Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:16 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 28 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page Previous  1, 2
Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From? 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

BookTalk.org Moderator
Platinum Contributor

Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 4530
Location: NC
Thanks: 1980
Thanked: 2040 times in 1526 posts
Gender: Male

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
Dexter wrote:
geo wrote:
For example, some conservatives believe homosexual unions are wrong, but ultimately they are responding from a gut reaction of disgust.

I see that as basically virtue signaling for conservative Christians. Do they really care if someone they don't know is getting married? Some might genuinely believe that they are following the Bible, I'm not sure how that should relate to moral instinct. Seems like all but the most fundamentalist have pretty much given up on the issue. (It was only about a decade ago that Obama and Clinton were against gay marriage, now that would make you Hitler.)

It does seem like politics and religion definitely come into play in social issues like gay marriage. I'm sure I'm oversimplifying things. It will be interesting to see how Haidt brings in in his moral foundations theory.

But you make an interesting observation. Issues like gay marriage were not on the radar ten years ago. How did it so quickly become an entrenched right? I've always believed our society is constantly becoming more progressive. No one thinks "coloreds" should sit on the back of the bus, etc. There seems a linear progression over time. But Haidt talks about how most societies are sociocentric, placing the needs of groups and institutions before individuals. America is unusually individualistic. Is that the same as progressivism? Is America becoming more individualistic? And doing so at such a fast rate, that more conservative Americans are being judged for not moving fast enough?


_________________
-Geo
Question everything


The following user would like to thank geo for this post:
Harry Marks
Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:45 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6598
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1988
Thanked: 2209 times in 1670 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
It's ballsy of Haidt to give us the answer to the origin of morality right in the first chapter. Aren't whole books devoted to that problem?

Haidt observes that morality differs between groups of people. It seems that the educated and urbanized have the more liberal view that actions that don't harm anyone shouldn't be called immoral. They believe that takes judgment too far. The question his first two examples raise for me is whether we should distinguish between the moral emotions and our declared moral views in defining morality. Clearly, Haidt indicates that the liberal Westerner is uncomfortable with both eating the family dog and having intercourse with a chicken. To me, that would indicate that, while they don't want to condemn some unknown person for doing those things, they certainly would intervene swiftly if someone in their own family did them. They do find such things to be immoral, in other words. So are the people who flat out call such things wrong actually more candid and honest than those who are squeamish about judging others in the society? Not to overthink some situations would seem to be good advice. Sure, go with your gut. Might your gut be smarter than your brain, in a sense?

However, just because you find something aversive isn't a great reason to always call it wrong. Here I'm talking about less extreme examples than Haidt uses. Homosexuality is a good instance. In complete frankness, I react to homosexual practice with some aversion. I'm strongly biased toward hetero sex. But I've taken the liberal, and to me humane, view that I have no right to deny anyone the expression of love--or desire--that is natural for him or her. Obviously, not having the belief that such sexual behavior is an offense against God makes it not difficult for me to accept homosexuality.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks, Robert Tulip
Sun Jan 05, 2020 1:54 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5913
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2370
Thanked: 2292 times in 1730 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
Haidt’s analysis of actions that are seen as repugnant raises the problem of the moral status of victimless crimes. An action can be permissible and yet have harmful consequences, for example in degrading personal sensitivity and pushing the boundaries of what a person sees as okay, which is a common critique of pornography. A similar line of reasoning could apply around gambling, drug use or advertising of junk food.

Often people will say that the pleasure produced by these activities outweighs the moral risk of any hypothetical harm. This qualitative argument highlights the problem of purity, that in traditional conservative morality excluding such perceived corrupting influences is seen as central to protecting personal moral sensibility and values from the slippery slope to depravity.

In the case of homosexuality, it is entirely possible that legalizing gay marriage sends a social signal that such unions are entirely morally equal to heterosexual marriages where a man and woman commit to raise their own children to the exclusion of all other sexual liaisons. Advocates see this signal as desirable. As a result children are taught that it is just as morally legitimate and worthy to aspire to a gay marriage as to plan to have children with a lifelong partner.

The context here includes social attitudes to the morality of reproduction. There is a growing view that planetary overpopulation is such a serious moral problem that committing to a personal relationship that is deliberately childless has equal moral value to a family relationship whose purpose includes to perpetuate the species. This may serve as a background unconscious factor in the gay marriage debate. The idea that it is okay to see cultural transmission through the family unit as morally dubious is a new way of thinking produced by the view that humanity is a plague upon the planet and so the personal footprint has to be minimized by having smaller or no families.

Public debate on family subsidies through taxation sees claims made that having children is just a lifestyle choice, with expressions of disapproval toward large families. The personal sacrifice that parents make to raise their children is seen by critics of fertility as stupid and wasteful, rather than as morally praiseworthy. An underlying assumption here is that everyone is responsible for planning for their own care in their old age by putting enough money aside rather than expecting help from their own children. Both sides of this debate see the other as selfish.

The actual outcome of such new thinking about the moral value of childlessness is that it mainly influences rich individuals who can provide the flexible work demanded by major corporations and governments. Over time the moral critique of child-rearing produces a reversal of the older demographic structure whereby richer people used to have more children than poorer people. There are inevitable cultural and economic implications when people with the greatest personal capacity to teach their children choose to remain childless.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


Last edited by Robert Tulip on Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.



The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
DWill, Harry Marks
Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:04 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6598
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1988
Thanked: 2209 times in 1670 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
Robert Tulip wrote:
Haidt’s analysis of actions that are seen as repugnant raises the problem of the moral status of victimless crimes. An action can be permissible and yet have harmful consequences, for example in degrading personal sensitivity and pushing the boundaries of what a person sees as okay, which is a common critique of pornography. A similar line of reasoning could apply around gambling, drug use or advertising of junk food.

I had wondered myself whether harm could apply in a couple of senses in the context of victimless crimes. The first is similar to what you observe, which is harm to the social fabric. It's possible that a subject asked could cite no particular victim, yet have a notion that general harm is occurring. If the subject has a sociocentric worldview, it could make sense that he/she would regard harm as having a wider scope than the individual level.

The second sense is harm to the person doing the behavior. If what that person is doing may harm him or indicate need, the best reaction doesn't seem to be a shrug of unconcern. I don't know about getting more mileage from Haidt's sex-with- chicken example--it would be of extreme low incidence--but it's likely that such behavior indicates that the man is distressed, socially isolated, perhaps mentally ill. In such a case, should his behavior trigger a helping response, rather than avowal of his right to do whatever he wants? I agree, though, that condemning his act as immoral would not benefit anyone. It would only push him outside the circle of moral regard and thus of the community that might help him.
Quote:
Often people will say that the pleasure produced by these activities outweighs the moral risk of any hypothetical harm. This qualitative argument highlights the problem of purity, that in traditional conservative morality excluding such perceived corrupting influences is seen as central to protecting personal moral sensibility and values from the slippery slope to depravity.

Shielding group members from bad or corrupt thoughts and acts is the reason behind social separatism. We see the mild separatism of Christian evangelicals and the pronounced separatism of the Amish and Hassidic Jews. They all put up barriers against the mainstream out of the perfectly reasonable fear that their way of life won't survive if they mix with secular society. In these cases, it's interesting to observe how the "thou shalt nots" serve to preserve group identity. Things such as not owning cars, for the Amish, are given moral weight only because owning them would be a slippery slope on the way toward invalidating the only true guide for human life, the Bible.
Quote:
In the case of homosexuality, it is entirely possible that legalizing gay marriage sends a social signal that such unions are entirely morally equal to heterosexual marriages where a man and woman commit to raise their own children to the exclusion of all other sexual liaisons. Advocates see this signal as desirable. As a result children are taught that it is just as morally legitimate and worthy to aspire to a gay marriage as to plan to have children with a lifelong partner.

It always seems stretched to me to imply that advocacy of gay marriage will lessen the popularity of hetero marriage. Homosexuality will always be a very minor sexual orientation, after all. I also don't see the basis for saying that same-sex marriages can't be lifelong partnerships, especially in view of infidelity by married men and women and their 50% divorce rate.
Quote:
The context here includes social attitudes to the morality of reproduction. There is a growing view that planetary overpopulation is such a serious moral problem that committing to a personal relationship that is deliberately childless has equal moral value to a family relationship whose purpose includes to perpetuate the species. This may serve as a background unconscious factor in the gay marriage debate. The idea that it is okay to see cultural transmission through the family unit as morally dubious is a new way of thinking produced by the view that humanity is a plague upon the planet and so the personal footprint has to be minimized by having smaller or no families.

Wizards vs. prophets again. As Mann tells us, in the early going, prophets were singularly focused on the problem of growing numbers, especially in Asian countries and others in the third-world, while wizards were always confident that natural limits to population didn't exist, because of the ability of science and technology to extend those limits. Prophets today, however, realize that it's personal consumption more than population that drives resource depletion and global warming. That puts the onus more fairly on Americans and other Westerners, whose footprints are at least several times larger than those of Indian villagers.

Possibly you are correct that pressure on the environment is a factor in couples deciding to have fewer children. Why is it bad for our species to have this self-awareness? When we talk about moral and spiritual progress, isn't a part of that going to be acknowledging that more of us is not better for the rest of life, if it even is for us alone? At any rate, other social factors are relevant in declining family size.
Quote:
Public debate on family subsidies through taxation sees claims made that having children is just a lifestyle choice, with expressions of disapproval toward large families. The personal sacrifice that parents make to raise their children is seen by critics of fertility as stupid and wasteful, rather than as morally praiseworthy. An underlying assumption here is that everyone is responsible for planning for their own care in their old age by putting enough money aside rather than expecting help from their own children. Both sides of this debate see the other as selfish.

Maybe public debate in Australia is different from that in the U.S. I haven't been exposed to the level of criticism of families that you apparently have been.
Quote:
The actual outcome of such new thinking about the moral value of childlessness is that it mainly influences rich individuals who can provide the flexible work demanded by major corporations and governments. Over time the moral critique of child-rearing produces a reversal of the older demographic structure whereby richer people used to have more children than poorer people. There are inevitable cultural and economic implications when people with the greatest personal capacity to teach their children choose to remain childless.

I don't know about the reversal you speak of. Children used to be seen as useful contributors to family farm income, and these families might have been just getting by. More children equalled more workers. Then, too, I wonder about the validity of the notion that if the best and the brightest don't reproduce enough, the greater reproduction rate of the less successful will bring down national vitality.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks, Robert Tulip
Mon Jan 06, 2020 11:50 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

BookTalk.org Moderator
Platinum Contributor

Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 4530
Location: NC
Thanks: 1980
Thanked: 2040 times in 1526 posts
Gender: Male

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
DWill wrote:
. . . So are the people who flat out call such things wrong actually more candid and honest than those who are squeamish about judging others in the society? Not to overthink some situations would seem to be good advice. Sure, go with your gut. Might your gut be smarter than your brain, in a sense?

However, just because you find something aversive isn't a great reason to always call it wrong. Here I'm talking about less extreme examples than Haidt uses. Homosexuality is a good instance. In complete frankness, I react to homosexual practice with some aversion. I'm strongly biased toward hetero sex. But I've taken the liberal, and to me humane, view that I have no right to deny anyone the expression of love--or desire--that is natural for him or her. Obviously, not having the belief that such sexual behavior is an offense against God makes it not difficult for me to accept homosexuality.


I am also averse to homosexuality and, yet, I don't see how we can denounce or forbid what two consenting adults want to do in the privacy of their own homes. On the other hand,I can understand why some are reluctant give their blessing—see Robert's social fabric comments. Though, personally I don't really buy the unnatural argument, since homosexuality does exist and has always existed. It's a biological fact.

Either way, I'm inclined to favor individual freedom over group tyranny. There must be an algorithm in my brain that allows me to make that judgment. Is this Haidt's Liberty/Oppression foundation?

My thought here is that it's a good thing that we have a mix of political temperaments. We would see a tyranny of a different kind if we were all liberals or all conservatives. Indeed, maybe this an evolutionary stable strategy (ESS) for our species to have developed such diversity (politically speaking). In a way it gives us more flexibility to adjust to varying circumstances. When our population was much smaller, procreation was vitally important to our species. And homosexuality would have been seen—intuited—as a threat. Perhaps that's where the aversion comes from. And so the question to ask: is this aversion still useful? Even if the answer is no, we can perhaps empathize with those who still go with their gut.


_________________
-Geo
Question everything


The following user would like to thank geo for this post:
DWill
Tue Jan 07, 2020 3:13 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6598
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1988
Thanked: 2209 times in 1670 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
geo wrote:
I am also averse to homosexuality and, yet, I don't see how we can denounce or forbid what two consenting adults want to do in the privacy of their own homes. On the other hand,I can understand why some are reluctant give their blessing—see Robert's social fabric comments. Though, personally I don't really buy the unnatural argument, since homosexuality does exist and has always existed. It's a biological fact.

Either way, I'm inclined to favor individual freedom over group tyranny. There must be an algorithm in my brain that allows me to make that judgment. Is this Haidt's Liberty/Oppression foundation?

I can't say I have gay or transgender friends, though I've been acquainted with a good number. I'd be ok with such a friendship. What I've experienced of LGBTQ people gives me no concern on the social fabric side. I think a lot more about the damage such people have experienced over the centuries, than of supposed social damage. Gay rights is a legitimate civil rights matter, I think.
Quote:
My thought here is that it's a good thing that we have a mix of political temperaments. We would see a tyranny of a different kind if we were all liberals or all conservatives. Indeed, maybe this an evolutionary stable strategy (ESS) for our species to have developed such diversity (politically speaking). In a way it gives us more flexibility to adjust to varying circumstances.

I agree with that view of diversity and think that restricting diversity to skin color and ethnicity is not a good thing. I wish I could remember the source of an essay I read on the importance of having a well-functioning right, for the sake of us all.
Quote:
When our population was much smaller, procreation was vitally important to our species. And homosexuality would have been seen—intuited—as a threat. Perhaps that's where the aversion comes from. And so the question to ask: is this aversion still useful? Even if the answer is no, we can perhaps empathize with those who still go with their gut.

I was interested in reports of some cultures accommodating homosexuality, Native American cultures, for example. Since as you say, homosexuality has always existed, it would make sense for cultures to evolve ways to accept it. Absent a religious stricture against homosexuality, maybe there was a certain fluidity given to gender? But I doubt that things ever went as far as couples of the same sex marrying and raising children.

Instances are common of parents changing their attitude towards homosexuality because one of their kids comes out as gay. That's good to hear about, in a way, yet why should it take such a personal experience for parents to let down their moral barriers?



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks
Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:49 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6598
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1988
Thanked: 2209 times in 1670 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
Haidt's summary on moral thinking, from the end of the chapter:
Quote:
* The moral domain varies by culture. It is unusually narrow in Western, educated, and individualistic cultures. Sociocentric cultures broaden the moral domain to encompass and regulate more aspects of life.
* People sometimes have gut feelings--particularly about disgust and disrespect--that can drive their reasoning. Moral reasoning is sometimes a post hoc fabrication.
* Morality can't be entirely self-constructed by children based on their growing understanding of harm. Cultural learning or guidance must play a larger role than rationalist theories had given it.

How much of this are we willing to accept? Should there be some qualifications?



Wed Jan 08, 2020 12:05 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Moderator
Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 7116
Location: Da U.P.
Thanks: 1096
Thanked: 2115 times in 1690 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
DWill wrote:
I had wondered myself whether harm could apply in a couple of senses in the context of victimless crimes. The first is similar to what you observe, which is harm to the social fabric. It's possible that a subject asked could cite no particular victim, yet have a notion that general harm is occurring. If the subject has a sociocentric worldview, it could make sense that he/she would regard harm as having a wider scope than the individual level.


You mentioned years ago how moral creeds may shift depending on time and location. Haidt says the moral domain varies by culture. Would it be immoral to waste water while you're part of a community that lives in a desert? I'm not sure that's a victimless crime, as everyone would be somewhat victimized by it.

I think the notion is accurate.


_________________
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.” - Douglas Adams


The following user would like to thank Interbane for this post:
DWill, Harry Marks
Sat Jan 11, 2020 5:59 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Oddly Attracted to Books


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1546
Thanks: 1721
Thanked: 778 times in 627 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
DWill wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Haidt’s analysis of actions that are seen as repugnant raises the problem of the moral status of victimless crimes. An action can be permissible and yet have harmful consequences, for example in degrading personal sensitivity and pushing the boundaries of what a person sees as okay, which is a common critique of pornography. A similar line of reasoning could apply around gambling, drug use or advertising of junk food.

I had wondered myself whether harm could apply in a couple of senses in the context of victimless crimes. The first is similar to what you observe, which is harm to the social fabric. It's possible that a subject asked could cite no particular victim, yet have a notion that general harm is occurring. If the subject has a sociocentric worldview, it could make sense that he/she would regard harm as having a wider scope than the individual level.
I'm going to agree with both of you. And I'm going to tag this as a key point to think about as I go through the book. Social conservatives tend to lament the loss of social consensus around moral norms and boundaries, and social liberals tend to sort the issue with an individualistic set of assumptions about how things work. Both views are legitimate, and both tend to overlook important aspects of the other side.

DWill wrote:
The second sense is harm to the person doing the behavior. If what that person is doing may harm him or indicate need, the best reaction doesn't seem to be a shrug of unconcern. I don't know about getting more mileage from Haidt's sex-with- chicken example--it would be of extreme low incidence--but it's likely that such behavior indicates that the man is distressed, socially isolated, perhaps mentally ill. In such a case, should his behavior trigger a helping response, rather than avowal of his right to do whatever he wants? I agree, though, that condemning his act as immoral would not benefit anyone. It would only push him outside the circle of moral regard and thus of the community that might help him.
Working with students, I cannot be a libertarian. There are aspects of adolescence that argue for a calm, talk-heavy approach: it is a time when individuals have to work out how much they can rely on themselves to make the big decisions in life (I was rather bad at it and thought I was quite good) and the kids who are really resistant to authority are often caught up in horrible undertows of confrontation with not-so-together parents. But there are also reasons to just lay down rules and be consistent about them: the school requires some focus on academics, and self-assertion by naughty kids can really damage the education of the others, and in general kids are looking for limits and structure and may feel at sea without them.

I kind of agree about the sex-with-chickens being more about aberration and toxic need to violate norms than about some natural process that needs to be accommodated. My point would be essentially yours that the moral condemnation probably makes little difference. It matters a lot that we give people some guidance toward a virtuous and therefore rewarding life. But honestly, someone who thinks sex with a chicken is a rewarding activity probably has bigger problems than whatever consequences society might consider just. So, okay, Haidt is looking at the moral impulses we feel and respond to, but I cannot convince myself that those are independent of the practicalities of finding meaning.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Often people will say that the pleasure produced by these activities outweighs the moral risk of any hypothetical harm. This qualitative argument highlights the problem of purity, that in traditional conservative morality excluding such perceived corrupting influences is seen as central to protecting personal moral sensibility and values from the slippery slope to depravity.
I think there is something to this depravity issue, but we are learning a lot from studying our depravities rather than just condemning them. If people are able to find some sense of success and meaning from the ancient nexus of work and family, then they tend not to get caught up in these whirlpools that suck people down into a life they would not choose if they considered the matter. Whether or not you believe the experiments about rats resisting the cocaine when they have an enriched and social environment, it makes intuitive sense that social connection creates a lot of resistance to addiction.

Jesus seems to have had some recognition of this business. Since he was likely an exorcist, he probably had some intuition for social pathology. And his answer was inclusion. Bring them in. Find a place for them. Why do women have children out of wedlock, or decide to have abortions? Maybe because the challenge of forming a commitment with a stable, supportive husband feels out of reach to them? We can't stop at acceptance/rejection, but must build a set of norms that fit the circumstances people live in, and this includes the ability of the community to support people just as much as the ability of the family to provide mutual support within its little community.
DWill wrote:
Shielding group members from bad or corrupt thoughts and acts is the reason behind social separatism. We see the mild separatism of Christian evangelicals and the pronounced separatism of the Amish and Hassidic Jews. They all put up barriers against the mainstream out of the perfectly reasonable fear that their way of life won't survive if they mix with secular society. In these cases, it's interesting to observe how the "thou shalt nots" serve to preserve group identity. Things such as not owning cars, for the Amish, are given moral weight only because owning them would be a slippery slope on the way toward invalidating the only true guide for human life, the Bible.
Just for the record, the impulse behind the social restrictions of the Amish, and Mennonites in general, is peace. Born in the tumultuous times of the late Middle Ages, when warfare was despicably cruel and peasants were generally oppressed, the idea was preached that if people would maintain a "plain" lifestyle that the social competition behind warfare could be repudiated. The social pulling-apart that led Calvin to suggest that the hard-working burghers were the elect of God led the Mennonites to suggest that commitment to peace (and what could be more Christian than peace?) implied abandonment of all impulses to impress and gain status with materialism. Not all maintain that "old order" denial of all that is modern, but Mennonites are still committed to the fundamental idea: we don't strut.
DWill wrote:
Quote:
In the case of homosexuality, it is entirely possible that legalizing gay marriage sends a social signal that such unions are entirely morally equal to heterosexual marriages where a man and woman commit to raise their own children to the exclusion of all other sexual liaisons. Advocates see this signal as desirable. As a result children are taught that it is just as morally legitimate and worthy to aspire to a gay marriage as to plan to have children with a lifelong partner.

It always seems stretched to me to imply that advocacy of gay marriage will lessen the popularity of hetero marriage. Homosexuality will always be a very minor sexual orientation, after all. I also don't see the basis for saying that same-sex marriages can't be lifelong partnerships, especially in view of infidelity by married men and women and their 50% divorce rate.

We now have hard data showing that competent, well-educated same-sex couples make better parents than heterosexual couples who are struggling in life and don't manage emotions very well (and as good as heterosexual couples who are also competent and well-educated, at least in terms of quantifiable outcomes). If the point is to give children a good life, we should concentrate on rescuing people who have had too much trauma in their childhood, so they don't pass it on.

In general, we are way past the point where social absolutes can matter anywhere near as much as skills and protection from trauma. We can deal with a variety of "paths to virtue" and even "types of virtue" but the resort to condemnation of intrinsic differences is itself a demonstration of incompetence. I get that everyone wants their own moral virtues to be considered the correct ones. But things are changing too fast to make that a mainstream strategy. To use a simple example, the traditional sexual division of labor is far from stupid. But with education being the key to a high-productivity society and a comfortable life, it makes no sense to impose that traditional division of labor as "the best pattern we could impose, therefore mandatory for all". The question of the wisdom of imposition has been begged by such an approach.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The context here includes social attitudes to the morality of reproduction. There is a growing view that planetary overpopulation is such a serious moral problem that committing to a personal relationship that is deliberately childless has equal moral value to a family relationship whose purpose includes to perpetuate the species. This may serve as a background unconscious factor in the gay marriage debate. The idea that it is okay to see cultural transmission through the family unit as morally dubious is a new way of thinking produced by the view that humanity is a plague upon the planet and so the personal footprint has to be minimized by having smaller or no families.
Robert, you are exaggerating the other side to the point of creating a straw man. I expect there are people who do say such things or have such unconscious factors at work. But a fair statement of the "anti-natalist" position would be that population growth for its own sake is not tenable as a value today, if it ever was, due to environmental constraints. Thus we do not need to promote having children, since biology looks after that aspect pretty well already. What we need to do instead is try to see that those who desire children are making a conscious choice (rather than mindlessly going into a task that exceeds their capacities) and understand how to do it in a way that supports the childrens' prospects in life. It turns out that this step alone was enough to bring about the choice for small families with intensive child-rearing, and the world is best rid of parents who are stuck with kids they have no commitment to raising well.
DWill wrote:
Prophets today, however, realize that it's personal consumption more than population that drives resource depletion and global warming. That puts the onus more fairly on Americans and other Westerners, whose footprints are at least several times larger than those of Indian villagers.
I would modify that a bit to argue that we need to enlist humanity's prodigious powers of invention in solving the less immediate and tangible problems of life in a complex and highly productive economy. Since there is no money in solving the technical problems of externalities unless government gets involved, well, we are at the point where government must be involved.

DWill wrote:
Possibly you are correct that pressure on the environment is a factor in couples deciding to have fewer children. Why is it bad for our species to have this self-awareness? When we talk about moral and spiritual progress, isn't a part of that going to be acknowledging that more of us is not better for the rest of life, if it even is for us alone? At any rate, other social factors are relevant in declining family size.
And furthermore, the urge by parents to have grandchildren should clearly not be a stronger social factor on the children's behavior than environmental pressures. Both matter, and both are legitimate. With a little technical jiggering, both can be accommodated.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Public debate on family subsidies through taxation sees claims made that having children is just a lifestyle choice, with expressions of disapproval toward large families. The personal sacrifice that parents make to raise their children is seen by critics of fertility as stupid and wasteful, rather than as morally praiseworthy. An underlying assumption here is that everyone is responsible for planning for their own care in their old age by putting enough money aside rather than expecting help from their own children. Both sides of this debate see the other as selfish.
Well, there are going to be different points of view. If we can't live with that in an age of nuclear weapons, then we will perish. I expect that subcommunities will continue to promote different versions of what is morally praiseworthy, and that government programs will gradually come to be based more on calculation of practical effects than on such intangible issues.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The actual outcome of such new thinking about the moral value of childlessness is that it mainly influences rich individuals who can provide the flexible work demanded by major corporations and governments. Over time the moral critique of child-rearing produces a reversal of the older demographic structure whereby richer people used to have more children than poorer people. There are inevitable cultural and economic implications when people with the greatest personal capacity to teach their children choose to remain childless.
Like limited family size, many of us are coming to see limited consumption as a matter of spiritual balance more than a matter of moral virtue. You have to believe that people who feel the need for a yacht, a private plane and a third house are just doing addiction in a less self-destructive form. The Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts types in the world are subject to a pathology no less destructive than the folks who get in deadly fights at the bar on Friday night. This week we learned how corrupted the culture of Boeing had become due to Wall Street priorities overcoming commitment to safety and realism.

Interbane wrote:
You mentioned years ago how moral creeds may shift depending on time and location. Haidt says the moral domain varies by culture. Would it be immoral to waste water while you're part of a community that lives in a desert? I'm not sure that's a victimless crime, as everyone would be somewhat victimized by it.

In a wonderful old book called "Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches," anthropologist Marvin Harris connected material pressures to the particular taboos of different cultures. I don't know how well his principles have held up to scrutiny, but his overall case was persuasive. For example, the taboo on pork probably had more to do with water-intensity of raising pigs, making them intolerably luxurious in the dry Middle East, than with the story about trichinosis that I was told as a child. Likewise he argued that "sacred cows" in India reflected the general need to use cows for dairy rather than the much higher resource cost of using them for meat. Many social norms are pushing back against people who insist on extracting more than their share not so much in spite of environmental constraints as because of them, to consume in ways they know will disadvantage others just because they want to show that they can.



Last edited by Harry Marks on Sun Jan 12, 2020 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
DWill
Sat Jan 11, 2020 4:30 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6598
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1988
Thanked: 2209 times in 1670 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
Quote:
Working with students, I cannot be a libertarian. There are aspects of adolescence that argue for a calm, talk-heavy approach: it is a time when individuals have to work out how much they can rely on themselves to make the big decisions in life (I was rather bad at it and thought I was quite good) and the kids who are really resistant to authority are often caught up in horrible undertows of confrontation with not-so-together parents. But there are also reasons to just lay down rules and be consistent about them: the school requires some focus on academics, and self-assertion by naughty kids can really damage the education of the others, and in general kids are looking for limits and structure and may feel at sea without them.

Good to hear from you again, and I hope your teaching is going well. Teaching is a frontline position if ever there was one.
Harry Marks wrote:
DWill wrote:
Prophets today, however, realize that it's personal consumption more than population that drives resource depletion and global warming. That puts the onus more fairly on Americans and other Westerners, whose footprints are at least several times larger than those of Indian villagers.
I would modify that a bit to argue that we need to enlist humanity's prodigious powers of invention in solving the less immediate and tangible problems of life in a complex and highly productive economy. Since there is no money in solving the technical problems of externalities unless government gets involved, well, we are at the point where government must be involved.

When we look at carbon capture and utilization (CCU) as an example, the need for government to get involved seems especially clear. Although it's said to be impossible to create markets, that's what govt. needs to boost if carbon mined from the atmosphere is to become valuable enough for industry to care about it.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
The actual outcome of such new thinking about the moral value of childlessness is that it mainly influences rich individuals who can provide the flexible work demanded by major corporations and governments. Over time the moral critique of child-rearing produces a reversal of the older demographic structure whereby richer people used to have more children than poorer people. There are inevitable cultural and economic implications when people with the greatest personal capacity to teach their children choose to remain childless.
Like limited family size, many of us are coming to see limited consumption as a matter of spiritual balance more than a matter of moral virtue. You have to believe that people who feel the need for a yacht, a private plane and a third house are just doing addiction in a less self-destructive form. The Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts types in the world are subject to a pathology no less destructive than the folks who get in deadly fights at the bar on Friday night. This week we learned how corrupted the culture of Boeing had become due to Wall Street priorities overcoming commitment to safety and realism.

How about 35' RVs with a car in tow pulling into the campground where I'm staying? I get a bit righteous about that. The feeling can be spoiled by thinking of the men and women, who never could afford such contraptions, having jobs making them. How can we get to the point where people can work while not tying the work to more and more consumption? I think the job I used to have in county government ultimately came down to people making things, somewhere.
Quote:
In a wonderful old book called "Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches," anthropologist Marvin Harris connected material pressures to the particular taboos of different cultures. I don't know how well his principles have held up to scrutiny, but his overall case was persuasive. For example, the taboo on pork probably had more to do with water-intensity of raising pigs, making them intolerably luxurious in the dry Middle East, than with the story about trichinosis that I was told as a child. Likewise he argued that "sacred cows" in India reflected the general need to use cows for dairy rather than the much higher resource cost of using them for meat. Many social norms are pushing back against people who insist on extracting more than their share not so much in spite of environmental constraints as because of them, to consume in ways they know will disadvantage others just because they want to show that they can.

My thought is that ultra-consumption is mostly unthinking and that many high consumers prefer to think of themselves as just average folks, however weird that may be. Veblen alerted us to conspicuous consumption way back. Was that more relevant in 50s and 60s, though, than today? Or maybe with almost all cars these days being luxury cars, compared to the old family Ford, the baseline has moved a long ways.



Last edited by DWill on Sun Jan 12, 2020 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks
Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:29 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5913
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2370
Thanked: 2292 times in 1730 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
Looks like both Harry and DWill need to edit their posts. Harry attributed my comment to DWill (last one in his email), and DWill took accidental credit for Harry's comments.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
Harry Marks
Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:12 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

BookTalk.org Moderator
Platinum Contributor

Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 4530
Location: NC
Thanks: 1980
Thanked: 2040 times in 1526 posts
Gender: Male

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
DWill wrote:
. . . * The moral domain varies by culture. It is unusually narrow in Western, educated, and individualistic cultures. Sociocentric cultures broaden the moral domain to encompass and regulate more aspects of life.
* People sometimes have gut feelings--particularly about disgust and disrespect--that can drive their reasoning. Moral reasoning is sometimes a post hoc fabrication.
* Morality can't be entirely self-constructed by children based on their growing understanding of harm. Cultural learning or guidance must play a larger role than rationalist theories had given it.
How much of this are we willing to accept? Should there be some qualifications?


I meant to respond to this earlier. Haidt's summaries are very helpful. But the first one (in bold) is particularly interesting after reading Colin Woodard's American Character. It would be helpful, I think, to take another look at Woodard's "nations" and see if they are predominantly individualistic or sociocentric. We are a very diverse nation in that sense.

It seems to me that due to our biases, we tend to overlook those with very different worldviews. And so many of us were blindsided by Trump's victory in the 2016 election. Our moral domain has a very wide fissure.


_________________
-Geo
Question everything


The following user would like to thank geo for this post:
DWill, Harry Marks
Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:39 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6598
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1988
Thanked: 2209 times in 1670 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1: Where Does Morality Come From?
Woodard equated libertarianism with individualism, I believe. On the other end were those who wanted to protect the common good, the communitarians. I'm not comfortable with this contrast, though, in which New Englanders supposedly aren't individualistic. Surely all of us Americans are? Maybe my problem is explained by Woodard's restricting individualism to attitudes about the proper role of government. Libertarians want government out of their lives (at least they say they do), because the individual is sovereign. Communitarians believe that the good has a wider scope than just the individual, so government needs to reach out to all, and may also exercise control. Basically, though, communitarians still appear to me as individualistic. They're likely to place emphasis on competing in education and career, for example.

I guess I have trouble matching Woodard's terms with Haidt's, geo. For Haidt, the New Englanders are the most individualistic. Maybe it does work out some way, though. I do tend to doubt that any segment of American society is strongly sociocentric. Well, not any--I see exceptions in separatist groups, but those are such a tiny piece of the population. I know what you're saying about the way we identify through politics, but does that imply the true cohesiveness of sociocentrism? I just don't know. If we're all still "bowling alone," does it bind us that meaningfully to think that Trump or Sanders is great?



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
geo, Harry Marks
Thu Jan 16, 2020 1:47 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 28 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page Previous  1, 2



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:

Announcements 

• Promote Your FICTION Book on BookTalk.org
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:33 pm

• Promote Your NON-FICTION Book on BookTalk.org
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:18 pm



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Community Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Book Discussion Leaders

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
Promote your FICTION book
Promote your NON-FICTION book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank