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Is morality unique to humans?

Noaidi

slow walker
"Many theists may claim that moral behaviour is a god-given attribute to humans only. Is "

So atheists are by definition immoral?:eek:


No, I don't think so. If you accept that forms of moral behaviour exist in non-humans, then it makes sense to accept that our moral behaviour has its roots in our pre-human past. Atheist or theist - we are all animals with inherited traits, like it or not.
Perhaps many theists see atheists as immoral (or amoral), but that's of no concern to me. If that's what they think, then they obviously haven't looked at the evidence.
 

Noaidi

slow walker
We are ultimately no more and no less moral than other species.

Yes. The difference is that humans have developed the concept of morality and moral behaviour to a more refined level (with specific rules, laws and expected behaviours) but, ultimately, the principles are the same.
 

painted wolf

Grey Muzzle
Yes. The difference is that humans have developed the concept of morality and moral behaviour to a more refined level (with specific rules, laws and expected behaviours) but, ultimately, the principles are the same.
So animals that have specific ritualized behaviors for expressing their morality are "less refined"?

wa:do
 

Renji

Well-Known Member
In my opinion, we are different from animals because of this one thing: mind. Animals use their instinct for survival. They act according to what they need. Humans have the ability to discriminate things: good, bad, etc. So in terms of morality, yes, it is unique in humans. No doubt (even if you use religious basis or not, morality is always unique to humans, no question about it).
 

Valjean

Veteran Member
Premium Member
Animal's "altruism" is usually functional, ie: adaptive.
Some animals do have a sense of fairness, but nothing like the principled systems humans have, so I don't see animals as moral agents.

Like language, some animals can communicate fairly complex information, but none but humans actually have a fully-formed language.
 

Skeptisch

Well-Known Member
We are ultimately no more and no less moral than other species. I don't over-rate our species in the slightest.
We humans are now in a position to destroy ourselves. Hopefully this will never happen. But if it does, wouldn’t that mean that the surviving animals are more moral and smarter than us?
 

painted wolf

Grey Muzzle
We humans are now in a position to destroy ourselves. Hopefully this will never happen. But if it does, wouldn’t that mean that the surviving animals are more moral and smarter than us?
No... just that they don't have the ability to do so.
It's hard to build a nuclear bomb with no precision grip. :cool:

wa:do
 

painted wolf

Grey Muzzle
Animal's "altruism" is usually functional, ie: adaptive.
Some animals do have a sense of fairness, but nothing like the principled systems humans have, so I don't see animals as moral agents.
I suggest you read: Amazon.com: Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (9780226041612): Marc Bekoff, Jessica Pierce: Books

There is nothing to suggest that animal behavior is "adaptive" while ours is not. :cool:

Like language, some animals can communicate fairly complex information, but none but humans actually have a fully-formed language.
There is no way for you to know this. Indeed, wild and captured Dolphins have been demonstrated to have such language concepts as personal names and are capable of transmitting cultural and other information.
While we haven't decoded a "dolphin language" we are not exactly expertly equipped to do so.

Also, keep in mind any animal that is trained to "speak" a human language is learning a task that on many levels is far more difficult than you or I simply learning Spanish or Japanese.
If you were going to judge my linguistic abilities on my Spanish, I wouldn't be much better than Koko or Alex are at ASL or English. And I don't have to retrain my gross motor skills to accommodate.

wa:do
 

painted wolf

Grey Muzzle
In my opinion, we are different from animals because of this one thing: mind. Animals use their instinct for survival. They act according to what they need. Humans have the ability to discriminate things: good, bad, etc. So in terms of morality, yes, it is unique in humans. No doubt (even if you use religious basis or not, morality is always unique to humans, no question about it).
Not in my religion it isn't... and yes animals qualify things as "good" "bad" and so on.

wa:do
 

Noaidi

slow walker
So animals that have specific ritualized behaviors for expressing their morality are "less refined"?

wa:do

I would say that our moral behaviour is more refined than that of other animals because we can articulate the meaning or intent quite specifically through our language. The laws we have which 'help us stay moral' are very specific in terms of what we should or shouldn't do. That's not to say that animals can't convey meaning through their behaviours (of course they can), but our language abilities perhaps make our behaviour and actions more precise. In a moral situation, we can argue, reason and defend our behaviour whereas other animals can't to the same degree.

But, as you said earlier to another poster, we can't yet decode the languages of some other animals, so perhaps they employ a suite of moral behaviours just as complex as we have. I am guilty of using the sweeping term 'other animals' here, ranging from chimps to earthworms, so perhaps this discussion needs to be more specific in terms of what we are referring to.

Saying that some of our behaviours are more refined isn't derogatory IMO. There is no arrogance in me saying that we can do some things at a more complex level than other animals (not that I'm implying that's what you were saying). We are animals with fantastic capabilities - no harm in recognising that once in a while.
 
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Renji

Well-Known Member
Not in my religion it isn't... and yes animals qualify things as "good" "bad" and so on.

wa:do

Sorry I didn't use my religion to define morality, but rather what I learned in my lessons in philosophy;). Well, what you said maybe true but humans have different perspective and thinking on a lot of things. Some animals eat their young but try asking a mother to do it on her child, I think the reaction would be, ewww, no, so on...
 
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It' so natural to me I forgot to tell you about the spirit within you. It's not hard to figure out your own soul. What do you want what do you need and what do you love, answer those questions for your self and learn.:candle:
 

painted wolf

Grey Muzzle
Sorry I didn't use my religion to define morality, but rather what I learned in my lessons in philosophy;).
Just pointing out not every religion claims that humans are the only ones with morals.

Well, what you said maybe true but humans have different perspective and thinking on a lot of things. Some animals eat their young but try asking a mother to do it on her child, I think the reaction would be, ewww, no, so on...
Humans engage in infanticide and practice cannibalism... we are not that different from animals, we just like to think we are. Or come up with excuses about it.

wa:do
 

painted wolf

Grey Muzzle
Saying that some of our behaviours are more refined isn't derogatory IMO. There is no arrogance in me saying that we can do some things at a more complex level than other animals (not that I'm implying that's what you were saying). We are animals with fantastic capabilities - no harm in recognising that once in a while.
I agree, but I like to keep people from engaging in human-centric bias whenever possible. There is still a lot about cognition and behavior (ours and other species) that we don't understand.
It was just a couple of decades ago that we insisted Humanity was the sole toolmaker species. Our biases have blinded us a long time.

wa:do
 

Danmac

Well-Known Member
Any sense of morality in animals is influenced by humans. If I give my dog a treat I can petty much get it to do anything. I also think science confuses sympathy for morality. They are not the same thing although sympathy may prompt an animal to do things we would consider moral. When you eliminate humans from the equation, the law of the wild is survival of the fittest. There may be some cases of sympathy in the animal kingdom, but there are no manners at the dinner table.
 

ImmortalFlame

Woke gremlin
Any sense of morality in animals is influenced by humans. If I give my dog a treat I can petty much get it to do anything. I also think science confuses sympathy for morality. They are not the same thing although sympathy may prompt an animal to do things we would consider moral.
Wait, so, an animal can't be moral even if it does something moral?

When you eliminate humans from the equation, the law of the wild is survival of the fittest. There may be some cases of sympathy in the animal kingdom, but there are no manners at the dinner table.
Manners are not morals.
 

McBell

Admiral Obvious
Any sense of morality in animals is influenced by humans. If I give my dog a treat I can petty much get it to do anything. I also think science confuses sympathy for morality. They are not the same thing although sympathy may prompt an animal to do things we would consider moral. When you eliminate humans from the equation, the law of the wild is survival of the fittest. There may be some cases of sympathy in the animal kingdom, but there are no manners at the dinner table.
You train your dog to be immoral and guess what?
Your dog will be immoral.

Not to hard to figure that one out.
 

Skeptisch

Well-Known Member
Is morality unique to humans?

The morality some of us seem to acquire through faith in organised religion sure seems to be uniquely human. That morality however is highly suspect.

Have you noticed that it is mostly the other guy’s morality that is suspect but seldom our own? There is endless small talk in this area often underlined by assurances like “My religion is different” or “Not in my religion it isn't…” etc.

“Sam Harris makes a powerful case for a morality that is based on human flourishing and thoroughly enmeshed with science and rationality. It is a tremendously appealing vision, and one that no thinking person can afford to ignore.”
Steven Pinker


[youtube]3sfGw98pVCA[/youtube]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sfGw98pVCA&feature=related
 

ninerbuff

godless wonder
We are nothing more than an intelligent animal. Like all animals, we procreate (or want to), we protect our young, we protect our territory (home, homeland) and find a way to survive at the expense of "weaker" opposition. In the animal world, that usually means "the strongest shall survive", but in humans it's "he with the most money" or "who can screw someone over the best" that survives. Morals are just for that reason, survival of a species.
 
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