I have noticed that you think that C. S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity is of interest. I have now started to read the first chapters again. (The Doodle Youtubes are amusing but I prefer reading the book. It's easier to follow the arguments in a book).
One important point is in chapter three (page 19 in my edition) where he tries to prove that a position like mine is false:
"Now, of course, it is perfectly true that safety and happiness can only come from individuals, classes, and nations being honest and fair and kind to each other. It is one of the most important truths in the world. But as an explanation of why we feel as we do about Right and Wrong it just misses the point. If we ask: "Why ought I to be unselfish?" and you reply "Because it is good for society," we may then ask, "Why should I care what's good for society except when it happens to pay me personally?" and then you will have to say, "Because you ought to be unselfish"—which simply brings us back to where we started."
But there are better answers then the final "Because you ought to be unselfish":
 - You will probably feel better if you are not selfish because evolution has made us such.
 - If you are acting selfish other persons may notice that and dislike you.
 - In cases where you need help other persons may refuse helping you or your near.
- You may miss the opportunity to be able to say that you contributed to a better society, which in the long run is very nice to you.
I've numbered your points above.
 You will feel better not being selfish because evolution has made us such? To be an adequate answer requires there being some hidden accepted premise I think that could
make this a satisfactory answer. That is, saying "evolution has made us such" suggests that there is an end goal trying to be acheived by evolutionary processes. There is a telos
that evolution is directing all life towards, which results in intelligent, moral beings like us.
Saying "evolution as made us such" doesn't require any end goal. The standard evolution theory is completely non-teleological. However, it is beneficial to individuals, e.g. dogs, that live in groups to have inherited behaviour (or moral laws) that make a dog share food with others in the group, don't kill the puppies in the group, neither her own nor others. So is there a mutation that favours such behaviour it is beneficial to the group and is inherited by the offspring (This is an overview, the reality it is much more complex).
This then raises the question as to whether the reason the evolutionary process made us such is due to some reason higher than the natural evolutionary processes themselves. Are evolutionary process, for example, obeying a higher purpose established in the natural laws? Or, did we just happen to strike it lucky that we were "blessed" (or "cursed" depending upon how you look on it) with a moral conscience that can make us feel guilty when we are selfish and try to just look after #1 in life?
The standard evolutionary processes don't use "higher" reasons or pure luck. It is difficult to describe it shortly but it is a combination of chance and reality. The latter is the fact that it often beneficial for organism to live in groups and if they do they (we) has to have rules of behaving to each other (morality). If, by chance, a mutation occurs that increases co-operation then this benefits the group and the change will be stable.
If the process all happened by chance and we are the result of such, then it also seems out of place that evolution, which is kind of inherently selfish with respect to survival of genes and particular species, suddenly "decides" to impose something called morality upon us which makes us feel responsible to others, even to the point of giving up our very lives. There seems a better fit with other explanations, such as a super-intelligent being who has particular values and desires the creatures He created to choose to be good and loving. This super being installs certain "bumper bars" if you will, to encourage us to live according to its own values. And so natural laws are setup accordingly, and we have a moral conscience pre-programmed into us such that we will feel guilt, a sense of responsibility to others, understand concepts like fairness and justice and the like. This seems like a more fulfilling and satisfactory explanation to me.
I am uncertain if you understand how evolution is working (I am only talking about the standard theory). It certainly isn't doing anything "suddenly". It's is an extremely slow process over millions and millions year with gradual changes. The first step of morality is that you shall not eat your kids, and then it gets more and more advanced. There is nothing special with giving up your very lives to support your genes. Even some species of spiders do that when male spiders are eaten by the female spiders directly after mating.
I can understand you feel that it is nicer having a super-intelligent being that regulates everything to the best. But to me that is not an argument because I have other reasons not to believe in a super-intelligent being. Also if there would be an intelligent being controlling evolution it doesn't seem to me that he is super-intelligent. There are lots of examples. Just one: Why did he leave to us to eradicate smallpox.
The fact of the matter is also that we can become desensatised to what is right and wrong. Should we not shake it if such simply happened due to chance? We could equally live in a harsh cruel dog-eat-dog world where the survival of the fittest truly reigns supreme. You know, I think I'd feel good if I sold my house and gave away everything I own, but then such would be stupid because it'd mean I'm now out on the street and unable to support myself. It seems to me not being selfish isn't to be found in unintellent natural processes, but is rather something which transcends natural order. And then, if I'm only unselfish to the point that it doesn't pain me, then such seems kind of superficial really.
But my account is mainly not chance dependent. Living in a group or a society is good to humans. Morality is needed when you live in a group. That's all that is needed.
In any case, I see this answer of yours fulfills Lewis' "except when it happens to pay me personally." If you are doing something "unselfish" because you wish to feel good, then you are ultimately doing it for selfish reasons.
Yes, but in that sense any action for any motive is selfish. Is it possible to do anything if you don't think that you feel better in some way if you do it, for instance getting appraisal from your conscience? If you believe in God it will be the same. You may do the good and right for some reason for instance that you don't want to go to hell or that you love God and feel good when you obey his rules. In the end you are ultimately doing it for selfish reasons.
 If I'm acting selfish others may not like me. Seriously? I know many selfish people, in fact, it seems to be the most selfish people who rise to be very wealthy and gain a whole lot of fame. Nonetheless, again I think this fulfills Lewis' "except when it happens to pay me personally."
If you have two apples, to whom do you prefer to give the extra apple? To the one that usually is selfish or to the one that is usually generous? Re the last question, see above.
 Again, because we know so many people have a moral conscience, we can actually prey upon such. There is still help available to me if I'm a complete **** to others, I just need to claim depression or put on some tears perhaps, look pathetic so others take pity. We can manipulate other people and very selfish people are often experts at this. There are ways people can connive to get what they want from others. Nonetheless, the reason you present once again fulfills, "except when it happens to pay me personally."
Well, it is sometimes smart to be a "free rider" but few persons are that smart that they manage in the long run. And it may be dangerous in critical situations where resources are scare and you really need help.
 I might be able to contribute to a better society if I'm selfish and able to gain much wealth and power. In addition, I can at the same time enjoy life more fully if I'm living life my way, have a mansion, having boat parties on a million dollar boat and the like? People would love me for such things, like they love others who do such. You seem to think being selfish and bettering society is exclusive to each other, but I don't see how. Nonetheless, on this last point of yours it still fulfills Lewis' "except when it happens to pay me personally."
I am not saying that it in some cases isn't possible to both have a pleasant life and contribute to society. But in most cases it is difficult to achieve, you may have to sacrifice something but of course, you will get something in reward, personally, otherwise you would never do it.
Generally about my four examples. They could be explained and elaborated in more detail and they are not always valid, not for all persons and not in all circumstances. But I think they are generally true.
Nils wrote:So there is no circularity.
Indeed, to the contrary, it still seems there is circularity.
Again, Lewis argument was:
."If we ask: "Why ought I to be unselfish?" and you reply "Because it is good for society," we may then ask, "Why should I care what's good for society except when it happens to pay me personally?" and then you will have to say, "Because you ought to be unselfish"—which simply brings us back to where we started."
Other ways to answer is:
- If you care about yourself and your family in the long run it is difficult to behave so that you will have a good society for you and your family in the future if you only looks at what pays you in the short run.
- If everybody cared of the society only when it happens to them in the short run, then the society would break down. Therefore the society has to enforce morality that condemn such behaviour and we are back to my first four arguments.
So, the answer is "Because it is best to you in the long run". There is no circularity.
Given all your reasons for being "unselfish" are ultimately built upon there being some sort of personal gain ("selfish" reason), then they fail to be reasons for why we should be unselfish. Indeed it seems CS Lewis stands correct, there is no reason for us to be unselfish than that we ought to be unselfish. But why ought we? The reason for such seems to supercede our physical lives.
I here refer you to true unselfishness found in Jesus' own teachings, such levels go beyond how many understand the golden rule, which can be summed up as, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you
." Note, the golden rule actually seems built upon selfishness IF
the reason you are doing to others is because you want something in return.
None of your examples could explain TRUE
unselfishness, the type found in Christ's teachings which involves loving others to the point of sacrificing your life for them, or loving your enemies even if they hate and will continue persecuting you:
- "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13)"
- "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." (Matthew 5:43-48)
I don't buy your distinction between TRUE and other unselfishness. See above. (But Kant also tried to make a distinction)
I sometimes wonder why people are so repulsed by Christ's teachings. Maybe it's more a matter of people liking Christ, but not liking Christians they know or liking how many Christian appear to be dumb and stupid. BUT, I wonder how much of that is really just unjustified stigmas and labels, particularly since much of modern thought and science is built upon the shoulders of bright individuals who were Christian.
I can't answer for "people". I personally is not "repulsed" by Christ's teaching but I am not impressed. And there is no Christian I don't like even if I don't know but a few. And finally I don't think it is important if science and modern thinking is done by Christians or not. Good science is good independent of the scientists general views.
I still have to comment:
http://discussions.godandscience.org/vi ... 86#p230886
It will take some time reading more about Structuralism