Science of Morality, Anyone?

Discussion in 'Opinions, Beliefs, & Points of View' started by coberst, Nov 7, 2008.

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  1. coberst

    coberst Guest

    Science of Morality, Anyone?

    Where, in American culture, is the domain of knowledge that we would identify as morality studied and taught?

    I suspect that if we do not quickly develop a science of morality that will make it possible for us to live together on this planet in a more harmonious manner our technology will help us to destroy the species and perhaps the planet soon.

    It seems to me that we have given the subject matter of morality primarily over to religion. It also seems to me that if we ask the question ‘why do humans treat one another so terribly?’ we will find the answer in this moral aspect of human culture.

    The ‘man of maxims’ “is the popular representative of the minds that are guided in their moral judgment solely by general rules, thinking that these will lead them to justice by a ready-made patent method, without the trouble of exerting patience, discrimination, impartiality—without any care to assure themselves whether they have the insight that comes from a hardly-earned estimate of temptation, or from a life vivid and intense enough to have created a wide fellow-feeling with all that is human.” George Eliot The Mill on the Floss

    We can no longer leave this important matter in the hands of the Sunday-school. Morality must become a top priority for scientific study.
  2. fromthatshow

    fromthatshow Staff Alumni SF Supporter

    I don't think anyone should strive to be a moral person. I think it gets in the way and is entirely driven my guilt.
    I am attempting to release all morals. I try to do whatever feels good to me.
    I think our nature is to want to help each other out, and do what feels right in our hearts. When we have morals, it gets in the way of following our gut, and instead we follow what we believe we should and shouldn't do, what we believe has been right and wrong in the past we keep with us, instead of allowing our perceptions to change.
  3. Science of Morality?? Way to make your grand entrance to the forum - your first post n' all! :blink:

    Start by watching "STUPIDITY"

    "An interesting little Michael-Moore-like film on the subject of, well, stupidity. It is said that the top 3 things that have affected us most throughout time are Capital, Violence, and Stupidity. However studies conducted, and books written on the last are as scarce as hen's teeth. Also a neat little recommendation of a book called "Ignorance is Bliss" - and the author really means it! (Very Homer Simpson!)

    Chock full of *eye rolls* and *head shakes*..."
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2008
  4. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    *Sings a trolling ditty*
  5. Ziggy

    Ziggy Antiquitie's Friend

    I don't get what's wrong with this idea. Psychology classes itself as a science, it would also concern itself with morality. So it's the scientific study of morality then? Also I think studying the social behaviour of other mammals can reveal a lot about morality too.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2008
  6. cinZamurai

    cinZamurai Well-Known Member

    Meh I dont know, some kids just dont get basic moral ideas teched to them. So it might be a good idea to at least talk about the golden rule, basically its "do to them what you want them to do to you." I think we all have our moral compass that we use to guide us, its just that some will have it set to disaster by faulty upbringing or some other unfortunate circumstance.

    Starting life out with learning some "common" and working moral ideas will get the kids to later define for themselves the "details" of what makes sense to them but still have a rock steady base. This is part of what will define there unique character.

    Just following the gut feeling is "not always" wise as our mod change and we can make bad judgments. Emotions like; Anger, fear, falling in love, or simply be in a depressed state can make for Impulsive and bad judgments. If you have a moral compass you can restrain from acting in direct violation of your own moral code. Moral is very powerful but can be harmful as well if we are loaded up with guilt driven and totally unnecessary and hampering moral convictions. Those types of convictions we need to acknowledge and drop from the reportorial.
  7. coberst

    coberst Guest

    I agree that many sciences deal with moral concepts but we need a science of morality that will help us comprehend this very important concept.
  8. coberst

    coberst Guest

    We suffer from the fact that we have allowed this very important domain of knowledge to the dictates of preachers, rabbis, and priests. Morality is too important to leave to Sunday school.
  9. Ziggy

    Ziggy Antiquitie's Friend

    Doesn't morality need to be related to reward and punishment though? You get the concepts of heaven and hell, karma etc. which perhaps worked at one time but are losing their grip now.

    It's like children, you can reason with them, explore the reasons they behave in certain ways, but rightly or wrongly, at the end of the day it's often getting sweets or a smack which tend to stick in their minds.

    So you can teach morality from a scientific viewpoint but how do you get people to live according to sound moral principles?
  10. JohnADreams

    JohnADreams Well-Known Member

    The closest thing to a scientific study of morality is philosophy. Unfortunately there's no definitive way to measure morality, no definite set of rules that we can draw upon, so we are limited to debating what is the best way to live an ethical life.

    That kind of inquiry is kept out of the modern schooling system because parents don't want their child to be brainwashed by the political class. They'd much rather either leave the brainwashing to the religious institutions or have the child make up their own morality. Of course they also wonder why things don't turn out as well as they hoped and then decide to blame television, movies and videogames for their child's poor moral upbringing.

    I think the solution is to have a class based around critical thinking. To have the students and teachers provide unbiased moral and political based questions and then examine their validity. It would help examine traditional moral ideas and give students the groundwork to make better judgments outside of the education system.
  11. Ziggy

    Ziggy Antiquitie's Friend

    The same can be said of mental illness though. What is it? At one time homosexuality was a mental illness, probably in the future shyness will become a mental illness too. Although we can argue about what it means to be mentally ill and have problems defining it, there is still much progress to be made in studying it scientifically. I guess I feel the same way about morals too.
  12. Bob26003

    Bob26003 Well-Known Member

    Some folks look at morality as an evolved trait.

    A survival mechanism. For the good of the group.
  13. Ziggy

    Ziggy Antiquitie's Friend

    I agree. If you take chimpanzees they will attack other chimpanzees outside their group quite frequently but will rarely attack members within their own group.

    Now just imagine you had really clever chimpanzees who could talk and write, they might observe this behaviour and say "Oh, we don't attack members of our own group, and if you do you're generally punished". They might eventually write down rules such as "Thou shalt not attack members of thy own group"... so how long will it be before they devise their own moral code?

    I think that's why issues such as is it ok to download music or to have abortions are very difficult areas, because they are such modern issues and cannot really be covered fully using this line of thinking.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2008
  14. coberst

    coberst Guest

    Philosophy is the mother of science but is no substitute for scientific empirical study similar to other human sciences. I think that psychology and SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) can be useful in starting such an effort.

    Also, I think that there is confusion regarding the meaning of ethics and the meaning of morality. Thus further evidence for the need for an empirical science of morality.

    I think that there is also a good bit of confusion as to the meaning of the word "science". I use the word 'science' here to mean a systematic and disciplined study of a domain of knowledge. I do not restrict the word to mean only those domains of knowledge that can be measured with a scale and/or calipers.
  15. JohnADreams

    JohnADreams Well-Known Member

    Okay, how do you propose to make an empirical study of morality?
  16. coberst

    coberst Guest

    I would start by learning the subject matter that I describe. After that I would use the technique followed by SGCS in the book "Philosophy in the Flesh" by Lakoff and Johnson

    I am studying "The Sense of Beauty" by George Santayana, "Moral Imagination" by Mark Johnson, and "Art and Visual Perception" by Rudolf Arnheim. I have discovered that the study of values, morality is a species of value, has led me into a study of visual perception, the meaning of 'meaning', and the science of art.

    The study of psychology and cognitive science has provided a foundation for this effort. I think that such studies must form the foundation of such an effort.
  17. JohnADreams

    JohnADreams Well-Known Member

    But that really isn't answering anything. I could say that I'm going to make a transportation device using my knowledge of physics but that doesn't tell you how I'm going to do it, just names a field of science that is crucial in it's creation. What is this technique you describe and how are you sure of it's validity?
    Are there any direct, practical applications for all this study, or is it just to aid you in understanding the world around you? After all, if you want moral teachings to not be dominated by the Sunday schools, you'll need a way to transfer knowledge gained through study, into the public arena.
  18. coberst

    coberst Guest

    Developing a science of morality is a very large task, far beyond my ability alone. I mention it here in the hope that others may recognize its value and give the idea further consideration. The first thing that is necessary for any task is to learn something about the domains of knowledge that are important aspects of the matter. Morality touches all aspects of our life and much must be learned before one can begin such an undertaking.
  19. Bob26003

    Bob26003 Well-Known Member

    Are instincts genetic?

    I bet that morality is a learned behavior thus subjective.

    Unless their is a genetic basis for it.

    Maybe folken with traits that lead them to be more empathetic more frequently pass on their genes?
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