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Featured Reason is the Most Important Driver of Human Moral Progress?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Sunstone, Sep 29, 2019.

  1. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Thank you for the very gracious reply, and please take your time in getting back to me with a fuller reply! I really look forward to pondering it, as ever with your posts.

    I would certainly not deny, and indeed did not actually deny, that reason can be "a" key driver of moral progress. Had that been the question, my answer would not have been nearly as doubtful of the premise.

    In my original post, I wrote:


    Reason by itself, as abstract logic, can result in very diverse justifications for practices that many of us in the West would regard as grossly immoral but not necessarily irrational or devoid of logic. Reason with empathy has certainly been essential to arguments about morality and changing moral norms, but by itself - no, I don't think so.


    The question posed was: is reason the key driver of moral progress, and to that the answer must be a definitive "no" on my part, both in terms of historical record and empirical science.

    I think the studies by Haidt, Greene, Morelli and Paxton, among many other experimental psychologists and neuroscientists, have amply demonstrated that there is an intuitive or instinctual response to moral violations - "quick, automatic evaluations", to reference Haidt - and that empathy, or what @Polymath257 calls an increase in "compassion" (rather than logic), is the pre-eminent 'driver' of morality and moral-decisions, including any perceived "moral progress" in social norms.

    These intuitive evaluations have been replicated in study after study, and they are to quote Professor Joshua Greene: "implicit and the factors affecting them may be consciously inaccessible".

    Such moral intuitions - conscientia or conscience, and founded upon unreasoning, consciously inaccessible 'empathy' with others - come first and are born of emotional activation, before ratio or any operations of the rational, logical mind using controlled thought come into play.

    Conscientia is direct, automatic, intuitive whereas ratio is calculating and uses ratiocination or discursive thought (i.e. through the mediation of 'concepts' - the idea of a progress or development in morality being one such example, ironically!).

    This does not mean, as one might think if an emphasis upon intuitional morality is taken to an extreme (whereby it approaches mysticism), that ratiocination is entirely excluded from moral decision-making or indeed moral "progress" so to speak.

    If one tries to derive morality solely from reason (without that initial intuitiuve, empathetic response - as unfortunately many Greek philosophers believed was the mark of "wisdom" or apatheia), in addition to Polymath's warning above that it starts without any axioms of its own, it often leads to a narrow focus upon maximizing gain or obtaining the most desirable overall outcome (i.e. utilitarianism). This happens because the emotional parts of decision-making are ignored.

    The converse, conscientia without reflection, can lead to the kind of situation you describe above - "kill the child-molesters, all of 'em, no one who harms a child deserves life" - because the person, understandably, is empathsizing with the child and automatically places him or herself in the victim's shoes - and sometimes the person subsequently, once they have initially been emotionally triggered, contemplates and comes to a more (ready yourself for this) "reasonable" response.

    But @Polymath257 is quite right, in my opinion, that "the fight for women's rights, fights against racism, fights for gay rights" is largely the product of an "an increase in compassion" (in conscientia) rather than an improvement in logic, although I would say the environment is of equal importance in this respect.

    As I noted earlier, and I reiterate the point, it is my sincere understanding that reason by itself, as abstract logic, can result in very diverse justifications for practices that many of us in the West would regard as grossly immoral but not necessarily irrational or devoid of logic. Reason with empathy has certainly been essential to arguments about morality and changing moral norms, but by itself - no, I don't think so.

    So, while I do readily agree that: "reason [can] be be used to generalize and extend empathy", I must qualify it as 'can' rather than "is". It does not always, nor will it essentially, lead to the 'generalizing and extension of empathy' (as if out of some intrinsic, teleological end or natural outcome of 'reason'). Indeed, it is relatively easy to conceive of reasoned arguments that aren't self-contradictory or illogical but result in the 'narrowing and restricting of empathy' to more contained social groups, or even to the exclusion of individuals and groups. Involuntary euthanasia and eugenicism is an example of this throughout history. Eminently logical and defensible through purely rational means, but only if you ignore intuitive appeals to empathy with the victims of these policies.
     
    #81 Vouthon, Sep 29, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
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  2. Dan From Smithville

    Dan From Smithville Veteran Member
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    So something moral could be acted on or pursued by means that are immoral?
     
  3. Dan From Smithville

    Dan From Smithville Veteran Member
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    That latter group seems almost at odds with the morals they claim to uphold and protect.
     
  4. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    And yet they are the ones who look to the parts of the Bible that have for so long cused great inequalities and horrible violence throughout the past 2000 years. And before, if we are to believe the stories of warmongering Hebrews found in the OT.
     
  5. bobhikes

    bobhikes AntiRepublican
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    [QUOTE="Sunstone, post: 6337734, member: ]

    "Reason is the key driver of human moral progress."

    Comments?[/QUOTE]

    My problems with the video, is that it only links the positives caused by reason and none of the negatives. Also there two comments about how reason can be made positive were a person must be concerned with there well being and be part of a community where people are concerned with there well being. She assumes that most people are like this but there are many people in this world that are not primarily concerned with there well being and the internet has built up artificial communities that allow for personal reason to flourish. In fact I don't agree with the fact the empathy is currently increasing all signs currently show it decreasing and I believe the internet which they never touched on is the main reason. Writing in the past was done by the educated but anyone today can have a pod cast or internet trending story and it does not have to be intelligent (in fact that would hurt it) but just entertaining.
     
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  6. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    "Crazy"
     
  7. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    Those allemands could have really used a guy like
    Hawkings.

    What is "fit" is more complex than muscle tone.
     
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  8. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    Um, did youvanswer my q?
     
  9. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Yes.
     
  10. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    Looks like at least a match for wrong conclusion,
    I will get back to it later tho.
     
  11. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    I missed where you said what you think re moral conflict.
     
  12. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Confession time. I goofed here. In my haste this morning, I did not phrase Newberger-Goldstein's thesis as well as I should have. Consequently, I have sent numerous respondents down the wrong road. Naturally I apologize for such a gross mistake. Here is an edit I have just now inserted in the OP:

    EDIT: A more accurate summary of Newberger Goldstein's thesis might be, "Reason deserves the greatest credit for whatever moral progress we have seen and see in the world." Or -- not "reason is the key driver of human moral progress", but rather "reason is the single most important driver of human moral progress."
     
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  13. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    EXACTLY! And there are some extremely important questions about whether humans are both foresighted and disciplined enough to wisely practice eugenics on a grand scale. Knowing humans, we're more likely to drive ourselves to extinction via eugenics on a grand scale than bring about a golden age. BUT -- everyone who selects someone to mate with with an eye on what kind of children he or she will father or mother is either practicing eugenics or practicing something not all that far from eugenics in principle.
     
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  14. Vee

    Vee Well-Known Member
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    Our brain is divided in two: the rational brain and the emotional brain. The rational brain thinks it's in charge, but many times that's not the case. People tend to be emotional and do stupid, sometimes despicable things because of the emotional baggage created by the emotional brain.
    Ideally, they should work together but in reality that's not what happens so we need to make a great effort.
    The thinking brain can't work all alone because then we would become machines without a sense of "why" and we wouldn't care about anything anymore. But the emotional brain can't be all alone either because it will do all kinds of nonsense.
     
  15. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    Totally disagree.
     
  16. Seeker of White Light

    Seeker of White Light Think before you speak....so stay silent.

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    Many disagree with me on this, but that is ok :)
     
  17. Dan From Smithville

    Dan From Smithville Veteran Member
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    allemands?
     
  18. Dan From Smithville

    Dan From Smithville Veteran Member
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    We kill each other less than we used to. Though more efficiently when we do. I think there has been a general trend toward a better grasp of morals and adherence to them, but it is not perfect.
     
  19. Seeker of White Light

    Seeker of White Light Think before you speak....so stay silent.

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    Maybe I look at morality in a different way than others and more strict
     
  20. Dan From Smithville

    Dan From Smithville Veteran Member
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    As a personal practice, it may have some limited utility for individual lines, but on a broader scale, eugenics would seem to need the support of authoritarianism and be highly subject to bias and abuse. Someone or group would have to be selecting who got to be with whom or at all. It would subvert individual rights, at least in reproduction. But how long would it take to go from that arena to new areas of human existence. Selecting for the right religion, the right politics, the right mind set, conformity, compliance, etc.
     
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