From: 1Arcturus (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Dec 14 2005 - 11:04:32 MST
Peter Voss <email@example.com> wrote:
For those who think that evolutionary psychology or evolutionary ethics are the key to 'good' and 'bad' may want to read: http://www.optimal.org/peter/prescriptive_ethics.htm and/or http://www.optimal.org/peter/ethics_skeptic.htm
'Cutting edge' is defined by what arguments most contribute to better understanding.
What a nonsensical fog you're lost in.
From the first:
"Morality comprises a number of principles, that may or may not combine to form a system. In reality, moral codes range from being arbitrary collections of contradictory rules, to evolved social customs, to explicit comprehensive integrated philosophies."
So-called 'arbitrary' collections of rules evolved, if they came to exist, in a natural (historical) way. So-called 'comprehensive integrated philosophies' also evolved.
"Fields such as sociology and evolutionary ethics concern themselves with what is, while moral philosophy addresses what ought to be. (Naturally, to the extent that what ought to be depends on the nature of things, including what is possible – like identifying limits of human adaptability – prescriptive morality too concerns itself with is)."
What anyone thinks 'ought to be' depends on what they *are*. What is determines what is said or believed 'ought to be.'
"BTW, it is debatable whether ‘evolutionary ethics’ shouldn’t be considered an oxymoron. Ethics, as a branch of philosophy, has traditionally concerned itself with ‘ought’, in clear contradiction to the choice-less determinism of evolution."
I would put ethics under the natural philosophy of human ethology, including humans' philosophical talk about themselves and why they do what they do. Including the continuing relative perception of 'choice'.
From the second:
"Confusingly mixing descriptive evolutionary 'explanations' of behavior with the prescriptive moral questions of 'how we ought to behave' (to achieve desired goals) and how to define those goals."
It wouldn't do to confuse them, but the only authentic answers to 'ought' are what Nature put in the people 'ought'-ing. Your goals have already been defined by Nature, and they are instantiated in you and everything you do.
"Adultery: '..sexual are not immoral because the evidence confirms that almost everyone has them..' I don't see what the popularity of an action has to do with its morality. Most people are superstitious, yet it is detrimental to our well-being, ie. immoral. The actual discussion of ery demonstrates the moral conflicts caused by mixing evolutionary 'goals', social acceptance, personal feelings, and rational ethics. From all points of view offered, ery seems to be OK provided that you don't get caught. Indeed, from an evolutionary point of view it seems to offer only advantages (However, actions that may benefit my genes may be detrimental to my well-being)."
Morality is glorified custom - if so many people fantasize about ery, then that is the custom. If those same people also declare ery immoral, that is also the custom. Hypocrisy is a very popular custom. Last part - selection for genes not same thing as selection for organism, cf. Gould's levels of evolutionary operation. But what the organism views as its 'well-being' is determined by what it is, how it operates. Pure erers would love committing ery. Pure monogamous folks would hate it. Mixed folks have all sorts of inner tension and talk a lot about morality.
"This denies the very nature of freewill. Freewill is a prerequisite for morality. If our decisions are not under the control of our minds them we cannot be responsible."
Yes, there is no freewill, or rather, our perception of something we call free will is caused by our inability to understand ourselves perfectly in real-time (there are gaps around our self-monitoring capabilities, our awareness of cause-effects upon ourselves, and a perhaps inevitable time lag even if we could). Our decisions do arise from our minds, but we *are* our minds (our embodied minds), there is nothing else to us. There is no 'homunculus' self inside the mind, separate from it, that would be in any position to control the rest of it. Even if there is an 'executive control network,' that would be a subset of the total mind, not the total mind itself. Our decisions arise from all of what we are and our total environments. We are not responsible for ourselves - we didn't give rise to ourselves. Even if we decide to modify ourselves, including our minds, it is just an indirect continuation of what we were, what motivated us to modify ourselves and in what way. 'We are all
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