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Dawkins views on the source of morality

1Devilsadvocate
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12/6/2012 4:45:36 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I was watching a debate involving Richard Dawkins.
He said we originally evolved "big brains" for selfish survival reasons. but then "our brains became so big that they over reached themselves, they are now doing things which from the point of view of the selfish genes are bad. we can do what we think is good & over rule the dictates of the selfish gene."

1)Is this still his view?

2) What made our brains become "so big that they over reached themselves", going against the selfish gene? What was the trigger, & why didn't natural selection stop it?
I cannot write in English, because of the treacherous spelling. When I am reading, I only hear it and am unable to remember what the written word looks like."
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Sidewalker
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12/6/2012 5:21:28 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/6/2012 4:45:36 PM, 1Devilsadvocate wrote:
I was watching a debate involving Richard Dawkins.
He said we originally evolved "big brains" for selfish survival reasons. but then "our brains became so big that they over reached themselves, they are now doing things which from the point of view of the selfish genes are bad. we can do what we think is good & over rule the dictates of the selfish gene."

1)Is this still his view?

I definitely think that Dawkin's head got so big that he overreached himself, went into areas that he knew diddly about and made his self look like an idiot.

2) What made our brains become "so big that they over reached themselves", going against the selfish gene? What was the trigger, & why didn't natural selection stop it?

I think the trigger was self reflective consciousness, which had a mind of it's own, so to speak, and it's subsequent evolution became a matter of more than just natural selection.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
Stephen_Hawkins
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12/6/2012 5:23:17 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
This is what happens when scientists pretend to know everything about philosophy... get the philosophers of science to speculate (I have a name of someone good but I forgot what they are called... pm me if really need to know but I'd have to search through a load of books to pin him/her down). The general jist is that we got smart enough to realise that we work best when we work in a group, and we learnt how to "think ahead".
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
vbaculum
Posts: 1,274
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12/6/2012 5:25:40 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/6/2012 5:21:28 PM, Sidewalker wrote:
At 12/6/2012 4:45:36 PM, 1Devilsadvocate wrote:
I was watching a debate involving Richard Dawkins.
He said we originally evolved "big brains" for selfish survival reasons. but then "our brains became so big that they over reached themselves, they are now doing things which from the point of view of the selfish genes are bad. we can do what we think is good & over rule the dictates of the selfish gene."

1)Is this still his view?

I definitely think that Dawkin's head got so big that he overreached himself, went into areas that he knew diddly about and made his self look like an idiot.

Himself.


2) What made our brains become "so big that they over reached themselves", going against the selfish gene? What was the trigger, & why didn't natural selection stop it?

I think the trigger was self reflective consciousness, which had a mind of it's own, so to speak, and it's subsequent evolution became a matter of more than just natural selection.
"If you claim to value nonviolence and you consume animal products, you need to rethink your position on nonviolence." - Gary Francione

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OMGJustinBieber
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12/6/2012 5:33:36 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The source is obviously evolutionary for Dawkins, but Dawkins believes in objective morality that apparently has to be constructed...

BELLEVUE, WA -- Famed British bioethicist Professor Richard Dawkins, a leader of the New Atheism movement, encouraged a crowd of almost 1,200 people gathered at Newport High School on Sunday to "take back American values" and become a more influential force of American culture.

"True American Values. The values of Jefferson and Madison " Let"s intelligently design our morality rather than trying to read what"s right and wrong in a 3,000-year-old book. Religion has hijacked morality for centuries," Dawkins told an audience that ran the gamut of ages from pre-teens to senior citizens.

http://bellevue.patch.com...
1Devilsadvocate
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12/6/2012 6:03:55 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/6/2012 5:33:36 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
The source is obviously evolutionary for Dawkins, but Dawkins believes in objective morality that apparently has to be constructed...

BELLEVUE, WA -- Famed British bioethicist Professor Richard Dawkins, a leader of the New Atheism movement, encouraged a crowd of almost 1,200 people gathered at Newport High School on Sunday to "take back American values" and become a more influential force of American culture.

"True American Values. The values of Jefferson and Madison " Let"s intelligently design our morality rather than trying to read what"s right and wrong in a 3,000-year-old book. Religion has hijacked morality for centuries," Dawkins told an audience that ran the gamut of ages from pre-teens to senior citizens.

http://bellevue.patch.com...

How does this answer the questions?
I cannot write in English, because of the treacherous spelling. When I am reading, I only hear it and am unable to remember what the written word looks like."
"Albert Einstein

http://www.twainquotes.com... , http://thewritecorner.wordpress.com... , http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com...
OMGJustinBieber
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12/6/2012 6:08:56 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/6/2012 6:03:55 PM, 1Devilsadvocate wrote:
At 12/6/2012 5:33:36 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
The source is obviously evolutionary for Dawkins, but Dawkins believes in objective morality that apparently has to be constructed...

BELLEVUE, WA -- Famed British bioethicist Professor Richard Dawkins, a leader of the New Atheism movement, encouraged a crowd of almost 1,200 people gathered at Newport High School on Sunday to "take back American values" and become a more influential force of American culture.

"True American Values. The values of Jefferson and Madison " Let"s intelligently design our morality rather than trying to read what"s right and wrong in a 3,000-year-old book. Religion has hijacked morality for centuries," Dawkins told an audience that ran the gamut of ages from pre-teens to senior citizens.

http://bellevue.patch.com...

How does this answer the questions?

I helped elucidate his view.
1Devilsadvocate
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12/6/2012 6:21:27 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/6/2012 5:23:17 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
This is what happens when scientists pretend to know everything about philosophy... get the philosophers of science to speculate (I have a name of someone good but I forgot what they are called... pm me if really need to know but I'd have to search through a load of books to pin him/her down). The general jist is that we got smart enough to realise that we work best when we work in a group, and we learnt how to "think ahead".

Sounds interesting, I'll have to think about it.

But how is it that Dawkins did not :

a)realize that what he was saying made no sense, it doesn't take a philosopher to realize?

b) know the theory that you just mentioned?
I cannot write in English, because of the treacherous spelling. When I am reading, I only hear it and am unable to remember what the written word looks like."
"Albert Einstein

http://www.twainquotes.com... , http://thewritecorner.wordpress.com... , http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com...
Clash
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12/7/2012 8:05:42 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/6/2012 4:45:36 PM, 1Devilsadvocate wrote:
I was watching a debate involving Richard Dawkins.
He said we originally evolved "big brains" for selfish survival reasons. but then "our brains became so big that they over reached themselves, they are now doing things which from the point of view of the selfish genes are bad. we can do what we think is good & over rule the dictates of the selfish gene."

It's very unfortunate that Dawkin is only making baseless claims and theories instead of actually giving some evidences to support and justify them. I watched some of his documentaries on YouTube some 3-4 months ago, especially his "Root of All Evil". Funny guy. Surprisingly, even more funnier than Hitchens.
1Devilsadvocate
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12/7/2012 12:51:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/7/2012 8:05:42 AM, Clash wrote:
At 12/6/2012 4:45:36 PM, 1Devilsadvocate wrote:
I was watching a debate involving Richard Dawkins.
He said we originally evolved "big brains" for selfish survival reasons. but then "our brains became so big that they over reached themselves, they are now doing things which from the point of view of the selfish genes are bad. we can do what we think is good & over rule the dictates of the selfish gene."

It's very unfortunate that Dawkins is only making baseless claims and theories instead of actually giving some evidences to support and justify them. I watched some of his documentaries on You tube some 3-4 months ago, especially his "Root of All Evil". Funny guy. Surprisingly, even more funnier than Hitchens.

In the one I was watching the audience was laughing and he wasn't even joking. At least that's what he said, and I believe he meant it seriously based on, what he was saying, and how he said it.
Come to think of it now, it's actually very ironic, the question that he was responding to was "according to evolution, why do people laugh?"
I cannot write in English, because of the treacherous spelling. When I am reading, I only hear it and am unable to remember what the written word looks like."
"Albert Einstein

http://www.twainquotes.com... , http://thewritecorner.wordpress.com... , http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com...
iamnotwhoiam
Posts: 171
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12/7/2012 10:17:04 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/6/2012 4:45:36 PM, 1Devilsadvocate wrote:
I was watching a debate involving Richard Dawkins.
He said we originally evolved "big brains" for selfish survival reasons. but then "our brains became so big that they over reached themselves, they are now doing things which from the point of view of the selfish genes are bad. we can do what we think is good & over rule the dictates of the selfish gene."


I'm sure he said something like this, but are you sure he gave it as the source of morality? The reason I'm skeptical is Dawkins wrote in The Selfish Gene that altruism is in accord with the gene's eye view of evolution. It seems unlikely that an ethologist would espouse morality as anything other than arising from living in social groups. I can certainly see what he said as being an explanation of certain moral behaviours, but morality itself?
Stephen_Hawkins
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12/8/2012 6:52:18 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/6/2012 6:21:27 PM, 1Devilsadvocate wrote:
At 12/6/2012 5:23:17 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
This is what happens when scientists pretend to know everything about philosophy... get the philosophers of science to speculate (I have a name of someone good but I forgot what they are called... pm me if really need to know but I'd have to search through a load of books to pin him/her down). The general jist is that we got smart enough to realise that we work best when we work in a group, and we learnt how to "think ahead".

Sounds interesting, I'll have to think about it.

But how is it that Dawkins did not :

a)realize that what he was saying made no sense, it doesn't take a philosopher to realize?

It's not a fringe view: many anarchists that aren't Capitalists promote the idea that we have developed (determinism) into becoming selfless (communitarian). It doesn't take a scientist to realise that groups work better than individuals 99% of the time (and 100% of the time when it's an intelligent group). But more generally, the idea that animals are selfish but stupid, humans are selfish but smart is reasonable. Smarter animals (humans included) work in packs and groups as they work best together.

b) know the theory that you just mentioned?

Like prescriptivism or social contract theory? No, because he's not a philosopher. His view has some minor problems (ignoring the more general criticisms) that make philosophers disagree with him, but as a layman in philosophy its a strong and not-too-wrong view of scientific morality. Again, there's better expounders of the view out there.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
Dirty.Harry
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12/8/2012 7:15:12 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/6/2012 4:45:36 PM, 1Devilsadvocate wrote:
I was watching a debate involving Richard Dawkins.
He said we originally evolved "big brains" for selfish survival reasons. but then "our brains became so big that they over reached themselves, they are now doing things which from the point of view of the selfish genes are bad. we can do what we think is good & over rule the dictates of the selfish gene."

1)Is this still his view?

2) What made our brains become "so big that they over reached themselves", going against the selfish gene? What was the trigger, & why didn't natural selection stop it?

There was a good debate between Dawkins and Lennox (their first debate I think it was). Lennox trapped Dawkins on this question of morality but you need to listen to hear it, they soon moved on but I think Lennox should have pressed Dawkins very hard here.

Dawkins said (I don't have a transcript) something like "Evolution eventually enabled us to 'rise above' our instincts" or some such. Lennox then trapped him by pointing out that (according to Dawkins) our behavior is goverened by our genes and so whatever 'rise above' may mean - it must be due to genetics. Yet genetics is (according to Dawkins) unfeeling, undirected, cold, brutal chemistry - so there is no scope for more - morality cannot exist other than some aspect of genetics and one cannot 'rise above' the mechanisms that are at work.

This is my recollection - and captures the gist I think, worth a listen.

Harry.