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A Case for Inherent Morality
#31
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 8:22 pm)JohnJubinsky Wrote:
(June 20, 2021 at 8:08 pm)brewer Wrote: Speaking for myself, you'll need to provide something more than 'it just feels that way' before I'll consider a genetic component for morals.

I've read some psyc studies claiming infants/toddlers behavior demonstrates the ability to recognize good or bad actions, but that does not mean that they possess morals.

I can only ask you to read my original post more carefully. It is very well founded in natural selection which is overwhelmingly  accepted by the scientific community.

Natural selection and evolution are well founded and I certainly accept them, but not a genetic code for morals, not without evidence.

I reread the OP, you use 'I believe' seven times and only provide justifications for the beliefs. I'm stating that your beliefs and justifications are not convincing.

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#32
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 8:02 pm)JohnJubinsky Wrote: I don't know it to be true. It is a theory to me that I believe to be true. The argument that I have to demonstrate my position is presented in my original post.

That's fair. As a theory (or hypothesis), it's something that we can work to support, or argue against, etc. We can look for empirical or logical evidence about it. So far I'm not seeing any.

I think this view would fall in the category of "evolutionary psychology." It's a popular field because it seeks to explain behavior and social attitudes as evolutionary adaptations. There are certainly limitations to the field, and some serious criticisms, but it's probably worth taking a look at.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_psychology

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evolu...sychology/

Personally I am very skeptical that we are born with any specific moral dictates, like "stealing is wrong." As I've said, I think these are filled in, often quite quickly, by the people around us. I am more open to the idea that we have certain mental structures which lend themselves to the development of specific morals -- something like Kantian categories, which exist in the mind to make sense of experience. But this latter part is also a guess on my part.
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#33
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
It would seem, John, that you've not spent a lot of time around babies and toddlers...or even children older than that.

They have very different personalities pretty much from the start. Kids are taught right and wrong. As infants the world revolves around them...they have to learn that there is a world and people outside of themselves. That's where their personality and parental (caregiver) guidance comes into play.

The only thing that comes close to natural selection is the selfishness required to insure their own survival.
       I am the storm.                                                             
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#34
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 8:29 pm)brewer Wrote:
(June 20, 2021 at 8:22 pm)JohnJubinsky Wrote: I can only ask you to read my original post more carefully. It is very well founded in natural selection which is overwhelmingly  accepted by the scientific community.

Natural selection and evolution are well founded and I certainly accept them, but not a genetic code for morals, not without evidence.

I reread the OP, you use 'I believe' seven times and only provide justifications for the beliefs. I'm stating that your beliefs and justifications are not convincing.

In one of your posts you said that you read some psyc studies claiming infants/toddlers demonstrated the ability to recognize good and bad actions. I remember something about that too. It is suggestive that the infants had an inborn sense of right and wrong.
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#35
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 8:59 pm)JohnJubinsky Wrote:
(June 20, 2021 at 8:29 pm)brewer Wrote: Natural selection and evolution are well founded and I certainly accept them, but not a genetic code for morals, not without evidence.

I reread the OP, you use 'I believe' seven times and only provide justifications for the beliefs. I'm stating that your beliefs and justifications are not convincing.

In one of your posts you said that you read some psyc studies claiming infants/toddlers demonstrated the ability to recognize good and bad actions. I remember something about that too. It is suggestive that the infants had an inborn sense of right and wrong.

I don't know how young you're going here, but infants and toddlers have already gone through some serious development. 

In the old days there were theories about the stages of development. Maybe these are outdated now. But they used to say that the first feelings of which a newborn is aware are "pleased/displeased." When he's hungry he's displeased, when he's feeding he's pleased. When he's cold and wet he's displeased, when he's warm and dry he's pleased. 

This is not at all a moral distinction. It is about his own comfort. Freud called this proto-narcissism. 

Some people said that the earliest imposition of "ought/ought not" thinking comes with toilet training. This is when kids get the idea that one way to behave is a bad way resulting in maternal disapproval, and another way is a good way resulting in approval. 

Maybe there is training in "ought/ought not" that comes in even earlier than toilet training. I don't know -- like when the kid bites mommy's nipple too hard she withdraws it, resulting in a bad feeling for the kid. Even this is not morality, though. It's just "if I do this I don't like the result." Which is selfish, not moral.
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#36
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 9:27 pm)Belacqua Wrote:
(June 20, 2021 at 8:59 pm)JohnJubinsky Wrote: In one of your posts you said that you read some psyc studies claiming infants/toddlers demonstrated the ability to recognize good and bad actions. I remember something about that too. It is suggestive that the infants had an inborn sense of right and wrong.

I don't know how young you're going here, but infants and toddlers have already gone through some serious development. 

In the old days there were theories about the stages of development. Maybe these are outdated now. But they used to say that the first feelings of which a newborn is aware are "pleased/displeased." When he's hungry he's displeased, when he's feeding he's pleased. When he's cold and wet he's displeased, when he's warm and dry he's pleased. 

This is not at all a moral distinction. It is about his own comfort. Freud called this proto-narcissism. 

Some people said that the earliest imposition of "ought/ought not" thinking comes with toilet training. This is when kids get the idea that one way to behave is a bad way resulting in maternal disapproval, and another way is a good way resulting in approval. 

Maybe there is training in "ought/ought not" that comes in even earlier than toilet training. I don't know -- like when the kid bites mommy's nipple too hard she withdraws it, resulting in a bad feeling for the kid. Even this is not morality, though. It's just "if I do this I don't like the result." Which is selfish, not moral.
From my experience, I would say this is a rough assessment but pretty close.

Babies are born with a drive to live.  That's about it.  They cry for the things you mention...food and to be warm and dry.  Some still want to be swaddled to feel the comfort felt in the womb.  Some don't care for that as much.  Now the big thing is getting babies to bond with the mother in particular and the father too by laying the child immediately after the birth skin-to-skin on mom.  This is supposedly for bonding reasons and wasn't a thing when I was having kids in the 70s and 80s.  And before that kids were whisked away from the mother because she was probably unconscious during the birth anyway.  

Potty training is a real test of ought/ought not and the desire for approval in whatever form that takes or even to escape disapproval.

Most little ones are me-centric.  They tend not to come out into the world knowing a thing about sharing or how to be nice.  Those are things that they must learn.  Some kids are more and some are less prone to pick up these concepts.  That's where things like personality, general demeanor, and guidance come in.  Some kids are simply more hot headed and/or stubborn while some are more laid back.  I have three grown kids and if it were possible to have three polar opposites, that's how I would have described them until the last few years when the oldest and youngest seem to become more alike while the middle one seems to be completely alien to the rest of the family.

None of those things have a thing to do with morality until the child is old enough to make actual decisions regarding their moral decisions.

Every parent has encountered the biter.  That kid at daycare who is always biting other kids...I think it's out of frustration and they haven't been guided into dealing with that frustration.  But that's not a moral shortcoming either.  That kid has to be taught it's not acceptable to bite/hit/scratch the other kids.
       I am the storm.                                                             
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#37
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 10:06 pm)arewethereyet Wrote: None of those things have a thing to do with morality until the child is old enough to make actual decisions regarding their moral decisions.

Every parent has encountered the biter.  That kid at daycare who is always biting other kids...I think it's out of frustration and they haven't been guided into dealing with that frustration.  But that's not a moral shortcoming either.  That kid has to be taught it's not acceptable to bite/hit/scratch the other kids.

Yes, this makes a lot of sense. Early on there is behavior which may look moral or immoral, but is simply some practical thing they've learned (or not learned) to get the result they want. They refrain from punching their brother not because it's moral, but because Dad will give him a time out. 

I suppose cynics will say that even grown-ups only behave themselves for practical reasons. They refrain from murder to avoid prison, not because it is immoral to kill. 

I had three siblings and one of the earliest moral-like things I picked up was "being fair." If our slices of birthday cake weren't all exactly the same size, we would yell about it. And I'm thinking this started pretty early. It's selfish (I might not have yelled if my sister's cake were smaller) but it's certainly rooted in thinking about what's right and wrong. 

Do you recall about what age your kids showed this kind of behavior? -- But Mom it's not fair!
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#38
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 8:59 pm)JohnJubinsky Wrote:
(June 20, 2021 at 8:29 pm)brewer Wrote: Natural selection and evolution are well founded and I certainly accept them, but not a genetic code for morals, not without evidence.

I reread the OP, you use 'I believe' seven times and only provide justifications for the beliefs. I'm stating that your beliefs and justifications are not convincing.

In one of your posts you said that you read some psyc studies claiming infants/toddlers demonstrated the ability to recognize good and bad actions. I remember something about that too. It is suggestive that the infants had an inborn sense of right and wrong.

It could also suggest that by the age of 6 months (I think that was the earliest age) they could have acquired the ability to differentiate, and desire, nurturing behavior over non nurturing learned their parents. I see that others have addressed this. And then it could be a choice to select the least threatening behavior for self preservation and pain avoidance. The problem is that the babies can't communicate why they made their decision.

As side note: I've looked for monozygotic (identical-same DNA) twin studies where the twins are separated at birth and raised in different environments. I could not find any that addressed morals. What I did find were M twin studies looking at criminal or personality disordered behavior in later life. They found no statistically significant causal genetic link (eg. same DNA, both became criminals/disordered). This points back to environment.

I know it would be nice if humans were hard wired to be good, but I can't hang my hat on nice.

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#39
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 10:35 pm)Belacqua Wrote:
(June 20, 2021 at 10:06 pm)arewethereyet Wrote: None of those things have a thing to do with morality until the child is old enough to make actual decisions regarding their moral decisions.

Every parent has encountered the biter.  That kid at daycare who is always biting other kids...I think it's out of frustration and they haven't been guided into dealing with that frustration.  But that's not a moral shortcoming either.  That kid has to be taught it's not acceptable to bite/hit/scratch the other kids.

Yes, this makes a lot of sense. Early on there is behavior which may look moral or immoral, but is simply some practical thing they've learned (or not learned) to get the result they want. They refrain from punching their brother not because it's moral, but because Dad will give him a time out. 

I suppose cynics will say that even grown-ups only behave themselves for practical reasons. They refrain from murder to avoid prison, not because it is immoral to kill. 

I had three siblings and one of the earliest moral-like things I picked up was "being fair." If our slices of birthday cake weren't all exactly the same size, we would yell about it. And I'm thinking this started pretty early. It's selfish (I might not have yelled if my sister's cake were smaller) but it's certainly rooted in thinking about what's right and wrong. 

Do you recall about what age your kids showed this kind of behavior? -- But Mom it's not fair!

My kids are a few years apart in age with the older two being almost exactly four years apart and the youngest coming along five years later.  So they were always at very different stages of development.  It was more of an issue when this one wanted to know why that one had a later curfew when in early high school and things like that.

But, I have seen it play out in a sister-in-law who never got over it.  She would figure out to the penny how much my in-laws (her parents) spent on a gift for one of us or one of the grandkids and if she felt shortchanged would actually ask for cash for the difference.  I was embarrassed for her.

My middle one is like that in that she is determined the youngest (my son) got so much more than she did.  But this started when she was already on her own.  She would come to the house when he was in high school and go through his closet to see if he had gotten new clothes or shoes recently.  It's in her nature to think that she isn't being treated equally, though she is.  We get that about her and just roll our eyes now.

My sister, brother, and I are about the same age spread.  We were too far apart in age to be battling about what was equal.  And there was a big difference in who got what....I was the child of a college student and a high school dropout and by the time my brother started school, dad owned his own successful veterinary practice and our whole economic status was different.  To give you an idea...one Christmas I got a portable black and white TV.  By portable, I mean that it actually had a handle on top to carry it with.  My sister got a piano and my brother got a snowmobile.  So I was/and am the poor child of a college student and my siblings are the kids of a professional man with a successful business...and it will always be so.
       I am the storm.                                                             
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#40
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 10:06 pm)arewethereyet Wrote:
(June 20, 2021 at 9:27 pm)Belacqua Wrote: I don't know how young you're going here, but infants and toddlers have already gone through some serious development. 

In the old days there were theories about the stages of development. Maybe these are outdated now. But they used to say that the first feelings of which a newborn is aware are "pleased/displeased." When he's hungry he's displeased, when he's feeding he's pleased. When he's cold and wet he's displeased, when he's warm and dry he's pleased. 

This is not at all a moral distinction. It is about his own comfort. Freud called this proto-narcissism. 

Some people said that the earliest imposition of "ought/ought not" thinking comes with toilet training. This is when kids get the idea that one way to behave is a bad way resulting in maternal disapproval, and another way is a good way resulting in approval. 

Maybe there is training in "ought/ought not" that comes in even earlier than toilet training. I don't know -- like when the kid bites mommy's nipple too hard she withdraws it, resulting in a bad feeling for the kid. Even this is not morality, though. It's just "if I do this I don't like the result." Which is selfish, not moral.
From my experience, I would say this is a rough assessment but pretty close.

Babies are born with a drive to live.  That's about it.  They cry for the things you mention...food and to be warm and dry.  Some still want to be swaddled to feel the comfort felt in the womb.  Some don't care for that as much.  Now the big thing is getting babies to bond with the mother in particular and the father too by laying the child immediately after the birth skin-to-skin on mom.  This is supposedly for bonding reasons and wasn't a thing when I was having kids in the 70s and 80s.  And before that kids were whisked away from the mother because she was probably unconscious during the birth anyway.  

Potty training is a real test of ought/ought not and the desire for approval in whatever form that takes or even to escape disapproval.

Most little ones are me-centric.  They tend not to come out into the world knowing a thing about sharing or how to be nice.  Those are things that they must learn.  Some kids are more and some are less prone to pick up these concepts.  That's where things like personality, general demeanor, and guidance come in.  Some kids are simply more hot headed and/or stubborn while some are more laid back.  I have three grown kids and if it were possible to have three polar opposites, that's how I would have described them until the last few years when the oldest and youngest seem to become more alike while the middle one seems to be completely alien to the rest of the family.

None of those things have a thing to do with morality until the child is old enough to make actual decisions regarding their moral decisions.

Every parent has encountered the biter.  That kid at daycare who is always biting other kids...I think it's out of frustration and they haven't been guided into dealing with that frustration.  But that's not a moral shortcoming either.  That kid has to be taught it's not acceptable to bite/hit/scratch the other kids.

I am by no means saying that an infant's brain is well enough developed at birth for it to immediately be aware of its surroundings and make a moral assessment as to what is good and what is bad. I am saying that I believe that when the brain of the infant has developed enough for it to make moral judgements it in most cases does so at least in part according to an inborn sense of right and wrong that exists as the result of the genetic code of the infant.
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