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6853Re: [sl] The Nature of Morality

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  • mikebispham@aol.com
    Oct 11, 2006
      In a message dated 11/10/06 02:59:44 GMT Daylight Time, danw@... writes:
      In arguing about ethical relativism with Einar I have been saying that
      morality is genetically based in human beings. Here is a development of
      that idea. Some of the framework is taken from Jonathan Haidt’s work on
      the social pschology of morality.
      You'd like Matt Ridley Dan.  He explores this stuff from an evolutiory perspective.  look up The Evolutionary Origins of Morality.
      Part of the value of this perspective is its explanatory power in describing the evolutionary values and mechanisms of the mono-mythological belief-systems that empower the elites.  A predisposion to belief in the gods is seen to be provide as evolutionary advantage.  The stories are social necessities. 
      Of course I think we (Europeans) have transcended the need for a common mythology by replacing it with a common empirical rationality.

      Moral values are not handed down by God and they are not inherent in the
      nature of the universe. They are an instinctually based part of human
      nature that evolved during our 2 million years in nomadic
      hunter-gatherer groups to help us survive.

      Morality evolved as a way of maximizing group effectiveness. The more
      effective the group, be it baboon troop, human family, or extended clan,
      the more it will preserve the life of its members and hence their
      ability to reproduce.

      Definition of Morality – a set of genetically based values that maximize
      the effectiveness of a group’s ability to preserve human life.

      The six basic moral values:

      1. Honor the group – Patriotism, nationalism, civic pride, team spirit,
      family love.

      2. Keep the group orderly (minimizes disruption) civility, honor,
      purity, sacredness ==> virginity, monogamy, no adultery, no promiscuity,
      no vulgarity, no out of control rage, no killing within the group.

      3. Respect the hierarchy – follow the rules, reverence authority, have
      ambition, strive for leadership

      4. Divide things evenly (within hierarchical level) – no cheating, no

      5. Tell the truth to the group. Don’t lie. The group needs accurate
      information to effectively deal with threats and to promote trust.

      6. Sacrifice for the group. Risk your life in time of war. Give up
      personal pleasure to nurture children and other members of the group.

      It is my contention that these 6 rules are part of the instinctive
      equipment of all human beings. They are cross culturally valid. Twin
      studies that compare fraternal and identical twins should yield some
      information on how much genetic determination there is in moral behavior.

      Re 1 Honor the Group: We all know that dissidence in a democracy is what
      it is all about. We have a duty to criticize what we see as wrong. But
      with a war on the love-it-or-leave-it mentality of the Patriotic spirit
      overrides good sense, our instinctual nature kicks in and we all sing
      God Bless America together.

      Re 2 Keep the Group Orderly: The Iraq war may be promoting promiscuity.
      Couples may be working overtime to replace the soldiers lost in war.

      Re 4 Divide things evenly: Why aren’t people more outraged by the make
      the rich richer agenda of the Republican party? Perhaps because there is
      a hierarchical stratification to the divide things evenly rule. We
      expect the lions to take the lions’ share.

      In this scheme our sense of the sacred is part of the keep things
      orderly rule. Purification comes before revelation. And revelation says
      that there is a divine order and perfection that pervades all things.
      Ergo celibacy as a religious commitment. Keep things serene with
      emotions under control, that is the way to achieve the revelation of the
      divine order of the group.

      One way of looking at people is to see what groups they belong to. What
      are the norms of these groups and how do those norms compare with the 6
      moral rules?

      There is a genetic basis for loyalty to the corporation one works for.
      It is a major group in one’s life. Dissatisfaction with modern life may
      stem in part from the fact that the corporation is not giving adequate
      group support. Employees are seen as interchangeable, transitory, and
      replaceable. In the modern workplace workers hop from job to job. Temps
      are used more and more to do the corporation’s work. Unions have been
      pretty much broken and disbanded. Jobs are going overseas, which shows a
      lack of corporate commitment to the group. There is crime at the top of
      the corporate hierarchy. The bottom line is valued more than people. The
      corporation may engage in environmental abuses and human exploitation.

      E-mail may be the solution to many of these corporate troubles. A brief
      weekly e-mail from the chief executive to all employees of the
      corporation demonstrating caring, honoring group moral values, and
      discussing the competitive situation could deepen company loyalty, raise
      morale, and reduce turnover. Even lay-offs or out-sourcing can be made
      acceptable by presenting them within the framework of sacrifice for the

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