What is a Moral?

It to me a very hard question to answer, in my former post we established that morals are something we feel like an emotion, its how we behave and its how we survive in groups. We touched on morality as being rational witch seems like a contradiction to the idea of morality being emotional unless you consider that to reason as a behavior. An emotional impulse to reason to act in a certain way. Immanuel Kant described the supreme principle of morality as a Categorical Imperative, it was by this imperative that all moral requirements are justified. This means that all immoral act are irrational, on the grounds that that they would violate the Categorical Imperative. Kant wasn’t the only philosopher to describe morality or moral principles as being based in rationality, Aquinas, Hobbes and Locke also made this claim, they agree in a sense that these principles of morality are discoverable as external principles (ethics).

I guess some might feel that calling reason just another impulse to behave in a certain way as diminishing reason, I would have to disagree. At is core behaviour is emotional– clearly to reason is a specific behaviour, an act of doing. The fundamental principal (Categorical Imperative) is non other than the law of autonomous will, free in the sense that it is the author of the law that binds it. The heart of Kant’s moral philosophy thus is a concept of reason whose reach into practical affairs goes beyond the human slave to the passions. What’s more it was this self-governing reason in each of us according to Kant, that offered grounds to viewing each other as of equal worth and deserving of equal respect. With all this talk of reason and the radical view that reason is an impulse to behave that way, what exactly is reason? Its rather country to call reason a behaviour itself when reasons is described in contemporary fashion as the basis or motive of an action. Yet when you consider to reason, it clearly is behaviour. It is something we humans do as a conscious act its definable and we call that distinction the act of reason, so then the act of being conscious of our behaviour that observation sparks a will to reason. Especially if you consider the will as power over the self.

There is three classifications containing the word moral. There is moral, amoral and immoral. The describe different kinds of actions, actions with a moral principle (moral) actions without moral principle (amoral) and actions violating moral principle (immoral). A moral principle, ethic or categorical imperative might be something like tell the truth, don’t cheat, and do not kill. An act may be without moral principle amoral that doesn’t necessarily make it bad, such things as brushing your teeth, going to the shop or tying your shoes. Immoral acts are acts that violate moral principle like cheating, killing or lying. Five absolute moral principles or ethics are, one autonomy– that is the right of an individual, sate, region or organization to govern itself. Two, justice; fairness in the way people are delt with. Three, beneficence; the sate or quality of being kind also known as the practice of doing good. Four, nonmaleficence; the absence of doing harm. Five, fidelity; lasting support, loyalty to others especially to a sexual partner.

Nine moral values or virtues are

  • Respect
  • Family
  • Adjusting and compromising
  • Helping
  • Respecting religion
  • Justice
  • Honesty
  • Never hurt anyone

But what’s the difference between an ethic and value, as we discussed morals are the part that we feel when we behave or act in the world, reason is the behavior that allows to write down ethics, to decipher external principles to live by what we call ethics. Values are an expression of theses things they are the aesthetics of a culture, individual or corporation, values are what we measure. Values have merit that means to say has a quality or worth, a quality of deserving praise or approval. Thus values can be demonstrated they also my be called virtues if someone or somethings possesses these qualities we may call them virtuous. Many philosophies including Stoicism argue that only a person can be good or moral, as they are the only thing that have character, a table is nether good nor bad it has a function. When I say something up above I’m referring to organizations, business. Business behaves and behave in certain ways that one can call moral, though its constituent parts aka the people that make up that business. Too by its operating code or protocols, business have there own sets of ethics. In law business and corporations are treated as individual with rights. Therefore it is only right to apply to the same standards of behavior we apply towards people.

I will end this post as I always do try with all posts and ask; what image of man do we see in our present times? I try look as hard as I can at both myself and the world around me, in regards to the world around me I hope I’m wrong I keep looking to see ways that I am wrong about our present times. I don’t seem to find that I am wrong. We are no longer in a free society we are met with conditions of participation in society, it more than simply not braking the law. We must ware masks, be vaccinated and distance ourselves form others. We no longer shake hands or hug, especially  if you’re not vaccinated. We have lost our free societies and it has become the moral way to act. Proving that morality is and can be relative. We can change our moral principles, its not easy but can be done. (as we have seen in the past two years.)

In Hegelian philosophy or thought we are presented with an entirely different view of moral behavior, acting against the individual and promoting collectivism. In Hegelian philosophy or thought: moral behaviour is that which maintains the ethical unit set up by society. Any ACT by an INDIVIDUAL on their own behalf is considered as without a moral aspect unless, it can be linked in fact or interaction to the greater wellbeing of society.

So in effect to make better your own lot In life would be in Hegelian thought, unethical and amoral (without moral). Even if a Mother or Father was to refuse signing an execution order to allow one’s son to be executed by society. If one did do so in Hegelian thought one would be exalted as some kind of moral hero, as Abraham was considered a great man for his faith and willingness to sacrifice his son to God.

Hegelian thought it would appear, sets the stage for social tyranny and calls it good. What is more this Hegelian approach appears at odds with fundamental nature and biology of man, serving as basis for compulsion to duties as dictated by the greater social system. It is a further example of the group affecting the individual’s ability to survive. Which leads me to an extract of a former peace “The Rebirth: Life Lesson 30 Compassion, Care And Concern”

“That myth being Group Selection. Group Selection was championed by V.C. Wynn-Edwards in 1960 and popularised by an American TV show “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”. This is a misconception of the evolution of behaviour, Group selection was done in by a series of theoretical and empirical studies showing key patterns of behaviour were incompatible with it. The key works done by evolutionary biology. George Williams of SUNY Stony Brook and Bill Hamilton of Oxford University. 

Often referred to as Neural Darwinism Charles Darwin postulated that group selection could impact the ability of the individual to survival in groups. He was most certainly correct in this assessment as we learned over time The Group is unconcerned with the individual unit it is expendable. The importance of the individual was best Highlight by B.F Skinner and C.B Fraser in “Schedules of Reinforcement” 1997 wherein the Operant Behaviour was contrasted with the work of Pavlov in his approach known as Classical Conditioning. In studying individuals non normative behaviour and accumulating the individual cases, under controlled conditions for the purpose of studying when to schedule reinforcement for operant behaviour methods, learning how animals learn new behaviour form spontaneous acts. Noting that once you allow for the different ways different species make contact with the environment what remains of their behaviour shows astonishingly similar properties. The use of “operant” here is as a noun: “an item of behaviour that is not a response to a prior stimulus but something which is initially spontaneous, which may reinforce or inhibit recurrence of that behaviour”. 

The sentiment here can be boiled down to a simple observation, most eusocial insects in a colony or ‘society’ are non-reproductive. Why would the individual ant forgo reproduction? Group Selection would of course say for the greater good of the group. Though one might say this is naive of any person to assume. Animals don’t behave for the good of species but rather they behave to maximise the number of copies of themselves. Williams of SUNY Stone Brooks elaborates how this more standard genetic system, in species from non-eusocial insects to us was incompatible with Group Selection. So given that ‘selfish gene’ as coined by Darwin, were led to individual selection. Though if we are inherently selfish which we indeed are how has it been possible for our groups to survive?

Individual section seems to best describe the behaviour of survival or surviving, for non-eusocial animals take for example: a Lioness chasing down a zebra, were the zebra a group selectionist it would stop and sacrifice itself for the group but it does not. It runs like the wind. Another example might be the crossing heard animals at a river crossing laden with expectant Alligators In the program, “Mutual Of Oklahoma Wild Kingdom” it was presented that the oldest and sickly would gallantly wade out and sacrifice themselves for the group. While the Gators were busy with the sacrifice the rest of the heard could cross. Poppycock as we can see in the video below no such thing occurs. Raising the question form where did such a notion come? Not something I feel I can answer here but I have an idea.”

It is this latter Hegelian that appears to me to be bursting out of this pandemic, as opposed to protecting individual liberty and free or open society we are closing it off. Were acting in opposition to our very nature and its training our societies apart. Its no surprise Marx was a Neo Hegelian.

(The fallowing was written as part of an attempt to understand our relationship towards each other and our pets.)

 The nuance of Moral Judgment varies in human society, as it does in the animal kingdom. “Moral codes are species specific, so they can be difficult to compare with each other or with humans.” (Prof Berkoff) Berkoff believes moral development in animals regulates or helps regulate behaviour in social groups of animals such as wolves and primates.

In recognising moral behaviour in other species, we recognise that they are emotional and socially complex animals, like ourselves. This inevitably leads to greater compassion and empathy towards our pets and ourselves, understanding that in some species moral displays of behaviour help build trust, lesson aggression and promote proper diagnosis of behavioural problems. Reducing the use of suppressive or repressive training and modification of behaviour. Lessening further still displays of unwanted behaviour and allowing pets and people a more natural and positive environment to be in. Reducing anxiety and other stresses. Moral play encourages moral behaviour, moral behaviour is a self-limiting behaviour. Hence collectivist approaches tend to fail, the focus on the group controlling individuals behaviour as opposed to the moral will of individuals themselves.  This is why the term moral is important in relation to our pets and our society.

Moral Competence Theory:

Increasingly it is thought the best way to encourage cooperation with people and pets, is to approach from the concept of moral competence as opposed to dominance. Moving away from the concept of dominance. Increasingly it is understood that animals in the wild fallow a competence power hierarchy, meaning “leaders” must display moral behaviour or be challenged by the group to often deadly outcomes. This moral behaviour is as opposed to group selection. So it is that a leader must reciprocate social behaviour. This reciprocal moral behaviour together with displays of power, displays such as strength and skills decide whom the group will accept as leaders [baring in mind the group is comprised of individuals with their own character and will]. So, in terms of you and perhaps your beloved Dog or children reciprocal behaviour through playing hands on displaying strength, skill and moral judgment allowing your dog or children to win some and you win some games such as say tugg or wrestling. stopping games when play is out of control. Moral play will help all parties learn by mutually invading each other’s space. Learning how to self-inhibit and how to play and interact  with people. Displays of affection are as important.

“Psychological: Moral judgments are intrinsically motivating. Judgments about matters of fact, on the other hand— are never motivating just in themselves. Since to constitute moral knowledge a moral judgment must be made about some moral fact…” Stanford Encyclopaedia Of Philosophy (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-epistemology/) “The descriptive use of “morality” is the one used by anthropologists when they report on the morality of the societies that they study. Recently, some comparative and evolutionary psychologists (Haidt 2006; Hauser 2006; De Waal 1996) have taken morality, or a close anticipation of it, to be present among groups of non-human animals: primarily, but not exclusively, other primates.” Stanford Encyclopaedia Of Philosophy. (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/

The distinction between using Operant Methods to perform tasks and teaching how to behave is important. There may be causes to restrict or limit behaviour and this may require the use of force, but also may not. Setting out boundaries at early stages is critical to long term success of an individual. If we view ourselves as despots we can better see how we interact with ourselves and animals, given that in some instances animals are able to understand complex social behaviour. We have three possible outcomes. One being we can cooperate with each other. Two we can be Tyrants. Or Three slaves.

J. S. Mill understood the limits of political and social reform and managed to bring about change in the fermenting of humanism, social equality and liberty in Britain without the bloody revolutions and economic collapse. Those collapses so infamous with so called socialist nations. [Russia, Cuba, China etc]

“Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion. Until then, there is nothing for them but implicit obedience to an Akbar or a Charlemagne, if they are so fortunate as to find one. But as soon as mankind have attained the capacity of being guided to their own improvement by conviction or persuasion (a period long since reached in all nations with whom we need here concern ourselves), compulsion, either in the direct form or in that of pains and penalties for non-compliance, is no longer admissible as a means to their own good, and justifiable only for the security of others.” J. S. Mill “On Liberty”

“Liberty as principle has no application to any state of things…” What I feel he’s getting at and explaining rather well, is that liberty is the result or outcome not the principle, so the principle would be free and equal discussion, equity and reciprocity. In other words giving the barbarian a seat at the table, this will or should compel improvement or movement towards the outcome of liberty.

I feel what could have been better expressed is that repressive and punitive measure won’t get that outcome. Raising the problem, how to give the barbarian a seat at the table in the first place without endangering the achievement of those at the front? A better way to say that might be, how to do it in a manner that doesn’t hinder progress or endanger life. Force is the first principle of a barbaric act, so a barbarian is he who uses force to achieve his goals. Force as opposed to persuade or demonstrate. Mill highlights that, you can’t force one to be compelled, or punish non-compliance. The only justification of force is in the “security” or protection of others and oneself.

What Mill is describing far ahead of his time is a moral and ethical approach to society and government. Things that are largely just starting to be understood in Moral Psychology. It’s just no one told our political leaders or they don’t really care. In academia largely the focus of cooperation has been usurped by sociology and the twisted hammer we now call socialism. [motivated by such philosophers as Hagel.] To relate that to animals we can’t very well assume they think in as high resolution as the best of humanity or the average person. However, we also cannot assume they hold no values or thought. Or force them into what we perceive as good behaviour. So, we must provide for them as for ourselves the opportunity for them to be the best of themselves. While making boundaries Integrating more rights for animals and a better understanding of the human animal bond. We need to find a balance. The same would go for opposing cultural differences. Finding a better and more equitable approaches to problems in modernity. 

Fine, C. (2006) Is the Emotional Dog Wagging its Rational Tail, or Chasing it?
Reason in Moral Judgment. Philosophical Explorations, Vol. 9(1); Pp: 83

Gerrans, P. and Kennett, J. (2010) Neuro Sentimentalism and Moral Agency. Mind,
Vol. 119(475); Pp: 585-614

Matthew Tieu. (2012) Moral Competence and the Psychopath 

School of Humanities/Discipline of Philosophy The University of Adelaide

My next post will talk about Neo-Hegelianism

Published by Engine Mortale

Engine Mortale is my chosen pseudonym, I’ve chosen a pseudonym because I think it most appropriate as some of work will be rather personal. I figured this was the best way. I’m an autodidact, my to prominent fields of study’s are behaviour and philosophy, most recently art and poetry have been of keen interest. I hope genuinely that some good comes out of my out of this thing i call a life, if nothing else just that.

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