This is not the way to coerce convention on morality -- as a necessity of rule of law. The existence of a "legal" system of morality where we simply must be non-evil or else be prosecuted is a completely different question than whether we are born as moral agents with default moral behavior instincts. Please stop sawing off legs.
Sorry about all the bloodshed. That was a bit off topic as some were essentially denying that morals had any substance at all.
To return to your original question.... Yes, we are born as moral agents. However, this is not to say that we do the right thing by default and that any bad behavior requires a violation of our nature. Rather, our nature inclines us to look out for our own interests rather than the interests of others. I think at least you and I would agree that someone who regards himself above all others is likely to act badly.
So to restate my initial assertion, we know what we ought to do, yet we don't naturally do it. (edit) That's not to say that we are born without empathy for our fellow man. However, we're not born completely benevolent creatures. Often, to do what you know you should requires that you deny your selfish desires. Haven't you experienced this?
Oh, absolutely, yes, I have experienced this. I agree with you.
Being rather mystically inclined, I will say that perhaps instinctively we act without differentiating our self from others. I actually think this is true.
Our dogs will attack a large bear to protect its collective, (the pack / us), without thinking about how it will most likely die as a result.
Jumping on a grenade isn't the result of conscious analysis, I say, it is an instinctive action. I would imagine consciousness would always run away unless it-we had a great deal of preparation and discipline to ready ourselves.
It is this instinct to jump on the grenade that proves my hypothesis that humans are instinctively moral. But you have to buy into the idea first, eh?
--- My findings in this thread ---
To be quite honest with what I've found here, nearly all of us agree that humans are born with a predisposition to moral actions, given the chance (no external compelling influence one way or the other).
The difference seems to be how focused we each are on how quickly or effectively the environment (temptation, greed, etc) ruins our good nature.
Some of us think this stain is permanent and dominant, others see it as a temporarily-environmentally-induced moment of weakness, whether born of fear or a more pure evil.
Congradulations we haven't gone postal, too.