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A Case for Inherent Morality
#41
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 11:10 pm)JohnJubinsky Wrote:
(June 20, 2021 at 10:06 pm)arewethereyet Wrote: 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.

A sense of what is or isn't moral is not part of DNA.
       I am the storm.                                                             
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#42
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 11:10 pm)JohnJubinsky Wrote: 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.

Yes, I'm open to this. There may be tendencies or categories which are generally present.

This would require a lot of research, I guess, to get some idea of how much is nature and how much is nurture. Also how strongly these in-born tendencies can withstand societal influence against them.

Edited to add:

But we also have to avoid the naturalism fallacy, that says "because I have this instinct it must be good." or "My morality is natural, therefore it can't be argued against."

There may well be instinctive ways of thinking about things which we must reject as immoral. Maybe it's instinctive to kill the people in your competing tribe and take their resources. That sounds bad to us, but the US is doing it in Syria even as we speak.

Then we're faced with the good old problem of two conflicting instincts, and which one we ought to follow. That would be a rational, not an instinctive argument.
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#43
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 11:14 pm)Belacqua Wrote:
(June 20, 2021 at 11:10 pm)JohnJubinsky Wrote: 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.

Yes, I'm open to this. There may be tendencies or categories which are generally present.

This would require a lot of research, I guess, to get some idea of how much is nature and how much is nurture. Also how strongly these in-born tendencies can withstand societal influence against them.

Edited to add:

But we also have to avoid the naturalism fallacy, that says "because I have this instinct it must be good." or "My morality is natural, therefore it can't be argued against."

There may well be instinctive ways of thinking about things which we must reject as immoral. Maybe it's instinctive to kill the people in your competing tribe and take their resources. That sounds bad to us, but the US is doing it in Syria even as we speak.

Then we're faced with the good old problem of two conflicting instincts, and which one we ought to follow. That would be a rational, not an instinctive argument.

Scientists at the infant cognition center of Yale University conducted an eight year study to determine whether babies are born with a sense of right and wrong or are taught it. They concluded that babies are born with it. They said that parents and society enhance the moral values of babies but do not create them.
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#44
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 21, 2021 at 1:57 am)JohnJubinsky Wrote: Scientists at the infant cognition center of Yale University conducted an eight year study to determine whether babies are born with a sense of right and wrong or are taught it. They concluded that babies are born with it. They said that parents and society enhance the moral values of babies but do not create them.

https://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/13/livin...index.html

If this is the study in question, there are a few things to ponder.

They tested with puppets -- one who appeared helpful and one who didn't. Then the babies when given a choice preferred the helpful puppet. But as I said earlier, I'm not sure whether this is a moral choice or a pragmatic one. Anybody would want the puppet who helped, if he thought it would help him. Choosing the method of helping yourself is not moral. It would be more of a morality test if the babies sacrificed the help they might receive and gave the helpful puppet to someone who needed it more.

And later in the article it says that "They prefer puppets who have the same tastes as them and they actually want the puppets with the different tastes -- they like other puppets who punish them." This seems to me to indicate innate immorality. But it's not exactly a decisive result for all humans.

So maybe there are lots more studies that I haven't Googled yet. One thing I've found about psych results published in the popular press -- they are often sensationalized and spun to give exciting results. Like the study showing that people love their smart phones as much as their wives. But on closer inspection they often turn out to be somewhat less exciting. 

If you know of other studies I'd be interested to see them.

@John 6IX Breezy

This is more up your alley. Is there a consensus in the field these days?
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#45
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 21, 2021 at 1:57 am)JohnJubinsky Wrote: Scientists at the infant cognition center of Yale University conducted an eight year study to determine whether babies are born with a sense of right and wrong or are taught it. They concluded that babies are born with it. They said that parents and society enhance the moral values of babies but do not create them.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4374623/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6786238/

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#46
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
I think that it's probably fair to say that we're born moralizers...but whether that amounts to "doing it right" depends on a persons view of morality in general. For example, if natural utilitarian behaviors are the basis of moral propositions, the concern that we're doing something natural for effect wouldn't be a valid objection to their conclusion, though this still may not make the cut for inherent morality.

Could we breed or condition non moralizers, or could some breeding or conditioning failure produce them? That's really all that the question of any inherent morality boils down to. Would it be possible for there to be a non moralizing human being, by any means..because, if so, the quality is not and cannot be permanent essential and characteristic - and this holds regardless of the metaethical view we select.

Personally, I think that it would be difficult to maintain that a non moralizing human is somehow not human. We might consider them broken, inhumane, perhaps..but we would probably have to recognize that we're using terms of art, in that event, to levy the charge. I have no trouble accepting the notion that babies are born with what the researchers could deem a moral sense, but that's an effect of strongly suspecting that our moral sense, as we call it, is a retasked ability in contemporary populations (and I'm taking a long view of contemporaneity, 50k years plus or minus). It wasn't constructed to seek out the good, it's just good-for that..sometimes.
It's bad for the rest of the world when americans are paid so little they can only afford chocolate mined by child slaves and clothes made in overseas sweatshops. - Robyn Pennacchia
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#47
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 20, 2021 at 10:53 pm)brewer 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.

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.

Are you sure adult behavior cannot be similarly explained? We feel altruism is good and virtuous, yet we know its roots go down to self-interest in kinship selection.
[Image: Fenrir-sign.jpg]
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#48
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 21, 2021 at 10:09 am)Angrboda Wrote:
(June 20, 2021 at 10:53 pm)brewer Wrote: 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.

Are you sure adult behavior cannot be similarly explained?  We feel altruism is good and virtuous, yet we know its roots go down to self-interest in kinship selection.

Never said it couldn't. The difference is that you can question the adult and debate alternative motives. Not so much with infants.

There could also be all kinds of non emotional reasons for the babies choices, but I chose to give John emotional reasons as that seems to be part of his position.

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#49
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
(June 21, 2021 at 11:48 am)brewer Wrote:
(June 21, 2021 at 10:09 am)Angrboda Wrote: Are you sure adult behavior cannot be similarly explained?  We feel altruism is good and virtuous, yet we know its roots go down to self-interest in kinship selection.

Never said it couldn't. The difference is that you can question the adult and debate alternative motives. Not so much with infants.

There could also be all kinds of non emotional reasons for the babies choices, but I chose to give John emotional reasons as that seems to be part of his position.

The point I was making was that you seemed to be suggesting that the babies' "moral behavior" wasn't truly moral if it could be explained that way, so you were implying that behavior explained that way wasn't truly moral. If adult behavior can be similarly explained, then adult behavior would similarly not be an example of moral behavior. I'm not sure I fully understand what value you're assigning to those feelings. Self-reporting of behavior doesn't necessarily resolve the ambiguity as those self-reports have plenty of confounding factors, including a history of being told that their feeling concerning the subject are moral feelings, when in fact they may be no different than the self-interested babies' feelings. Are you, then, suggesting that there is no such thing as moral behavior, in adults or in babies? Or are you arguing for John's position that morals are simply evolved behaviors?
[Image: Fenrir-sign.jpg]
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#50
RE: A Case for Inherent Morality
With very few exceptions we lack instincts altogether. We've evolved to learn. However we seem to have some 'soft instincts' that we develop early and in common with other social primates. Like senses or sentiments of empathy, fairness and reciprocity that develop fairly early but which is unlikely to survive counter-training. The level of evidence for that is insufficient to be confident that such sentiments are innate when there are so many opportunities for an infant or toddler to be exposed to examples to model, IMHO. I still tend to lean in the direction of these basic sentiments being innate and the emotional component of the various moralities we've constructed...part of why we WANT to be moral.
I'm not anti-Christian. I'm anti-stupid.
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