp actually do collide, most often the group wins. And I would argue that that is entirely predictable using selfish genes.



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