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Question on Non-Theistic Evolution & Morality

phantom
Posts: 6,774
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2/28/2013 6:25:09 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
This was posed to me by a Christian (who does accept evolution) IRL. I couldn't really answer it fully so I thought I'd start a discussion.

The simple question is why do we care? I'll explain in a bit. Our sense of morality can be fairly explained from a purely naturalistic standpoint, in that cooperation was necessary for us to raise to the top of the food chain, I believe. But how can it account for the part of us that seems counter to purely natural evolution? What I mean is our caring for the weak, retarded and overall inferior and our high value of sacrifice, giving away and charity. I just don't know how that's advantages to us or how exactly it arose from evolution.

Could someone explain it? (Or if you want, use it as an argument for God. Please do)
"Music is a zen-like ecstatic state where you become the new man of the future, the Nietzschean merger of Apollo and Dionysus." Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
Polaris
Posts: 1,120
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2/28/2013 7:45:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/28/2013 6:25:09 PM, phantom wrote:
What I mean is our caring for the weak, retarded and overall inferior and our high value of sacrifice, giving away and charity. I just don't know how that's advantages to us or how exactly it arose from evolution.

It strengthens group cohesion and solidarity.
phantom
Posts: 6,774
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2/28/2013 9:01:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/28/2013 7:45:41 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/28/2013 6:25:09 PM, phantom wrote:
What I mean is our caring for the weak, retarded and overall inferior and our high value of sacrifice, giving away and charity. I just don't know how that's advantages to us or how exactly it arose from evolution.

It strengthens group cohesion and solidarity.

But we'd overall evolve more progressively without caring for those who have no value to survival yet we still care for them, some of us a lot.
"Music is a zen-like ecstatic state where you become the new man of the future, the Nietzschean merger of Apollo and Dionysus." Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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2/28/2013 9:10:42 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/28/2013 7:45:41 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/28/2013 6:25:09 PM, phantom wrote:
What I mean is our caring for the weak, retarded and overall inferior and our high value of sacrifice, giving away and charity. I just don't know how that's advantages to us or how exactly it arose from evolution.

It strengthens group cohesion and solidarity.

In other words, it's a noble lie.
Lordknukle
Posts: 12,788
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2/28/2013 11:03:17 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
People have an inherent tendency to help those in similar social or economic cliques such as themselves. Hence, the retarded the help the retarded and the inferior help the inferior.
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
Polaris
Posts: 1,120
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2/28/2013 11:28:29 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/28/2013 9:01:00 PM, phantom wrote:
At 2/28/2013 7:45:41 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/28/2013 6:25:09 PM, phantom wrote:
What I mean is our caring for the weak, retarded and overall inferior and our high value of sacrifice, giving away and charity. I just don't know how that's advantages to us or how exactly it arose from evolution.

It strengthens group cohesion and solidarity.

But we'd overall evolve more progressively without caring for those who have no value to survival yet we still care for them, some of us a lot.

Perhaps and perhaps not. It benefits the group as a whole to have strong group bonds, and charity is one way to achieve this. That needy/unproductive members of society are benefited in addition to the productive members is a latent function of charity.
Polaris
Posts: 1,120
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2/28/2013 11:31:20 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/28/2013 9:10:42 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/28/2013 7:45:41 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/28/2013 6:25:09 PM, phantom wrote:
What I mean is our caring for the weak, retarded and overall inferior and our high value of sacrifice, giving away and charity. I just don't know how that's advantages to us or how exactly it arose from evolution.

It strengthens group cohesion and solidarity.

In other words, it's a noble lie.

Please elaborate.
Floid
Posts: 751
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3/1/2013 7:28:54 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/28/2013 6:25:09 PM, phantom wrote:
But how can it account for the part of us that seems counter to purely natural evolution? What I mean is our caring for the weak, retarded and overall inferior and our high value of sacrifice, giving away and charity. I just don't know how that's advantages to us or how exactly it arose from evolution.

Until 150 years ago, entire races of people in the United States were considered inferior and were held as slaves. Historically, slavery was common throughout the world as was genocide. We might care for our own at times, but I don't know that the basic assumption that humans are inherently caring and moral is valid.

It appears to me that our morals evolve as well. Slavery was once common and accepted and it is now immoral almost globally. Women were treated as property and that also is no longer the cases in most places. The Spartans would throw weak or deformed babies over a cliff to kill them, etc.

So I think your friend isn't looking at the big picture of what our current morality is and how even in not so distant past it was vastly different.
Sidewalker
Posts: 3,713
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3/1/2013 11:40:40 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/28/2013 6:25:09 PM, phantom wrote:
This was posed to me by a Christian (who does accept evolution) IRL. I couldn't really answer it fully so I thought I'd start a discussion.

The simple question is why do we care? I'll explain in a bit. Our sense of morality can be fairly explained from a purely naturalistic standpoint, in that cooperation was necessary for us to raise to the top of the food chain, I believe. But how can it account for the part of us that seems counter to purely natural evolution? What I mean is our caring for the weak, retarded and overall inferior and our high value of sacrifice, giving away and charity. I just don't know how that's advantages to us or how exactly it arose from evolution.

Could someone explain it? (Or if you want, use it as an argument for God. Please do)

Current evolutionary theory is incomplete; the overly simplistic model that generalizes natural selection into a universal explanation simply cannot account for the evolution of an ethical agent to make ethical choices. We have nothing even close to an explanation of the evolution of such an agent, it's certainly not by natural selection. Darwinists seem satisfied to account for ethics on an ad hoc basis, by postulating how natural selection could produce altruism, but that begs the question. The fact is that no value-free reductionist account is ever going to adequately explain the evolution of an ethical agent making ethical choices.

This isn"t necessarily an argument for God, but it is an argument for transcending the current value-free reductionist accounts and to recognize the primacy of consciousness.
"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
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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3/1/2013 11:59:18 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/28/2013 11:31:20 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/28/2013 9:10:42 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/28/2013 7:45:41 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/28/2013 6:25:09 PM, phantom wrote:
What I mean is our caring for the weak, retarded and overall inferior and our high value of sacrifice, giving away and charity. I just don't know how that's advantages to us or how exactly it arose from evolution.

It strengthens group cohesion and solidarity.

In other words, it's a noble lie.

Please elaborate.

If morality is merely useful and pragmatic, without any reason for thinking morality is concrete, then what results is a social elite who, so long as they keep the masses fooled that moral truths actually exist, can live in relative peace as they prosper and so forth. But there's ultimately really no reason for altruism or grace, tolerance, and so forth, they're just useful social tools.
muzebreak
Posts: 2,781
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3/2/2013 11:02:59 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/28/2013 6:25:09 PM, phantom wrote:
This was posed to me by a Christian (who does accept evolution) IRL. I couldn't really answer it fully so I thought I'd start a discussion.

The simple question is why do we care? I'll explain in a bit. Our sense of morality can be fairly explained from a purely naturalistic standpoint, in that cooperation was necessary for us to raise to the top of the food chain, I believe. But how can it account for the part of us that seems counter to purely natural evolution? What I mean is our caring for the weak, retarded and overall inferior and our high value of sacrifice, giving away and charity. I just don't know how that's advantages to us or how exactly it arose from evolution.

Could someone explain it? (Or if you want, use it as an argument for God. Please do)

Nurture rather then nature. Society and morality evolve just the same as life itself. Everything evolves in a way. This just seems the way of the universe.
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact." - Carl Sagan

This is the response of the defenders of Sparta to the Commander of the Roman Army: "If you are a god, you will not hurt those who have never injured you. If you are a man, advance - you will find men equal to yourself. And women.
Polaris
Posts: 1,120
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3/2/2013 6:43:49 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/1/2013 11:59:18 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/28/2013 11:31:20 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/28/2013 9:10:42 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/28/2013 7:45:41 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/28/2013 6:25:09 PM, phantom wrote:
What I mean is our caring for the weak, retarded and overall inferior and our high value of sacrifice, giving away and charity. I just don't know how that's advantages to us or how exactly it arose from evolution.

It strengthens group cohesion and solidarity.

In other words, it's a noble lie.

Please elaborate.

If morality is merely useful and pragmatic, without any reason for thinking morality is concrete, then what results is a social elite who, so long as they keep the masses fooled that moral truths actually exist, can live in relative peace as they prosper and so forth. But there's ultimately really no reason for altruism or grace, tolerance, and so forth, they're just useful social tools.

My view is that the pragmatism of morality is what makes it concrete. I believe morality exists because it is necessary for a healthy and functioning society. I do not believe morality to be the edicts of the divine, nor the whims of men, but that which serves a very real purpose in society. Societies with strong morals have an edge over those without.
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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3/2/2013 7:25:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/2/2013 6:43:49 PM, Polaris wrote:





If morality is merely useful and pragmatic, without any reason for thinking morality is concrete, then what results is a social elite who, so long as they keep the masses fooled that moral truths actually exist, can live in relative peace as they prosper and so forth. But there's ultimately really no reason for altruism or grace, tolerance, and so forth, they're just useful social tools.

My view is that the pragmatism of morality is what makes it concrete.

I know. But the pragmatic theory as propounded by William James, Dewey, Putnam, Rorty, etc, says that A belied B, is true just if B is useful to have. B therefore will exhibit certain values for those who have it. Thus this is an anti-realist view regarding external reality and so forth. You don't really hold to any "concrete" reality, just what's "useful" as defined by certain arbitrarily held values.

There's non-epistemic pragmatism where they hold that "useful" has no reference to epistemic values. It's simply a maximization of happiness, etc.

Then there's epistemic pragmatism where they hold that "useful" identifies the truth of some belief, B with its epistemic success: B is allowed to be asserted by one"s colleagues; One is ideally justified in asserting B; B is ideally asserted by a scientific community; B enjoys explanatory power, simplicity, fruitfulness, empirical adequacy, and so on.

But in all this the inability to transcend theory and get at the "external world" favors pragmatism, which is of course self-refuting, for pragmatism is recommended since it corresponds to scientific testing, and theory, etc.. Pragmatism is also a form of relativism and it fails the phenomenological argument for the correspondence theory propounded by Husserl (1859-1938): Roughly, we describe / present specific cases to see what can be learned from them about truth. There are clearly cases of experiencing truth in which the relevant intentional object is sensed and such cases where one can "see" the truth of logical inference of a modus ponens, and so on...

This argument is simple but not simplistic, for more sophisticated cases of the same sort where scholars experience truth can be obtained. It"s also a virtue that this theory corresponds with everyday experience w/out philosophy!

http://en.wikipedia.org...

I believe morality exists because it is necessary for a healthy and functioning society. I do not believe morality to be the edicts of the divine, nor the whims of men, but that which serves a very real purpose in society. Societies with strong morals have an edge over those without.

Right, in this sense all it is is useful, but no one's really moral to one another, they're simply just a tool. No harm no foul. Get along little sheep get along!
Polaris
Posts: 1,120
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3/2/2013 7:39:51 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/2/2013 7:25:01 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 3/2/2013 6:43:49 PM, Polaris wrote:





If morality is merely useful and pragmatic, without any reason for thinking morality is concrete, then what results is a social elite who, so long as they keep the masses fooled that moral truths actually exist, can live in relative peace as they prosper and so forth. But there's ultimately really no reason for altruism or grace, tolerance, and so forth, they're just useful social tools.

My view is that the pragmatism of morality is what makes it concrete.

I know. But the pragmatic theory as propounded by William James, Dewey, Putnam, Rorty, etc, says that A belied B, is true just if B is useful to have. B therefore will exhibit certain values for those who have it. Thus this is an anti-realist view regarding external reality and so forth. You don't really hold to any "concrete" reality, just what's "useful" as defined by certain arbitrarily held values.

And what would you consider "concrete"?

I believe morality exists because it is necessary for a healthy and functioning society. I do not believe morality to be the edicts of the divine, nor the whims of men, but that which serves a very real purpose in society. Societies with strong morals have an edge over those without.

Right, in this sense all it is is useful, but no one's really moral to one another, they're simply just a tool. No harm no foul. Get along little sheep get along!

Well, I suppose that depends how you look at morality. Acting in accord with what benefits one's society is exactly being moral, in my estimation. I see these as being one in the same, and the reason for the existence of morality. Morality is the label man has given these actions before they truly understood their significance. I would guess that you don't see this as being "really" moral, because you have a different understanding of morality.
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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3/2/2013 8:20:52 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/2/2013 7:39:51 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 3/2/2013 7:25:01 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 3/2/2013 6:43:49 PM, Polaris wrote:





If morality is merely useful and pragmatic, without any reason for thinking morality is concrete, then what results is a social elite who, so long as they keep the masses fooled that moral truths actually exist, can live in relative peace as they prosper and so forth. But there's ultimately really no reason for altruism or grace, tolerance, and so forth, they're just useful social tools.

My view is that the pragmatism of morality is what makes it concrete.

I know. But the pragmatic theory as propounded by William James, Dewey, Putnam, Rorty, etc, says that A belied B, is true just if B is useful to have. B therefore will exhibit certain values for those who have it. Thus this is an anti-realist view regarding external reality and so forth. You don't really hold to any "concrete" reality, just what's "useful" as defined by certain arbitrarily held values.

And what would you consider "concrete"?

Real, true, corresponds to reality, etc.


I believe morality exists because it is necessary for a healthy and functioning society. I do not believe morality to be the edicts of the divine, nor the whims of men, but that which serves a very real purpose in society. Societies with strong morals have an edge over those without.

Right, in this sense all it is is useful, but no one's really moral to one another, they're simply just a tool. No harm no foul. Get along little sheep get along!

Well, I suppose that depends how you look at morality. Acting in accord with what benefits one's society is exactly being moral, in my estimation. I see these as being one in the same, and the reason for the existence of morality. Morality is the label man has given these actions before they truly understood their significance. I would guess that you don't see this as being "really" moral, because you have a different understanding of morality.

Yeah, if you believe morality is just an accidental by-product of society, without any essence or nature to it, then you're an anti-realist, nihilist when it comes to morals. They're fundamentally invented rather than discovered on your view. This is anti-realism when it comes to "moral."
Polaris
Posts: 1,120
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3/3/2013 8:33:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/2/2013 8:20:52 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 3/2/2013 7:39:51 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 3/2/2013 7:25:01 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 3/2/2013 6:43:49 PM, Polaris wrote:





If morality is merely useful and pragmatic, without any reason for thinking morality is concrete, then what results is a social elite who, so long as they keep the masses fooled that moral truths actually exist, can live in relative peace as they prosper and so forth. But there's ultimately really no reason for altruism or grace, tolerance, and so forth, they're just useful social tools.

My view is that the pragmatism of morality is what makes it concrete.

I know. But the pragmatic theory as propounded by William James, Dewey, Putnam, Rorty, etc, says that A belied B, is true just if B is useful to have. B therefore will exhibit certain values for those who have it. Thus this is an anti-realist view regarding external reality and so forth. You don't really hold to any "concrete" reality, just what's "useful" as defined by certain arbitrarily held values.

And what would you consider "concrete"?

Real, true, corresponds to reality, etc.

Then any philosophy of morality, would or could be "concrete" if it were true. Your objection, is simply that you think opposing moralities are false, which is a given.

I believe morality exists because it is necessary for a healthy and functioning society. I do not believe morality to be the edicts of the divine, nor the whims of men, but that which serves a very real purpose in society. Societies with strong morals have an edge over those without.

Right, in this sense all it is is useful, but no one's really moral to one another, they're simply just a tool. No harm no foul. Get along little sheep get along!

Well, I suppose that depends how you look at morality. Acting in accord with what benefits one's society is exactly being moral, in my estimation. I see these as being one in the same, and the reason for the existence of morality. Morality is the label man has given these actions before they truly understood their significance. I would guess that you don't see this as being "really" moral, because you have a different understanding of morality.

Yeah, if you believe morality is just an accidental by-product of society, without any essence or nature to it, then you're an anti-realist, nihilist when it comes to morals. They're fundamentally invented rather than discovered on your view. This is anti-realism when it comes to "moral."

I would say it's an accurate appraisal to say that morals are discovered, rather than invented. Moral nihilism is the view that there are no morals at all, which is quite different from what I'm suggesting. Nor am I suggesting any kind of anti-realism. I don't think you fully appreciate the scope nor variety of secular morals and are intent on trying to pigeonhole them into a few scant categories.