Author Topic: Ethics, Morality, Emotions, Thought.  (Read 618 times)

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Offline Mortal Coil

Ethics, Morality, Emotions, Thought.
« on: January 11, 2009, 10:45:34 PM »
How does science adequately explain philosophical questions regarding ethics, morality, emotion and thinking.  Can they be reduced to biochemical equations of any kind?  If so can someone help explain this to me or point me in the right direction?

 :)

Offline Deus ex Machina

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Re: Ethics, Morality, Emotions, Thought.
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2009, 07:27:14 AM »
How does science adequately explain philosophical questions regarding ethics, morality, emotion and thinking.

Ethics? That would appear to be a category error. Ethics is a branch of philosophy. It is quite distinct from any natural philosophy. Its relation to reality only goes as far as its applicability to it. Could you expand on what you think science should have an explanation for with regard to ethics?

Morality has been covered in a number of threads before, but Google might be a good idea to start with regard to what science has to say about morality and social behaviour.

As far as emotion is concerned, you may wish to look up Affective neuroscience.

"Thinking" is a bit of a vague term. Could you be more specific?

Whether you consider such explanations "adequate" may well be a subjective measure. What constitutes an "adequate explanation" in your view?

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Can they be reduced to biochemical equations of any kind?

It probably wouldn't make sense to do so, for much the same reason as we don't use quantum mechanics to solve problems in biochemistry.

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If so can someone help explain this to me or point me in the right direction?

 :)

I do hope this is a genuine question and not a God of the Gaps argument you're attempting to set up here...?
« Last Edit: January 12, 2009, 07:30:40 AM by Deus ex Machina »
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Ethics, Morality, Emotions, Thought.
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2009, 09:14:13 AM »
bm
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Omega

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Re: Ethics, Morality, Emotions, Thought.
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2009, 09:40:28 AM »
How does science adequately explain philosophical questions regarding ethics, morality, emotion and thinking.  Can they be reduced to biochemical equations of any kind?  If so can someone help explain this to me or point me in the right direction?

 :)

No they cant be reduced to chemistry of physic in easy way, however economic can explain that.
ethic or morale are supposed to by rules of the game your target is to get most profit possible.
since humans must cooperate and work in tems to get most of profit possible they need some rules how to interact.
read about that here if you like more.
http://changingminds.org/

however best rule set is not known to all communities, so they select some nonsense randomly.

emotions are driving force which demands you to do something, and thinking is just tool to do what your emotions demand.

however all that can be still analyzed with basic economic principles + evolution.
these who gain most profit survive, and other disappear.

Offline Mortal Coil

Re: Ethics, Morality, Emotions, Thought.
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2009, 12:40:38 PM »
The reason I'm asking is because I read this quote from a book I'm reading and I wanted to know what the scientific community had to say about it.

"Science can adequately explain a lot about the world, but some philosophical, metaphysical questions whether questions about ethics, morality, emotions, thinking, personhood or God cannot be reduced to biochemical equations. This means that much of the atheist protagonist's own thinking is based on metaphysical assumptions that are just as "unscientific" as the religious persons assumptions."

I'm not trying to set up a "God of the gaps" argument  as I'm not even clear as to what that is. I just came across this quote and due to my lack of scientific understanding I thought this would be a good place to ask the question.

Thanks



Offline Tails_155

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Re: Ethics, Morality, Emotions, Thought.
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2009, 01:54:59 PM »
Live! Learn! Laugh! Love! Lead!

I'm not all analysis, I like art, too: See?

Offline JTFC

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Re: Ethics, Morality, Emotions, Thought.
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2009, 02:24:07 PM »
Each of those subjects need to be examined separately from one another, as each one has a different origin and construct.  For morality, Jonathan Haidt, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, decribed it as a cultural construct based on and restricted by a set of evolved psychological systems.

In an article published in Science Daily (University of Virginia. "Revealing The Origins Of Morality -- Good And Evil, Liberal And Conservative." ScienceDaily 18 May 2007. 12 January 2009), Haidt examined the differences between political liberals and conservatives and discovered that both groups built their morality upon emotional sensitivities to harm and fairness.  However, conservatives also added three other constructs: emotional sensitivities to in-group boundaries, authority, and spiritual purity. 

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"We all start off with the same evolved moral capacities, but then we each learn only a subset of the available human virtues and values. We often end up demonizing people with different political ideologies because of our inability to appreciate the moral motives operating on the other side of a conflict. We are surrounded by moral conflicts, on the personal level, the national level and the international level. The recent scientific advances in moral psychology can help explain why these conflicts are so passionate and so intractable. An understanding of moral psychology can also point to some new ways to bridge these divides, to appeal to hearts and minds on both sides of a conflict."

For an interesting counterpoint, Michel Foucault basically stated that there is no universal morality, and that values have no origins and therefore can never be universal.  According to Foucault, ethics and morality are structures of knowledge put in place through power structures and violence at a specific point in time.  Morality and ethics, therefore, are not universal but a history of the conflicts and dominance of ruling forces throughout history.  As a result, the individual is unable to establish or change the course of this morality, the individual is given no choice. 

In essence, history shapes humans, rather than humans shape history.

Now, this viewpoint is strongly criticized by many, but it does offer another point of view to the concept of morality and ethics.

For emotions and thought, I'll leave those for now.  Suffice to say, there are plenty of scientists out there that have examined both of those in detail, and there are likely quite a few studies that you could find on those.  Be sure to check out the cited sources in those studies as well, as they will likely have alternate points of view that should expand your own personal definitions.
"...if you are not like everybody else, then you are abnormal, if you are abnormal , then you are sick. These three categories, not being like everybody else, not being normal and being sick are in fact very different but have been reduced to the same thing."  Michel Foucault

Offline Omega

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Re: Ethics, Morality, Emotions, Thought.
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2009, 02:40:34 PM »
The reason I'm asking is because I read this quote from a book I'm reading and I wanted to know what the scientific community had to say about it.

"Science can adequately explain a lot about the world, but some philosophical, metaphysical questions whether questions about ethics, morality, emotions, thinking, personhood or God cannot be reduced to biochemical equations. This means that much of the atheist protagonist's own thinking is based on metaphysical assumptions that are just as "unscientific" as the religious persons assumptions."

I'm not trying to set up a "God of the gaps" argument  as I'm not even clear as to what that is. I just came across this quote and due to my lack of scientific understanding I thought this would be a good place to ask the question.

Thanks
God is unnescesary for this.
just think in practical way: one community decides on one random rule set that you must take revenge on everyone who harms you. other community somehow accepts idea to forgive everyone, and thirg one choses balance between these.
so each comunity will have different success and evolution will take place.

since community members actually dont know why they selected particular rules they have to invent god as originator.

Scientists usually analyze only very narrow themes. quantum physicists usually knows nothing about psychology and biologists doesnt know Heisenberg uncertainty. so they cant analyze so high level phenomenons like morale in quantum mechanic terms.

using physic for explaining ethic is same as using quantum mechanic for cooking recipes.
that is possible but stupidly complex.

there is absolutely nothing what cant be explained by science. however you must accept that everything starts randomly and them goes into direction of entropy increase.

Offline Hermes

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Re: Ethics, Morality, Emotions, Thought.
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2009, 05:17:08 PM »
bm

is there a forum dictionary?

Not that I know of. 

FWIW; BM = bookmark

I don't have anything to add right now, but find the conversation and topic interesting.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline PingTheServer

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Re: Ethics, Morality, Emotions, Thought.
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2009, 09:32:09 PM »
I think what youre looking for is something along the disciplines of sociology and psychology...not really "science"...but I'm sure it has something to do with chemicals in the brain that trigger certain sensations.