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    Thread: If We Weren't Taught What Was Right or Wrong as Children..

    1. #1
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      If We Weren't Taught What Was Right or Wrong as Children..

      How we we act? Would society be completely different? Would most people be rude and selfish? Of course this also brings us to the question...What is right or wrong? Discuss.

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      I know if you watch shows about apes, the males can be total jerks, biting and punching anyone they are bigger than.
      Peace Be With You. Oh, and sure, The Force too, why not.



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      Xei
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      Empathy for those seen as your extended kin is a biological function (i.e. innate, untaught) with an obvious evolutionary edge. Some specific brain regions relevant to this have been identified, and genetic defects can lead to psychopathy. There are plenty of social animals with empathy. So society would not be totally different.

      More generally though, for those not seen as your kin, there is no biological reason to be empathetic. In fact it's better if you're hostile.

      However most people nowadays see this as being wrong. I think that this is from a very different, second source of morality. It is rational morality; morality which we derive via our cognition (which tries to unify things into general principles) rather than our instinct (and for which our parents' teaching is an important source). Specifically, one can derive from several very common concepts the golden rule; specifically concepts like symmetry, that is to say, one recognises that all humans are pretty much the same as yourself, and it follows logically that you should not hurt others, or else other humans, applying the general principle, could morally hurt you, which is intuitively incorrect. Most concepts of fairness and equality come from this.

      An interesting thing to note is that instinctive morality is more powerful; we feel compelled to do it and we feel good when we do it. For example, defending your friends from an aggressor. There is a biological reward system. On the other hand, rational morality can be a struggle. We don't feel very compelled to consume less because of the effect it's having on undeveloped countries, for instance, or give our money to such causes. But we like to put this morality on a higher pedestal.
      Last edited by Xei; 03-05-2012 at 07:16 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      More generally though, for those not seen as your kin, there is no biological reason to be empathetic. In fact it's better if you're hostile.
      This is not generally considered to be true, following classic game-theoretic analyses by, e.g., Trivers on reciprocal altruism, Axelrod & Hamilton on the evolution of cooperation, and others.
      Last edited by DuB; 03-05-2012 at 09:09 AM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Mancon View Post
      Would society be completely different? Would most people be rude and selfish?
      Where are you from?

      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      This is not generally considered to be true, following classic game-theoretic analyses by, e.g., Trivers on reciprocal altruism, Axelrod & Hamilton on the evolution of cooperation, and others.
      Nonetheless, these examples oddly fixate on reciprocity, inaccurately denoting altruism as a means to an end. Neither cooperation nor another's intention correlate in any way to raw altruism. Trivers, Axelrod and Hamilton provide an analysis of evolving survival hedonism as a refute against "intuitive hostility" toward non-kin, rather than an ethical model.

      In regards to the OP's concern over what really is right or wrong, as Xei mentioned, the Golden Rule creates a foundation for most fairness beliefs and moral doctrines. However, it is exactly this prevailing belief in the concept of fairness which establishes the Golden Rule as an objectively weak and faulty motto. Nevertheless, it is not the rule which fails, but the popular and seemingly logical process, as unfortunately explained by Xei, by which individuals utilize it:

      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      it follows logically that you should not hurt others, or else other humans, applying the general principle, could morally hurt you, which is intuitively incorrect.
      Essentially, the objective horror of the idea to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," parallels that of altruism in how it is an end in itself. One does not abide by the Golden Rule through fear of consequence; only subjective intention correlates. The rule secures neither a scale of justice nor another's mutual sensitivity. Ultimately, even atop the wings of such an enlightening principle, we inevitably fall victim to each other's fundamentally arbitrary self-interest. Despite the affluence of courtesy within many millennia-old creeds, our arbitrary nature affirms how, well, whatever you think is right or wrong is just, like, your opinion, man.
      Last edited by InvisibleWoman; 03-06-2012 at 08:24 AM.
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      Are most parents really teaching wrong and right or do they usually just punish their kids for being impolite?
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      I'm thinking even if we weren't taught, we'll start picking signs from observing people. If one gets a good respond from doing certain thing we might categorised that as a good thing, similar for bad things. That gauge itself is pretty vague though but still we'll learn about things by ourselves one way or another. Unless you are saying everyone is rude and selfish.

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      I believe that even if those things were not taught to them, they can learn from experience by being victims or victimizing others. They can also learn morals through pain, knowing certain things cause pain, they having felt pain would/should immediately feel empathy and the empathy should cause a change in the person's behavior or characteristics.

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      Many evolutionary biologists believe that "hard" altruism is ingrained in us because of our ancestors. It's a trait that helped your ancestors survive, therefore it is a part of you.

      Even though people know what is right and wrong, they still murder, start wars, etc... I don't think we'd be much different. Just because we think we "know" what is right and wrong, doesn't mean we actually DO what is right. Because very often, we do what is wrong and either know but don't care, or attempt to deny it.

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      Xei
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      Indeed. Which raises the question,

      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      This is not generally considered to be true, following classic game-theoretic analyses by, e.g., Trivers on reciprocal altruism, Axelrod & Hamilton on the evolution of cooperation, and others.
      why are there wars?

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      It could be argued that war arises from the most extreme form of kin selection; physically removing a threat to a group's well-being. Hamilton says that kin selection not only involves assisting those of your "in-group," but also involves refusing to save a member of an "out-group" when in danger. If you take that the next step, you can PRESENT the danger to the out-group, which can economically/territorially benefit the in-group. A common enemy creates unity, which further strengthens in-group ties.

      Human rights activists and pacifists, on the other hand, seem to strive towards a global in-group, in which all human beings are a part. Until humanity as a whole becomes the most important in-group, war is a rational tool.

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      Hmm, would it then be rational today for the group with humanity's best interest to wage war against groups less evolved in moral objectivity, like extreme nationalists or the many custom based groups exclusive according to unimportant reasons in the light of humanity's evolution? I find it quite fortunate that the human ability to reason can create groups that transcend and undermine the more primitively inclined groups.
      Last edited by Wayfaerer; 03-15-2012 at 11:12 PM.

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      To meet their OWN ends, it would be rational; but it would ALSO be irrational, because they would be doing exactly what they oppose.

      It's a very simple type of paradox, pacifists killing war-mongers to meet their own ends of world peace.

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      I know people that as children had violent, immoral parents with strong criminal tendencies and they grew up to become good, kind, peaceful productive members of society. I also know people that as children had parents with high moral standards who grew up to be violent adults living lives of crime to pay their way in the world. There are just two many variables to such a broad question. My opinion however, is that we react to life based mostly on our spiritual evolution garnered from previous incarnations.

      Please click on the links below, more techniques under investigation to come soon...


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      Quote Originally Posted by elucid View Post
      They can also learn morals through pain, knowing certain things cause pain, they having felt pain would/should immediately feel empathy and the empathy should cause a change in the person's behavior or characteristics.
      I think apathy would cause this change, not empathy. In a scenario the op has set forth, our baser instincts would play a greater roll in our equilibrium, the result of this being survival in the most fundamental meaning of the word. Not this equality bullshit we're forced to accept today.

      It can be argued that survival is not possible without empathy, and on some level of prejudice I too will defend an argument for, but what it boils down to is this: we do not like pain, and we will do anything we can to avoid it. So the empathy we feel towards anything, is an illusion.

      We may tell ourselves that we are looking out for our neighbors, but we're not.

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      Quote Originally Posted by ♥Mark
      Every idea about what is right or wrong has to do with where one places value. Nothing inherently has value so it is necessarily subjective.
      Is it wrong for me to disagree with you?

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      Of course not. What do you disagree about, specifically?

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      Quote Originally Posted by ♥Mark View Post
      Of course not.
      Sure, disagreeing in itself is a-ok, however, it translates that I'm opposing your statement--that I'm under the impression value is had, not given. So, am I still not wrong?

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      Well how does something have value? Where does it come from?

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      Let's assume I'm under the impression humans, as sentient beings, have intrinsic value. Because of our sentience and capacity to rationalize, our actions derive from volition, which derives from intention. I'm under the impression that only because we reason does our will inevitably come coupled with what we call moral law. Am I wrong?
      Last edited by InvisibleWoman; 03-20-2012 at 08:44 PM.
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      Arguably, groups pose greater rates of survival over individuals due to resource gathering and the delegation of specific tasks/roles, which are conducive to survival and 'evolution of the group'. For instance, humans that act as a group will likely have greater combined intelligence, available resources, and 'military strength' - basically, you're safer in a group than alone. The selfish people would have to act selfless to form a group, a useful level of deception if you will. A group that benefits all those within more so than if such members were alone.

      Thus, even if we were to be completely selfish, (some researchers believe we fundamentally are - just look at economic theory), we would require the resources, intelligence etc of particular individuals to form a formidable group. And likewise, others would require your skills as an individual to bolster the group's power. This process is known as social exchange theory, and again, some researchers believe this is what underlies all working human relationships: the idea that the formation of a relationship occurs under the impression of mutual benefit.

      Operating on that idea alone, it wouldn't take long for conditioning to make this behaviour seamlessly flow into normal routine, branching from microscopic levels (networks of 'friends'), to macroscopic levels (societies).

      And so, I don't think the world would be much different. We need people, and they need us.

      Note - though, of course, without some sort of global law or right conduct, each group (as small as they are) would dictate their own laws and conduct conducive to the survival of the group. People would kill other groups, but not those within the group. Again, I'm talking on a microscopic level (could be racial group, religious group), but just look at how countries differ (if visualised as a group), or even states of America, on what is right or wrong. And ultimately, in a general sense, those who share the same group will be less hostile to one another.
      Last edited by Wolfwood; 03-30-2012 at 01:07 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleWoman View Post
      Let's assume I'm under the impression humans, as sentient beings, have intrinsic value. Because of our sentience and capacity to rationalize, our actions derive from volition, which derives from intention. I'm under the impression that only because we reason does our will inevitably come coupled with what we call moral law. Am I wrong?
      Sentience and a capacity to rationalize are not intrinsically valuable. I guess it's true to say that for the most part humans value each other for these reasons and it is in that sense inevitable. As a matter of survivability it is necessary for humans to think this way. My point is that, hypothetically, if no one valued anything, nothing would have value.

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      Quote Originally Posted by ♥Mark View Post
      Sentience and a capacity to rationalize are not intrinsically valuable. I guess it's true to say that for the most part humans value each other for these reasons and it is in that sense inevitable. As a matter of survivability it is necessary for humans to think this way. My point is that, hypothetically, if no one valued anything, nothing would have value.
      Value requires one who values.

      Sage: "What has more value, a pile of mud or a stack of gold?"
      Student: "Well, that's obvious: the stack of gold"
      Sage: "And to a seed....?"

      ^_^
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      That seed could buy a lot of mud with that gold. Certainly more than just a pile.
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