Fundamental Human Morals Actually Exist?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by goofyfish, Apr 15, 2002.

  1. goofyfish Analog By Birth, Digital By Design Valued Senior Member

    I consider the worst possible things that humans can perpetrate :
    • Genocide
    • Murder
    • Pedophilia
    • Rape
    • Incest
    It seems, however, that not all societies have the above as taboo. Infanticide, genocide and murder have all been recorded as acceptable in some Papua New Guinea tribes by Jared Diamond. Tutelage of children in sexual practice by their relatives has been recorded as having been acceptable in some South Pacific island societies by Captain Cook and Captain Bligh during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Incest has been recorded as both common and acceptable in Egyptian and Roman (imperial) societies. There are examples in previous centuries where rape was not considered a terrible crime.

    Is condemning practitioners of the above “outrages” (as I personally would) merely cultural arrogance? Are there actually any morals that are fundamental to humanity? If so, what are they?

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  3. bbcboy Recovering christian Registered Senior Member

    Cultural arrogance is a very interesting term.
    I think the way of things as they stand is probably correct for western society. People have an intrinsic need for safety in their lives and therefore to allow these acts to take place without redress would probably undermine that feeling of security.

    If it's ok in papua new guinea then leave em to it is what I say. These are human beings but they're human beings who have indulged in these practices for thousands of years.

    Whether we think it's right or wrong I'm not sure we can pass judgement, and let's face it tutilidge in sexual practices could alleviate some of the STI statistics we cope with in the west (Theory, not practice, yuk) But there it is it's 'yukky' to most of us and therefore undesirable in the main. If some are compelled to do these things for whatever reason they obviously don't feel as 'yukky' about it.

    They are, or have become intrinsically wrong and punishable acts.

    The fact that they are ok elsewhere?

    In parts of england they thinnk it's ok to indulge in Morris Dancing but I think they should be shot too.

    Good question Goof'
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  5. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member


    Line dances should be a crime against humanity

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  7. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member

    I've read stuff now and then from anthropologists and such suggesting that waaaaay back in our early history, rape was indeed a very normal method of procreation. Consider an agressive male and a non-agressive male both seeing an appealing human-ancestor-chick. While the not so agressive one waits to be noticed so he can buy her flowers, the agressive one takes his opportunity and gets himself an heir. I would expext every living human has many rapists in their fmaily tree, if you go back far enough. However, I abhor rape. I think rapists whouls have their nuts cut off and fed to them. I would personally like to kill the people who raped two girls I know.

    I can also see where incest might have been normal in small, isolated communites of the past which did not have much opportunity for interaction with other communities. Hell, that probably still happens in stone age tribes today. And in Tasmania. I don't give so much of a damn about this one, it's not my problem. If families want deformed gimps inheriting the family farm, good for them.

    Genocide? I can see the validity of one tribe wiping out another tribe for the sole hunting rights to an area. That, too, is probably something in the ancestry of every living human, just like incest.

    A lot of things we might consider wrong today may have been perfectly acceptable at other times, in other situations. The question is, at what point in social evolution do these things become "bad"? And it just so happens I wrote an essay about that a while ago. I might post it later some time, don't know.
  8. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    I really don't see why people add insest to that sort of list. It seems to be the LEAST problem (when you are talking about adults, NOT a child and an adult)

    Actully i knew a girl whos family had broken up and she never new she had a twin brother. She ended up going out with him before she found out who he was
  9. Chagur .Seeker. Registered Senior Member

    goofyfish ...

    IMO ...

    "... merely cultural arrogance?"

    "Are there actually any morals that are fundamental to humanity?"

    But then, I've been known to be wrong (but not very often).

    Take care

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  10. *stRgrL* Kicks ass Valued Senior Member

    Culture arrogance?
    No, not at all. If something your doing to someone brings them grief and pain - No its not right at all. Just because they think its okay doesnt mean that it is. And yes - the western civilization needs to feel safe, but we also stress the importance of equality among people. Having a dad rape his little girl is not at all right - no matter what part of the world you are from.
    Incest - if the two people are of age to make mature decisions AND they both consent to it - and noone is feeling uncomfortable or any pain - hey why not! More power to em.

    I just dont want to live in a world where some people think those things are okay - and other people say "Well, its part of their culture, it okay". Well, just my opinion anyways...

    Groove on and take care of each other

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  11. Tyler Registered Senior Member

    I don't understand the arguement against incest personally.
    Don't get me wrong, probably solely because it's been taught to me this way since I was a baby but, I still am repulsed by the idea.

    Still, why is it wrong?

    It causes more handicaps?

    So what you're saying is that it should be illegal so that we can control human genetics? That's like saying someone who's mentally handicapped shouldn't be allowed to reproduce?

    Again though, this is between two (or more, I guess) people within legal age brackets.
  12. Xev Registered Senior Member

    I think that any activity involving consenting adults should be legal. That, of course, includes incest.

    That said;


    Adam: Of course, the rapist takes the chance that his victim will kill any potential offspring.

    Nowadays, we avoid the dilemna with abortion.

    Oh yes, and most cultures have been relativly tolerant of rape. When the victim was a virgin or somone's wife or mistress, then the perpetrator was in trouble.

    I doubt that there are any fundamental human morals. Some ethical standards are more common than others, but none are absolute.

    Asguard: Oh yes. They should write a section prohibiting country-western into the Geneva convention.
  13. xelius00 Registered Senior Member

    Yes... line dances should be outlawed, for sure. I will be writing about this to several powerful world leaders, seeking their opinions on the matter.
  14. Ash711 Registered Member


    Hello everyone, hi xev
    Just a quick thought 'bout this.
    Legally, the probem that may occur is determining what is 'consenting person' i.e how can you tell that when people make choices they are totally informed about what their choices implies ?
    For example, let's take drugs uasge and it's legalisation (in my country there is actually a very strong debate about cannabis)

    *by drugs i mean all substances that implies addiction, in both physical and psycho way.... yes coffee & chocolate is a drug

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    Most people who use them are consentant at the beggining (they like the effects) but regular use will reduce the possibility of quitting, so consentant or not you have to continue (even if you dont like the effect anymore). Do people will continue drug usage if they are totally aware of all the repercutions it has (isn't it the main argument of all these information policies)?

    About Sect, we can see the same schema, first complete liberty by choosing the sect which you will belong to, but after a while, your free-will is reduced. So, still consentant ?

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    Isn't it the goal of justice to protect misinformed people of what can reduce their liberty in the long term ? Of course it implies reducing your liberty in the short-term, but what is 6months in prison (for drug usage for example) compared to 5 year of desintoxication ? (theorically speaking....i agree that in real-life, both are very very very destructive, but that's a problem in prison, not in justice and law)
  15. Tyler Registered Senior Member

    She was talking about sex, I believe.

    "so consentant or not you have to continue "

    This I disagree with. Being someone who has stopped addictive things and has a mother who has stopped addictive things. Both of us stone-cold. Know why? Because all it is is a matter of will power.

    Trying to stop smoking?

    Just don't smoke. When you get a next-to-uncontrolable urge to pick up a cigarette, just don't. It's not really as difficult as people make it to be. If quitting means more than getting that next fix, than you should be able to do it easily.

    As for things that get physically addictive to the point where you would suffer withdrawl.....then if they want to quit it is up to them to consciencly choose to go into rehab. Liek alcohol.
  16. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    Incest is relative. Hmm, I think there is a pun there.

    In the USA marriage between cousins is illegal, and hence according to the definition of incest, sex between cousins is illegal. But in other countries such marriages have always been acceptable. And in India marriage between cousins is preferred.

    Recent findings show that any genetic disorder danger between such close relations is negligible.

    Other research shows that incest is widespread throughout the world. The fears of inbreeding resulting in genetic disorders have also been exaggerated despite all the red-neck jokes that abound.

    Logically if it could be shown that no genetic disorders would result from any offspring then there seems no good reason why incest should be viewed as immoral. And if modern contraception methods are considered then what is the problem?

    So while there is general discomfort among many concerning incest I wouldn’t consider it serious enough to place it as being among the worst of man’s actions.

    But there are two other items that haven’t been considered that I think should go on the list –


  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Lost resources & a new search

    When I was in college, I had an Anth/Sexuality textbook in which a feminist (only marginally important) author documented "rape" among flies and ducks. I can't recall the bit about ducks, but the part about flies was hilarious. Apparently, the studies suggested that female flies mated with males as determined by strength. That strength, apparently, had to do with food resources. Thus, a weaker fly would attack a stronger fly, scent itself with food, and thus lure a female fly into mating. Frankly, and the only reason I mention that the author was feminist, I find such an extension of a social crime into the world of animals a hard blow against the idea of rape. After all, have you ever watched cats mate? Let me take after Xev on this one: Ewwwwww! :bugeye:

    To the other, on a more humorous note, perhaps the funniest thing I ever saw in nature was a tomcat stalking a female, flipping her over onto her back, and mounting her ventrally. Feline missionary; I laughed for days about that.

    But ye gods, I wish I still had that sexuality text. Some of the material in it was beyond funny, some of it beyond morbid.

    However, a new search begins for me. A question has occurred to me to which I have no answer. Thus, I shall be attempting to discern the earliest conceptualization of rape while undertaking the question, What is the crime here? That is, did rape arise as a social recognition as a crime against women? Or did it rise as a violation of a male's property rights?

    After all, rape is mentioned in the Bible, but whose daughters was it that got him drunk and f--ked him? Furthermore, to stay with the Biblical vein for a moment, apparently allowing sodomy was a greater offense to God than throwing your daughters out to satisfy a frothing crowd.

    But, to the topic itself:

    Is condemning practitioners of the above “outrages” (as I personally would) merely cultural arrogance? Are there actually any morals that are fundamental to humanity? If so, what are they?

    I'm going to stand with Chagur on this one, in general. I, personally, find such ideas abhorrent, but I am also aware of the subjectivity of decency and the myth of human equality. However, it's not entirely fair to the offenses to class them together. Genocide (topic post), slavery (Cris), and torture (Cris) are acts which require a certain amount of collusion among multiple entities; that is, a conspiracy, confederation, or other convention among human beings. Genocide by one man is impossible; slavery cannot be maintained by one man alone; torture, in this sense, is performed toward a cause that typically involves more than one person.

    However, torture can be carried out by a single individual for no particular reason. Such psychopathic behavior, though, seems well out of the range of any cultural arrogance or any broader prohibition. One cannot account for another individual in this sense. In terms of the state, though, one has (by my cultural arrogance) an obligation to prevent or actively intervene against torture.

    Rape, murder, and pedophilia (including incestuous relations) involve a single perpetrator against a victim. True, these crimes can involve more than one perpetrator, but compared to the requirements for genocide, slavery, or torture, it is much easier to accomplish these as individual crimes.

    Incest among consenting adults ... again, I take after Xev.

    If we choose to remain absolutely subjective, though, it is definitely cultural arrogance which compels us to condemn such acts. However, I think an objective examination of the issues show that the human species has an obligation to prevent some of these.

    Torture is its own argument, unfortunately, insofar as the species has an obligation to prevent it. Murder occurs among other species, and often for arbitrary reasons. Incidentally, are there any recorded deaths among animals known to fight for mating rights? (I'm pretty sure there are, I'm just too lazy right now to look it up.) The moral condemnation of murder is thoroughly subjective. Crimes of passion, however, seem to have precedent in nature. (That girl is mine!)

    (Bang-bang you're dead. Did not, did too!)

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    Condemnation of rape is both subjective and objective. On the one hand, the condemnation is one of empathy; to the other, it is hardly healthy for the species to be abusing its reproductive center. Apologies for the utilitarian approach, but so it seems when we get right down to it.

    Pedophilia has an outright objective need for condemnation. While the social damage and psychological damage in the social creature might be either subjective or objective, what is most definitely objective is what we now know about sexuality and developing bodies. It is quite unhealthy for a girl to start having sex at too early an age; structural damage to the uterus and cervix can occur, and the likelihood of cervical cancer triples, as I recall, if a female has sexual intercourse at too young an age. This is bad for the species as well as the individual. And, frankly, you can't tell me that sodomizing a young boy and causing that physical damage isn't bad for the species.

    So perhaps I would draw a line against the notion of cultural arrogance when the species itself comes into play. Genocide and slavery are bad for the species; while wholesale destruction may occur among other species in nature, the added burden of humanity's self-awareness lends toward a standard of choice. If two groups of ants go to battle, and one entirely wipes out the other, perhaps that upset to the ecosystem will be bad for the victorious species. Perhaps their presence will offset that damage. But in humanity, where we can choose "genocide", "ethnic cleansing", "purging", and other such atrocities, we cannot allow acceptance of such destruction. Eventually, human diversity becomes threatened at the biological level and the species would be endangered.

    It may seem cold, but it's a numbers game as such. I would oppose slavery for the benefit of the species because any choice affecting a broad portion of humanity can create volatile results. To take the hypothetical: what if we never ran the African trade in the US? Where would our social development be? But if we accepted each other as a human family, what would our social progress look like? Perhaps in a more demanding, more primitive environment, slave labor accomplished more good than bad, but I cannot construct any vision of the modern world in which that would be so.

    But yeah, it's a numbers game. I find all these things abhorrent, but the reasons why ... well, it's an interesting question.

    By and large, though, yes, it's cultural arrogance and no, there are no fundamental morals that humans recognize.

    And we could probably argue about what's good or bad for the species until we're extinct and never figure that out.

    (Bang! Say da da-da da. Tell me yes, and let's feed the fire.)

    thanx much,

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  18. ImaHamster2 Registered Senior Member

    Would guess from studies of animal populations that many human values stem from innate drives. Culture builds on innate drives producing a societal norm. Immoral might be seen as behavior that diverges from that norm. Cultures may share certain values reflecting innate human characteristics while differing greatly in the expression of those values. Existing universal values might not be recognized as people pay more attention to differences than to similarities. Values that are shared tend to be overlooked.

    As for “merely cultural arrogance”…the choice of the words “merely” and “arrogance” adds emotional overtones to what should be a simple observation, a society propagates its values. A society's values may clash. Promoting tolerance and respect for the beliefs of other cultures may clash with protecting individual rights and dignity.

    A society lives by its own rules and values, not those of another society. (There is accommodation based on relative military, economic, cultural, and political power.) The question seems less about cultural arrogance than about what societal values determine conduct with other societies and whether a society has the power to influence other societies.
  19. Cactus Jack Death Knight of Northrend Registered Senior Member

    I think its mostly true that most of these ideas becoming taboo are part of our nature. Genocide, and incest all have (some would say) certain negative effects on the gene pool. However I feel:

    Good and Evil are things that change from society to society culter to culture, time period to time period. Like the ideals of "beauty". So your beliefs on things are effected by your conditioning not mostly your natural sense of "right an wrong" and that punishing or looking down upon these things are natural do to your conditioning. But condemning another culture because they have different ideals is wrong. Just because you can't comprehend them doesn't make them wrong.

    5/8 natural, the rest your culture. To help clarify: You've been condition to believe men wearing a bra and a skirt is wrong, does it really make it unethical? Or has it been drilled into your mind?

    Have you been tought to think or to believe?
  20. ImaHamster2 Registered Senior Member

    Cactus Jack posted:
    “But condemning another culture because they have different ideals is wrong.”

    The above quote represents a cultural value. Other cultures may not share this value. Perhaps it would be arrogant to apply this “tolerance” value to a culture that does not value tolerance. Hehe.

    This hamster supports tolerance and diversity and in general agrees with Cactus Jack. That does not mean that tolerance should be extended to groups that don’t themselves advocate tolerance. Nor does tolerance mean that one can’t argue for one’s beliefs and promote one’s own society.
  21. Ash711 Registered Member

    i disagree with this and genocide being *just* a cultural value. It has been spotted in cooperative games theory that two population will more probably survive cooperatively. Seems to me that they are strategies / traits that can determines whether a population can perpetuate easily or not.

    Maybe what we consider today as our morale/values are just a reminescence of all the strategies used to build human culture ? (just a quickie thought here)
  22. ImaHamster2 Registered Senior Member

    Ash, interesting…this hamster almost mentioned “Tit-for-tat” as a strategy for dealing with non-tolerant societies. Game theory seems relevant when a tolerant society interacts with a non-tolerant society. (Cooperative strategies in the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” computer tournaments are interesting. This hamster tends to follow a “forgiving Tit-for-tat” strategy in daily life.)
  23. Cactus Jack Death Knight of Northrend Registered Senior Member

    First, I didn't say it was just a culturally impose value and did state that part of our ethics are based on natural needs.

    Second I do agree that different ideas should be used when dealing with a culture with no tolerance, the main point I was trying to say was don't hate just because you don't understand.


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