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Old 09-26-2010, 02:23 PM   #121
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Regarding the plethora of opinions...is it any wonder so many families are dysfunctional? Of course, that's just my opinion.

It does seem like a number of threads here have degraded into philosophical pi$$ing contests recently.

Of course, that's just my opinion, too.
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Old 09-26-2010, 02:38 PM   #122
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I think this is rather easily demonstrated to be something we woujld like, but that has not yet arrived on earth. It is true that all societies have rules, but they are not the "universal rules" that we might hope for. Genocide, both historically by western european countries and currently or recently by various African, Balkan, and Asian goups show that pretty basic things like murder, torture and rape are quite easily redefined, usually by classifying those on the receiving end of these acts as not human, or at least "not human like we are human." And I am not referring to possible enemy combatants or agents. Try children, for example.

Jihadists define their targets as infidels, and far from regretting that they have killed innocent men, woman, and children, they celebrate these events. When England invaded Ireland during the reign of Elizabeth I, the (Roman Catholic) inhabitants were defined as "not Christian, no different from heathens", which allowed very prominant people like Drake to butcher them. Again, no child or woman that they could find was spared. This technique of redefinition was so powerful that during this same time some Catholic Spaniards attacked English positions in Ireland, and when they were forced to surrender they were (uncharacteristically by the war rules of that time) summarily shot. Now although their had been wars between Catholics and Protestants for many years, no one dared proclaim that Spaniards were not Christian. The excuse? These particular Spaniards must not be Christians or they would not be in Ireland.

I could give many examples, (rape of Nanking, various Balkan cleansings during the 90s, Congo, Nigeria, etc. etc.), but I think the point is made.

As regards cheating, people do seem to be quite sensitive to perceived cheating by others. Most unfortunately, we seem much less sensitive to our own cheating.

Ha
I still maintain that morality is a social construct and our sense of morality likely evolved along with us. There certainly are tensions between peoples, especially when resources are scarce. I did not mean to imply that we are naturally "good" nor do I believe we are naturally "bad." I acknowledge that my post was way over simplified. My only point is that I do not believe in a god given kind of morality. I am not surprised by the ugly things people do. But I am also not surprised by the good people do.

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I'm sorry but I have to most strongly disagree. Humans have culture with some of the attributes you mention, which is passed on generation to generation but there is not one iota of evidence that it is "evolved" or "ingrained". As to stealing murder rape etc, what we do is create notions of each that that we are happy with to avoid confronting some of our more morally questionable behaviors. Hypocrisy is a fundamental part of our culture. We maintain published norms of behavior for the underlings and then try to acquire the wealth and power which allows us to evade them.
We may not disagree as much as it appears on the surface.

Social behaviors are complicated, with many factors effecting how people behave. But you can see precursors to human morality in social animals. Chimps who go against the norm in their group exhibit fear. Plenty of animals exhibit altuistic behavior. (Food sharing, dolphins rescuing drowning animals from other species, dogs adopting orphaned animals. . . ) And animals cheat and hide bad behavior from others in their social groups just like we do.
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Old 09-26-2010, 03:31 PM   #123
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I think this is rather easily demonstrated to be something we woujld like, but that has not yet arrived on earth. It is true that all societies have rules, but they are not the "universal rules" that we might hope for. Genocide, both historically by western european countries and currently or recently by various African, Balkan, and Asian goups show that pretty basic things like murder, torture and rape are quite easily redefined, usually by classifying those on the receiving end of these acts as not human, or at least "not human like we are human." And I am not referring to possible enemy combatants or agents. Try children, for example.
I think you focus on definition is very important.
Humans define ourselves as thinking animals; with the emphasis placed on the thinking part since the dawn of philosophy around the world and magnified with psychoanalysis. That is the lens through which we view ourselves.

I think the emphasis should be placed on humans as being animals who think (self aware, can make and use tools etc). But it is the animal in us that drives us. We in the USA are not the best to observe it because we are insulated from the most obvious aspects of it - poverty, hunger, fear, powerlessness.

If alien scientists were observing the actions you describe I am guessing they would describe it as animals fighting for resources, survival and spreading of genetic material.

Basically, we should appreciate goodness when we find it because it is rare and fleeting in the world.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 09-26-2010, 03:52 PM   #124
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It does seem like a number of threads here have degraded into philosophical pi$$ing contests recently.

Of course, that's just my opinion, too.
Depends....

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Old 09-26-2010, 05:44 PM   #125
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Depends....

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Old 09-26-2010, 06:34 PM   #126
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Depends....

No, still wearing jockeys.
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:18 PM   #127
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No, still wearing jockeys.
Ooooooooo.....
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:37 PM   #128
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Well that's just your opinion.

This opens quite a can of worms...
Is there an objective truth?
Can we know it?
Who is capable of deciding what is objectively "wrong"?
When is one informed enough?
Is it possible to have a valid opinion affirming the existence of devine beings that do not manifest themselves in any measurable way?
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:47 PM   #129
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It does seem like a number of threads here have degraded into philosophical pi$$ing contests recently.

Of course, that's just my opinion, too.
This one has certainly taken a philosophical turn. Is that something you really find objectionable? Obviously some members are interested, or there would not be "a number" of threads that veer off in that direction.

Maybe there ought to be a separate forum for philosophical topics. Then those members who dislike such topics could put the whole thing on "ignore".
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Old 09-26-2010, 09:47 PM   #130
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I still maintain that morality is a social construct and our sense of morality likely evolved along with us. There certainly are tensions between peoples, especially when resources are scarce. I did not mean to imply that we are naturally "good" nor do I believe we are naturally "bad." I acknowledge that my post was way over simplified. My only point is that I do not believe in a god given kind of morality. I am not surprised by the ugly things people do. But I am also not surprised by the good people do.
I agree with all of this. But what I don't exactly understand is if "morality is a social construct" (agree!), how could it "evolve along with us". Evolution is biological, and social constructs are by definition social. The Russian Lamarck posited that communist social development would be incorporated into biological evolution, but I don't believe anyone other than Marxists believed this, and Marxists may no longer believe it either.

At any rate, it seems overwhelming that moral conduct is fostered or enforced by social factors, including training that tends to be incorporated into most people, so that as you mention they get very nevous when they are being deviant. But this easily breaks down when the social pressure is varied- for example Germany during the holocaust, or even the notorious experiments of Philip Zimbardo which demonstrated how easy it can be to get so called moral people to do things that are quite outside of the normal rules of behavior.
The Stanford Prison Experiment: A Simulation Study of the Psychology of Imprisonment


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Old 09-26-2010, 11:06 PM   #131
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I still maintain that morality is a social construct and our sense of morality likely evolved along with us. There certainly are tensions between peoples, especially when resources are scarce. I did not mean to imply that we are naturally "good" nor do I believe we are naturally "bad." I acknowledge that my post was way over simplified. My only point is that I do not believe in a god given kind of morality. I am not surprised by the ugly things people do. But I am also not surprised by the good people do.We may not disagree as much as it appears on the surface.

Social behaviors are complicated, with many factors effecting how people behave. But you can see precursors to human morality in social animals. Chimps who go against the norm in their group exhibit fear. Plenty of animals exhibit altuistic behavior. (Food sharing, dolphins rescuing drowning animals from other species, dogs adopting orphaned animals. . . ) And animals cheat and hide bad behavior from others in their social groups just like we do.
I'm sorry but no we disagree completely . You are artificially imposing a human concept (altruism) on a non human animal and then ascribing the action to another human concept. That is was evolutionary biologists call a "just so" story aka the ad hoc fallacy. We cannot even ascribe altruism or cheating or bad behavior to human behaviors in cultures that are totally foreign to us.

More importantly ascribing behavior to evolution is fraught with its own dangers. Lions hunt in prides. Was that evolved or learned? Is it passed on by genes or by cubs learning from elders? I've watched Cheetah mothers "teach" cheeta cubs by attacking baby warthogs. Cheetah can't eat warthog but the young are just right as training dummies. No Warthogs, they use something else.

We can "select" animals for various qualities that we think of as behaviors by breeding but those qualities have to be there in the first place. sled dogs and race horses did not evolve those behaviors.
We found that a few horses like to race and we selected for that characteristic, just like we bred for big or docile or black or whatever.

So please, Culture is more than adequate to explain all the complex human behaviors. We have very big brains and we use them. Humans have spread all over the world in a time period far too short to allow the kind of evolution you suggest.
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:30 AM   #132
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Maybe there ought to be a separate forum for philosophical topics. Then those members who dislike such topics could put the whole thing on "ignore".
Hey hey hey, that's what led to the creation of the "Soapbox" forum. Let's not go there again.

The issue with a public forum (which everyone would hypothetically be free to ignore) is that the moderators still have to rope in the controversial miscreants. This tension/frustration tends to spill over to the regular board and drags down the whole ambiance.

The solution is to set up a social group (open or invitation-only) where like-minded posters can philosophize to their heart's content without attracting undue troll attention.
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Old 09-27-2010, 09:01 AM   #133
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This one has certainly taken a philosophical turn. Is that something you really find objectionable? Obviously some members are interested, or there would not be "a number" of threads that veer off in that direction.

Maybe there ought to be a separate forum for philosophical topics. Then those members who dislike such topics could put the whole thing on "ignore".
Perhaps the problem is my own pragmatism. When I compare the thread title and the intent of the OP to the latest post and cannot find a strong connection, I find it annoying. And, no, I am not going to get into a pi$$ing contest with anyone over the validity of my annoyance.

End of rant.
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Old 09-27-2010, 09:41 AM   #134
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LOL! I agree 100% with everything you have said here, the quoted part being only the most salient. I would say that it is almost being legislated and judicated into our culture that there are no legitimate discrimations. To discriminate is to harbor prejudice, according to today's ethos.

In fact this is ridiculous. The way any system improves its functioning is to to high-grade. To high grade, a system or society must be able to make discriminations between what is better and what is worse. Once a system stops this process, progress stops and like the USA today we descend into a free-for-all of idiocy, with every part of our culture reaching for the bottom, and in America the bottom is pretty low.

Ha
Always enjoy your posts! I couldn't agree with you more. A recent example that comes to mind is the embrace of Eminem after he emerged from a drug induced stupor. Instead of society shouting from the mountain tops that this guy is no role model and him and his music should be rejected instead the networks promoted his "redemption" tour. I am truely afraid of the direction this society is taking - every opinion is valid; let's not judge others - pure idiocy. I don't buy in to that one bit and I do teach my children to be discerning. There are some things that should never be promoted in society because of the impact it has on the young and impressionable. I do believe some of us do know better.
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:32 AM   #135
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I'm sorry but no we disagree completely . You are artificially imposing a human concept (altruism) on a non human animal and then ascribing the action to another human concept. That is was evolutionary biologists call a "just so" story aka the ad hoc fallacy. We cannot even ascribe altruism or cheating or bad behavior to human behaviors in cultures that are totally foreign to us.

More importantly ascribing behavior to evolution is fraught with its own dangers. Lions hunt in prides. Was that evolved or learned? Is it passed on by genes or by cubs learning from elders? I've watched Cheetah mothers "teach" cheeta cubs by attacking baby warthogs. Cheetah can't eat warthog but the young are just right as training dummies. No Warthogs, they use something else.

We can "select" animals for various qualities that we think of as behaviors by breeding but those qualities have to be there in the first place. sled dogs and race horses did not evolve those behaviors.
We found that a few horses like to race and we selected for that characteristic, just like we bred for big or docile or black or whatever.

So please, Culture is more than adequate to explain all the complex human behaviors. We have very big brains and we use them. Humans have spread all over the world in a time period far too short to allow the kind of evolution you suggest.

I clearly am not communicating very well with you and Ha and maybe we are just having a nature/nuture argument and I don't see lines between nature and nuture.

We evolved to be social animals. I am not engaging in sentimental anthropomorphizing to say that non-human animals exhibit behaviors that bear some similarity to human social behaviors. Yes, animals exhibit altruistic type behaviors. Yes animals exhibit cheating behaviors. Yes animals exhibit emotional responses, such as fear to even sympathy. All species that rely on cooperation show loyalty and helping behaviors. It is interesting to see the capacity of animals for what humans have categorized as "good" or as "bad." I do not know the extent that apes or other social animals have a theory of the mind, where they can imagine what goes on in each others heads. (Though I know there is a bunch of research on the issue). I will say that I do not believe that we are different in a metaphysical sense from other animals. There is continuity with animals. So, the term anthropomorphism becomes meaningless. We evolved a bigger, more powerful brain, with a well developed theory of the mind. Even babies of a year old exhibit evidence of empathy. Our capacity for empathy and for learning, mixed with our drive to survive has allowed us to develop complicated moral codes and differentiating cultures. Our culture then shapes how we express our nature. We learn because we evolved to learn. We often adapt to changing circumstances because we are so good at learning.



Darwin said way back in 1872:

An animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, the parental and filial affections being here included, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as is intellectual powers had become well developed, or nearly as well developed, as in man.




We aren't part nature, part nurture, but one big integrated whole. It is one big old messy spot in the evolution of man.
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:34 AM   #136
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Perhaps the problem is my own pragmatism. When I compare the thread title and the intent of the OP to the latest post and cannot find a strong connection, I find it annoying. And, no, I am not going to get into a pi$$ing contest with anyone over the validity of my annoyance.

End of rant.
Our forum members are masters of floating off topic. Just like real life conversation. You start at one place and end at another.
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:40 AM   #137
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I wonder if the railroad forum stays on track...
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:31 AM   #138
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I wonder if the railroad forum stays on track...



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Old 09-27-2010, 12:49 PM   #139
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I wonder if the railroad forum stays on track...
You'd think that this forum's members would have to be pretty functional to post here, too.

Maybe we're evolving in a different direction or suffering from malnurturation...
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Old 09-27-2010, 03:44 PM   #140
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What great thread. It's like volleyball.

That train thing you describe reminds me of Ham Radio. Lord Have Mercy, and deliver us from boredom, Amen.

Ha
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