Kurieuo wrote:Nils wrote:
It seems that you are thinking that there is a big difference between instincts and conscience. To me it is just a matter of degree. An instinct makes the animal mother not to eat her offspring and it is the same to the human mother but she can also consciously reflect about what she has learnt about what you should or shouldn't do. This makes it possible to widen the morality outside the family to a bigger group and to a society. In that process I think a conscious conscience is useful. It's a way to make intuitive what you are feeling and have learnt.
However note that my last sentence is only a speculation. The human brain is extremely complex with hundreds (at least) processes going on in parallel so it's certainly risky to try describe psychological features.
I'd say that for us, morality is perhaps subcategory of instinct. Our moral conscience, which tells us what is right or wrong, judges our own actions and makes us feel guilty or defensive, is a type of instict -- moral instinct. Then there are behavioural instincts, such seem to me more mechanically driven. For example, bees instinctually seem to do their waggle dance in a figure '8' to communicate distance and direction to flowers. These are like behavioural instructions bees are innately programmed with. You know, we all seem to have certain instincts that are innate.
I agree (even I do not see any differences in how mechanically they are. Neurological, I would say )
This to me highlights the often buried Aristotelean idea of telos, that living things have a given goal or purpose. It is seeing a come back even within evolutionary ideas. The thought that evolution happens by chance genetic mutations is becoming less popular. Instead, the idea that a natural set of laws are at play which structure the evolutionary process of lifeforms and biological structures. So for example, the idea that if history was reset and evolution could play out again, we'd likely have different animals and species, isn't really true according to Structuralism (an evolutionary position). Instead, there are natural laws governing the evolutionary process, which eventually result in vertbrate animals, hominds and certain organs like eyes and the like. It would have always occurred that way, and if evolution repeated, would be that way again, and again, and again. It is said, if we found other intelligent life on another planet elsewhere, then we would probably expect it to look rather like us. Often used in support of this is the fact there are 100s of examples of what gets called "convergent evolution" -- similar structures and lifeforms that must have evolved separately more than once, repeated over and over again.
The Theory of Evolution (TOE) is more or less per definition not goal oriented. If there is some goal oriented factor I would not call it TOE but some other theory that is some parts resembles TOE but which at a critical point differs. That TOE is not teleological is not a small secondary property but one of the main cornerstones of the theory. The slogan "survival of the fittest" implies that evolution don't depend on any hidden goal.
Structuralism as I read about it seems in many cases to be some version of Intelligent Design and ID is not a variant of TOE. So when you say that evolution by mutations is becoming less popular this seems to be valid only for persons that are not adherents of TOE.
Now my point in all this is that this telos, the guiding principles and instincts that are innate to us (and likewise other behavioural instincts innate to other animals and insects), and even the structural processes that are embedded within nature itself towards producing intelligent life like us, all such must come from somewhere.
When we create robots, we program software which gives it certain code which says how it is to work, what actions it is to do, how it is to respond to its environment and what-not. When the robot is switched on, these "pre-programmed" instructions are a "mechanical" type of instinct already there and ready to go with. Yet, moral instinct is qualitatively different. We are presenting with a choice when it comes to morality. Either we can listen to that which our conscience tells us is right, or we can dismiss it to do that which is wrong for selfish reasons. Interestingly, if we do that which is wrong, than a normally functioning person will feel guilt.
So it's like we're programmed not only with a moral instinct, but the telos is for us to keep to it. But why?
It is like something, or more likely Someone wants us to conduct ourselves a certain way. And so all this to me, points to a good God which I see has the most explanitory power when it comes to instinctual and telos driven things, especially with our moral conscience.
Well, you don't like TOE but prefer God governed evolution. That's your choice. Being an atheist I don't agree, of course.
Compared to your psychological explanation, where it seems you really don't know and are simply trying to throw something, anything, out there. It just lacks any convinciveness, and it really seems too simplistic to carry much explanitory power for our morality. Noted, you are just likely thinking off the top of your head.
We might then turn your explanation to Kenny trying to ground morality objectively, which appears more like scrambling something together that could possibly work within a secular worldview, but really still lacks any clear grounding nor does it do full justice to the morality we innately feel. Consider in addition to a real sense of right and wrong, we add in a sense of justice, that self-sacrifice is good, why we feel guilt, concepts of fairness, even a love for each other (our moral conscience doesn't necessarily demand we love each other, but such would be a good thing right? Like there is room being left for us to go above and beyond a "status quo" morality that is implanted within us!). So then, a satisfactory explanation of such things doesn't seem to me like it could find grounding in ourselves or society (like you put forward to Kenny), and such is certainly not grounded in nature which cares not one tittle (unless perhaps nature is conscious???).
Maybe I understand that you are not convinced by my theory. Even if I have thought about it in ten years and also debated informally I have neither tried to formulate it more precisely in an article nor studied the literature on the subject. Here, I want to show that there is a possibility to explain morality (including all your list above: "a real sense of right and wrong, we add in a sense of justice, that self-sacrifice is good, why we feel guilt, concepts of fairness, even a love for each other") without referring to a higher force.
Assume the following:
1. The Theory of Evolution is correct.
2. It is preferable to humans and many animals to live together in groups (families, tribes and even societies). This will increase the chance to survive.
3. To be able to live in groups there has to be rules of conduct i.e. morality.
If you agree with #2 and #3 and assume #1 there is nothing peculiar that evolution (TOE) has happened to form animals (including humans) to have a moral instinct including sense of right and wrong etc. We know of other biological features that are just as complex and that are formed by evolution (still assuming #1). For evolution to go in some direction it is enough that there is some property that is beneficial to survival and it is possible to achieve that property in small steps, where each step also is beneficial. And that is valid for morality.
This can of course be seen as telos as you do above. When looking at the development of the mammalian eye for instance, the evolution can be described like there were some force that new the final result and governed the steps towards the goal - teleological evolution. But TOE only says that each step was beneficial and the evolution continued as long as this requirement was fulfilled. When no more beneficial step occurred evolution stopped (at different stages for different species).
Perhaps I should clarify that my intentions with my participating in this thread is not to try convince anyone that the "best" theory of morality is the one I advocate but more restricted showing that being a materialist is a coherent position regarding morality. I noticed several times on this board that it is argued: If there is no God anything is permitted. It just a matter of taste what to do etc. I argue that evolution has made us have an instinct that is common to all humans (more or less) and also to some animals. On top of that instinct we humans also has culture that forms and specifies our moral instinct to specific rules often expressed in laws. But the main argument is 1 to 3 above and if you agree on 2 and 3 and assume 1, then much more has not to be said.
My view about morality can not be used as an argument against the existence of God but I think it shows that morality can not be used as an argument against materialism (as you and others often do). There is nothing in materialistic morality that can not be explained by evolution (TOE). Then it can be discussed whether I have succeeded in my explanations. I am not an expert, the issue is a bit complex, and my time is limited.