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Seven Universal Moral Rules?

 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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14 March 2019 08:18
 
Poldano - 13 March 2019 11:12 PM

It could be argued that the examples in the following quotes are either too culturally-specific, too detailed, or not focused on in-group interactions.

The other thing was that they seemed light on rules like “don’t kill the stranger in town and serve him for dinner” (violated in the Odyssey by the Cyclops).

How much better would the 10 C’s - and western history be if, instead of referencing mythical dieties the first four were more real-worldly - if they contained proscriptive instructions not to buy and sell people, not to sexualize children, not to rape people, not to be too trusting of clergy hiding behind church beauracracy…

I grant you that the 10 C’ referenced are culturally specific.
I wonder, however, if everyone is equipped to utilize the generalized points in your list.
The authoritarians may have trouble with them, as might insular, discriminatory cultures.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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14 March 2019 09:12
 
Poldano - 13 March 2019 11:25 PM

I would not set the bar so far in the direction of self-sacrifice. As I’ve said before, one of the features of an effective moral rule set is its teachability, and one aspect of its teachability is its demonstrable benefit to the one being taught. An acceptable rule need not get you everything you want, but it should make sure you are treated on a par with those you consider your peers. Indoctrination only goes so far, say no farther than early adolescence in most cases. So I would say that win-win situations are moral, or at the very least not immoral. I would also say that there is quantification beyond zero and one on the scale of both mutual benefit and degree of goodness. That is where the rule divide resources fairly applies.

This is probably the crux of our disagreement. The beauty of morality, in my opinion, is that it reconciles self interest with the well-being of others using an intangible carrot and stick. Any time your behavior leads to a net decrease in your own tangible, or material, well-being and an increase in someone else’s, there has to be a motivating factor for engaging in that behavior. The motivating factor—the intangible carrot and stick—is the feeling associated with rightness or wrongness: the warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping others, or the shame and remorse you experience from not helping them, or from taking advantage of them.

Morality isn’t needed for win-win cooperation scenarios; like you say, even if the tangible benefit isn’t obvious, it’s easily demonstrated, or taught. Win-win cooperative behavior is neither morally right or morally wrong; it’s just self-interest.

I think of ethics as the process of deciding what moral rules people ought to follow. Morality is the set of those rules, like the list from the OP. I agree that indoctrination (the process of programming moral rules into the conscience) works best on children. Partly because children’s brains are more malleable than adults’, but also because children aren’t as rational as adults. And moral rules, at least from the standpoint of tangible/material well-being, are irrational. Only the intangible carrot and stick makes moral behavior rational, by putting an intangible thumb on the tangible cost/benefit scale.

 
 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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19 March 2019 03:27
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 14 March 2019 09:12 AM
Poldano - 13 March 2019 11:25 PM

I would not set the bar so far in the direction of self-sacrifice. As I’ve said before, one of the features of an effective moral rule set is its teachability, and one aspect of its teachability is its demonstrable benefit to the one being taught. An acceptable rule need not get you everything you want, but it should make sure you are treated on a par with those you consider your peers. Indoctrination only goes so far, say no farther than early adolescence in most cases. So I would say that win-win situations are moral, or at the very least not immoral. I would also say that there is quantification beyond zero and one on the scale of both mutual benefit and degree of goodness. That is where the rule divide resources fairly applies.

This is probably the crux of our disagreement. The beauty of morality, in my opinion, is that it reconciles self interest with the well-being of others using an intangible carrot and stick. Any time your behavior leads to a net decrease in your own tangible, or material, well-being and an increase in someone else’s, there has to be a motivating factor for engaging in that behavior. The motivating factor—the intangible carrot and stick—is the feeling associated with rightness or wrongness: the warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping others, or the shame and remorse you experience from not helping them, or from taking advantage of them.

Morality isn’t needed for win-win cooperation scenarios; like you say, even if the tangible benefit isn’t obvious, it’s easily demonstrated, or taught. Win-win cooperative behavior is neither morally right or morally wrong; it’s just self-interest.

I think of ethics as the process of deciding what moral rules people ought to follow. Morality is the set of those rules, like the list from the OP. I agree that indoctrination (the process of programming moral rules into the conscience) works best on children. Partly because children’s brains are more malleable than adults’, but also because children aren’t as rational as adults. And moral rules, at least from the standpoint of tangible/material well-being, are irrational. Only the intangible carrot and stick makes moral behavior rational, by putting an intangible thumb on the tangible cost/benefit scale.

(1) Your construction only works if all facts and conditions are known to all participants. That is hardly ever the case. Real human decisions always operate in the realm of uncertainty about initial conditions and the likelihood of various outcomes.

(2) Win-win scenarios are not necessarily obvious to those involved in them, even with complete knowledge of the initial conditions and outcome likelihoods. If one of the participants doesn’t understand the mechanics of the win-win, then that person might be unwilling to agree to it. The feel-good and peer-pressure aspects of behavior may then be important contributors to individuals’ decisions.

(3) Even with win-win scenarios, the degree to which each participant wins is always subject to differences in opinion. Going along with the group or agreeing just to avoid further conflict, even if one believes that one is not getting an equitable deal, can be considered moral behaviors. Even you must agree, because they are to some extent altruistic, which you claim moral actions must be.

(4) Which is the intangible carrot and stick, and which is the tangible one? Are the feel-good (or feel-bad) feelings intangible, or are the natural selection drivers of those feel-good feelings intangible? I don’t think either one of them are necessarily intangible. If they are not necessarily intangible, then for you moral behavior would be necessarily irrational. In my opinion, morality would not exist if it were not in some way rational, in general. When a morality does not seem to be rational, it’s most likely because we do not know of or understand its provenance. Note that I leave open the possibility that a moral rule is irrational; I would consider this most likely with a rule that was once rational but no longer is so because of changed conditions, but I leave open the possibility of an irrational choice in the rule’s provenance.

 

 
 
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