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Yes or No: are humans naturally moral?

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  • User profile image
    AndyC

    JohnAskew wrote:


    Larsenal paints a scenario that compels the righteous to defend another through witness of abuse.



    Actually he doesn't. I can think of scenarios in which the good, Christian, moral thing to do is to cut off someones leg - even though they may be protesting.

    Context is everything.

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    billh wrote:
    
    blowdart wrote:
    
    billh wrote:
    
    blowdart wrote:
    Even truth can be relative
    So, uh, this line is relative too, eh?

    Romans 14:11-13
    Oh I was getting to religion don't worry

    I would concede that *you* believe it's true.
    But it is the truth. Just as there is an abundance of philosophies in the world, the existence of multiple religions in the world does not constitute that they all have an equal share of the truth. There have been numerous prophets for varying religions throughout history, however, only one person has actually claimed to be the Son of God and has the evidence to back it up.


    I would suggest (as others have done, also) that we don't get into this.  I respect your right to believe, but I do not and will not respect your actual beliefs.  This cannot end well, and it has only a cursory pertinence to the topic.

  • User profile image
    Larsenal

    ScanIAm wrote:
    
    I would suggest (as others have done, also) that we don't get into this.  I respect your right to believe, but I do not and will not respect your actual beliefs.  This cannot end well, and it has only a cursory pertinence to the topic.


    For the sake of avoiding the dreaded thread lock, I agree with Scan.  (However, billh, our actual beliefs are likely similar.)

  • User profile image
    billh

    Larsenal wrote:
    
    ScanIAm wrote:
    
    I would suggest (as others have done, also) that we don't get into this.  I respect your right to believe, but I do not and will not respect your actual beliefs.  This cannot end well, and it has only a cursory pertinence to the topic.
    For the sake of avoiding the dreaded thread lock, I agree with Scan.  (However, billh, our actual beliefs are likely similar.)
    Okay, fine. Intellectual arguments are nice and all that, and there certainly is plenty of room for them in this particular area, but the evidence is quite ample if you actually would take the time to discuss it with missionaries who have returned from various countries, and have seen actual miracles. Edit: They are given to people to help them believe and the did not end with the beginnings of the church in the New Testament era.

    So back to the original topic...humans do have a natural sense of morals. Whether they act on them is another thing.

  • User profile image
    JohnAskew

    Larsenal wrote:
    
    JohnAskew wrote:
    
    ...

    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.

  • User profile image
    Larsenal

    JohnAskew wrote:
    
    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.


    I guess we just see the world differently.  Unless people are restrained by law or other ill consequences, they are not generally disposed to take care of others.

    I agree that in the grenade scenario, self-sacrifice may be instictive to some degree.

    I believe bad behavior comes from our bad desires.  I desire things which are not mine, and so I steal.  I desire maximum comfort, and so I don't give to the needy.  I desire to maintain a good face, so I lie.  I actually believe that wrongdoing eminates from within.  We generally desire good things for ourselves above anything for a stranger.

    If good behavior is instinctive, how do you account for so much bad behavior in the world?  Do you really believe that it is mostly the result of some external compelling influence?

    JohnAskew wrote:
    
    Congradulations we haven't gone postal, too.


    edit: So thankful!

  • User profile image
    Larsenal

    I would also add that you can explain much of the good behavior because people innately know what is right.  Thankfully, people choose to do the right thing.

  • User profile image
    JohnAskew

    Larsenal wrote:
    Do you really believe that it is mostly the result of some external compelling influence?


    Yes. I believe it is %100 due to external compelling influences.


    I 'see' a better toy -- I grab it... greed is exposed to us from outside.

    We do not start with greed within and then apply it to the 'seen' toy.

  • User profile image
    Larsenal

    JohnAskew wrote:
    
    Larsenal wrote:
    Do you really believe that it is mostly the result of some external compelling influence?
    Yes. I believe it is %100 due to external compelling influences.

    I 'see' a better toy -- I grab it... greed is exposed to us from outside.

    We do not start with greed within and then apply it to the 'seen' toy.



    We disagree.

    The inanimate toy does not say, "Buy me!"  You say to yourself, "I want you, you lovely iPhone!"

    If I strike you, why do you want to strike back?  Where does the instinct to strike back in anger come from?  It comes from inside you, not from the other person.  We can pass the buck for a while, but at the end of the chain there's someone who cannot justly say, "He started it."

    How would you account for so much evil in the world?  If doing evil was compelled by external factors, would we not always regret doing wrong?  I find that this is not the case.  Too often I take pleasure in manipulating things in my favor.  Or I rejoice for a moment for having made someone else look like a fool.

  • User profile image
    JohnAskew

    Larsenal wrote:
    
    JohnAskew wrote:
    
    Larsenal wrote:
    Do you really believe that it is mostly the result of some external compelling influence?
    Yes. I believe it is %100 due to external compelling influences.

    I 'see' a better toy -- I grab it... greed is exposed to us from outside.

    We do not start with greed within and then apply it to the 'seen' toy.



    We disagree.

    The inanimate toy does not say, "Buy me!"  You say to yourself, "I want you, you lovely iPhone!"

    If I strike you, why do you want to strike back?  Where does the instinct to strike back in anger come from?  It comes from inside you, not from the other person.  We can pass the buck for a while, but at the end of the chain there's someone who cannot justly say, "He started it."

    How would you account for so much evil in the world?  If doing evil was compelled by external factors, would we not always regret doing wrong?  I find that this is not the case.  Too often I take pleasure in manipulating things in my favor.  Or I rejoice for a moment for having made someone else look like a fool.


    We do disagree.

    I'd strike back, yes, to handle an externally originating attack.
    (I've already made an exception for self-defense in this thread).

    I always regret doing wrong. I may be less inclined to shadenfreuda that others, too. I am a nice person, but my enemies deservedly hate me. Pretty normal, me thinks. I think anyone who lies to get ahead pays a price in the long run -- their self-worth is lessened, even though it not a visible self-inflicted wound, it is painful finally.


    Here's an answer for why "so much evil in the world":

    There is an order of magnitude more good in the world than evil.

    (Evil has the better marketing campaign).

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