Sunday, March 14, 2010

Monkey Morality

On an evolutionary or naturalized account of morality, the natural selection process endowed us with a set of strong behavioral preferences.  That is, morality evolved.  We are built to be moral beings by evolution.  These behavioral tendencies and preferences have been divided up many ways, but Pinker’s list is a good one: 

  • Harm
  • Fairness
  • Community
  • Authority
  • Purity
See Steven Pinker's “The Moral Instinct”  in the New York Times. 


The idea is that there were selection pressures in place long before we were recognizably human that would have selected for some types of behavioral tendencies over others.  And rather than the common misconception that evolution selects for utter selfishness, a growing body of empirical research is showing that cooperative, constructive social tendencies have been built into us down to the genes. 

Franz de Waal, noted primate researcher, has also provided us with a useful way to view the development of morality.  For centuries we have tended to treat humans as having an evil, selfish, brutish core upon which socialization and the civilizing effects of religion and education impose a thin veneer of moral behavior.  Veneer theory is the view that our chocolate insides are sinful, and our candy coating outside is a set of forcibly imposed moral behaviors. 




But research across many different species has presented a very different picture.  What we appear to have is a deep set of sympathetic behavioral impulses that are fundamental parts of our nervous systems.  The suffering of others isn’t just a forced concern—monkeys, great apes, rats, and even mice all exhibit remarkable behavioral interest in the welfare of others, particularly, but not limited to, their own species.  This research suggests that basic impulses of sympathy, consolation, empathy, generosity, kindness, reciprocity, and fairness run all the way into our pre-human evolutionary history. 

Our nervous systems are built to feel an emotional contagion from the pains and pleasures of others.  Higher cognitive functions allow us to interpret those feelings in terms of empathy for others by recognizing the situation that produced the feelings and the reasons for the other being’s emotions.  Even higher cognitive abilities, laid on top by evolutionary stages, make it possible for us to understand our own feelings and those of others by fully modeling and adopting the other being’s perspectives. 



The charge against this evolutionary and naturalized account of morality is that whatever preferences evolution may have endowed us with, acting in conformity with those contingent behaviors can’t amount to real moral efforts.  One problem is that the account encourages an objectionable moral relativism.  If morality is “just” an evolved set of behavioral preferences and nothing more, then the accidents of history and the variables of evolution could just as well have produced a radically different set of moral principles.  If the tape was run back and play hit again, we could have just as easily ended up praising rape and genocide as virtues and treating kindness, sympathy, and social cooperation as evil.  And if the set of preferences that we have are this arbitrary, then they can hardly be called moral in any robust or meaningful sense. 


Here’s a bit of speculative evolutionary reasoning by way of response to the charge.  At the risk of lapsing into an evolutionary just-so story, let’s consider some of important features or milestones that must be achieved in a species that could end up with something resembling moral behavior.  What’s required, roughly speaking? The creatures must have developed neurologically to the point that they have achieved some level of self-reflection and self-determination in their actions.  Grant me, for the sake of argument, that freedom could evolve.  (See Daniel Dennett’s Freedom Evolves for more.)   
  
It must be possible from their perspective, at least, to view their own actions as under their control and subject to the influence of their will.  We hold a human morally responsible for murder, but we don’t similarly fault a mountain lion for doing the same thing.  The mountain lion who kills a jogger isn’t the sort of creature who could have done otherwise or who could have wanted anything else, or who could have exerted some self-imposed controls over its actions.  But humans can—we think that they ought to have done otherwise because they can do otherwise.  That’s the famous “ought implies can” dictum from ethics.  

Do we have evidence about what sorts of general evolutionary circumstances could produce beings with these sorts of cognitive capacities?  We do.  There appears to be a consensus among evolutionary scientists that the evolution of our big brains with their fancy capacities is intimately tied with our evolution in social groups and with the development of language.  It’s very difficult to know which comes first here, but at the least we seem to be justified in thinking that a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the development of higher cognitive functions such as (moral) self-direction  must happen in conjunction with the development of language, and the development of language only occurs in social or group contexts.  (If not, who would one talk to?)  Complex social relationships and robust linguistic communication require a big fancy brain. 


And Morten H. Christiansen and Simon Kirby, Language Evolution.  for some of the work around this thesis.  

So that lets us speculate some more. It would appear then that the only sorts of evolved beings that we would expect to acquire proto-moral and then moral behavioral preferences are beings developing in a relatively stable social and linguistic context.    

What is required for a species to have a relatively stable social and linguistic context?  Think of the roving bands of 30-50 chimpanzees in Kenya.  The evolutionary traits that make those sorts of groups possible are the ones that a conducive to group living.  Now we can see the connection:  Sympathy, generosity, fairness, etc. or some analogs are the behavioral preferences that have to develop in species with higher cognitive functions if they are to have stable social groups.  If they didn’t, they couldn’t function with each other.   We would only expect to find large, stable social groups with complex communications where there are behavioral tendencies that are conducive to social group dynamics. 

This amounts to a roundabout way of suggesting that it’s a least plausible that there are selection pressures in some cases against behavioral norms that are highly disruptive to stable, group social dynamics.  That is to say that if you were to rewind the tape and hit the start button again, you might get creatures who are more hostile, less sociable, and less “fair.”  But it seems unlikely that within species where those behavioral norms take hold, we would not expect the sorts of social cooperative behaviors to develop that must happen in conjunction with the neurological development that will eventually produce beings who are self-governing moral agents.  It seems less likely that creatures who do not take the social cooperation path through evolutionary history would ever develop cognitively to the point of being moral actors.  You either get cooperative, fairness loving creatures with big brains and the ability to reflect on their own actions and make moral choices, or your get creatures that don’t have the brain power to qualify for moral agency. 


As I have pointed out, this is all highly speculative, and I’ve glossed over a lot of very complicated issues.  But the suggestion is that there could be something about the development of big brains like ours that is inextricably tied to particular categories of behavioral norms.  And if that’s right, then the bite has been taken out of the moral relativism charge coming from God believers.  Only certain kinds of moral norms can evolve—the do unto your neighbor as you would have him do unto you kind.    

Some more sources:


Wade, Nicholas.  "Is 'Do Unto Others’ Written Into Our Genes?”  New York Times




44 comments:

G*3 said...

Even if we can show that morality is not arbitrary and our moral norms are those that are necessary for a complex society, that merely makes morality useful. The traditional view of morality is a metaphysically binding set of rules that run counter to our base nature. (In fact, the more morality conflicts with our base nature, the more virtuous one is for remaining moral.) Given a view of morality as a set of useful evolved instincts and behaviors, what reason do we have not to be immoral when our intellect tells us that in a given situation the immoral option is the more useful one?

Matt McCormick said...

Thanks for the input G*3. A couple of answers, that you must be familiar with. First, introducing God into the story doesn't solve the problem you are posing: what reason do I have to do what God tells me? Fear of hell? That's not a moral reason.
Second, you've got all the same reasons you have always had, particularly all the ones outlined by all the best philosophical theories in history. Arguments like Kant's have shown that the immoral option is not the one that our intellects should choose. The classic moral theories provide ratinoal justification, our biologies provide natural inclinations. See:The New Ten Commandments

Finally, the point here is certainly not that these behaviors are useful to us or should seem so. Millions of years of gene selection has put a set of strong natural inclinations into our natures. You can't get rid of that even if you want to. But you're right--a person can ignore those inclinations if they choose. But if they listen to what Kant, Hume, Mill, Rousseau, or the others say, their intellects won't tell them to do the immoral option.

The larger point that we've known since Socrates is that God offers nothing to the problem.

Teleprompter said...

Kant says that we should ask ourselves what would happen if our action were to become a universal law.

Isn't that just another argument from usefulness?

smaitzen said...

I share G*3's doubts about any evolutionary answer to the philosophical question "Why be moral?" Professor McCormick writes that, in light of the evolutionary answer that he sketches, "the bite has been taken out of the moral relativism charge coming from God believers." I agree that theists have no business making that charge, since morality isn't merely independent of but is in fact inconsistent with theism, as I've been arguing in my recent work. But evolutionary theory isn't what takes the bite out of the charge, at least not the charge in its most interesting form. Sophisticated theists (such as George Mavrodes) admit that evolutionary theory might explain the emergence and stability of moral feelings and behavior. But they say that evolutionary theory can't answer the question "Why be moral? (Why not ride free on the moral conduct of others when you can without penalty?)" As far as I can see, only philosophy, not evolutionary theory, has a chance of giving a non-theistic answer to that question.

M. Tully said...

Matt,

Great post and great reading list to go with it. I'm in the middle of Peter Turchin's "War and Peace and War" and though he hasn't totally convinced me that wars can't be lost solely on being out-generaled, his chapter on moralists and cultural selection is pretty compelling. After reading this post, I'm damn neared convinced (about moralists, still on the fence on military strategy).

feralboy12 said...

Why be moral?
If it's hardwired in as an evolved behavior, there are probably some rewards. Why reproduce? Well, sex for one thing.
Those nice feelings we get when we communicate and form trusting relationships aren't necessarily conditioned responses. We're wired to be social animals and accepting the moral standards of our social unit is not only a survival strategy, it produces pleasurable sensations, especially when those standards align with the communicative, empathic nature of moral impulse.
Neither my intellect nor my emotions tell me that the immoral option is the more useful. And the traditional view of morality is like the "traditional" view of anything--supernatural explanations happen first.
Morality is another naturally ocurring phenomena that religions try to co-opt and control.
One other thing: if morality is not empirical science, then arguments from consequence are allowed.

G*3 said...

When it comes to morality, I think there may be more to it than just that “supernatural explanations happen first.” I think that there really isn’t any reason to be moral beyond its usefulness in building complex societies, but that if we were aware of that we may lose our aversion to immorality. So we have evolved to assume that there is an objective moral standard and that it is of utmost importance that we adhere to it. The perception of metaphysical underpinnings of morality may be necessary to make it work.

I’ve noticed that all of the “popular” atheist writers constantly harp on morality and the ability to be moral without belief in God without ever bothering to explain why one should do so. I agree that fear of punishment doesn’t make an action moral, and that one can certainly be moral without God. What I don’t understand is why even the self-appointed atheist spokesmen treat morality as sacrosanct.

Anonymous said...

Matt,

I have to think back to Alvin Plantinga view that implies it would be a failure to show that morality evolved since true and false behaviors are both beneficial to survival. Essentially cognitive faculties can be favorable for producing both true and false beliefs about the world ,w which lead to behavior. For example, rape is a old strategy by weaker orangutans to get a chance to mate with females while the big male is not around - A way to pas their gene.

So unless evolutionary biologists can show somehow that evolution favors truth producing cognitive faculties then isn’t it a waste of time to continue down the path of showing morality is evolutionary based?

CS

Matt McCormick said...

The Evolution of Misbelief, by Daniel Dennett and Ryan McKay

Reginald Selkirk said...

I have to think back to Alvin Plantinga view that implies it would be a failure to show that morality evolved since true and false behaviors are both beneficial to survival.

CS: Plantinga knows zilch about evolutionary biology. If you can't do better than to quote such an ignoramous, then perhaps your best option is not to speak at all on the topic.

Blas said...

Matt, moral behaviour means I chose between two possible options. I have to be free to chose. How I can be free to chose if I´m only doing what my genes enforce me to do?
If another man chose the other option, may be is only because he has not the same gene code than me. So there is not rigth and wrong, only diferent gene expression. And the fittest will survive.

Reginald Selkirk said...

How I can be free to chose if I´m only doing what my genes enforce me to do?

How is this curious distinction between "me" and "my genes" made?

Blas said...

Sorry, teist wording, I will try again.

How I can be free I´m acting according th information of my genes?

M. Tully said...

"I have to think back to Alvin Plantinga view that implies it would be a failure to show that morality evolved since true and false behaviors are both beneficial to survival"

Plantinga has absolutely ZERO empirical evidence to support him. Show me the society (or species, or culture...) that has survived on random, false understanding of the world around them and we can have a conversation. Until then it is, as a philosopher I actually respect once said, nothing more than mental masturbation.

Plantinga, that really is the best you guys got to go on?

M. Tully said...

"Why be moral? (Why not ride free on the moral conduct of others when you can without penalty?)"

Smaitzen,

Excellent point. But there does seem to be a natural human disposition to punish cheaters. That is to say "when you can without penalty" appears to not to be what happens in real world situations. People watch and the watchers are under scrutiny to report and or punish group detrimental behavior.

It is a fascinating question and one that is pulling modern economic theorists away from the "rational actor" model.

I don't know what the evidence will finally tell us about the "situational aversion to the free-ride" concept, but I do know that no deity based morality has ever gotten close to mastering it. I mean a deity would be observing constantly, so why would behavior change based on cultural settings? And those moral norms we see consistent between cultures are perfectly in line with evolutionary models.

smaitzen said...

M. Tully,

Thanks for your reply, but it doesn't quite address my question. You wrote:

That is to say "when you can without penalty" appears to not to be what happens in real world situations.

Let's ignore the evidence from Wall Street that riding free can leave one very rich, despite the public's disapproval and its desire to punish. My point is that it doesn't answer a question premised on "when you can ride free without penalty" to say "you can't often ride free without penalty." What about when you can? I don't see how a descriptive, non-normative field such as evolutionary theory (or sociobiology, or anthropology, or economics) could even in principle answer that question. It takes philosophy.

I'm the last person who would defend a theistic answer to "Why be moral?" On the contrary, theism makes morality worse, not better. Nevertheless, for the reasons I gave, I'm not impressed with the current trend to "answer" the question in evolutionary terms.

benjamin said...

"Why be moral if it is just evolutionary hardwiring?"
Oh, I don't know, because we want to? To demand reasons for being moral is to build the assumption that being moral doesn't have intrinsic value into the question. To me, morality is simply "taking the well-being of others into consideration." I do that because I wish to minimize the suffering I cause other people and animals, because I do have the ability to mentally represent their suffering and perceive that it is bad. "Boo to unnecessary suffering", if you will.

"Matt, moral behaviour means I chose between two possible options. I have to be free to chose. How I can be free to chose if I´m only doing what my genes enforce me to do?"

Genes don't "direct" behavior. They produce proteins that follow an emergent developmental program that creates our bodies, and to whit, our minds. There is a famous perversion of Dawkins cited by the ant-sociobio types: "they control us, body and mind" vs. the original "they created us, body and mind." Bit of a difference. So genes create our minds, which have inclinations toward successful behaviors, but we are "free" to go against our nature within a certain range.

"So unless evolutionary biologists can show somehow that evolution favors truth producing cognitive faculties then isn’t it a waste of time to continue down the path of showing morality is evolutionary based?"

Only in the sense that making interesting discoveries about anything is a waste of time.

Alternatively: No, because an evolutionary understanding of morality can inform a more accurate view of human nature. And an understanding of human can help us make better political and social decisions.

benjamin said...

And Matt,
I recommend checking out this article on evolutionary game theory. It includes a brief presentation of the system of differential equations representing the conditions in which cooperation/non-coooperation are evolutionary stable strategies. Evolution of cooperation of course seeming to be a necessary precursor for evolution of morality: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/game-evolutionary/

Matt McCormick said...

Plantinga's account of naturalism and evolution appears to be wrong for a lot of reasons. But here's one of the clearest and most devastating rebuttals I've seen:

Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism. Sober and Fittelson do some very good work here.

M. Tully said...

Smaitzen,

Again, good insight. "despite the public's disapproval and its desire to punish"

The "desire" word there being very key. Evolution doesn't select perfect biological systems, it selects those that are good enough.

Adaptability within a culture has been shown to be an evolutionary stable strategy. You have a population with varying degrees of cheat disposition and rules disposition. Depending on the culture they find themselves, one population can increase and the other decrease or vice-verse without either of them becoming extinct. This provides a powerful explanation as to why we could desire punishment for an action and yet refrain from invoking it.

So, why be moral? It is currently the successful strategy for the vast majority. But there is no good reason to suppose that in some distant time in the future, the common argument couldn't be, "Why be immoral?"

Being someone programmed morally, all I can say is, thank goodness I live in the time that I do.

And yes, current philosophy is most likely to make our current morality make sense to us. However, since morality affects behavior and behavior affects what we observe, science has a very strong dog in the morality fight. A dog that could only be dismissed by dismissing the relationship of human desire to human action.

Anonymous said...

Matt and atheist alike,

Well the response that Alvin Plantinga sucks or billy bob philosopher thinks he's wrong wasn't too enlightening but moving on...

Maybe this study has some impact on the atheism/morality issue.

A study done showed that atheist are more prone to suicide.

Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt
http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/12/2303

So does this study impact the previous claim that atheist have higher IQ's?

CS

Blas said...

"So genes create our minds, which have inclinations toward successful behaviors, but we are "free" to go against our nature within a certain range"

Natural laws are not optative, if everithing is product of the natural law, as materialist support, there is no possibility to chose. What are you saying is that natural law can go against natural law, then that is not a law.
I suggest you read Kant´s moral.

Matt McCormick said...

Some of the problems with Plantinga's argument against naturalism (again): Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism.

Matt McCormick said...

I suppose, CS, that you are suggesting that committing suicide is something that you'd expect people with lower IQs to do at a higher rate. I don't hear an argument for that claim, so, no, I don't see any impact on the well established negative correlation between intelligence and religiousness.

Anonymous said...

Matt,

Good observation about me hinting at the implication that lower IQ’s are associated with suicide. But you don’t think this has any bearing on the religiosity and education attainment negative correlation study? I cant see how there wouldn’t be any affect on you weighing the evidence for or against. But again when we hear evidence that runs counter to a belief based on a correlation we ought to say that such and such correlation is weak and not strong.


CS

Matt McCormick said...

I haven't got the faintest idea what you are talking about CS. Do you have an argument to make, evidence, or anything constructive to say?

Anonymous said...

Matt,

Ok I’ll try to be blunt. Atheist according to my study (on religion and suicide) are stupid. They kill themselves more often than theist and so the study you posted early claiming is strong evidence is in fact complete crap. You cannot be reasonable to think otherwise. In fact I am shocked you thought the religiosity and education attainment study was even remotely academic worthy. Its just more fundy non believer BS like to feed to the flock like dancing around during Christmas in satanic costumes or whatever your brethren do.

CS

benjamin said...

"Natural laws are not optative, if everithing is product of the natural law, as materialist support, there is no possibility to chose. What are you saying is that natural law can go against natural law, then that is not a law.
I suggest you read Kant´s moral."

Yeah, there is a reason I put "free" in quotemarks.

HadronM said...

Question: what reasons do any of you have for thinking that when you make what you think are free choices that they are outside of or in violation of natural laws? My understanding is that among the people who work on freewill, the view that freedom amounts to causation outside of natural laws is held by almost no one.

H J

Matt McCormick said...

More evidence about inborn moral inclinations:

Born With the Urge to Help

Amar V said...

Hi Matt, liked the blog. My comment is regarding myth 1 and myth 6 under the title "Top Ten Myths about Belief in God". Are you implying that the 1 billion Hindus doesn't believe in God? Because they believe in more than a single god. While the Chinese and Japanese examples hold true, I think you should remove the Indian example there. By including the Indian example, you are actually contradicting your myths 1 and 6.

Blas said...

"the view that freedom amounts to causation outside of natural laws is held by almost no one.

How a natural law can act freely between two choices?
If it is a natural law it is inevitable the outcame.
Do you know any natural law with optative outcome?

M. Tully said...

OK CS,

One time, real slow for you...
"So does this study impact the previous claim that atheist have higher IQ's?"

NO!

One's ability to understand concepts and apply them in ways previously unseen has absolutely no connection to whether or not someone will or will not commit suicide. But who cares! If your argument is that the suicide rate of any group of people is evidence for the existence of any supernatural being, then please connect those empirical dots for me.

Now here is some evidence that you can verify: Many suicides that leave evidence for their reasons (actually most don't but of those that do), a frequent hit is that they no longer want to be a burden to their family. Promoting genes through self sacrifice would be predicted by an ESS. Pick up a book about honey bees and stinging sometime.

Your argument appears empirically to make a natural vice supernatural point.

M. Tully said...

Blas,

You ask an excellent question.

"If it is a natural law it is inevitable the outcame.
Do you know any natural law with optative outcome?"

No, naturalism has never claimed to be able to give perfect predictability to anything. What it claims is; (and if you can honestly refute the following, you should publish somewhere) "There is a statistically predictable pattern in most human behavior and we have the model that is most likely to be correct in most circumstances."

That's right, naturalists don't claim infallibility (counter to most religions). What we do claim is "best model."

Don't believe me? If human behavior is predicted by genetics and environment, I can predict that if you act aggressively towards a child in the presence of that child's mother, in the vast majority of times the mother will act aggressively in kind.

If it is truly a free will (a ghost in a machine able to act independently) I shouldn't be able to make that prediction.

OR ANY OTHER. If contra-causal free will is true, actions totally independent of existing conditions and input, I shouldn't be able to make any predictions about any human behavior.

I am certainly glad that I don't live in a universe that allowed for contra causal free-will!

No, naturalism doesn't make infallible predictions, but compared to the alternatives, it is magnitudes more accurate.

M. Tully said...

CS,

Alan Turing comitted suicide. He did so because of religious intolerance. Please see, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing.

If you want to claim to be brighter than old Alan, please provide evidence. If not tell me why the vast majority of people less intellegent than Turing haven't already comitted suicide?

Your argument fails miserably under the rules of evidence. You really are becoming boring.

Matt McCormick said...

Tully, I'm trying to follow your arguments, but a lot of these points are fractured and instead of elaborating, you're resorting to insults and personal attacks. Give an argument please.

Blas said...

Good point M., now If human behavior is predicted by genetics and environment, can you say that the outliners behaviors are wrong or bad? Can we evaluate the morality of the guy is molesting the child, if the women helps or agree with this guy because his genetics and enviroment are outside of the average is a bad behaviour.

M. Tully said...

Matt,

Point well taken. I can jump ahead of myself sometimes.

CS,

You wrote,

"Ok I’ll try to be blunt. Atheist according to my study (on religion and suicide) are stupid."

CS, can you provide any evidence that suicide rates and intelligence are related in any way?

That is to say, can you provide evidence that if, and that is a conditional if, atheists have a higher rate of suicide than theists, that that also implies that atheists have a lower ability to discern truth? That is to say have a lower intelligence? Additionally, can you demonstrate that a higher suicide rate would falsify an empirically held position? Have you considered the possibility that having a better understanding of reality is related to higher suicide rates (that is only a hypothetical)?

I don't believe that you can. That makes me believe that you are creating a red herring argument. And just between us, red herring arguments tend make me feel tired.

Is that better?

M. Tully said...

Blas,

"can you say that the outliners behaviors are wrong or bad?"

Yes I can. Based on whether or not it improves the human condition. Is that purely subjective? Somewhat, but don't we all treat humans different from insects? Would the vast majority of people kill a fly who landed on their potato salad? Would the vast majority not kill a drunk human who staggard onto their potato salad? The majority of us are programmed to want to minimize conscious suffering, and thank goodness, most of us do. How about a chimp or your pet dog?

Can I tell you with metaphysical certitude that we should? No! Care to argue why we shouldn't?

M. Tully said...

I was going to not comment, but then I had to.

"you're resorting to insults and personal attacks. Give an argument please."

Why didn't CS get that comment when he called atheists "stupid?"

I am curious. Is there a prejudice against ourselves? Or is it we have higher expectations about ourselves? Is that a positive or a negative?

I really am curious, I don't have an opinion yet. But what is it? Is there a strong but unsaid, "belief in belief" in us?

I don't know. But what an interesting question.

Matt McCormick said...

Fair enough, Tully. You're right. C S has been disrespectful and rude in some instances. I guess I just don't expect more from him and the Christian trolls who get on here and try to pick these fights. In fact, for a lot of C S's comments, there just hasn't been enough substance in there to warrant responding to. I think you're wasting your breath. He's not interested in actually talking about this with the truth or being reasonable in mind. I've seen you offer some really insightful and sharp arguments, on the other hand, and I was hoping for more than the angry name calling. I sensed it spiraling into oblivion, so I commented. But note that your input has always been welcome and appreciated.

Blas said...

Yes I can. Based on whether or not it improves the human condition. Is that purely subjective?

Yes is purely subjective, and natural law do not works for "human condition" because that is an abstraction of our mind. Natural law works for more reproductivity capacity and that is an individual property. Also natural law looks for variability, evolved behaviours should be outliners, so you cannot evaluate that behaviours wrong or bad without going outside the "natural law".

Blas said...

"The majority of us are programmed to want to minimize conscious suffering, and thank goodness, most of us do"

And the minority not programmed to do so are wrong or bad programmed?
Minimize conscious suffering from the point of view of who? The child molester, the child, the consenting mumm, the drunk man, the owner of the potato salad or the neighborhouds of both?

M. Tully said...

Blas,

"And the minority not programmed to do so are wrong or bad programmed?"

I don't use the words "wrong or bad programmed."

But, I am happy that they are in the minority.

Would you like to argue that it would be better if they were the majority?