Is it morally acceptable to kill a healthy man in order to harvest his organs to save the lives of five others? If you instantly answered no, you share a near-universal response to the dilemma, one offered by peoples and cultures all over the globe.
But how did you reach this conclusion? Was it a rational decision learned in childhood, or was it based on instincts encoded in our brains by evolution? In his book Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong, Hauser argues that millions of years of natural selection have molded a universal moral grammar within our brains that enables us to make rapid decisions about ethical dilemmas.
To arrive at this notion, Hauser draws on his own research and the theories of MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, who in the 1950s proposed that all humans are equipped with a universal linguistic grammar, a set of instinctive rules that underlie all languages.
The basic idea is to ask about sources of our moral judgments. What are the psychological processes involved when we deliver a moral judgment of right or wrong? The crucial issue to keep in mind is a distinction between how we judge and what we do. In some cases, our judgments may align very closely with what we would actually do, but on occasions they may be very different.
The second point is to draw on an analogy with language and ask whether there might be something like a universal moral grammar, a set of principles that every human is born with. It’s a tool kit in some sense for building possible moral systems. The real deep insight of Chomskian linguistics was to ask the question, “Might this variation at some level be explained by certain common principles of universal grammar?” There is going to be universal principles that dictate how we think about the nature of harming and helping others, but each culture has some freedom to dictate who is harmed and who is helped.
Let’s take an example. A trolley is coming down a track, and it’s going to run over and kill five people if it continues. A person standing next to the track can flip a switch and turn the trolley onto a side track where it will kill one but save the five. Most people think that’s morally permissible—to harm one person when five are saved.
Another case is when a nurse comes up to a doctor and says, “Doctor, we’ve got five patients in critical care; each one needs an organ to survive. We do not have time to send out for organs, but a healthy person just walked into the hospital—we can take his organs and save the five. Is that OK?” No one says yes to that one.
In both cases your action can save five while harming one, so they’re identical in that sense. There appears to be some kind of unconscious process driving moral judgments without its being accessible to conscious reflection.
People want to do what is good, correct? They you do actions which will benefit others, not just yourself. That would be giving food to the poor, comforting someone you know, or just asking someone if they need help. You do these things not expecting a reward (unlike religion) and because you feel better for doing it.
On the subject of crimes, you should be able to deduct the right decisions from the wrong ones.
Why don't we rape?
That would be hurting the victim and the people close to them. Easy.
Why don't we murder?
It would hurt the victim and loved ones. The only situation this would be appropriate is if the victim would hurt others. For example, if you had to murder the victim to stop him/her from murdering someone else, then that is justified. If you did it to stop the victim from killing yourself, then that is also justified. Self defense is not evil.
Just as long as you use your logic and personal morals, it doesn't become hard to see right from wrong.
And I know that people hate religion since its the cool hip new thing since dishwashers, but the influence of religion good and bad cannot be ignored to say, "ITS COMMON SENSE". Since that by itself is a priori of faith that common sense is somehow real.
But please, i challenge you to find a moral reason that has not, and is not influenced by religion
How do you know if something is morally right or wrong? How can you ground a belief that says acts such as torturing an innocent child, rape, murder, racism, and other such things are objectively immoral? By "objectively," we mean that such acts are immoral in a way that goes beyond personal opinion or feelings; they are immoral whether anyone thinks they are or not.
Those who do not believe in God object to such an assertion and say that a person does not need to acknowledge any kind of deity to understand moral right and wrong. And, they are right. Human beings do not need to believe in God to discern moral duties or understand that objective moral values exist. But, that has never been the argument of those who believe in God. Instead, the Christian argument is that in order to ground an objective moral law, you need to have a transcendent source of those values.
This truth is acknowledged by leading atheists. For example, the famous nihilist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: "You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, it does not exist."
At issue are the requirements for being able to have objective moral laws. Three things are needed: (1) an absolute and unchanging authority; (2) an absolute and unchanging standard; (3) absolute truth. Atheism and naturalism admit to nothing being absolute, that everything is random, and that everything is changing. In such an environment, no one can ever be sure anything is truly and objectively right or wrong.
Without an unchanging, absolute authority that uses an unchanging, absolute standard, which is based on the right and unchanging truth, ethics simply becomes emotive and opinion. Rape doesn't become wrong, but rather the strongest statement that can be made about it is, "I don't like rape." C. S. Lewis put is simply when he said: "A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line." For those without God, that unchanging straight line does not exist.
However, the rub comes from the fact that every human being recognizes moral absolutes. They may not practice them, but they understand and acknowledge them. There is a difference in what a culture and its people are doing and what they ought to do; a difference between something that is descriptive and that which is prescriptive. And one thing that history has shown is that humanity recognizes universal right and wrong.
Where does this universal understanding of moral right and wrong come from – an understanding that transcends human opinion? Why does a small child immediately know when they've been treated unfairly or know that it is wrong to have something stolen from them? They know because there is a universal moral law that has been intrinsically woven into them by their Creator.