[ExI] Morality and meta

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Wed Dec 12 16:36:05 UTC 2007

At 09:29 PM 12/11/2007, Terry wrote:

Before I respond to this, could you tell us a bit about your 
background? There isn't a lot to glean from your presence on the web 
but I did find this really cool photo (obviously taken at a science 
fiction convention costume 
contest).  http://www.members.aol.com/Citta437/myhomepage/moogle.jpg

>Keith wrote:
>"Is a sense of morality and moral behavior a widespread psychological
>trait in human populations?
>My reply: NO, a child has no sense of morality or moral behavior.

Girl children don't have breasts.  Babies don't talk or walk.  Yet 
all these products of evolution are widespread in adults (of the 
appropriate sex).  Not to mention that moral emotions such as shame 
emerge very early in children, about 3, when (in the EEA) they 
graduated from their mother's arms to the play group.

>Keith: If you answer yes (and it is hard to imagine any other answer)
>this psychological trait was either directly selected (keeping in
>mind inclusive fitness) or is it a side effect of something else that
>was selected.
>My reply: Morality is a sign of matured development in human society.

You are making this statement in opposition to a truly massive 
background of scientific studies over the last 20 years. We now know 
exactly what part of the brain are specialized to make moral decisions.

>Some society where the members manifests immature behavior or
>dependence on metaphysical beliefs cannot see reason from fantasy.

I would be hard pressed to come up with any society did "see reason 
from fantasy."  The number rational thinkers is small, the number 
whose actions are guided by rational thinking is even smaller.

>Can you make a case for morality being genetic?  (I can from
>dogs.)  Can you imagine a reasonable origin for the trait(s) in stone
>age populations?
>Dogs are trained to be obedient.

There are limits to what you can train a dog to do, and it varies 
widely by breed and by individual.  Some breeds of hunting dogs 
cannot be trained to leave meat alone when they are not being 
watched.  Others understand ownership of food almost without being trained.

>Human brains are more complex than a
>dog's brain. The thought/belief of a morality gene is a mere
>thought/assumption propagated by those with an agenda for whatever
>benefit they desire for their ownselves like the stone age people who
>saw what they want to see i.e. the gods for rain, fertility etc.

There isn't *a* morality gene. A large number, maybe half of human 
genes, are involved in the growth and organization of the 
brain.  These genes cause the specialized structures to form that 
fMRI researchers see active in making moral decisions.

This is *widely* understood by the scientific community that is 
concerned with such matters and reasonably well understood by the 
people on this mailing list.


PS, If you want to know who I am, Google "Keith Henson" or go here: 

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