do moral compasses actually exist?

Postby ^_^ » Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:37 am

As a person with autism, human relationships have always been hard for me in general.

But this is a subject that's been bothering me for a while lately.
If I understand correctly, the human psyche has two mechanisms that assist in finding a moral course of actions, but both are inherently flawed. Our conscience pushes us to act loyal towards the people we have an emotional connection with, and our superego internalises the perceived expectations of society.
But loyal may not always be the moral high-ground depending on who we are loyal to, not to mention it doesn't work with people we don't have an emotional bond with. And the expectations of society might not always be moral either, even if we perceived them correctly.

So are we able to overcome these two flawed mechanisms and act according to an objective rationality argumentative morality, or is any such thought really just a rationalisation pushed from the superego. Do we accept that human morality is flawed and hence stop striving to do better? I mean sure we can try to just make the best of it, but how do you not second-guess any choice we make? The more I think about it the more misanthropic I get. If Albert Ellis is right, and only people with low self esteem are capable of altruism, is a balanced self esteem really the ultimate goal, or should we strive for a slightly negative self-esteem so we don't all become complete selfish bastards?

Sometimes it feels like I play to much by the rules and always get the short straw, and I resent human short-sighted and recklessness for it. But since I can't change humanity, it seems my only two options are to accept my predicament or change into the type of persons that I resent (assuming that is even possible).

I don't even know what I'm hoping to get out of this post, maybe I'm just venting, but any thoughts are appreciated.
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:19 am

^_^ wrote:...the human psyche has two mechanisms that assist in finding a moral course of actions, but both are inherently flawed.


I would first check your underlying premises of two flawed mechanisms. They are only flawed in so much as they are not accomplishing what you believe is the purpose of such mechanisms. If I believe the purpose of a hammer is to act as a paper weight, but really it is to pound nails, is the hammer flawed or my premise?
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#2

Postby ^_^ » Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:42 am

Yes Richard, you're quite right. I meant flawed in the sense of human morality, obviously looking at it from a survivalist/evolution point of view they are both powerhouses enabling us to build a social construct.
I'm not so much bothered with the purpose of these mechanisms. Maybe we're built this way because God wanted it so, maybe we evolved by chance and it stuck because it was useful. Either way I'm more interested in the implications it has, and not in the history.
To me all of this raises the question on whether or not we actually have morality, or we just pretend to have it because it so happens to occasionally over-lapse with these two mechanisms. Do we accept ourselves as amoral beings then?
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#3

Postby ^_^ » Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:58 am

And yes personal convictions will lean in heavily on this debate I realise. I guess what I'm really after here is understanding if in terms of morality our choices in believing really boils down to these two extremities: purposeless nihilism vs. religious bias
Or if alternatively there is a spectrum with a whole middle ground in between.
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#4

Postby Zanoni » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:42 pm

IMO there is no such thing, in reality as morality, rather what does exist is a person's subjective preferences where one is free to do whatever they wish and only confined to the laws of nature.
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#5

Postby Livetowin » Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:47 pm

What you're really talking about here is who is accountable. It's very easy to take theory and broad stroke the weight of your personal experiences onto society as if the world is of one mind with one agenda to conspire against you. Or you can grab the steering wheel and own you're own actions in life.

I hear this question about morality much more from the younger generation which seems to coincide with the environment they keep themselves in, which is virtual. Therein lies the problem. These days people are growing up in this world where they can voice their immediate reaction to anything without any meaningful time offered to reflect or otherwise consider ramifications for taking a position on any given topic. They live in an empty space where they only hear their voice and only invite in others who cater to those notions. This detached lifestyle has created huge divides in society where tolerance is a much needed virtue right now.

People are relating less because no one is taking enough time to go out into the world and experience life itself in real time terms, where opinions can evolve through the art of UNDERSTANDING people by sharing. Typing about ideas in your life is not the same as going out and experiencing them. And what happens is when you DO go out into the real world, you find it's not as controllable as you can have it in your virtual reality. So you define this experience as negative because it conflicts with the ease in which you maintain the narrative when it's just you and your keyboard.

So when it's just you and your head space, everything can be questioned because you've lulled yourself into this false sense that you are the creator of your universe. You have conditioned yourself to control what you feel and how you feel it according to the virtual content you surround yourself in. This has made people completely ill prepared for even the most basic requirements in caring for themselves, like developing a good work ethic; understanding they don't start at the top of the income ladder (they actually have to earn it); and developing a understanding that dictates how to get along with people who have differing opinions from them. In short, today's generation doesn't know how to problem solve.

So because life has been reduced down to an opinion poll, fewer and fewer people have any convictions for how they live their life because they've spent too much of it plugged in. So topics, like morality, seem trivial in an artificial space whereas in reality it's like questioning the necessity for air underwater. It should be abundantly obvious.

Developing a moral compass is founded on a number of factors. It's a combination of early teachings, personal experience, and the belief system you adopt either through family tradition or by personal choice. How grounded you are in understanding your own strengths and weaknesses plays a greater role in how well you execute those values based on your reaction when the stakes call for those principles to be applied.

One can say they are the representative of a number of values they find redeeming and admirable in the public domain. But do those ideas actually find traction when the stakes are real or is it just for show? How well you know who you are ultimately determines that answer. So to go out into the world and find inconsistencies in that is not really anything that should confound you on the basis of their merits, so much as the execution in which some choose to falsely represent themselves.

I have two rules in life - I only control myself and I never let others define who I am. When you realize you have the steering wheel to what you say or do but not anyone else, life becomes allot clearer on where you stand in the world. It also tells you that the world is not just one open collective. People are responsible for their OWN actions just like you are. The "world" as seen online is a myth. I would be cynical of that as well. But don't confuse it with reality. Each person is an individual. Whether they choose to see that or not says allot about whether they hold themselves accountable in life or not.
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#6

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:42 pm

^_^ wrote:And yes personal convictions will lean in heavily on this debate I realise. I guess what I'm really after here is understanding if in terms of morality our choices in believing really boils down to these two extremities: purposeless nihilism vs. religious bias
Or if alternatively there is a spectrum with a whole middle ground in between.


How about functional morality? Moral values slowly change as societies change. What is moral in one generation and region of the world is immoral the next generation or in a different region. Take homosexuality for instance. It is moral or immoral based on the flavor of the times, based on the functional role it plays in a particular society. Is cannabalism moral or immoral, what about tattoos, abortion, euthanasia, marriage to a 12 year old? Morality is not necessarily either nihilism or religious, rather historically and to this day and into the future, morality is culturally defined as part of functional societies.

The implications are that morality is highly subjective, therefore one can say it really does not exist but is simply a construct of mankind and can be witnessed in certain primates. It doesn't make us or primates amoral, quite the opposite. It makes us moral beings in a dynamic, living, breathing, changing rather than static world. Morality is not written in stone, therefore the implication is that what is moral today is immoral tomorrow and vice versa.
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#7

Postby quietvoice » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:57 pm

In unrelated reading today, I came across this quote:

Feeling people cannot harm others or even harm animals. Because they can feel, they experience the impact of their every act. They can feel the Pain of others and would not do anything to hurt them. When people cannot live by feelings they must live by categories: right and wrong. For them, all behavior must be so classified.
~~Arthur Janov
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#8

Postby ahimsa42 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:49 pm

interesting quote, thanks for sharing quietvoice. the problem is that the vast majority of humans who claim to be against violence and cruelty to non-human animals willingly and happily support the exploition, torture and death of sentient beings on a daily basis. many people talk the talk but their actions speak an entirely different story.

i think this quote all too accurately sums it up:

“Ask ten people on the street if they think it’s wrong to injure or kill animals for one’s amusement or pleasure, and nine or ten will say yes, of course. Chances are all ten of those people freely consume animal products, simply because they like to and they’re used to doing it." - Karen Manfrede
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#9

Postby quietvoice » Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:32 pm

Couldn't agree more on the content of that quote. Such is the state of consciousness of this world, though I'm watching as more people are catching on to the fact that raw fruits (and some vegetables) are of great benefit to our personal well-being, to put it mildly.
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#10

Postby ahimsa42 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:31 pm

i strongly believe that the basis of all morality comes down to the Golden Rule logically extended to all sentient beings rather than limiting one's concern for a selected few species.

i also agree that a shift of consciousness in this direction seems to be occurring, albeit FAR too slowly from the perspective of the countless billions of non-human victims. as but one example, excellent documentaries such as "Cowspiricy" and "What the Health" are available for free on Netflix..

glad you enjoyed the quote too - here is another one which is one of my all time favorites:

“Aren’t humans amazing? They kill wildlife – birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed. Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative – and fatal – health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer. So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for “Peace on Earth.”~ David Coates
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#11

Postby HumanB » Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:43 pm

^_^ wrote:Sometimes it feels like I play to much by the rules and always get the short straw, and I resent human short-sighted and recklessness for it. .


Examples (of you playing by the rules, human short sightendness, recklessness)?
Are you religious? Do you believe in a god, a particular god?
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#12

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:35 am

ahimsa42 wrote:i strongly believe that the basis of all morality comes down to the Golden Rule logically extended to all sentient beings rather than limiting one's concern for a selected few species.

...and once a year send out cards praying for “Peace on Earth.”


Ahimsa42, how many animal products do you use? You have posted messages using a computer or electronic device, carried by wires, satellites, and powered by various energy sources all which involve the use of animal products. Sending out cards praying for peace uses animal products. How many animals have you killed?

For no less than 40,000 years our species has consumed meat and used animal products for tools, shelter, and medicine.

We are not herbivores. Neither are wolves, but the Golden rule applies to them? What about Orcas? Animals can kill other animals without issue, but humans are an exception? We must go against our nature? Or maybe we can train wolves and Orcas to become vegans?

I agree the conditions under which we use animals as resources leaves much to be desired. We should respect the sacrifice of the animals and endeavor to use all parts of the animal. The world is overpopulated in my opinion. It creates a system where we no longer respect the sacrifice made by animals in the cycle of nature throughout the planet.

As for the question the OP posted, a discussion about morality as it applies to using animals is a great example of the ever shifting nature of morality.
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#13

Postby ahimsa42 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:04 am

Richard,

your response indicates you are not educated on the subject of veganism. as 98% of the non-human animals who are tortured and killed are farmed animals, that is by far the greatest impact. the reason why things like computers, cars and cell phones are made from animals is because they are cheap "by products" from slaughterhouses. if the demand for flesh, milk and eggs were not there, they would be made from other sources. veganism is not about perfection, it is about doing the least harm possible and refusing to support the direct exploitation of non-human animals for food, clothing, entertainment or research.

humans, unlike wolves an other non-human animals, have a choice as to what and who we eat. on one hand most humans like to claim they are morally superior to other animals but then they try and justify their actions based what a small number of non-human animals (90% of whom are herbivorous) must do to survive. many non-human animals procreate via rape and eat their own young too-why not use these examples of why it is Ok for a human being to do so?

the issue is treating other sentient beings as property and economic commodities. the vast majority humans consume the flesh, milk and eggs of non-human animals in the name of pleasure and profit.

doing something for a long period of time in no way makes it justifable. humans have raped and murdered other humans for tens of thousands of years but that does not make these actions moral or ethical. it is only the extreme prejudices of speciesism and human exceptionalism which allow people to not align their actions with their values when it comes to other species.

i would suggest checking out this short article on the subject of veganism and morality in order to become better informed about the subject: the european magazine the morality of eating meat eggs and dairy

btw, along with the moral and ethical aspects, there are tremendous enivronmental and health concerns. there are two excellent documentaries on Netflix which deal with these subjects-"Cowspiracy" and "What the Health"-which everyone should watch.
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#14

Postby Livetowin » Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:46 pm

This debate has gone so far off into the weeds it reminds me of the "Great Vegetable Rebellion" episode on Lost in Space where the plants scream every time they get whacked. One must consume life to maintain life. It gets pretty subjective from there regardless of the historical slant you want to give it.
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