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Why morality stems from law, not the opposite; why the moral of different cultures are very similar and why there is not an “absolute” moral

(This post is a reply to a comment of the user “Trizo”)

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The morality started because the society needed a common law, and the ones who complied with the law had less problems with society; what means less punishments; what means a better social position; what means more women (or only one but guaranteed) or a better man; what means more offspring (in the first case) or better offspring (in the second case).

And so, the people who had an inner “morality” based on the common law or a religion (also based on the common law), complied better with that law and left more offspring.

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And so:

All people have an inner morality (psychopaths apart)–>All inner morality comes from a common law–>All common laws come from social groups (a.k.a tribes)–>All people are organized in social groups because of social.

That is, there’s nothing in evolution (Lynn Margulis apart) that doesn’t come from an adaptation from the environment. So, the inner morality is an evolutionary adaptation that stems from law.

If the morality of different cultures is nearly the same; that is because the requirements of a stable society are the same. Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t be unfaithful (that only creates problems) and help others (because the others will help you a.k.a mutualism) etc etc

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Also, there is not an “absolute” moral; the “absolute” moral is like the “perfect” living being, there isn’t.

The society and the individuals evolve the same way and with the natural selection; if an individual has a very bad gen, that individual won’t have many (or any) offspring; if a society (or a moral) has a very bad law (or principle), that society will soon collapse.

So, a “perfect” living being is which is able to have more offspring, and the “absolute” moral is which is able to sustain the most stable society; is meaningless to look for the “perfect” living being nor the “absolute” moral.

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Trizo made a reply for this post, here is:

http://newdiscussions.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/the-evolution-of-human-morality/

Why we haven’t got free will and why we are pleasure-pain machines

(I wanted to make this post anyway, but now this post is a reply to a comment of the user “Otove”)

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If we drop a ball it surely will fall, right? The ball can’t say “no, I don’t want to fall, I want to fly”.

The same thing occurs with us, we are complex balls falling towards the end of our existence, our thoughts are just electrons moving in synapses and our memories just chemicals stored in our brain cells.

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We haven’t got nothing that makes us able to “jump” over our hardware (a.k.a brain) and make “free” decisions, believe in “free will” is impossible without resort to religious dogmas or consider randomness as “free will”.

And so, “free will” is just an illusion; because you make decisions doesn’t means that you have “free will”, you’re another pleasure-pain machine like all of us and all your actions and decisions are determined by the laws of physics.

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This is the reality, believe in free will is one of the pillars of society and religion; but is not one in philosophy nor any other science.

First rule of philosophy a.k.a why you should have an open mind

Today I was talking to one of my peers (a woman*), I don’t remember how** but the topic of the gender violence appeared. Soon after, she also mentioned something about traffic accidents; and then I said:

“(…) I agree, but traffic accidents kill more than 20 times more people than gender violence***; so I think is more important prevent traffic accidents than gender violence. Also, most deaths are because of heart attacks so (…)”

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Later I tried to convince her of that is much more important to prevent traffic accidents than prevent gender violence, and that save the starving people of Africa is a lot more important than any of those things****.

Also, spend (as example) 5 millions of euros/dollars/pounds in gender violence by implementing more ads; education programs; emergency phone lines etc. etc. Will save no more than (approximately and rounded up) 20 woman, but spend that money on prevent traffic accidents by removing blackspots will save up to (approximately and rounded down) 100 people.*****

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And then she replied (I don’t remember exactly the words, but this is basically the same she said):

“I agree, but I think is better to do both things”

Perfect, the problem is simple; we have limited resources, if we say “let’s both help with gender violence and traffic accidents”; half the resources will go to every cause and we won’t be as much efficient as we could.

So, I tried to tell her an allegory:

“Imagine that you have a piece of bread and that two persons are in front of you. One of them didn’t eat yesterday and the second will die tomorrow of starvation. Who will you give the bread?”

I expected she to say “the second”; that’s the logical reply. But not, she said dogmatically and irrationally:

“You are wrong”

Well, that was as much as I got. I tried to ask she why I was wrong; “Because you’re wrong” she said in many different ways as if she knew she was right and I wrong but without be able to say why.

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Wait, that was not all; she said I was trying to deceive she with my utilitarian dilemma!

This reminds me one quote of Joan Fuster:

“Estic convençut de que tots els dilemes són falsos: trampes fetes per tal de fernos acceptar coses en les que no estem d’acord”

“I think that all dilemmas are false; tricks for make us accept things which we don’t agree”

I disagree completely, we can; we should; we MUST be able to do anything in case we face utilitarian dilemmas. If killing one person I can save five, that don’t means that kill people is good; but that in that particular case was better to kill than not kill.

The same principles apply, is better not-to-help 20 women that are going to be killed by their husbands (unfortunately) if we save 100 people that are going to die because of a 180º turn.

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Is true that we don’t live in a “everybody is happy and the rainbows shine” world, so; we must face reality and don’t try to act like if we lived in that world instead of this, in that utopian world kill is unnecessary and there’s not any utilitarian dilemma: “it’s better to let die 1000 people if doing that you won’t have to kill 1″ is the only answer that offers us that world.

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*Why the hell the English language hasn’t got any gender morpheme?

**Sorry, my memory is half great half poor.

***In Spain (where I live) the number of deaths of traffic accidents are more of 2000 and the number of deaths of gender violence are less than 100 (2000/100=20, just a coincidence).

****Although the logistics are so hard

*****Also, spend that money in Africa will represent; or thousands of unnecessary deaths (by feeding people without prevent overpopulation) or thousands of lives saved (if done correctly).

How to have a hierarchical moral

Being completely relativistic means give up all your moral, in other words, it means to be a MORALESS MONSTER.

There is no problem with that of course; except that all the moral you got inside your brain because of your education is not gone, it stays giving you endorphins (good and bad) without your rational consent.
Also, there’s the added problem that the society requires that you act morally; nobody likes a moraless friend in whom you can’t confide a pencil.

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Solution? There are two possibilities:

-You try to bow down all your irrational moral and you pretend to act like a moral person although you will be a MORALESS MONSTER and although you will also give up one of the joys of life, morality.

-You hierarchize your moral.

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I can’t recommend the first option half because is a bad choice and half because I don’t want to contribute to the collapse of the modern civilization.

The second option is much better, here’s an example; first I see a seriously wounded cat, second:

-My third grade moral a.k.a “heart” says to me: “poor cat, help him”.

-My second grade anthropocentric* moral says to me: “ignore the cat sentimentalist hypocrite!”.

-My first grade relativist moral says to me: “you will be happier helping the cat? In this case not so ignore it”

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That’s how this work:

-The third grade moral is my “heart” or how I accustomed to say, my moral premises.

-The second grade moral is my reasoned moral, a moral that I use with most not-too-philosophical discussions and for rationalise (and control) the third grade moral.

-The first grade moral is my “happicist” moral, a completely relativist moral that only cares for my own happiness (in my case, in your case your moral will care only for your own happiness) and that I use for philosophical reasoning and take moral decisions.

The first grade moral is the official moral, the third grade moral is the irrational-I-have-to-live-with-it moral and the second grade moral is a tool that the first grade moral uses for deceive the third grade moral for give me (in my case) all the happiness that implies the moral with none of the unhappiness that implies not-obeying that moral (this never works perfect, but you won’t have as much regrets thanks to this trick).

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Get a hierarchical moral it’s not like get a superuser, it’s easier; only divide your moral in three as I did and it’s all done (eventually, just live with that moral for some time). However, you can always shape the second grade moral to fit your third grade moral; also remember that eventually your third grade moral will also fit your second grade moral.

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*I think it’s better to be anthropocentric than animalistic, the animalism is inconsistent.

Why relativism?

First ask yourself; “why I should do good things?”.
Now exclude all your answers that can be included in one of these categories:

-Logical loops: If you enter in one of these, is because your answer is illogical “I should do good things because is the correct thing to do because I should do good things because…”

-Irrational emotions: What’s the first rule of philosophy? Yes, think with your brain instead of your heart; your heart is great for enjoy a happy life, but it sucks in any other task. “I should do good things because my heart says that I should do good things”

-Pragmatism: Philosophy IS NOT a science that it’s constantly seeking for the best moral modus operandi for ourselves. It’s just a theoretical science that tries to rationalize our moral beliefs and solve metaphysical questions. And so; it’s all but philosophical think “I should do good things because those things are good for me”; unless your moral is completely egocentric or you’re Socrates.

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Now, if you categorized your answers correctly; you will find that there’s no correct answer. In fact, there are no correct answers for moral questions. That’s relativism, where no moral has sense and where no pillar can be.

Precedents, punishments and awards

Determinism apart; now I want to write about why the punishments and awards are very important for the society and not just a nonsense cultural tradition.

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The standard non-religious western society based moral just says “if someone does a misdeed, he should be punished; if someone does a good deed, he should be awarded”.

A dogmatic argument; let’s rationalize it a little:

“if someone does a misdeed, he should be punished for show him that he’s doing a bad action; if someone does a good deed, he should be awarded for show him that he’s doing a good action

The argument seems philosophically perfect… for a child of 5 years. I see at least two problems:

1st problem: People usually have enough knowledge of the standard non-religious (…) moral for act good; unless they have a reason for do the opposite. So, only a rational argument is enough for show anyone what (do you think) is good and bad; a 5 years old child is not enough rational (most) for understand a rational argument; so, the award/punishment system is the best (and only) way for teach them; but not rational people.

2nd problem: Who decides what is good and what is bad?

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Leaving aside the second problem (just a moral dilemma), the first problem is that knowledge can also be taught without any punishment nor award; so that’s not the reason the punishments and awards exist (for rational people). But if we get this part:

“unless they have a reason for do the opposite”

And apply it to the dilemma:

“if someone does a misdeed, he should be punished for show him that he will be punished if he do it again; if someone does a good deed, he should be awarded for show him that he will be awarded if he do it again

The argument seems plausible; the second problem is also present, but the first is not.

Now, let’s see the logic; if they punish you for do something, you won’t want to do it again because of the punishment; unless you have a stronger reason for do the opposite. So, this is about one of my favourite most hated words; precedent.

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If you kill someone, you’re doing a bad action; right? (excluding other variables). But what if, while you kill the other person, the other person doesn’t feel anything (even more, the other person ignores that you’re killing him) and after is killed, he resuscitates? You won’t be doing any bad action, because the bad action IS NOT kill; BUT cause pain and destroy the life of other individual.

This is precedent, killing people is as bad as breath, but after you breath no person suffers pain or loses his life; but when you kill is not the case.

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This is the reason punishments and awards exists; believe that the award/punishment for an action should be directly proportional to the good/bad produced is as stupid as curse the rain for ruin your laundry.

If a person wasn’t able to decide something, is ridiculous to award or punish him; because other persons in the same situation won’t be able to decide no matter the award/punishment they will receive later. And if a person decided to do a misdeed and now, for some reason, is unable to do it again; he should be punished for show other people in the same situation that they will be punished.

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That’s the reason the precedent is both a good way for prevent misdeeds and encourage good deeds while a very unfair and antiethical system of justice.

Relativism, absence of pillars and meaning of life

The relativism means that all moral is relative, and by extension; the moral is philosophically meaningless. So, if you are completely relativist; you won’t have any pillar.

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Now, this is the question; if you haven’t got any moral that constantly says what you should do; what prevents you from stop living?

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The standard non-religious western society based moral just says “life is happiness” and because you WANT happiness, you live.

But the problem is that, without moral; you have to consider if life is the same that happiness.

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Life is unhappiness, you haven’t got any reason to live because living is only making you unhappy.
HOWEVER there are two problems with this.

The first problem is that because you can’t be sure if life is or isn’t happiness; is better to stay alive because while you stay alive you can always decide between live or stop living; but when you’re dead, you can’t decide between stay dead or live again; even more, you can’t think.

The second problem is that if you’re relativist, why is happiness your objective?

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The first problem is unsolvable by definition; the second is not.

Just think, why we do everything? If your answer is “because it makes us happy” you’re right.

All, everything we do is because WE WANT; no exceptions.

If you help others risking your actual happiness; you do it because doing things according to your moral MAKES YOU HAPPY, even the most altruistic person in Earth is as egoist as any other.

If you do things because other person is pointing you with a gun and orders you to make his homework; you do it because the knowledge of that you will die if you don’t do his homework is giving you so much unhappiness that no homework will be enough boring for prevent you do that.

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So, if all your actions depend of the happiness that your brain awards you; your only moral should be try to make your brain give as most happiness during the most time. But if life is unhappiness and death is not happiness nor unhappiness; death may be better than life OR MAYBE YOU SHOULD STAY ALIVE BECAUSE I MAY BE WRONG.

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Also, the objective is not “be as happy as possible during to the rest of your life”; what opens the door to drugs, BUT “be as happy as possible during the most time as possible”; what opens the door to a long and happy life.

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For third time I’m open to discussion, the fact of if death is eternal unhappiness or eternal some-sort of happiness is completely open and my only argument is that when you die your brain can’t give you a lot of unhappiness because you’re dead nor any sort of happiness because of that.

Determinism, awards and punishments

Another moral dilemma:

“Two persons (A and B) are competing in a race, A is faster; after two minutes A wins and is awarded with a gold medal (although there were only two participants).

Is fair that A is awarded with a gold medal while B not?”

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If your response is “yes” you don’t know anything about determinism or you’re giving a partial response.

Let’s change it a little:

“Two persons (A and B) are competing in a race, A is faster because he was born with an athletic body and B with a not-so-athletic body; after two minutes A wins and is awarded with a gold medal (although there were only two participants).

Is fair that A is awarded with a gold medal while B not?”

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Now, the only reason that A won was because he was born with an athletic body while B not, this means that winning or losing the race is only about luck; because if B were born with a better body he would have won.

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So, the entire race was about luck; right? So no-one should be awarded more than the other because it was all luck.

Now see:

“Two persons (A and B) are competing in a race, A is faster because he trained much harder than B although A and B were born with a similar body; after two minutes A wins and is awarded with a gold medal (although there were only two participants).

Is fair that A is awarded with a gold medal while B not?”

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It seems that all is OK, none of them had any luck with their body.

Another change:

“Two persons (A and B) are competing in a race, A is faster because he trained much harder than B because his father accustomed he to hard-working although A and B were born with a similar body; after two minutes A wins and is awarded with a gold medal (although there were only two participants).

I’s fair that A is awarded with a gold medal while B not?”

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Now, even the hard-working thing is also luck; because he had a father that accustomed him to hard-working and so, it was a piece of cake for him to spend many hours training.

There’s no need to add any more variables, the first variable was just luck and the second was luck camouflaged as hard-working. This is determinism, everything you do is determined by things outside of your will.

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Now a similar deterministic dilemma but in reverse:

“Two persons (C and D) are discussing about something when at some moment C gets very angry and hits D.

D is recovering in the hospital and C is punished with prison.

Is fair that C is punished with prison?”

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If you understood the first dilemma you will say immediately “No”. In this version, instead of bad education, let’s make it a little different (no more different versions, all in one):

“Two persons (C and D) are discussing about something when at some moment C gets very angry and hits D because he decided to hit D because he had very bad temperament because he had a gen that made his body rush adrenaline every time he is very angry.

D is recovering in the hospital and C is punished with prison.

Is fair that C is punished with prison?”

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Again, it’s all luck; if C hasn’t got that gen he wouldn’t choose to hit D and so, D wouldn’t be in the hospital and C wouldn’t be punished by prison. This is determinism, whatever do you decide is determined by things outside of your will.

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All our actions and decisions are determined by things outside us, heredity and environment. Heredity in the second dilemma (the gen) and environment in the first dilemma (the hard-working education).

However, this is not a “simple” conclusion; most people (maybe even you) don’t accept this philosophical fact. Only in the theological grounds, the Christian concept of heaven and hell would be completely undermined by this and they will have to accept predestination as a patch or to send all people to heaven because they don’t have any free will!

Again I’m open to discussion, just remember to evade dogmas if you want to make theological arguments.

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About free will 

Why egoism is not the same that narcissism

This is maybe the first time in my life I managed to convince someone about something philosophical.

Concretely my (Catholic) IT teacher.

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The first pillar I tried to destroy was the confusion between egoism and narcissism; a pillar that protected another pillar that…

“+Pillar+”

+Belief of the existence of god+

Only protected by:

+Belief of that the no-existence of god is ignorance+

Partially protected by:

+Common sense of that belief+

That is divided in many other pillars, included:

+Belief of that the man is moving away of god+

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The last point was dogmatic, so I tried to shape the pillar:

“Because of ignorance and egoism; if someone doesn’t know that god exists he can’t follow god, and if someone is too egoist for follow god he simply will dedicate his life to himself”

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Point.

Now the pillar is:

+Belief of that the man is moving away of god because of their ignorance and egoism+

Divided in:

+Belief of hat the man is moving away of god because of their ignorance+

+Belief of that the man is moving away of god because of their egoism+

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The second pillar was “easy”, so I tried some arguments.

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Argument 1:

“Why someone that is egoist won’t do good things for go to heaven?”

“Someone that is really egoist won’t do that”

“But if it’s really egoist he will understand that being good in a short life will give he an eternity of happiness, even if he had to do extremely hard things”

“He won’t”

“But a lot of people work hard in life for get rich, they end very rich and after that they spend their last 50, 40 or 30 last years in life enjoying all that money. Why they won’t prefer to work less hard, being good persons, to get an eternity of full happiness instead of only some years of partial happiness?”

“If that someone is really egoist he won’t do that”

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Now I know where is the problem (yes, the confusion between egoism and narcissism, you are very clever), so I tried a new sort of arguments, concretely a parable (sorry for the blasphemy):

“Three persons are ice-cream vendors. The first of them loves kids (the most common clients), the second don’t like the kids much, and the third hates the children. They can’t switch job because of… But all of them needs to work because, well, they have to eat! So, the first person loves his work because he loves kids, so, his work is not only a mean to get money but also something that he enjoys. The second person is indifferent to his job, so, his work is a mean to get money and nothing more. And the third person hates children, so he won’t work, even if he can’t eat.”

“OK”

“Now, three persons have to decide what they do in life. All of them are catholic, the first loves god and also do good things, the second don’t loves god but wants the best to himself and the third hates all but he. Now, the first will do good things because he wants to be a good person; the second person don’t thinks is important to be a good person, but wants the best to himself, so he will do good things because he want to go to heaven and enjoy an eternity of happiness; and the third person won’t do good things because he simply can’t be a good person”

“OK”

“So, the first person in both cases is a “good samaritan”, the second person is an egoist and the third person is a narcissist”

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Pillar destroyed!!!

+Belief of the existence of god+

Only protected by:

+Belief that the no-existence of god is ignorance+

Partially protected by:

+Common sense of that belief+

That is divided in many other pillars, included:

+Belief of that the man is moving away of god because of their ignorance+

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A little step.

How to make a superuser, for your mind

For understand your mind, there is nothing as good as compare it with a computer.
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In computer science a superuser is an above-users admin that can do things that users usually can’t do, for example, if you want to delete some system32 file, the superuser has to give you rights to do so.

In the brain, a superuser is the part of your consciousness that is above all sentiments (although sustained by them) and that has veto power which is used whenever you want to make a decision.

But in computers the superuser is dispensable, indeed, when you install windows it doesn’t come with a superuser, so you have to add one.

And also, in the mind, the superuser is also dispensable, if you think “with the heart”, you don’t have a superuser, but if you think “with the mind”, you have one.

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A person with a superuser has a much better knowledge of his inner self, when he feels sad, he can ask himself “why I am sad?”. Also, pondering a little, he can see that he will be happier if he is not sad. So, he says to himself “stop being sad, there’s no reason to be sad”; although this will never work perfectly, it helps.

Also, when that person has to act rationally, when has a superuser, that person can think objectively and don’t make bad decisions, like don’t give to anyone the cure.

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Get a superuser is not like click-click-next-install-finish, is something that you have to improve every day, simply ask to yourself “I’m acting logically and objectively?” and try to understand why you do many things and in what is based your moral (this last can be done easily by discussing with relativist persons and/or solving moral dilemmas).
With the time this will be an automatic reaction when you think about something or when you make a choice.

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