On Wed, Jan 2, 2013 at 8:27 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> On 1/2/2013 4:08 AM, Telmo Menezes wrote:
>> In my opinion, good and evil are just names we attach to brain processes
>> we all have in common. These brain processes make us pursue the best
>> interest of society instead of our own self-interest. I believe they have
>> two main sources:
>> 1) Biological evolution. In the long term, the DNA of the species as more
>> chances of thriving if the individuals are altruistic to a degree. The
>> exact mechanism here is debatable, it could be kin-selection (affinity for
>> people with similar DNA) or group-selection, which is more controversial.
>> There is some compelling evidence to support this theory. Social insects
>> are extremely altruistic, and at the same time social insect females share
>> more DNA than most animals. Another clue that this is correct comes from
>> experimental psychology: we tend to associate physical beauty with goodness
>> and different races with evil.
>> 2) Social constructs created to address the prisoner's dilema: for a
>> society to thrive, a certain level of altruism is necessary. From the
>> individual's point of view, however, it is irrational to be altruistic to
>> that degree. The solution: tell people that they're going to hell if
>> they're not good (or some variation of that theme). Religions have a
>> positive impact in our species success, and their main job is to solve the
>> prisoner's dilema. They are, nevertheless, a ruse.
>> All attempts to define "good" and "evil" as a fundamental property of the
>> universe that I've seen so far quickly descend into circular reasoning:
>> good is what good people do, good people are the ones who do good things.
>> Interestingly enough, left-wing atheists end up being similar to the
>> religious: they believe in a base line level of altruism in human beings
>> that is not supported by evidence.
> Isn't it supported by, "In the long term, the DNA of the species as more
> chances of thriving if the individuals are altruistic to a degree."
Maybe, if you're willing to wait a couple million years for biological
evolution to catch up with modern society.
> I think it's useful to distinguish "good for society" or ethics from
> "what individuals take to be good". Altruism is good for society but for
> individuals it's only good relative to those near and dear to them. The
> great problem of cultures is to resolve tensions between what individuals
> intuitively take to be good and what works well for nation states orders of
> magnitude larger than the tribal societies in which evolution developed our
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