Functional Morality

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Re: Functional Morality

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:28 am

Perhaps a shorter objection is better:
1) how do we know that morality is not a spandrel?
2) even if it is not, how do we have an obligation to the intent of evolution, in what sense are beholden to funtion? Function, evolution, natural selection are not moral agents. What is it that puts us in some contractual commitment to following their intentions? If the argument is not that we are beholden but rather X is what morality is for, so we should use it as X, a more determinist connection, then we don't have to worry about adhering to the function, since whatever we do is a product of evolutionarily-created function. Once I am supposed to follow evolution, use my adaptions, well, how can I fail? And if I fail as an individual, I am still testing for my species and if my approach was poor it will be weeded out. No harm, no foul.
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Re: Functional Morality

Postby Carleas » Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:19 pm

Thanks for your patience and your excellent replies, they have helped my to develop my thinking on this topic and I appreciate the critique.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:[S]ince you think we should base morals on 'survival', it would be good to define that would count as survival.

I think there's a number of levels on which we can define it, which I'll discuss in a minute, and there's room to debate the appropriate locus of survival as it relates to morality. But I think that debate is separate from whether morality does relate to survival. Morality exists because of its effect on past generations; it seems clear that there is no morality independent of humans, no moral field that we're sensing but rather a moral intuition (i.e. innate brain configurations) that influences our behaviors in ways that supported our ancestors in producing us.

But, as promised, some thoughts on 'survival':
First, individual gene-line survival means an organism not dying until it produces offspring who are likely to not-die until they produce offspring.
At a group or society level, survival means the group continues to exist. It's a little vaguer here because the 'group' isn't is somewhat amorphous, and there aren't discrete generations for reproduction, but a constant production and death of constituent members.
Defining the survival of any thing inherits the problems in defining that thing, i.e. the "can't step in the same river twice" problems. Moreover, where morality functions on the substrate-independent level of our existence (thoughts), it isn't clear whether the survival it requires is the survival of the substrate or the survival of the survival of the programs that run on it. Would morality support the transhumanist idea that we should abandon our bodies and upload our consciousness to silicon? Even if we take functional morality is true, I don't know that that question is settled.

I do think that morality must operate on the meta-organism, rather than the organism, i.e. society rather than the individual. Morality, as a functional trait, works between individuals, so oughts can only be coherent in relation to and support of the tribe or collective. And I have a sketch of an idea that that entails that we should prefer the pattern over the substrate, since the beast society exists continuously as its substrate is born and dies in an endless churn.

But that is a weak and fuzzy position, and in any case beyond the scope here.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:some of these moralities support we not survive – anti-natalism

Sure, but some morality is just wrong. Anti-natalism specifically is pretty clearly wrong, but that statement rests on the functional morality I'm advancing here.

If what you're asking for is which morality is the functional morality, I actually think that too is beyond the scope of this discussion. "There is an objective morality that we can discover" is a different claim from "X is the objective morality". I'm making the former claim here, and arguing that we should use the criteria of functionality to evaluate claims about the latter, but I am not making a specific claim about the latter.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:We are this way. I don't see why I should just abstract out and respect in SHOULD terms evolution’s intent for morals, but ignore evolution's result in making me/us the way I am/we are.

I don't disagree with this idea or those in the surrounding paragraph, but let me make an analogy.

Once, on a hot summer night, I awoke with intense nausea. I laid in bed feeling wretched for a minute staring at the ceiling, and the nausea passed. I closed my eyes to sleep again and soon again felt intense nausea. I opened my eyes, and shortly the nausea passed again. I did this a few more times as my rational faculties slowly kicked in, and then noticed that my bed was vibrating slightly. A fan that I'd placed at the foot of the bed was touching the bed frame, and creating a barely perceptible vibration. I put it together that the nausea was in fact motion sickness. I moved the fan, the bed stopped shaking, and I slept the rest of the night without incident.

The point here is that motion sickness is an evolved response to certain feelings of motion. In particular, our brains are concerned that certain unnatural sensations of motion are actually the result of eating something toxic. The nausea is a response that, if taken to its logical end, will cause us to purge what we've eaten, in the hopes that any toxins will be purged with it. In the evolutionary context, that's a useful response. But we did not evolve in the presence of beds and fans, and so the way we've evolved misleads us into thinking we're ill when in fact we're perfectly fine.

A similar thing can happen with morality, and understanding morality as a product of evolution, as a mental trait that evolved in a specific context and suited to that context, and not necessarily to this context, may let us "move the fan" of morality, i.e. shed moral claims that are clearly at odds with what morality was meant to do. Given a few thousand years and a few hundred generations of life in this context, we should expect evolution to get us there on its own, but we don't have the luxury of that.

So, yes, we are this way, there is some information in our emotions and moral intuitions and we should pay attention to them, just as we should take nausea seriously. But we can examine them in other ways at the same time. We can appreciate the ways in which evolution's result is inadequate to its purpose, and rely on the other results of evolution (rationality and the view from nowhere) to exert a countervailing drive.

You yourself make a few similar points further down, and I basically agree with them: our moral intuitions and emotions are not for nothing, they can be better than our reason for making decisions in certain cases, and we should treat them as real and expected and important in our decision making. But we should also treat them as subject to rational refutation. And when reason and emotion conflict in making statements of fact about the world, reason should prevail (though perhaps you don't agree with that).

Karpel Tunnel wrote:[Y]ou are deciding to NOT work with morals the way we obviously have evolved to work with morals [...]

Yes, I think that's right. But so too are cardiac surgeons deciding not to work with hearts the way we evolved to work with hearts. The project of moral philosophy, as I understand it, must involve some very unusual treatment of moral intuitions, ones that are obscene to our evolved first impression in the way that delivering a baby by C-section is obscene to someone who only understands it as stabbing a pregnant woman in the belly.

And as I said above in reply to Jakob, there's no contradiction in the most true description of a phenomenon being nigh useless in our everyday lives. In the game of go, there is a saying, "If you want to go left, go right", meaning that going directly for the play we want is not the best way of achieving the play we want. But that is not to say that moving left is wrong, just that moving right is the best way to achieve moving left. So too, being a naive consequentialist may be the best way to achieve the functional ends I advocate here. Still, though, I would argue that the functional ends are the ends, and if it could be shown that different naive system better achieved them, it would be damning of naive consequentialism.

There may be an argument that functional morality is actively counterproductive to its own stated ends. I don't know what to make of self-defeating truths, but I don't think functional morality is one. I see no tension between understanding and discussing functional morality and still practicing more common moral systems as rules of thumb on a day-to-day basis.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:[R]ationality tend to have a hubris that it can track all th[ese] [many variables and potential chains of causes].

I don't think this problem is unique to a rationally-grounded moral system. Emotions too can be a basis for hubris; emotion-based religions are some of the most pompous and unjustifiably self-assured systems of belief that we've ever seen. We should not be overconfident.

But reason's advantage is that it scales: we can use reason to analyse other modes of thought, and even reason itself. Through, we can identify situations where relying on intuition is better than relying on deliberate reflection. We can't do that emotionally. We can rationally examine emotion, and while we can feel things about reason, we can't get very far with it.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:[H]ow do we know that morality is not a spandrel?

How do we know any evolved trait isn't a spandrel? We can look at whether morality influences reproductive success, whether it imposes costs that would require a benefit to offset, whether it's been selected against in isolated populations, etc. I think all these things suggest that it isn't a spandrel, that it's been selected for as part of an evolved reproductive strategy:
- Amoral people tend to suffer socially. Psychopaths can and do succeed, but they depend on the moral behavior of others, and they are also employing a high risk, high reward strategy (many psychopaths are killed or imprisoned, but many others are managers or politicians).
- Morality entails evolutionary costs, e.g. forgoing actions with clear immediate reproductive benefits like theft or resources, murder of rivals, or rape of fertile women. That suggests that it has attendant benefits, and that forgoing these provides a reproductive benefit in the long term, e.g. reciprocal giving and social support, not being murdered, and better mating opportunities long term.
- To my knowledge, morality exists in all human populations, including isolated populations. The isolation may not have been sufficiently long to permit evolutionary divergence, but given the presence of psychopaths it seems that the genes for amorality were there to be selected for and haven't come to dominate any society.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:even if it is not, how do we have an obligation to the intent of evolution, in what sense are beholden to funtion? Function, evolution, natural selection are not moral agents. What is it that puts us in some contractual commitment to following their intentions? If the argument is not that we are beholden but rather X is what morality is for, so we should use it as X, a more determinist connection, then we don't have to worry about adhering to the function, since whatever we do is a product of evolutionarily-created function. Once I am supposed to follow evolution, use my adaptions, well, how can I fail? And if I fail as an individual, I am still testing for my species and if my approach was poor it will be weeded out. No harm, no foul.

Consider the example of motion sickness, or of sugar, or of any other evolved predispositions what we can rationally understand to be actively counter to the reasons for which they evolved. We have intuitions that motion not dependent on our moving our limbs means we've been poisoned and need to purge, and that sugar and fat are good and we should eat them all as much as possible. But we know that these are false, that our evolved tendencies are misleading us, and they are misleading us because of the context in which we evolved in which such motion did mean poison, and sugar was a precious resource.

So too did morality evolve in that context, ought-ness is derived from our evolutionary past, and we can look at it in that light. Without reference to its evolved purpose, it has no meaning. If we take the position that the evolved meaning of morality is not relevant, it seems the only alternative is moral nihilism.

EDIT, 7/14: words, formatting. Deletions indicated by strike-through, additions underlined..
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Re: Functional Morality

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:49 pm

Carleas wrote:But, as promised, some thoughts on 'survival':
First, individual gene-line survival means an organism not dying until it produces offspring who are likely to not-die until they produce offspring.
At a group or society level, survival means the group continues to exist. It's a little vaguer here because the 'group' isn't somewhat amorphous, and there aren't discrete generations for reproduction, but a constant production and death of constituent members.
Defining the survival of any thing inherits the problems in defining that thing, i.e. the "can't step in the same river twice" problems. Moreover, where morality functions on the substrate-independent level of our existence (thoughts), it isn't clear whether the survival it requires is the survival of the substrate or the survival of the survival of the programs that run on it. Would morality support the transhumanist idea that we should abandon our bodies and upload our consciousness to silicon? Even if we take functional morality is true, I don't know that that question is settled.
This is one of the areas I was probing around because I think it may be very hard for many adherents of functional morality to stay consistent. Perhaps not you. If survival is connected to genetically related progeny having progeny that are genetically related - iow sustaining genetically related individuals through time, transhumanism should be considered bad or evil - if we take the case of strong transhumanism where better substrates for consciounsess and existence are created and homo sapiens, as a genetic organism (and physically in general, outside the nucleus of cells also), are no longer present. We will have replaced ourselves with something else. At least in terms of genetic material.

But even setting aside the transhumanism issue. If survival is the guide to morality, the measure of it, it seems to me we can have all sorts of odd scenarios. We Freeze our DNA and send it out into the universe with instructions for use plus an AI to help us seed the first good planet.. When we find out another civilization somewhere or the AI gets us going on say ten worlds, it seems like then we would be free to do what we want. Like as long as survival is happening, elsewhere, I have no need for morals. We have insured continuation, now we can here do what we want. Or we could set up a world where the AI combines DNA to make 1000 humans. Their genitals, after puberty are harvested for DNA, and they are all put down. The AI waits a thousand years and repeats, mixes new DNA, new batch of humans, new cull, repeat. This prevents Mass self-destruction events, and the large gaps between generations 1) slow down changes, so the DNA really stays close to earlier generations longer and 2) create longer survival. IOW there may well be an incredibly efficient way of making our DNA survive - and occasionally create humans - for vast eons, which at the same time entails an existence that is repulsive to most people.

Survival, and not much else.
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Re: Functional Morality

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:35 pm

Carleas wrote:
Karpel Tunnel wrote:some of these moralities support we not survive – anti-natalism

Sure, but some morality is just wrong. Anti-natalism specifically is pretty clearly wrong, but that statement rests on the functional morality I'm advancing here.

If what you're asking for is which morality is the functional morality, I actually think that too is beyond the scope of this discussion. "There is an objective morality that we can discover" is a different claim from "X is the objective morality". I'm making the former claim here, and arguing that we should use the criteria of functionality to evaluate claims about the latter, but I am not making a specific claim about the latter.
I didn't say enough. Antinatalism is one of the moralities that evolution has given rise to. Right now it is a minority position. Perhaps it will become the majority or power morality. Then this is what evolution has led to. It might lead to our extinction, but evolution led to it. IF I coming from a now more minority position - before the anti-natalists sterilize all of us, push for my morality, which includes life, I must wonder, as the anti-natalists take over, if I am on the wrong side - if evolution has led to antinatalist morality and the anti-natalists win. Whatever happens would be functional, it might just not be what we want functional to be. IOW it was functional that dinosaurs became extinct. Evolution and natural selection are selecting to whatever fits, whatever fits, that is, whatever else exists - other species, the weather, etc. I don't really see where I should do anything other than prioritize what I want, and let natural selection see to the outcomes. Just like every other individual in other species. Because once I follow my interests and desires, including mammalian empthy, I am living out what I have been selected to be like. Whatever this leads to is functional, though it may not include my kind.

This might seem obvious: If it is survival of our or 'our' genes and these shaping new generations of 'us' or us, then some of transhumanism is wrong and I should oppose it, since it will replaces our genes and us.

On the other hand if I am a functionalist, natural selection supporter, then if transhumanism wins, then that's fine. I do not need to think in terms of the best morality or heuristics. We will do what we do and it will be part of natural selection - I mean, unless I have an emotional attachment to humans.... :D

IOW There is some weird mix of selfishness - I should support functionalism as far as it furthers my species (though not me in particular) - and follow the intended function of morality...however natural selection is nots not itself a respecter of species.

I cannot in any way avoid fitting in with evolution as a whole, so why should I focus in on one selfish part, where I identify with future generations of my DNA. It seems to me that must have an emotional component. But if we strip away the emotional AND suggest one should take a functionalist point of view, well there are no worries.

Natural selection will continue whatever I do.
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Re: Functional Morality

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:54 pm

Carleas wrote:
Karpel Tunnel wrote:We are this way. I don't see why I should just abstract out and respect in SHOULD terms evolution’s intent for morals, but ignore evolution's result in making me/us the way I am/we are.

I don't disagree with this idea or those in the surrounding paragraph, but let me make an analogy.

Once, on a hot summer night, I awoke with intense nausea. I laid in bed feeling wretched for a minute staring at the ceiling, and the nausea passed. I closed my eyes to sleep again and soon again felt intense nausea. I opened my eyes, and shortly the nausea passed again. I did this a few more times as my rational faculties slowly kicked in, and then noticed that my bed was vibrating slightly. A fan that I'd placed at the foot of the bed was touching the bed frame, and creating a barely perceptible vibration. I put it together that the nausea was in fact motion sickness. I moved the fan, the bed stopped shaking, and I slept the rest of the night without incident.

The point here is that motion sickness is an evolved response to certain feelings of motion. In particular, our brains are concerned that certain unnatural sensations of motion are actually the result of eating something toxic. The nausea is a response that, if taken to its logical end, will cause us to purge what we've eaten, in the hopes that any toxins will be purged with it. In the evolutionary context, that's a useful response. But we did not evolve in the presence of beds and fans, and so the way we've evolved misleads us into thinking we're ill when in fact we're perfectly fine.

A similar thing can happen with morality, and understanding morality as a product of evolution, as a mental trait that evolved in a specific context and suited to that context, and not necessarily to this context, may let us "move the fan" of morality, i.e. shed moral claims that are clearly at odds with what morality was meant to do. Given a few thousand years and a few hundred generations of life in this context, we should expect evolution to get us there on its own, but we don't have the luxury of that.

So, yes, we are this way, there is some information in our emotions and moral intuitions and we should pay attention to them, just as we should take nausea seriously. But we can examine them in other ways at the same time. We can appreciate the ways in which evolution's result is inadequate to its purpose, and rely on the other results of evolution (rationality and the view from nowhere) to exert a countervailing drive.

You yourself make a few similar points further down, and I basically agree with them: our moral intuitions and emotions are not for nothing, they can be better than our reason for making decisions in certain cases, and we should treat them as real and expected and important in our decision making. But we should also treat them as subject to rational refutation. And when reason and emotion conflict in making statements of fact about the world, reason should prevail (though perhaps you don't agree with that).
Let's take this last bit first. 1) I think it is complicated. First, immediately, I want to stress that there is always the option of delaying judgment or agnosticism. Reason is not infallible - and is, often, guided by emotions and assumptions we are aware of and then also often by emotions and assumptions we are not aware of. So when in a real contradiction between emotions and reason, we might, especially if we do not seem to immediately lose anything a) delay choice or 2) make a choice but keep an agnosticism about whether it was the right one. 3) it depends for me on what reason, whose reason, and for that matter whose emotions/intuition. 4) a problem with the choice is that emotions and reason are mixed. It is muddy in there. Reason depends on emotions, especially when we are talking about how humans should interact - iow what seems reasonable will include emotional reactions to consequences, prioritizing inside reasoning itself, the ability to evaluate one's reasoning (such as, have I looked at the evidence long enough? which is evaluated with emotional qualia (see Damasio) and of course emotions are often affected strongly by memes, what is presented as reasonable, assumptions in society and culture, etc. When someone claims to be on the pure reason side of an argument, I immediately get wary. I just don't meet any people without motives, emotions, biases and so on. If we are trying to determine the height of a tree, ok I may dismiss emotion based objections after the rational team used three different measuring devices and come to the same measurement, despite it seeming off to the emotional team. But when dealing with how should we treat each other.....

In a sense what I am saying is that reason is often used as a postive term. IOW it represents logical work with rationally chosen facts, gathered in X postive types of ways....etc. But actually reasoning is a cognitive style. A neutral one. It can be a mess, it can be well done. It may have false assumptions that will take decades to recognize but are obviously false to others. It is just a way to reach a conclusion. Some do it very well. Some do not.

The reasoned idea within science was that animals did not have emotions, motivations, desires, etc. They were considered mechanical, with another significant group of scientists thinking that any claims were anthropomorphizing, unprovable, and confused in form, though these mainstream scientists were sometimes technically agnostic. That was mainstream position until the 70s and it was dangerous for a biologist to go against that position in any official way: articles, public statements. etc. People having the opposite opinion were consider to be being irrational, projecting, anthropomorphizing and following their emotions.

Now of course this example is just an example. It does not prove that reason and emotion/intuition are equally good at getting to the truth or that reason is worse.

I bring it up because, basically, what appears to be reason, need not be good. It is just descriptive without valence. Certain parts of the mind are more in charge and they have their tool box. Maybe it is good use of tools maybe not. An attempt by the mind to reach conclusions in a fastidious manner and based, often primarily on word based arguements. This isn't always the best way to figure something out. And underneath the reasoning and emotional world in the mind is seething.

OK, let's look at the motion sickness. I'll keep this one short. It's a good example on your part and I do not think I can or would want to fully counter it. But let me partially counter it. In the case of morals, we are talking about what it is like to live, given who we are. If we are going to say certain behaviors are not good, then one such behavior might be putting a fan up against someone's bed. Now this will come off as silly, but my point is, that despite the fact that the person who gets nauseous because of this is actually having an inappropriate reaction because fans and beds can give one an experience that resembles when one needed to throw up...
it still makes the guy in the bed have a bad time, even if he
'shouldn't'

So here we are, after this long evolutionary process reacting emotionally to a lot of stuff. Right, wrong, confused, misplaces emotions...quite possibly. Emotions that perhaps worked to protect us but now react to harmless things. But we have those emotions. We react these ways.

If we do not consider the emotional reactions to the moral act and to the consequences of any moral rule, then we are ignoring a large part of what is real. IOW if we just focus on the survival of our genes creating more gene bearers we are removing a large part of the real from our calculations.

1) this may have serious consequences regarding our survival
2) but regardless I think it is wrongheaded even if it did not
3) I question our ability to know when it is simply some vestige of a no longer relevent reaction, or a deeper insight. I see reason as often being hubristic when it comes to these evaluations.

And to be very clear, I am not arguing that we should do away with rationality. I am pro-combination. So when I point out the problems with rationality, I am not saying emotions have no problems, and we should switch to just that.
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Re: Functional Morality

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:02 pm

Carleas wrote:
Karpel Tunnel wrote:[Y]ou are deciding to NOT work with morals the way we obviously have evolved to work with morals [...]

Yes, I think that's right. But so too are cardiac surgeons deciding not to work with hearts the way we evolved to work with hearts. The project of moral philosophy, as I understand it, must involve some very unusual treatment of moral intuitions, ones that are obscene to our evolved first impression in the way that delivering a baby by C-section is obscene to someone who only understands it as stabbing a pregnant woman in the belly.
The cardiac surgeon, in all liklihood, is working on someone who smoked or overate and did not move around very much. And if they did, then the cardiac surgeon is adding a way of working on top of what evolution set us out to do. But even more importantly, if we are to take from evolution what morality's function is, why would we then ignore what evolution has given us. So it is that juncture I am focused on. I don't have problems with technology per se. IOW my argument is not, hey that's not natural - with all the problems inherent in that - but rather

I note that you think our morality should be based on its function in evolution. Evolution is given a kind of authority. Then when it comes to how our evolved emotions deal with morals, we must modify that. If we are appealing to authority in evolution, why stop at deciding it is about survival?
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Re: Functional Morality

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:16 pm

Carleas wrote:
Karpel Tunnel wrote:[R]ationality tend to have a hubris that it can track all th[ese] [many variables and potential chains of causes].

I don't think this problem is unique to a rationally-grounded moral system. Emotions too can be a basis for hubris; emotion-based religions are some of the most pompous and unjustifiably self-assured systems of belief that we've ever seen. We should not be overconfident.
They may be pompous and unjustifiably self-assured systems of belief, but the jury is still out on whether they 1) added to both survival AND better lives or 2) whether they still are better than secular humanism, say. Testing such things is not easy.

Certainly you are correct that emotions can be problematic. But I am not arguing that there should be no rationality - and even in religions and folk morality, in fact any moral system I have seen, there is a mixture of reasoning and emotion, consequentialism and deontology. I am arguing for the mix and that the mix is generally unavoidable, in any case. I think the cane toad type hubris in rational solutions often comes about because we think complicated situations can be tracked using the frontal lobe skins and evolution made a boo boo when giving us tendencies to use both emotion and reason. WE cut out the emotion. I also think there
skills in emotion/intuition, or better put, some people are more skilled than others, just as in reasoning.

But reason's advantage is that it scales: we can use reason to analyse other modes of thought, and even reason itself. Through, we can identify situations where relying on intuition is better than relying on deliberate reflection. We can't do that emotionally.
I disagree. I make very rapid decisions all the time whether to go with intuition or to pause and analyze and reflect. Actually think nearly the opposite of what you said. We cannot make such decisions without intuition. Certainly reasoning can come in also. But reasoning can never it self decide when it should be set in motion, when it has done enough work, when it is satisfied it listened to the right experts, when it is satisfied with its use of semantics in its internal arguments.
Rationality AS LIVED as opposed to on paper, is filled with micro-intuitions and generally initiated by a macro intuition and also one knows when to stop with yet another intuition. And there are qualia at all stages.
i
When we imagine reasoning we often imagine it as if it is happening on paper and the words have simple relations to things.



But actually it is not happening on paper, even when written and read, but in minds, and in the process there is an ongoing set of intuitions.

But, again, importantly, I am not for throwing out reason. I just think we should not throw out emotions/intuition AND further, I don't think we can anyway.

We can rationally examine emotion, and while we can feel things about reason, we can't get very far with it.
Actually think if we go into the phenomenology of checking out an argument, we will find that intuition rings a bell, and then we zoom in to find out why. Especially in tricky arguments.

And to jump: I imagine a kind of traditional male female argument. The man cleverly explains why whatever he did was actually ok, given her behavior, given some factor in his life, given some complicated reasoning that seems right to all parties. And the woman is sitting there thinking 'BS'.

I see the way we are raised tend to work against integrating the various approaches. Or to put this another way, we tend to officially priortizes intuition or rationality, emotions or calm word based tries to be logical arguments. Underneath, I think, each approach is using facets of the other, but because of how we are trained, we feel we need to identify with one. Also we tend to want to hide, because actually all sides tend to present themselves as rational, the emotions underneath our positions and the intuitions in our metaphysics, say.

I think leads to adults who are damaged and this is only increasing as pharma and psychiatry pathologizes mroe and more of the way we limbically react, and then also in modernity in general. So we think we have to choose one approach, when in fact homo sapiens have them tied together, so we might as well practice that, get to know our reactions and couple the two approaches.

That has been selected for. Maybe it won't last. Maybe we will be replaced by AIs that have no emotion. I can't see where a not radically fragmented homo sapien would not find that horrifying. Problem is, humans are radically fragmented. God, I hope I got that triple negative right.
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Re: Functional Morality

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:33 pm

Carleas wrote:T
Karpel Tunnel wrote:[H]ow do we know that morality is not a spandrel?

How do we know any evolved trait isn't a spandrel? We can look at whether morality influences reproductive success, whether it imposes costs that would require a benefit to offset, whether it's been selected against in isolated populations, etc. I think all these things suggest that it isn't a spandrel, that it's been selected for as part of an evolved reproductive strategy:
- Amoral people tend to suffer socially.
I'd need to see the science. I am not even sure this is the case. If you are chaotically amoral, well, that leads to a lot of bad reactions, unless you are some kind of autocrate - so in your home, in your company, in your country, if you are the boss, you can probably get away with a lot, and in fact those guys often have a lot of kids, all over the place. Hence they are evolutionarily effective. But more pragmatic amoral people, I see no reason for them not to thrive. Maybe, just maybe less in modern society, and maybe less in tribal society. I think they have many benefits in between, even the chaotic ones. In fact a lot of the names in history books probably had amoral tendencies...and quite a few kids.
Psychopaths can and do succeed, but they depend on the moral behavior of others, and they are also employing a high risk, high reward strategy (many psychopaths are killed or imprisoned, but many others are managers or politicians).
I do wonder how they do on creating babies however.
- Morality entails evolutionary costs, e.g. forgoing actions with clear immediate reproductive benefits like theft or rsources, murder of rivals, or rape of fertile women. That suggests that it has attendant benefits, and that forgoing these provides a reproductive benefit in the long term, e.g. reciprocal giving and social support, not being murdered, and better mating opportunities long term.
- To my knowledge, morality exists in all human populations, including isolated populations. The isolation may not have been sufficiently long to permit evolutionary divergence, but given the presence of psychopaths it seems that the genes for amorality were there to be selected for and haven't come to dominate any society.
If it is in all populations it might be neutral or only slightly negative functionally. A byproduct of some other cognitive capacities that helped us. AGain testing this hypothesis is hard.

Consider the example of motion sickness, or of sugar, or of any other evolved predispositions what we can rationally understand to be actively counter to the reasons for which they evolved. We have intuitions that motion not dependent on our moving our limbs means we've been poisoned and need to purge, and that sugar and fat are good and we should eat them all as much as possible. But we know that these are false, that our evolved tendencies are misleading us, and they are misleading us because of the context in which we evolved in which such motion did mean poison, and sugar was a precious resource.
I think we have problems on the diet end of your justification, not because of faulty desires, but rather to cultural problems. I think sugar is a drug and we use it to self-medicate. Psychotropic drug. You know that old thing about rats triggering cocaine being made available or stimulating the pleasure center of the brain? The idea that if we could we would just destroy ourselves? Well they redid that experiment but gave the rats complicated interesting environments and very few got addicted. And I can imagine that even the nice complicated homes they gave the rats probably had less of the smells that rats bodies expect and lacked the nuance there is in what was once the original environment of rats. I think, just as in the cardiac surgeon example, we are using culture to fight nature that is having a problem because of culture.

So too did morality evolve in that context, ought-ness is derived from our evolutionary past, and we can look at it in that light. Without reference to its evolved purpose, it has no meaning. If we take the position that the evolved meaning of morality is not relevant, it seems the only alternative is moral nihilism.
In the 'are there objective morals sense?' I am certainly a moral nihilist. On the other hand this does not mean we need to stop determining what we want. We can ignore whatever we think evolution intended and decide what we want. No easy task, of course, given out wants, natural and culturally created, often by those with great power in their interests. But given that as social mammals we have self-interest but also empathy and tend to collaborate, there is room for desire to create what may not be morals but heuristics. Desire (and emotions and intuition) in collaboration with reason.

That's where we are now, with what we are and have. Ironically ignoring whatever evolution intended or selected for might in fact be the best strategy for survival, though I am not saying it is, nor do I know a way to test that. However, I think there are reasons to think it might be a better route.

Focusing only on surivival and survival of genes, deprioritizes a lot of things that make us like life. I think we will soon if not already have solutions to survival of genes that do not need us to enjoy life at all. Forget the panopticon Amazon workplace, I mean complete dystopias that, one the other hand, keep those genes chugging along. Of course, we might opt out if that is where logic leads us, not feeling at home in the efficient world we created with one prime criterion for the goal and reason trying to be devoid of emotion and intuition as the means of working towards this final solution.
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