FAQ Memberlist Usergroups Register Log in
Profile Log in to check your private messages Search

Squishy morality
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic     Forum Index -> General Discussion
Author Message
Tamir



Joined: 22 Mar 2008
Posts: 1629
Location: Israel

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well said, Lady. Very Happy

Here's a roundabout argument for free will - the conscious mind. A very strange part of an evolutionary creature, wouldn't you say? Instead of our brains consisting of a single computer which calculates the best choice out of the options, it's separated in two. One which acts by pure instinct (the understandable subconscious), and one which frequently chooses things which do not progress the individual or the species (the strange conscious). For example, overeating. What kind of messed up creatures eat more than they need to, thus hurting themselves?
So it seems that, as the Lady said, we can choose against our nature, as strange as that is.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Maeniel



Joined: 22 Mar 2008
Posts: 1080
Location: Next to Waldo

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lady Yate wrote:
I see someone likes to have his cake and eat it too. Wink


You caught me. Razz I'm kinda undecided about the whole thing; free will arguments really inspire me and are generally more comfortable for me to think about, but predestination (or at least, ones based in science) make more sense to me and *seem* to be more irrefutable. So I like to argue for both sides.

Tam wrote:
why are you a "good" person? Why aren't you Nihilistic?...With your pseudo-free will, why do you choose to be "good"? What is "good" to you?


I feel like I'm a good person because I'm empathetic and I don't like seeing people in pain--I've felt (generally) what they're feeling at the time, so I try to alleviate that. I also know what it's like to be happy, and I like that--so I try to make other people happy. I feel bad when I cause unhappiness. I feel good when I cause happiness. I'm like the tooth fairy! Spreading joy all around. Smile At the same time, tough love comes into play...which is probably more long-term happy than immediate happy/well-being.

But to be in line with my previous argument, people's neurons are being stimulated to make them behave accordingly. What they see, what they interact with change the neural pathways; internal monologues/morals are just different neurons firing away. If you think about predestination, then there can't really be good or bad--just things that happen. "Good" people are people whose neurons fire off in a certain pattern that tells them they're good.

Being nihilistic, in this sense, is a being whose neurons tell them to give up because there's no point--which is definitely not what my neurons tell me. My experiences, the atoms that have collided in such a way as to form my environment my entire life, have formed pathways that don't compel me to allow a certain chain of neurons to fire that causes the sensation "pain" in others. Instead, they compel me to create "happy" pathways in others; they don't often fire the chain that says "give up, it's hopeless."


I'm running out of time because I need to go to work again, but re: conscious mind/sentience from the predestination view:

Who's to say that we're choosing against nature? That's just what our brains are telling us. Maybe we're just compelled to *think* that we have a say in what we do, that all those molecules that bump up against each other really are random when in fact they're not.
_________________
Keeper of Zaebos' and Jormand's powers.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
YatesOfYore
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Dec 2006
Posts: 885

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maeniel wrote:

Who's to say that we're choosing against nature? That's just what our brains are telling us. Maybe we're just compelled to *think* that we have a say in what we do, that all those molecules that bump up against each other really are random when in fact they're not.


Then there's no point in arguing about it anyhow, since the outcome is inevitable and unavoidable due to "science". Besides, my neurons have already decided that they don't agree with yours Wink

But seriously, only a conscious and fully aware and in-control brain would come up with a theory that dismissed itself as irrelevant.
_________________
Keeper of Nanashi's Vambraces and the Amethyst Trees.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Asa



Joined: 10 Apr 2008
Posts: 3531
Location: Grammar Police HQ. Watch your language, I'm armed with the NYTimes Style Book AND Strunk and White!

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is that like Groucho Marx's statement, "I wouldn't want to belong to a club that would have me as a member"?
_________________
Self-styled Forum Grandmother, because I hand out nicknames and hugs whether you want them or not. ^_^

Keeper of the Library and the Gateway to Haven

Nem: "It's the sort of face you just know is getting ready to poke you with something sharp."
BS: "...then insist you eat a brownie."
__________________
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this and all is mended...
Give me your hands if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Nem



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
Posts: 2141
Location: England

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LadyYates wrote:
Despite being a religious person, I generally believe that predetermination is a load of bunk, regardless of what angle you're coming at it from. Sure, there are genetics and whatnot that compel a person to do certain things - I wouldn't argue that there's not. But to sum up our entire existance into a "mess of chain reactions" is to dismiss what makes us what we are: our sentience. We make choices beyond what our instincts and genetic structuring demand of us. We can fight back, in a sense, against both nature and nurture. That's what makes us "human", I think.


People don't judge in an absence of any information. You have to have some concept of the thing's existence, even if just a theoretical one, and have some reasons for possessing an attitude towards it as the very minimum. If people have reasons for their choices, be those biological, nurture based, or even spiritual, whether they honestly state those reasons aloud or not, then in the absence of those reasons the choice would not have been made or would have been made differently. In short the reasons have determined the eventual choice.

Surely for sentience to exist as a choice it would need to stand outside of this information relationship, or just be rendered as another source of information. But if it stands outside of an information relationship then it can't be informed by that information, so it would make choice a rather meaningless thing since the choice would be completely divorced from any knowledge even of the existence of what it was choosing.

Tamir wrote:
Well said, Lady. Very Happy

Here's a roundabout argument for free will - the conscious mind. A very strange part of an evolutionary creature, wouldn't you say? Instead of our brains consisting of a single computer which calculates the best choice out of the options, it's separated in two. One which acts by pure instinct (the understandable subconscious), and one which frequently chooses things which do not progress the individual or the species (the strange conscious). For example, overeating. What kind of messed up creatures eat more than they need to, thus hurting themselves?
So it seems that, as the Lady said, we can choose against our nature, as strange as that is.


That's not how evolution works unfortunately. It's not a case of getting the best for your situation, it's a case of getting somewhere between good enough to reproduce in that situation, (being the low end of survival for the species,) and whatever the best for that situation would be. A conscious mind doesn't necessarily impair our ability to reproduce to a degree that the species couldn't survive and thus it's possible for us to have it.
_________________
Never forget,
We stroll along the roof of hell
Gazing at flowers.
- Issa
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message MSN Messenger
Virturealm



Joined: 22 Mar 2008
Posts: 162
Location: OH!

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Predestination seems like a kind of dumb thing to worry about. The mess of chain reactions thing is true, but doesn't serve any practical purpose. You can look back on anything that's happened, and analyze and whatnot and obviously there's no way things could have happened any other way, but what's the point of predestination if it only works in retrospective?

In order for it to be worth talking about, we would either need to have developed some method of predicting the future (the kind that results in stable time loops, not the kind where you have the opportunity to alter anything before disaster strikes) or there would have to be some conscious deity out there, actively changing how things would normally happen in order to fit the world into his own predestined vision of how things should be (aka the religious definition of predestination)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
theBSDude



Joined: 09 Jul 2008
Posts: 1800
Location: The boring part of Washington

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you guys are interested in predetermination, I sugest reading the novel Blink by Ted Dekker. Dekker's stuff usually deals with the morality arguement from a religious angle, and Blink is one of his better books.
_________________
...In accordance with the prophesy.

TheBSDude, dubbed 'BS' by Asa and nicknamed 'Thebes.'
Keeper of the Tristam, The Amazing Non-Emo Vampire!(tm) and a Massive List of Webcomics.

"I'm like a ninja with no hopes or dreams." --Wally of Dilbert
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Squeeself



Joined: 23 Mar 2008
Posts: 258

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nem wrote:
People don't judge in an absence of any information. You have to have some concept of the thing's existence, even if just a theoretical one, and have some reasons for possessing an attitude towards it as the very minimum. If people have reasons for their choices, be those biological, nurture based, or even spiritual, whether they honestly state those reasons aloud or not, then in the absence of those reasons the choice would not have been made or would have been made differently. In short the reasons have determined the eventual choice.


It's interesting to Squee that you used the word 'reason' when humans are innately unreasonable...Squee'll grant you that biological processes can lead to the final determination, regardless of what it is, but honestly, human beings act on 0 information all the time. Not to mention acting against reason, etc. You could, in the end, chalk that all down to a scientific predetermination if you really want to, but regardless of the true nature of the thing, there IS not predetermination in the limited scope for the human mind to really comprehend: as Squee has stated before, whether you believe free choice is an illusion or not, it's the only way for a human to really act in this world. Humans just can't be explained any other way with our limited understanding of the universe, no matter how much we might navel-gaze.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
YatesOfYore
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Dec 2006
Posts: 885

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well put, Splatster... that pretty much sums up what my response was going to be.
_________________
Keeper of Nanashi's Vambraces and the Amethyst Trees.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Nem



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
Posts: 2141
Location: England

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Squeeself wrote:
It's interesting to Squee that you used the word 'reason' when humans are innately unreasonable...Squee'll grant you that biological processes can lead to the final determination, regardless of what it is, but honestly, human beings act on 0 information all the time. Not to mention acting against reason, etc. You could, in the end, chalk that all down to a scientific predetermination if you really want to, but regardless of the true nature of the thing, there IS not predetermination in the limited scope for the human mind to really comprehend: as Squee has stated before, whether you believe free choice is an illusion or not, it's the only way for a human to really act in this world. Humans just can't be explained any other way with our limited understanding of the universe, no matter how much we might navel-gaze.


Whenever we try to explain humans we cannot do anything else than try to do it this way. What made him choose to murder; what caused him choose charity or peace; what influenced him to like eating chocolate? Whatever the connective word you use looking for the cause behind the apparent choice inherently uses the assumption that there was a determining cause or causes, if we didn’t make that assumption the entire search to explain a person’s behaviour as anything more than, ‘well that’s their choice,’ would be meaningless.

If the human mind had to comprehend the entirety of something to accept it then physics comedy and love, to mention but a few, wouldn’t exist in the limited scope of the human mind either. We're generalists I’ll grant readily enough, but it seems to me that arguing we don't entirely understand all the causal precedents of our actions in support of choice as the only way to explain human behaviour simply makes choice another word we use to generalise, 'a thing having complex causes.' And thus the minute we can’t understand the causes for a thing’s output the thing somehow chose that output. In which case we’re going to have to be assigning choice to a lot of things.

Reason is inherently a personal thing aiming towards personal goals based upon personal capabilities and sources of information. Even an outwardly irrational human needs a reason for what they do. Wouldn’t it be somewhat meaningless if, without any reason whatsoever, existing simply in a black void of nothingness, experiencing no emotions and knowing not even that they had a body, (from their perspective of course,) they spontaneously twitched and then instantly forgot about it? To us they may have just shot someone in the head of course, that twitch being a trigger pull, but in what sense could they really be said to have chosen anything? They just twitched, without cause, without reason. A person’s reasons may not make sense to us, they may be largely based on their own emotions or physiological state, types of information to which we may never be privy, they may be making their decisions with a lesser or greater mental ability than ourselves, or possessed of some external information which we do not have available. Someone who to all intents and purposes seems insane, making what would be to ourselves irrational illogical decisions, is still using a type of reason, it's just not of the same level as our own. It may not even share the same goals as our own. Just because we don't agree with it doesn't mean it's irrational from the perspective of the person choosing given their world view rather than ours. To be a ‘choice’ at all however, rather than simply random occurrence, it seems to require reasons, bits of information about the world and the individual’s relation to it that cause the action, rather than simply being a twitch in the darkness.

Most people make their decisions with access to a vast wealth of information. In order to make a choice, for example to pick up a cup and throw it, even someone who seems crazy requires access to the position and rough physical dimensions of the cup, an understanding of his own body mechanics and how they apply to a basic physical model of the world, how he feels at the time about throwing the cup and by an extension thereof a rudimentary understanding of his physiological state/available memories, and a host of other necessary bits of data without which the choice could never be made, even whatever input comes from a spirit if you believe in the existence of one. Those pieces of information allow the choice and when taken together they allow only that choice. It's easy to change the situation around of course. If a person had felt differently maybe they'd have chosen differently, if they'd known better or their spirit had provided a different input in whatever format that input comes in; but then they'd have been a different person standing there with different information facing a different, equally inevitable, choice.
_________________
Never forget,
We stroll along the roof of hell
Gazing at flowers.
- Issa
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message MSN Messenger
Nem



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
Posts: 2141
Location: England

PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bumpage XD

Heh, I think I may have found a way out of this, you may recognise parts of this post from another thread, mainly because I didn't feel like finding a way to retype some fairly basic social theory just to change the wording. There are a number of ideas I came across while re-reading this thread and worked into the system as well ^_^

---

The problem with all the moral systems that I have come across to date has been that they build their justification upon assumptions that are not falsifiable or are falsifiable and yet are demonstrably false.

However I made a claim recently that you could teach someone responsibility; a moral behaviour; on the basis of rationality. The system I have constructed for this end bears some similarity to the system of Kant and the Utilitarian system, it also draws heavily from egoism but justifies that on a basis that egoism does not and I think manages to avoid Rousseau’s objections to that justification.

Lately then I’ve been constructing a system to get around the limitations of conventional morality, and – having taken it as far as I feel I am able on my own - I thought I’d share it with you. I'm excusing god from this discussion because, put simply, I think the arguments for using god as a driving force for morality just aren't any good. If you are religious you don't have a problem in justifying your morality, but that has more to do with an assertion of faith than creating validation. Let's get this rolling then.

Justifying moral behaviour is the one ethical problem that faces the agnostic or atheistic individual. Having accepted that there is nothing of value beyond its relationship to the observer the non-believer must rebuild his morality on the base of the individual, for he has rejected all other means of deriving value and must not, on pain of contradiction, introduce a non-verbal god.

In examining what people should do we must then ask also what people do by course of nature, how the individual relates to a larger social structure, for value is determined in terms of relationships. Why do people do as they do? Because their religion has been insulted, their land stolen, because they want to steal someone's land, because there's oil in them thar' hills. The reasons are numerous, but they're not universal. Some tribe that lives in the jungle isn't going to go to war with you over oil, but if you break their totem pole they might just skin you alive and leave you for the ants.

When we’re born we irrationally want certain things, food, breath, freedom from pain, etc, due to the biological nature of our lives. These things can be nothing other than irrational for we at that point lack the arguments for why we should or should not continue to exist with which to drive these desires. These are our core motives and our innate reactions to their presence or denial (being either discomfort or pleasure of varying degrees) paired with different situations and the biological mechanism of association goes on to determine what we will value. Value is in its most basic form not a rational thing but a natural thing. Rationality comes later and is given in the form, ‘if you want X then do Y’ and other derivatives of that general statement; it can support other values and create them but they’re always going to be based on those core unreasoning values, an element of chance, both in terms of genetics and initial environment, endures.

There is one value that shapes all others however, that being survival. If you take any group existing today its values are such that broadly speaking they encourage survival within a certain environment, for if they were not that group could not continue to exist. You can see the effect of this if you take two groups with the same genetic background and introduce them into two different physical environments as was witnessed with the Maori Moriori conflict. They both came from the same genetic stock but one group landed in a land of plenty, developed weapons, a warlike culture, etc, and the other landed within a place of very limited resources and developed a system of pacifism and ritually sterilisation to maintain low numbers. Eventually the Maori came across the Moriori and wiped them out. The problem comes when someone is subject to a cultural value system that does not match those enabled by their biology and or their environment, and in this way self destruction is encouraged. Much as the rapid change of the Moriori’s environment by the introduction of the Maori led to their extinction so too the society has a certain faction of poorly compatible personalities within it and these generally form the bulk of suicide attempts.

We learn our values from our environments and as within societies we share broadly the same environments over time we’ve created roughly the same value systems with regards to certain things. The main themes of that learning we call culture. The sum of all the learning, the way all our values interact with each other produces certain effects. You can remove one or two values and alter the overall equation but that’s not to imply that only those values are responsible for the outcome. This is why we do as we do.

Individuals vary widely, just as our biology and environments vary widely; we have different value systems, different religions, moralities and ways of making both war and love. We can assume of the individual only that he survives and in that finds some value in life, even if just in fear of death, for all else varies. Morally correct behaviour is then survival behaviour, for that is the one universal value system. This should not suggest to you however that all people require the same things to survive, as well as certain physical requirements such as food, water, air; there are also undeniably psychological components to an individual’s life that vary with culture, things they enjoy, social contact, intellectual stimulation, and so on.

How then is this applied to judge one behaviour as, ‘good,’ and another as, ‘bad?’

Of the individual we may expect no more than upmost selfishness, though there are individuals that aspire to more than this in adjusting the system to work with the lowest common denominator we can justify to both. To judge survival behaviour we must then return to the principles of psychology that we examined in explaining the forming of behaviour and apply the method of derivation to encouraging our survival. People experience reinforcement of their behaviour vicariously, that is by observation, this is a demonstrable, mathematically verifiable truth. To ask why the individual should not steal is then to ask a pragmatic question subject to the effects the individual’s acts will have on the environment and thus on the value systems of others. The individual should not steal under most conditions because it will increase the incidence of stealing within his society – he has weakened the collective reluctance to steal and by doing so endangered his continual existence. This survivalist approach also explains conditions under which the individual is permitted to steal, when the risk to his survival by not stealing would be greater than the risk from stealing. It is permitted then to steal a loaf of bread but beholden on the rich man to buy his sustenance. To ask why a man should not murder; to do so is to increase the collective reluctance to murder a value that he too is subject to in the eyes of other individuals, it also endangers him of response from the justice system.

But what of risk taking behaviour? If someone chooses to engage in thrilling yet dangerous behaviour is this wrong? Here the question is really one as to whether the thrill seeking behaviour make their life more worth living. It is possible that depression resulting from the denial of such natural urges would make life untenable or undesirable for the individual. A certain amount of freedom is a prerequisite for this system, taking risks is not of itself wrong. If however you draw no enjoyment from it, and engage in it as a self destructive behaviour rather than constructively improving your life, then it is wrong.

Any moral question can be answered in terms of its relationship to the individual’s survival, a thing that the individual has himself, at least as long as he is capable of behaviour, (in short while he is truly, ‘alive,’) chosen to continue.

What then of the suicidal? Do they not desire death, and as such become exempt from these moral considerations? If you read on the subject it is most commonly expressed that the person does not really decide to die, but decides to leave an undesirable life or performs suicide pursuant to some other end. For them the moral thing to do is to make their lives more worth living. The rare person who really desires death not as an ends to a better/different life/world is indeed beyond this type of morality, as most moral systems agree they are ill to a degree where they are unable to make moral decisions and that this system agrees with others on this point is no coincidence.

What of Rousseau’s objection to this line of thought? That if consequences determine the morality of an act then all that is important is to set yourself up such as to be assured of escaping the unpleasant consequences and you’re justified in anything. Rousseau suggests a limited choice here, and I offer the reader a different one: There is no such position whereby you may escape all fear of consequences for your actions. Conquers and kings, tyrants and politicians, all have been held accountable to the people at one time or another – you can never be assured of escaping the consequences of your violence.

Morally correct behaviour is simply survival behaviour extended to a larger organism than the individual. It comes from recognising the individual’s relationship to the society he inhabits. ‘Justice must be seen to be done,’ in spirit if not in exact form, is the ultimate moral imperative. And what is justice under this moral system? Justice is life, along with all that makes life worth living and enables us in that pursuit, justice is making the world and society a better place for others to live justified in the way that reflects itself back for and upon you. More importantly justice is not god, it is not some vast untestable, untouchable thing in some way out there – beyond our reach and knowledge used to justify whatever the emotion of the moment desires, nor something that can be used as a tool of social control. Where Nietzsche runs into the crowd screaming that god is dead and that we have killed him there is no longer any reason for concern. I have not built my system upon that basis. Justice is psychologically justified, mathematically verifiable moral behaviour.

---

So that's it. Heh, I haven't made anything new in aggeessss so I'm not sure it's any good.

XD

Thoughts; comments? Pie?
_________________
Never forget,
We stroll along the roof of hell
Gazing at flowers.
- Issa


Last edited by Nem on Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:15 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message MSN Messenger
Rolaoi



Joined: 14 May 2008
Posts: 247
Location: The Empire in the South

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tamir wrote:
Well said, Lady. Very Happy

Here's a roundabout argument for free will - the conscious mind. A very strange part of an evolutionary creature, wouldn't you say? Instead of our brains consisting of a single computer which calculates the best choice out of the options, it's separated in two. One which acts by pure instinct (the understandable subconscious), and one which frequently chooses things which do not progress the individual or the species (the strange conscious). For example, overeating. What kind of messed up creatures eat more than they need to, thus hurting themselves?
So it seems that, as the Lady said, we can choose against our nature, as strange as that is.


The brain is funny. Really funny. Especially consciouness. It's simple to understand how the brain controls the body, but it's much more complex when you ask the question, "What controls the brain?". What causes the neurons to activate to cause conscious and voluntary thought and actions? Then you have to take into account that your actions and thoughts would have to be planned before you did them. What's really amazing is thought itself. Those aren't words in your head, those are electrical impulses that the neurons have been trained to interpret.
_________________
Talked to a man who caught the
raninbow's end he found
That the pot of gold resided within
Fame~Citzen Cope

Nom d'amour~ Rolex
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic     Forum Index -> General Discussion All times are GMT - 4 Hours
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Page 5 of 5

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum



Elveron phpBB theme/template by Ulf Frisk and Michael Schaeffer
Copyright Ulf Frisk, Michael Schaeffer 2004


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group