Does intelligence correlate to moral character?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Magical Realist, Dec 21, 2014.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    You would think it might. Intelligence afterall implies the ability to reason things out accurately, to make correct inferences about people and situations, and to exercise good judgement. OTOH, a very intelligent person may also be very immature, having only honed his acumen as a tool or weapon to manipulate people and bully them around for his own amusement. What do you think? Does intelligence improve oneself morally? Does being smart entail having strong values of empathy, altruism, and social duty?
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
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  3. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    The problem, as always, is in defining intelligence.
     
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    There have been some very intelligent, by anyone's measure, psychopaths. A look at the extraordinarily clever people running the big banks and financial corporations of the US 2000 - 2005 reveals a level of amorality quite startling to those unfamiliar with Banking Man. Ebenezer Scrooge was drawn from life, also - seasonal reference. A smart guy - very intelligent.

    Stupid people are often kind and helpful, in my experience. This is true so often that one occasionally meets people who assume that kind people are dumb.

    So there may be a correlation, but it's pretty weak.
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    In fact, it may be negative!
     
  8. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    It does nothing that can be quantified so anyone can be a nice person or a asshole.
     
  9. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

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    I think it would take an intelligent person to be immoral. I think it takes a higher level of intelligence to know how to make use of others, or be manipulative. I think more "intelligent" people are faced with a choice of being moral, or immoral, and therefore, if they chose to be moral, may be more resolute.
     
  10. elte Valued Senior Member

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    Indeed, there is a level of intelligence below which morality no longer applies. Below that threshold a being can't be immoral.
     
  11. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I agree with Iceaura, there may be a (positive) correlation but it's pretty weak. I think intelligence is generally a good thing as it reduces ignorance. If someone is intelligent and a psychopath then of course intelligence is not positive as far as this question is concerned.

    Otherwise, I think intelligence does result in slightly better behavior but that correlation is most likely pretty weak.
     
  12. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    The owners of cigarette companies know that they are selling things that will cause great bodily harm yet they still keep selling their product even though they are very smart.
     
  13. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    What makes you say they are very smart? They are just employees of a company that happens to make and market a legal product. Owners are shareholders of mutual funds which could include or anyone with a 401k, IRA or pension plan.

    People who work at or own stock in McDonalds knowingly selling lousy food. These aren't really "moral" issues.

    Someone smart enough to feel empathy for someone who lives in a different country might not start a war with them while someone of lesser intelligence "might" not start such a war.

    As was mentioned earlier however, the connection is probably a weak one.
     
  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    None of those things translate to making moral decisions. It might be quite wise (but not moral) to deceive investors if you believe it will benefit you.
     
  15. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    The moral decision that the OWNERS of cigarette companies have is that they know damn well and have known for decades that the products they sell are very harmful and deadly to people yet they seem to not care about what happens to members of the society they live in other than making profits. The OWNERS of these companies can easily stop production but instead choose not to and keep on likking others while never smoking themselves. To be an owner of any large company you must have somewhat good intelligence or else you would be losing money not earning it.
     
  16. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    This has nothing to do with the topic. You can own stupid owners of businesses making products that you disapprove of as well. Being successful at business and having above average intelligence has less of a connection that being intelligent and moral.
     
  17. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    John 2:9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.

    According to this evil is the lack of wisdom. Knowledge is a virtue.
     
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    And yet when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge God had this to say:

    "“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
    In pain you shall bring forth children . . . ."

    "Cursed is the ground for your sake;
    In toil you shall eat of it
    All the days of your life.
    Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
    And you shall eat the herb of the field.
    In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
    Till you return to the ground,
    For out of it you were taken;
    For dust you are,
    And to dust you shall return.”

    Sounds like he was pretty peeved that they acquired knowledge.
     
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  19. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Or maybe he just really likes his fruit tree.
     
  20. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    I think it can be said that the correlation is probably nil.
     
  21. andy1033 Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

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    No, you could be clever and practise the dark side of your nature. I do not think morals has anything to do with it.

    To create something pure in nature, i think you need to have morals though. I think if you are intelligent, and want to create something pure in nature, you have to have morals.

    But i would think many science people like there dark nature.
     
  22. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    No more than anyone. Some of the worst people I've ever met have been virulently anti-science. Others, about as bad, have been open thinkers.
     
  23. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    Why is that verse relevant to my verse?
     

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