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  1. #1
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    Evolution of Morality

    I believe it is the case that opinions percieved to be (im)moral have changed over time. Just as many German citizens "knew" that it was "their duty" to contribute to the Holocaust by revealing prospective Jews to the officials, just as American Southern slave owners "knew" that slaves were inferior humans beings and *deserved* the lives they lived. Just as Christians *know* that homosexuality is wrong, and Muslims *know* that revenge is appropriate justice. Just as men used to *know* that women could not make competent decisions like voting or owning a business.

    All of these claims, I believe, are more reflections of a society's need to change it's moral standards to accomodate for a change in society, than "misguided" views of an absolute morality.

    If societies evolve over time, is it possible that conventional moral standards fail to justify certain contemporary actions?

    If societies evolve over time, does morality change, or just the perception of it?

    Who holds a monopoly on morality?

    Can anyone who holds such a monopoly (or claim to do so) truly maintain a perfectly rigid definition of right and wrong that never changes, ever, and encompasses all actions not classified as amoral?
    Fortunately, the darkest of darkness is not as terrible as we fear.
    Unfortunately, the lightest of light, all things good, are not so wonderful as we hope for them to be.
    What, then, is left, but various shades of grey neutrality? Where are the heroes and villains? All I see are people.

  2. #2
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Well, it's a concept that atheists just don't understand. Morality is not dependent on opinion. My thinking something is moral does absolutely nothing to make it moral. I'm either right or wrong in my observation of a law of the universe. That's the whole idea of absolute morality. What we think personally has no bearing on it. If we agree with what God has revealed to be moral, then we're correct. If not, we're wrong.

  3. #3
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    Well, it's a concept that atheists just don't understand. Morality is not dependent on opinion. My thinking something is moral does absolutely nothing to make it moral. I'm either right or wrong in my observation of a law of the universe. That's the whole idea of absolute morality. What we think personally has no bearing on it. If we agree with what God has revealed to be moral, then we're correct. If not, we're wrong.
    However, there is no decicive evidence that what is claimed to be the will of God is anything more than a number of men's perceptions of morality 2000 years ago.
    Fortunately, the darkest of darkness is not as terrible as we fear.
    Unfortunately, the lightest of light, all things good, are not so wonderful as we hope for them to be.
    What, then, is left, but various shades of grey neutrality? Where are the heroes and villains? All I see are people.

  4. #4
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Interesting thread.

    I'll resist talking about memes - though that's exactly what a moral is.



    My hope for the future is when we eventually realise not only do we not need a conventional government but that we're better off without one. Bear in mind the US founders spent 4 years (that's a full political term) wondering if or not the USA should even have one (and did the sky fall down without one? No.)

    The only real benefit to a government is that if you have one and it's half-decent (they never go beyond half) then at least it helps prevent a worse one appearing. Note that all too often "regime change" as resulted in a worse situation than before

    Yeah, seems "impossible" today but at one time it would be "impossible" to do without slaves let alone banning slavery itself.

    Government is little more than brute force or the threat of it to redistribute wealth from the productive to the unproductive while doing favors for those who bribe the highest. I cannot consider government to be "moral", it's immoral. Think about it, today we consider the idea of a king ruling by fear as immoral - but for a huge chunk of human history that was not only normal but anything else was unthinkable. For centuries people just hoped for a better, nicer king but it never really seemed possible to not have one.

    I figure, if governments with the WMD and armies and so on, don't kill us all first, that the day will come when people will look back and wonder "How come they put up with a bunch of people claiming to have power over them, starting wars and choosing how much of their money they could keep, what it could be spent on etc? Why didn't they rise up or just say 'No'?".

    Church, charity and strong families cover 90% of the good that governments do - or would do without a government. Now consider what the free market could do - what's left that we actually NEED a government for?

    Being able to choose one or the other of two mafia families demanding protection money is not freedom. Have we evolved morally enough to cope with anarchy? Well seems to me since we had governments rather than churches our morals are fading, not evolving. If we have WW3, from the radioactive ashes, I hope we don't rebuild another bloody government.


    P.
    "The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."
    head of MI6

    "The Emory University study proves beyond a doubt that politicians and their acolytes - are lying morons."

    "We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it."
    Justice Jackson Nov. 21, 1945, Nuremberg

  5. #5
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    Well, it's a concept that atheists just don't understand. Morality is not dependent on opinion. My thinking something is moral does absolutely nothing to make it moral. I'm either right or wrong in my observation of a law of the universe. That's the whole idea of absolute morality. What we think personally has no bearing on it. If we agree with what God has revealed to be moral, then we're correct. If not, we're wrong.
    So if God condones genocide, its moral?
    But if you do not find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go on your way alone, like a king abandoning a conquered kingdom, or like a great elephant in the deep forest. - Buddha

  6. #6
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    First, please DEFINE morality. I bet I can end this debate in only a few posts.

    Also, no moral absolutist claims that they have a monopoly on morality, nor do any claim that they are fully aware of all possible moral values, nor do they claim that all actions can be easily assigned a moral value, nor do they claim that their set of morals need to be imposed upon others. The very idea that you BELIEVE so, merely shows your misunderstanding of that which you say you oppose.
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; March 11th, 2005 at 11:25 PM.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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  7. #7
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipnish
    So if God condones genocide, its moral?
    and if a country legalizes rape, it's moral?
    "With His dying breath... He saved me, with His wounds... He healed me, with His life... He died for me, although I never met Him, He remembered... me."

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  8. #8
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    If societies evolve over time, is it possible that conventional moral standards fail to justify certain contemporary actions?
    blackthreedark red
    Certainly,

    If societies evolve over time, does morality change, or just the perception of it?
    dark red
    each generation teaches there perceptions of there morals to there children by observation or teaching.

    Who holds a monopoly on morality?
    dark red
    The religious majority

    Can anyone who holds such a monopoly (or claim to do so) truly maintain a perfectly rigid definition of right and wrong that never changes, ever, and encompasses all actions not classified as amoral?
    dark red
    NO! Over time evolved even morality changes as does every philosophy throughout the ages.
    Paul
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  9. #9
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipnish
    So if God condones genocide, its moral?
    Theoretically, yes. In reality, certainly not. The whole definition of a moral act is one that God condones. Our perception of its morality has no bearing, none at all, on whether it is in fact moral.

  10. #10
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    Also, no moral absolutist claims that they have a monopoly on morality, nor do any claim that they are fully aware of all possible moral values, nor do they claim that all actions can be easily assigned a moral value, nor do they claim that their set of morals need to be imposed upon others. The very idea that you BELIEVE show, merely shows your misunderstanding of that which you say you oppose.
    If you don't know anything about it, how can you know it's there?
    Fortunately, the darkest of darkness is not as terrible as we fear.
    Unfortunately, the lightest of light, all things good, are not so wonderful as we hope for them to be.
    What, then, is left, but various shades of grey neutrality? Where are the heroes and villains? All I see are people.

  11. #11
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Morality = Perception and understanding of Right and Wrong. < - > Justification & Denial.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin.
    Emitte lucem et veritatem - Send out light and truth.
    'Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt' - Julius Caesar (rough translation, 'Men will think what they want to think')
    Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? - Homer Simpson.

  12. #12
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyshhed
    If you don't know anything about it, how can you know it's there?
    I never claimed absolute moralists don't know anything about it.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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  13. #13
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    Theoretically, yes. In reality, certainly not. The whole definition of a moral act is one that God condones. Our perception of its morality has no bearing, none at all, on whether it is in fact moral.
    Which God is morality based on?
    - Mike
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  14. #14
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Ignore Pib's post everyone, it was way overhead.




    P.
    "The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."
    head of MI6

    "The Emory University study proves beyond a doubt that politicians and their acolytes - are lying morons."

    "We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it."
    Justice Jackson Nov. 21, 1945, Nuremberg

  15. #15
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    First, please DEFINE morality. I bet I can end this debate in only a few posts.

    Also, no moral absolutist claims that they have a monopoly on morality, nor do any claim that they are fully aware of all possible moral values, nor do they claim that all actions can be easily assigned a moral value, nor do they claim that their set of morals need to be imposed upon others. The very idea that you BELIEVE so, merely shows your misunderstanding of that which you say you oppose.
    No matter how I define it, I suspect you will tell me that my defintion is not correct. Seems to be a moot point.

    This one seems as good as any other:

    mo·ral·i·ty Audio pronunciation of "morality" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (m-rl-t, mô-)
    n. pl. mo·ral·i·ties

    1. The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.
    2. A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct: religious morality; Christian morality.
    3. Virtuous conduct.
    4. A rule or lesson in moral conduct.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=morality

    I especially like #2.
    But if you do not find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go on your way alone, like a king abandoning a conquered kingdom, or like a great elephant in the deep forest. - Buddha

  16. #16
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    Theoretically, yes. In reality, certainly not. The whole definition of a moral act is one that God condones. Our perception of its morality has no bearing, none at all, on whether it is in fact moral.
    So when God authorizes raping, pillaging, plundering, and infanticide, its MORAL?
    But if you do not find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go on your way alone, like a king abandoning a conquered kingdom, or like a great elephant in the deep forest. - Buddha

  17. #17
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowKnight
    and if a country legalizes rape, it's moral?
    I wouldn't think so, but those of that country might. As I have been saying for some time now, morality is NOT an absolute. It is determined by the people of the time...

    when Germany set about destroying the Jews, few of the people who lived there thought it was a moral act. Whereas they may have been too afraid, or whatever to act against it, it doesn't mean that they thought it was right...

    As we have stated about 50 times now, laws=/=morality.
    But if you do not find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go on your way alone, like a king abandoning a conquered kingdom, or like a great elephant in the deep forest. - Buddha

  18. #18
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by KB
    Well, it's a concept that atheists just don't understand.
    (raises eyebrow). Now that seems like a silly thing to say, especially since its unproveable.

    Morality is not dependent on opinion. My thinking something is moral does absolutely nothing to make it moral. I'm either right or wrong in my observation of a law of the universe. That's the whole idea of absolute morality.
    I would argue that morality is based upon perception, what we perceive to me moral. Since each person would obviously perceive morality differently, each person has their own moral code, which is not objectively right or wrong.

    What we think personally has no bearing on it. If we agree with what God has revealed to be moral, then we're correct. If not, we're wrong.
    What God has revealed to be moral is interpreted differently by different people. Therefore, how can one "correct" moral code be determined?
    -=]emtee10[=-
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    I'll give you a hint. Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.
    - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged

  19. #19
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike
    Which God is morality based on?
    Kev's of course!!!! - He comes served up with American Pie and M60 toting Legions of Angels and others crewing Carrier Battlegroups.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin.
    Emitte lucem et veritatem - Send out light and truth.
    'Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt' - Julius Caesar (rough translation, 'Men will think what they want to think')
    Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? - Homer Simpson.

  20. #20
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    Re: Evolution of Morality

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    Well, it's a concept that atheists just don't understand.
    I understand your concept of morality. However, I don't think it's right.
    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    Morality is not dependent on opinion.
    Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if that were true. If we had a single unified authority on morality that we could go to so we wouldn't have to come up with our own morality. While I've seen a few here debate as if that were the case and want to use it as a model for fixing things, morality is transient; it varies from generation to generation, century to century. We can see that what was viewed as right at the time of the Renaissance is different to that of the Victorian Era, which in turn is different than that of today. A dance in the Victorian era that involved the actual touching of a member of the opposite sex was considered risqué.
    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    My thinking something is moral does absolutely nothing to make it moral.
    Probably not, unless you are in consensus with the majority of the society in which you live. Is the death penalty moral, amoral, or immoral? Is abortion moral, amoral, or immoral? These are tough questions that ultimately come down to the consensus of the population.
    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    I'm either right or wrong in my observation of a law of the universe. That's the whole idea of absolute morality.
    Your mistake is setting morality as a law of the universe, comparable to the law of gravitation or the laws of motion. It is not. It is an object of society that pertains only to a society. Thus a system of morality may change as the conditions of its society change.
    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowing
    If we agree with what God has revealed to be moral, then we're correct. If not, we're wrong.
    If only we lived in a universe with unchanging conditions and one religion. Which God? Allah? Shiva? Yehweh? Ahura Mazda? They all perscribe different moral codes; which one is right? Which followers were divinely gifted with the true sight, which ones weren't?

    Beyond that, many of the laws of the Bible were written for different times. The laws found in the books of the Torah were created in the times when the Hebrews were in the desert. They are very good guidelines for desert living, but not necessarily for living in modern cities with skyscrapers and cell phones. We have created many laws since then and much of our moral code comes from different sources than the Bible. Where in the Bible does it mention copyright law and ethics? Where does it mention dealing with genetics or biotechnology? We must judge for ourselves what is right and wrong, and such judging is not very objective. We cannot measure and record morality like we can gravitational forces or reaction rates.
    Quote Originally Posted by Slipnish
    So if God condones genocide, its moral?
    Quote Originally Posted by Slipnish
    So when God authorizes raping, pillaging, plundering, and infanticide, its MORAL?
    Are you hinting at the slaugter of the Midianites?
    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowKnight
    and if a country legalizes rape, it's moral?
    The funny thing is that rape was not really prosecuted by the state during the Renaissance. This was rooted in the thinking of the time that women were property of their husbands (or fathers if unmarried). So, justice came from the husband instead of the state. Of course, we would find their system of morality backwards, but to most at the time, their system was perfectly moral and acceptable. Of course it goes back to the definitions we have of what is moral and what isn't but I typically don't consider something to be moral or immoral, but rather to be considered to be moral or immoral. This is because of what I said earlier that a moral system is an object of society, not a universal law, so as an object of society something really be moral if a society agrees that it is on the whole.
    Slipnish sums it up quite nicely:
    Quote Originally Posted by Slipnish
    I wouldn't think so, but those of that country might. As I have been saying for some time now, morality is NOT an absolute. It is determined by the people of the time...
    Quote Originally Posted by Pibs
    Ignore Pib's post everyone, it was way overhead.
    More like: It was way off topic. If you can show a link with the discussion, maybe someone will pay attention. Otherwise, you just appear to be babbling about the evils of government in a morality thread.
    孟柏民
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