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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Moral Progress   Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:36 pm

On another forum, someone---probably annoyed by the predictable political promises of "change" by presidential candidates---raised the question whether real positive change is even possible, considering the opposing forces in the world. Since technological progress can hardly be denied, the actual focus of the question seems to be on Moral Progress---change for the better---in the quality of human relations.

Looking back for guidance, we see that the moving pointer of Now in Human history has occasionally risen to laudable heights of glory, only to inevitably sink back into the morass of depravity. Golden Ages are soon followed by Dark Ages. Hence, some people despair of ever seeing any overall progress in human affairs. Even those who believe in Darwinian Evolution are often cynical about the possibility of any lasting progress. But the terms "Evolution" and "Progress" mean different things to different people.

For Liberal candidates, "positive change" points forward toward a brighter future. But for Conservatives, the same word usually points backward to an idealized high-point in the past. Unfortunately these oppositely-charged values eventually tend to cancel each other out, and result in a neutral outcome.

Some frustrated ancient cosmologists viewed this up and down world as tantalizingly progressive, but ultimately only in a cyclical manner. Hence, like Nietzsche's concept of the Eternal Return, we are simply going in circles. In that case the end is the same place as the beginning. Such change for the sake of change is like running as hard as possible just to stay in the same place.

Most Atheists seem to believe that evolution is a random walk, headed nowhere in particular. Hence, while they acknowledge continual change, they see no evidence of positive progress in this world. Consequently, they see no point (i.e. no end point or goal or purpose) to our temporal existence. Thus they conclude that human life is essentially absurd and meaningless apart from personal goals.

Many Deists, on the other hand, seem to have inherited the Judeo-Christian concept of linear, goal-directed progress from point A to point Z---although we might quibble over the specifics. Divine creation implies that there must be some clear intention or purpose behind the murky chaos of this world, and hence some ultimate meaning to our existence. But is that belief just wishful thinking? Do we actually have any evidence of long-term forward-progress in human history?

That question reminded me of an essay I wrote back in 1993. At the time I was not familiar with Memetic Evolution, but I thought I could see some faint signs of collective, cultural progress, despite the clear evidence of Man's perpetual inhumanity to man. For what it's worth, here it is:

Moral Progress
http://home.mindspring.com/~johne84570/Moral%20Progress_amipro%201993_01-07-08.pdf
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:59 am

I believe that morality could advance as fast as technology if people were free to do so. People's minds are enslaved to ancient teachings like the Bible. So, most people's understanding of morality is obeying God is right and disobeying God is wrong. I asked a friend of mine,"If God told you to take a nuke to blow up a city would it be right to do it and would you obey?" He said,"Yes!" He didn't understand that God would be wrong and that it would be wrong to obey him. For those who are not religious believe morality is decided by the state. So, most people believe morality is laws passed by some authority. If people's minds were free they would figure out right from wrong with reason and therefore their morality would be more reasonable. Morality isn't advancing much because people believe might is right instead of following the golden rule.

Another point I would like to make is that even though we can morally advance we are still pretty damn moral right now. When I was a Christian I didn't believe this because my world view was that everybody is evil and deserves to go to Hell but I was wrong because being moral and being morally perfect are two different things. Mankind is incapable of being morally perfect. So, being morally imperfect isn't being immoral. An immoral person is someone who's behavior is more bad than good. Also, I would consider someone who's behavior is more good than bad immoral if they were being good for the wrong reasons. It is a minority that is immoral. Most people are good people that don't murder and rape. So, it is a minority that needs to morally advance because being moral is the norm. Peace
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Tue Feb 12, 2008 7:27 am

Schizophretard wrote:
Most people are good people that don't murder and rape. So, it is a minority that needs to morally advance because being moral is the norm.

But how many won't even pick up the phone to stop a rape or murder for fear of retribution or even just getting involved? I believe that's immoral as well and we could well have a (large) majority of "good" people who allow evil to succeed by doing nothing.

Gnomon wrote:
But is that belief just wishful thinking? Do we actually have any evidence of long-term forward-progress in human history?

You ask a complex question. Are we progressing morally asks if we're doing so as a species as well as individuals. I do think man is progressing but at a one step forward and .99999 step back rate. Worldwide slavery and feudal bondage are declining slowly over the centuries. Our biggest obstacle to progress is momentum, but that can also be a safeguard against going down the wrong road from which we can't return without bloody revolution--even though that may be necessary from time to time as Jefferson said.

But I think God's purpose for creation is to be a stage where individuals can choose to develop and employ character and integrity of their own free will--or not. There will always be those that do, and there will always be those that choose to do evil and thus test the moral fiber of those who are good. I don't think we will ever reach a point where everyone is good, even though that should be theoretically possible. Temptation will always find those who can rationalize justifying it based solely on their vanity.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:38 am

I agree somewhat with Paineful (what? you didn't think it could happen? Razz )

I'm not sure humanity has made any progress, really. We don't have marauding bands of murders like the Huns or the Vikings, but we have street gangs. Better? Worse?

But I don't think it matters that much. It is the individual's progress that matters. There have always been some people who rose above the norm and lived exemplary lives, and there always will be. (Perhaps we wouldn't notice them, if all of humanity were moral and ethical).

Each of us is on a personal journey, so what matters is not what the world is doing. What matters is what YOU are doing!
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Wed Feb 13, 2008 7:29 am

Paineful,

Yes, I agree that doing nothing is immoral but like I said we can't be perfectly moral. All of us on here have computers and they are not something we really need. There is people who can eat if we sold our computers to give them the money for food. Since we haven't sold them we are not doing everything we can to help others. So, we are also immoral for doing nothing. People are dying because we own things we don't need! Think about it! We are responsible for the deaths of others because we have failed to do everything we possibly can for the least fortunate! The point I'm trying to make is that as long as we are not morally perfect we can always make an argument to show how we are immoral. Being perfectly moral isn't in our natures. I believe moral perfection should be our goal but we shouldn't use moral perfection as our standard of what is moral because if we do we are saying all men are guilty of immorality. The standard should be the morality of the average person. The way I look at it is the average person's morality is good, the people who have better morals than the average are like saints, and the people who have worse morals than the average are immoral sinners. I'm very uncomfortable saying we are all immoral because that sounds too much like the concept of original sin. It makes it sound like we are worthy of Hell for not being perfect even though God gave us imperfect natures that causes us to miss the mark. I'm totally against this concept. If God does judge us I doubt he is going to have a standard higher than our natures and we shouldn't have a standard that high either.

Paul,

I agree. The individual is what matters. The choices of good and evil are made by the freewill of individuals.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:33 am

Schizophretard wrote:
Paineful,

Yes, I agree that doing nothing is immoral but like I said we can't be perfectly moral. All of us on here have computers and they are not something we really need. There is people who can eat if we sold our computers to give them the money for food. Since we haven't sold them we are not doing everything we can to help others. So, we are also immoral for doing nothing.

If we all did that, freedom of communication would be severely restricted, but the worst of it would be that the computer industry would be junked--putting countless millions out of work and wrecking economies. Of course we wouldn't be able to sell them in the first place because everyone would be giving the money they had to buy them to "the poor". It's the same principle when they decided to punish the rich with a confiscatory tax on yachts. People out of work in all kinds of industries, etc. etc.

A rising tide lifts all boats, and falling tide runs many aground. Charity can be a very complicated endeavor in today's world especially, and most especially in developed countries. You do a thousand times more good to foster entrepreneurship than to give outright--which can often reinforce negative behavior.
Quote :

The point I'm trying to make is that as long as we are not morally perfect we can always make an argument to show how we are immoral. Being perfectly moral isn't in our natures.

I think the problem is how we commonly think we should go about being moral--to be self sacrificing. BS. We are programmed or in a situation where we look out for number 1 first, and that's as it should be. Moral behavior is to live by the principle of enlightened self-interest. You look out for #1 but never by putting your right to life, liberty and property above the rights of others. If you want to go a step further, that's up to you (being careful how you do it, e.g. the charity conundrum), but that's not a question of morality, it is one of individual virtue. Demons are immoral, saints are virtuous, with most of us somewhere between.

Quote :

I believe moral perfection should be our goal but we shouldn't use moral perfection as our standard of what is moral because if we do we are saying all men are guilty of immorality.


Actually, moral perfection is pretty easy. The hardest part for most people is staying away from their neighbors spouse and refrain from lying.
Quote :

It makes it sound like we are worthy of Hell for not being perfect even though God gave us imperfect natures that causes us to miss the mark. I'm totally against this concept. If God does judge us I doubt he is going to have a standard higher than our natures and we shouldn't have a standard that high either.

God didn't make us imperfect, we are all born innocent. But we develop self-awareness and at some point some of us choose to place our individual importance above the rest. I don't believe God judges or condemns us, but we do, when we can only view ourselves in the undeniable light of Truth. For some, having our illusions and delusions exposed is a revelation that's so unbearable that oblivion is the only recourse.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:31 am

Paineful,

You made a good point about the computers but the reason we buy things we don't need is for selfish reasons. When I bought my computer I didn't think about how I'm helping the economy and therefore helping people. I thought I want a computer and didn't think about how maybe I should spend my money helping others. My point is that all of us are not 100% selfless so anybody can make an argument to show how we are immoral.

I disagree that moral perfection is easy. I've never even seen anybody that was perfectly moral. When I was a Christian I strived to be like Christ and be perfect. I failed. I tried my best but the best I could do was be mostly good and even the bad things I was successful at resisting I still did them in my mind. When I lost faith I jokingly told my boss," I don't believe the Bible anymore so now you have to worry about me killing everybody!" His response made a good point. He said," The Bible isn't the reason you're a good person. I know you and can tell that you are naturally a moral person." That was the first time since I was a child that I didn't feel like I was a sinner destined for Hell. All my guilt for all my mistakes was gone. At that moment I realized that moral perfection isn't the right way to determine rather or not someone is immoral. If that is the way we determine it then we are all immoral.

I agree we are all born innocent but we are also born imperfect because if we are already perfect then we have evolved as high as we can get. I don't believe we have reached perfection yet and doubt we could ever reach it. As a species we have our strengths and weaknesses not just in morality but in all things. If ETs visited our planet they could be so advanced that the differences between us could be the same as the differences between us and apes. They may look at us as savage apes and we may see them as being godlike. They would see our moral weaknesses and even our best would seem immoral to them. They would still consider the best of us the good ones because they would understand our nature. Like we would consider things apes do as immoral or inappropriate. They have sex in public, they throw shit, they make messes, and so forth but since they are all like this by nature we forgive them and consider some of them as the good ones. The point I'm trying to make is that the immoral things the majority of us do is because of our nature. These immoral things we do would be looked at by ETs as normal human behavior. So they would look at the best of us as tame animals, the majority of us as being normal humans, and the worst of us as wild rabid beasts. This is how I judge the morality of all animals including us. The wild rabid beasts are the immoral ones.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Sat Feb 16, 2008 5:22 pm

Schizophretard wrote:

The point I'm trying to make is that as long as we are not morally perfect we can always make an argument to show how we are immoral. Being perfectly moral isn't in our natures. I believe moral perfection should be our goal but we shouldn't use moral perfection as our standard of what is moral because if we do we are saying all men are guilty of immorality. The standard should be the morality of the average person. The way I look at it is the average person's morality is good, the people who have better morals than the average are like saints, and the people who have worse morals than the average are immoral sinners. I'm very uncomfortable saying we are all immoral because that sounds too much like the concept of original sin. It makes it sound like we are worthy of Hell for not being perfect even though God gave us imperfect natures that causes us to miss the mark. I'm totally against this concept. If God does judge us I doubt he is going to have a standard higher than our natures and we shouldn't have a standard that high either.
.
Several years ago---while still an unenlightened Agnostic--- I noticed that a new Christian marketing (evangelism) concept was making the rounds. An earnest young Christian would ask you if you had ever told a lie. When you hesitantly answered "yes", the well-trained soul-saver would immediately ask, "Well then, what does that make you?" And for those raised as Christians, the answer was, of course, "a liar". That timid admittance of guilt opened the door for a well-rehearsed sales pitch: "we are all sinners, but Jesus died for our sins. . . ."

Just to be perverse---or perhaps to teach a quiet lesson about black & white thinking--- I would give an unexpected answer to the "what does that make you?" question: "an ordinary human". At the time, it occurred to me that a God who judges His imperfect creatures against the perfect standard of an Avatar (god-in-human-form) is just setting us all up for failure. Although human marketing experts (i.e. insurance salesmen) like to use "impossible standards" to elicit artificial feelings of guilt, I found it hard to believe that God would stoop to such sneaky tactics.

So, I wrote a quick essay to explore the idea of moral perfection versus realistic expectation, and original-sin versus moral evolution. What I came up with was "Rainbow Ethics versus Black & White Morality". And here it is, but please pardon the imperfections, because I never really finished it---after all, I'm only human:

We Are All Sinners
http://home.mindspring.com/~johne84570/We%20Are%20All%20Sinners_Rainbow%20Ethics_02-16-08.pdf
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Sun Feb 17, 2008 12:01 am

Well said, Gnomon!
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:51 am

Good article reminds me of Lawrence Kohlberg's Six Stages of Moral Development.

Quote :
KOHLBERG'S SIX STAGES

Level 1. Preconventional Morality

Stage 1. Obedience and Punishment Orientation. Kohlberg's stage 1 is similar to Piaget's first stage of moral thought. The child assumes that powerful authorities hand down a fixed set of rules which he or she must unquestioningly obey. To the Heinz dilemma, the child typically says that Heinz was wrong to steal the drug because "It's against the law," or "It's bad to steal," as if this were all there were to it. When asked to elaborate, the child usually responds in terms of the consequences involved, explaining that stealing is bad "because you'll get punished" (Kohlberg, 1958b).

Although the vast majority of children at stage 1 oppose Heinzís theft, it is still possible for a child to support the action and still employ stage 1 reasoning. For example, a child might say, "Heinz can steal it because he asked first and it's not like he stole something big; he won't get punished" (see Rest, 1973). Even though the child agrees with Heinzís action, the reasoning is still stage 1; the concern is with what authorities permit and punish.

Kohlberg calls stage 1 thinking "preconventional" because children do not yet speak as members of society. Instead, they see morality as something external to themselves, as that which the big people say they must do.

Stage 2. Individualism and Exchange. At this stage children recognize that there is not just one right view that is handed down by the authorities. Different individuals have different viewpoints. "Heinz," they might point out, "might think it's right to take the drug, the druggist would not." Since everything is relative, each person is free to pursue his or her individual interests. One boy said that Heinz might steal the drug if he wanted his wife to live, but that he doesn't have to if he wants to marry someone younger and better-looking (Kohlberg, 1963, p. 24). Another boy said Heinz might steal it because

maybe they had children and he might need someone at home to look after them. But maybe he shouldn't steal it because they might put him in prison for more years than he could stand. (Colby and Kauffman. 1983, p. 300)

What is right for Heinz, then, is what meets his own self-interests.

You might have noticed that children at both stages 1 and 2 talk about punishment. However, they perceive it differently. At stage 1 punishment is tied up in the child's mind with wrongness; punishment "proves" that disobedience is wrong. At stage 2, in contrast, punishment is simply a risk that one naturally wants to avoid.

Although stage 2 respondents sometimes sound amoral, they do have some sense of right action. This is a notion of fair exchange or fair deals. The philosophy is one of returning favors--"If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." To the Heinz story, subjects often say that Heinz was right to steal the drug because the druggist was unwilling to make a fair deal; he was "trying to rip Heinz off," Or they might say that he should steal for his wife "because she might return the favor some day" (Gibbs et al., 1983, p. 19).

Respondents at stage 2 are still said to reason at the preconventional level because they speak as isolated individuals rather than as members of society. They see individuals exchanging favors, but there is still no identification with the values of the family or community.

Level II. Conventional Morality

Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships. At this stage children--who are by now usually entering their teens--see morality as more than simple deals. They believe that people should live up to the expectations of the family and community and behave in "good" ways. Good behavior means having good motives and interpersonal feelings such as love, empathy, trust, and concern for others. Heinz, they typically argue, was right to steal the drug because "He was a good man for wanting to save her," and "His intentions were good, that of saving the life of someone he loves." Even if Heinz doesn't love his wife, these subjects often say, he should steal the drug because "I don't think any husband should sit back and watch his wife die" (Gibbs et al., 1983, pp. 36-42; Kohlberg, 1958b).

If Heinzís motives were good, the druggist's were bad. The druggist, stage 3 subjects emphasize, was "selfish," "greedy," and "only interested in himself, not another life." Sometimes the respondents become so angry with the druggist that they say that he ought to be put in jail (Gibbs et al., 1983, pp. 26-29, 40-42). A typical stage 3 response is that of Don, age 13:

It was really the druggist's fault, he was unfair, trying to overcharge and letting someone die. Heinz loved his wife and wanted to save her. I think anyone would. I don't think they would put him in jail. The judge would look at all sides, and see that the druggist was charging too much. (Kohlberg, 1963, p. 25)

We see that Don defines the issue in terms of the actors' character traits and motives. He talks about the loving husband, the unfair druggist, and the understanding judge. His answer deserves the label "conventional "morality" because it assumes that the attitude expressed would be shared by the entire communityó"anyone" would be right to do what Heinz did (Kohlberg, 1963, p. 25).

As mentioned earlier, there are similarities between Kohlberg's first three stages and Piaget's two stages. In both sequences there is a shift from unquestioning obedience to a relativistic outlook and to a concern for good motives. For Kohlberg, however, these shifts occur in three stages rather than two.

Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order. Stage 3 reasoning works best in two-person relationships with family members or close friends, where one can make a real effort to get to know the other's feelings and needs and try to help. At stage 4, in contrast, the respondent becomes more broadly concerned with society as a whole. Now the emphasis is on obeying laws, respecting authority, and performing one's duties so that the social order is maintained. In response to the Heinz story, many subjects say they understand that Heinz's motives were good, but they cannot condone the theft. What would happen if we all started breaking the laws whenever we felt we had a good reason? The result would be chaos; society couldn't function. As one subject explained,

I don't want to sound like Spiro Agnew, law and order and wave the flag, but if everybody did as he wanted to do, set up his own beliefs as to right and wrong, then I think you would have chaos. The only thing I think we have in civilization nowadays is some sort of legal structure which people are sort of bound to follow. [Society needs] a centralizing framework. (Gibbs et al., 1983, pp. 140-41)

Because stage 4, subjects make moral decisions from the perspective of society as a whole, they think from a full-fledged member-of-society perspective (Colby and Kohlberg, 1983, p. 27).

You will recall that stage 1 children also generally oppose stealing because it breaks the law. Superficially, stage 1 and stage 4 subjects are giving the same response, so we see here why Kohlberg insists that we must probe into the reasoning behind the overt response. Stage 1 children say, "It's wrong to steal" and "It's against the law," but they cannot elaborate any further, except to say that stealing can get a person jailed. Stage 4 respondents, in contrast, have a conception of the function of laws for society as a whole--a conception which far exceeds the grasp of the younger child.

Level III. Postconventional Morality

Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Rights. At stage 4, people want to keep society functioning. However, a smoothly functioning society is not necessarily a good one. A totalitarian society might be well-organized, but it is hardly the moral ideal. At stage 5, people begin to ask, "What makes for a good society?" They begin to think about society in a very theoretical way, stepping back from their own society and considering the rights and values that a society ought to uphold. They then evaluate existing societies in terms of these prior considerations. They are said to take a "prior-to-society" perspective (Colby and Kohlberg, 1983, p. 22).

Stage 5 respondents basically believe that a good society is best conceived as a social contract into which people freely enter to work toward the benefit of all They recognize that different social groups within a society will have different values, but they believe that all rational people would agree on two points. First they would all want certain basic rights, such as liberty and life, to be protected Second, they would want some democratic procedures for changing unfair law and for improving society.

In response to the Heinz dilemma, stage 5 respondents make it clear that they do not generally favor breaking laws; laws are social contracts that we agree to uphold until we can change them by democratic means. Nevertheless, the wifeís right to live is a moral right that must be protected. Thus, stage 5 respondent sometimes defend Heinzís theft in strong language:

It is the husband's duty to save his wife. The fact that her life is in danger transcends every other standard you might use to judge his action. Life is more important than property.

This young man went on to say that "from a moral standpoint" Heinz should save the life of even a stranger, since to be consistent, the value of a life means any life. When asked if the judge should punish Heinz, he replied:

Usually the moral and legal standpoints coincide. Here they conflict. The judge should weight the moral standpoint more heavily but preserve the legal law in punishing Heinz lightly. (Kohlberg, 1976, p. 38 )

Stage 5 subjects,- then, talk about "morality" and "rights" that take some priority over particular laws. Kohlberg insists, however, that we do not judge people to be at stage 5 merely from their verbal labels. We need to look at their social perspective and mode of reasoning. At stage 4, too, subjects frequently talk about the "right to life," but for them this right is legitimized by the authority of their social or religious group (e.g., by the Bible). Presumably, if their group valued property over life, they would too. At stage 5, in contrast, people are making more of an independent effort to think out what any society ought to value. They often reason, for example, that property has little meaning without life. They are trying to determine logically what a society ought to be like (Kohlberg, 1981, pp. 21-22; Gibbs et al., 1983, p. 83).

Stage 6: Universal Principles. Stage 5 respondents are working toward a conception of the good society. They suggest that we need to (a) protect certain individual rights and (b) settle disputes through democratic processes. However, democratic processes alone do not always result in outcomes that we intuitively sense are just. A majority, for example, may vote for a law that hinders a minority. Thus, Kohlberg believes that there must be a higher stage--stage 6--which defines the principles by which we achieve justice.

Kohlberg's conception of justice follows that of the philosophers Kant and Rawls, as well as great moral leaders such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. According to these people, the principles of justice require us to treat the claims of all parties in an impartial manner, respecting the basic dignity, of all people as individuals. The principles of justice are therefore universal; they apply to all. Thus, for example, we would not vote for a law that aids some people but hurts others. The principles of justice guide us toward decisions based on an equal respect for all.

In actual practice, Kohlberg says, we can reach just decisions by looking at a situation through one another's eyes. In the Heinz dilemma, this would mean that all parties--the druggist, Heinz, and his wife--take the roles of the others. To do this in an impartial manner, people can assume a "veil of ignorance" (Rawls, 1971), acting as if they do not know which role they will eventually occupy. If the druggist did this, even he would recognize that life must take priority over property; for he wouldn't want to risk finding himself in the wife's shoes with property valued over life. Thus, they would all agree that the wife must be saved--this would be the fair solution. Such a solution, we must note, requires not only impartiality, but the principle that everyone is given full and equal respect. If the wife were considered of less value than the others, a just solution could not be reached.

Until recently, Kohlberg had been scoring some of his subjects at stage 6, but he has temporarily stopped doing so, For one thing, he and other researchers had not been finding subjects who consistently reasoned at this stage. Also, Kohlberg has concluded that his interview dilemmas are not useful for distinguishing between stage 5 and stage 6 thinking. He believes that stage 6 has a clearer and broader conception of universal principles (which include justice as well as individual rights), but feels that his interview fails to draw out this broader understanding. Consequently, he has temporarily dropped stage 6 from his scoring manual, calling it a "theoretical stage" and scoring all postconventional responses as stage 5 (Colby and Kohlberg, 1983, p. 28 ).

Theoretically, one issue that distinguishes stage 5 from stage 6 is civil disobedience. Stage 5 would be more hesitant to endorse civil disobedience because of its commitment to the social contract and to changing laws through democratic agreements. Only when an individual right is clearly at stake does violating the law seem justified. At stage 6, in contrast, a commitment to justice makes the rationale for civil disobedience stronger and broader. Martin Luther King, for example, argued that laws are only valid insofar as they are grounded in justice, and that a commitment to justice carries with it an obligation to disobey unjust laws. King also recognized, of course, the general need for laws and democratic processes (stages 4 and 5), and he was therefore willing to accept the penalities for his actions. Nevertheless, he believed that the higher principle of justice required civil disobedience (Kohlberg, 198 1, p. 43).

http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/html/kohlberg.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:02 pm

Just some reference information.

Quote :
KOHLBERG'S METHOD

Kohlberg's (1958a) core sample was comprised of 72 boys, from both middle- and lower-class families in Chicago. They were ages 10, 13, and 16. He later added to his sample younger children, delinquents, and boys and girls from other American cities and from other countries (1963, 1970).

The basic interview consists of a series of dilemmas such as the following:

    Heinz Steals the Drug

    In Europe, a woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to make. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $ 1,000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said: "No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money from it." So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man's store to steal the drug-for his wife. Should the husband have done that? (Kohlberg, 1963, p. 19)

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The Paineful Truth

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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:50 pm

Schizophretard wrote:

When I bought my computer I didn't think about how I'm helping the economy and therefore helping people.

But you did (and now you know you do Smile ). The foundation of morality (not virtue) is enlightened self-interest. It leads you to do the moral thing whether you realize it or not.

Virtue is a personal code of conduct outside of morality. If you think you should feel bad for buying a computer instead of giving the money to the poor, you have every right to feel that way if that's part of your personal virtue code. But you have no logical grounds on which to convince others that they should feel your guilt and act the same way. And while you might have an easier time selling virtues such as courage, integrity, and character because you can show how they could benefit others without the negative consequences, compassion and sympathy are two edged swords.

If for instance, you see someone about to get murdered, feeling compassion and sympathy for them does nothing unless it motivates you to risk your life to defend the victim, and that would be based on courage--and enlightened self-interest.

Aaron,
Couldn't you boil down Kohlberg's essay into one simple principle: That morality is the equal right by all humans to their life, liberty and property; and that the sure sign that that moral code is being violated is the double standard? It's so simple, even young children can understand it, but we haven't wanted to teach it in the past and probably still don't.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:21 pm

Gnomon wrote:

Several years ago---while still an unenlightened Agnostic--- I noticed that a new Christian marketing (evangelism) concept was making the rounds. An earnest young Christian would ask you if you had ever told a lie. When you hesitantly answered "yes", the well-trained soul-saver would immediately ask, "Well then, what does that make you?" And for those raised as Christians, the answer was, of course, "a liar". That timid admittance of guilt opened the door for a well-rehearsed sales pitch: "we are all sinners, but Jesus died for our sins. . . ."

Just to be perverse---or perhaps to teach a quiet lesson about black & white thinking--- I would give an unexpected answer to the "what does that make you?" question: "an ordinary human". At the time, it occurred to me that a God who judges His imperfect creatures against the perfect standard of an Avatar (god-in-human-form) is just setting us all up for failure. Although human marketing experts (i.e. insurance salesmen) like to use "impossible standards" to elicit artificial feelings of guilt, I found it hard to believe that God would stoop to such sneaky tactics.

So, I wrote a quick essay to explore the idea of moral perfection versus realistic expectation, and original-sin versus moral evolution. What I came up with was "Rainbow Ethics versus Black & White Morality". And here it is, but please pardon the imperfections, because I never really finished it---after all, I'm only human:

We Are All Sinners

My answer to that question is that the only way to salvation is repentance. We've all been given free will, so that the only recourse to correct our behavior is to REPENT, as shouted in the wilderness by John the Baptizer, and the sincere effort never to repeat it again. No one else can die for your sins that you've freely chosen to do, not even God. (Jesus' salvific death was just another Pauline invention to make it easy to sell his brand of "Christianity" [read Paulism] to the pagans. Jesus would turn over in his grave.)
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:51 pm

The Paineful Truth wrote:
That morality is the equal right by all humans to their life, liberty and property; and that the sure sign that that moral code is being violated is the double standard?

I think this moral framework is wrong. A more true morality is found, not in the further parceling of what is the individual's material possessions from what has yet to be acquired, but rather when the individual comprehends the relationship, and responsibility, one has with the every other individual, and with the Earth itself. We are all in this together.

The whole, "I'll worry about mine, you worry about your's" ideology is what has led us to this point in time, where the wold is divided up by the power elite, and the great majority of humans are nothing but chattel to the system.

The very concept of "enlightened self-interest" is both counter-intuitive, and self-destructive. If one is truly enlightened, they would surely realize that self-interest is only going to further the unfair and unsustainable world system that is teetering upon the precipice of collapse.

At least that's the view from my fox hole - Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:08 pm

Uriah wrote:

I think this moral framework is wrong. A more true morality is found, not in the further parceling of what is the individual's material possessions from what has yet to be acquired, but rather when the individual comprehends the relationship, and responsibility, one has with the every other individual, and with the Earth itself.

The whole, "I'll worry about mine, you worry about your's" ideology is what has led us to this point in time,...

You don't take into account the "enlightened" part of enlightened self-interest. It acknowledges the need to understand how your actions affect others, not only by your example in adhering to this moral code, but your understanding that a collective legal framework, defense and economic system is necessary and completely depends on individual active commitment to those necessary ideals.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:30 pm

Pu that way, we are really saying the same thing.

Ayn Rand said much the same about self interest. Especially in her ideas on love, and how it is selfishly motivated, but essential to form a cohesive society. We do what is best ourselves, and what is best for ourselves cannot help but be what is best for everyone.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:51 pm

This borders upon an argument I have had so many times....

Some people believe that morality demands that the wealthy give to the poor, to prove their compassion (or something). Not surprisingly, it is usually the poor who hold this position.

I think it was John D Rockefeller who, when asked how he could justify his wealth while others were starving, explained: If he divided all of his wealth equally among all the citizens of the US (and to be fair, he would have to give to everyone, since who could say one person is more deserving than another?), everyone would still be poor - and he would be poor along with them! But, by not dividing his wealth but using it to create more, how many people had jobs?

That, too, is enlightened self-interest.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:30 pm

More that "too". I'd call it the core of ES-I.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:51 pm

Paul Anthony wrote:
This borders upon an argument I have had so many times....

Some people believe that morality demands that the wealthy give to the poor, to prove their compassion (or something). Not surprisingly, it is usually the poor who hold this position.

Philosopher Peter Singer has made a similar argument based on carrying the Utilitarian principle to its logical extreme. But I prefer to follow a more moderate path of reasonable morality: find an optimum balance between self-interest and other-interest. And as Ayn Rand suggested, there's a lot more "others", so "self" must carry a lot of weight to provide a counterbalance.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:43 am

Paineful,

I get what you're saying about enlightened self-interest and I agree. To help others you must first help yourself.

I agree with you about repentance. I just don't believe the Bible's version is real repentance. By the Bible repenting is turning away from worldly things and turning to God's laws so you can save your soul from Hell. I don't believe repentance is trying to follow rules but instead it should be following your heart even if your heart tells you to break the rules. A good person doesn't even need rules. Rules are for controlling the bad. If everyone was good we wouldn't even need rules. I also don't think that it's true repentance if you're doing it to get saved from Hell. A person who repents is someone who would be good even if there is no punishment or reward. I believe that a man that is good without looking for a reward is a better man than a man who is even better but looking for a reward. I try to do good things because it's the right thing to do and the only reward I get is a clean conscience. I hope there is an afterlife but I don't know if there is one. If there isn't then that's fine because immortality is God's and mortality is man's. God could of not even made me so I'm thankful for my short life. I guess that's another reason I repented because I realized that life is short so I should make the best out of it and doing good is my way of saying,"Thanks God for the life you gave me." In a way I didn't repent to get eternal life but because I'm grateful and I feel obligated to pay for the life I already have.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:31 am

Schizophretard wrote:
Paineful,

I get what you're saying about enlightened self-interest and I agree. To help others you must first help yourself.

I agree with you about repentance. I just don't believe the Bible's version is real repentance. By the Bible repenting is turning away from worldly things and turning to God's laws so you can save your soul from Hell. I don't believe repentance is trying to follow rules but instead it should be following your heart even if your heart tells you to break the rules. A good person doesn't even need rules. Rules are for controlling the bad. If everyone was good we wouldn't even need rules. I also don't think that it's true repentance if you're doing it to get saved from Hell. A person who repents is someone who would be good even if there is no punishment or reward. I believe that a man that is good without looking for a reward is a better man than a man who is even better but looking for a reward. I try to do good things because it's the right thing to do and the only reward I get is a clean conscience. I hope there is an afterlife but I don't know if there is one. If there isn't then that's fine because immortality is God's and mortality is man's. God could of not even made me so I'm thankful for my short life. I guess that's another reason I repented because I realized that life is short so I should make the best out of it and doing good is my way of saying,"Thanks God for the life you gave me." In a way I didn't repent to get eternal life but because I'm grateful and I feel obligated to pay for the life I already have.

Sounds good. I would only add that doing good to avoid guilt, or holding yourself as more or less worthy than others are also problematic.

BTW, to give credit where credit is due, I think the religious elevation of poverty can be traced back to Jesus and John the Baptizer, not Paul. To correct Jesus' analogy about the afterlife, many of the first here shall also be first there, and many of the last here shall also be last there. Neither the rich nor the poor should feel guilt over their wealth or their poverty if they're living moral and honorable lives.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:39 pm

Paineful,

Do you believe there will be an afterlife and some kind of judgement? The only thing I'm sure of is that there is no Hell.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Fri Feb 29, 2008 2:40 am

Quote :
Do you believe there will be an afterlife and some kind of judgement? The only thing I'm sure of is that there is no Hell.

That is actually a profound question for me.

Belief in God I would say is predicated upon belief in an afterlife and a belief that our actions have meaning in this life.

It matters not whether our actions are "judged" only that they have meaning and ramificiations, presumably in any possible afterlife.

Again, good question.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:37 am

Schizophretard wrote:
Paineful,

Do you believe there will be an afterlife and some kind of judgement? The only thing I'm sure of is that there is no Hell.

If there is an afterlife, I believe there will necessarily be judgment--not by God, but by ourselves in the undeniable light of Truth. If the Truth is too painful, oblivion will be the humane resolution rather than hell; the only resolution the ones who remain, as well as God, could stand.
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PostSubject: Re: Moral Progress   Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:53 am

I believe if there is an afterlife the judgement would be a continuing process that's purpose is to make us better people kinda like the reason we punish our children.
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