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June 2004 - Soldiers' Morality

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Re: Morality

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MA: "Then along the lines set by Ockham's razor, I see no real reason to posit both evolutionarily evolved moral instincts and social indoctrination."Social pressure to do the right thing may account for some morally correct actions, but there's nothing holding the integrity of our character together unless we have the state of mind to do the right thing even when no one is around. Guilt is not necessary in a model with only social indoctrination. There's no reason for me not to go around swearing at every old woman I see. No reason to leave a tip for a waitress I don't know. No reason to give back a person's wallet after I find it on the side of the road. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Social indoctrination alone can't account for that behavior, and the majority of people do possess that behavior.MA: "It stands to reason, of course, that mutation could lead to deviation, but that ought not lead automatically to the assumption that deviations are obviously the result of mutation."Absolutely, it was just an example. Think of your own example if you'd like.MA: "This doesn't strike me as an evolutionarily stable strategy. The process would eventually produce a society in which the resistence to the instinct to kill is almost entirely muted. Any individual born with a mutant gene that did not conform to that resistence would have an overwhelming advantage -- he could kill at will, and the genetic disposition against killing would leave the rest of the population ultimately defenseless."You missed something I said earlier. That killing within one's own in-group is bad, immoral. Why kill relatives? They have similar genes as yourself. What would stop this person from killing his own kids? What would stop him from killing the best hunter in his tribe, leaving his tribe with potentially less food. Why would he kill other men in his tribe, leaving his tribe less prepared to defend against other tribes? Why would he kill the best suited women for his offspring, leaving his children with potentially less genetic benefit? Now, killing outside of the person's in-group is perfectly acceptable. It was the normal course back in tribal life that people from different tribes would kill each other on sight. If people were pacified in this respect, you're right, they'd have less potential for survival. All it takes is the knowledge that you won't be hurt by the other person, and possibly a brief acquaintance to extend your in-group to include him.
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