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gnuneo
it is always dodgy to start such a thread without an article to give a direction, especialy when there are so many trolls around ATM, yet i think this is a serious issue, and one well worth discussing amongst ourselves.

my position:

yes, i think there *are* some universal values that can be applied, values such as fredom, individual liberty, economic security etc etc etc - there are however two main opponents of this position.

1. those who take the term 'democracy' for example, and then twist the general value (which means the empowerment of the individual within a group framework), and spin it into the notion that US or UK democracy is the only applicable form - in essence thay worship the word, and not the concept. This is clearly fallacious in a discussion about universal human values - there are far too many flaws in the UK and US models (for instance how representative are US senators in terms of educational, economic and life experiences in comparison with the general US population?) for this to be regarded as a universally applicable system.
2. those who claim that all systems, cultures and beleifs are relative and therefore equal, and those who criticise a system are expressing essentially 'cultural imperialism'.



what are your thoughts on this matter?
Dragonspirit
I do not believe there are universal human values, as not everyone values the same things.

However, I do believe there is auniversal morality that governs us all. Quite simply, there is right and wrong, and one's individual era, nation, culture, etc are no excuse to break that.
Gengari
I'm sure those people whom you would condemn to hell, even though they had no chance for salvation or knowledge that they were sinning, are comforted by that.

There is a single universal human value, which is in all life. Survival.
Dragonspirit
Where exactly did I condemn anyone to hell?

I believe what I stated regardless of any relgious connotations. If you could prove to me there was nothing beyond our mortality, I would still believe it just as deeply.

QUOTE
There is a single universal human value, which is in all life. Survival.


Actually that's not true. Islamic culture, for example, teaches that all things on the earth are fleeting and that it is therefore irrelevent to vest yourself into these things. Pleasing the divine is infinitiely more important than any survival, as none survive but by the will of Allah.
Gengari
My point was more that there is no universal morality, merely your own, which you want everyone to follow. Those whom have never heard of your "universal" morality, have no means to follow it.

This is not to say that your morality is wrong, but merely semantics. Rather than it truely being a universal morality, it's morality which comes from within you, which you apply to everyone universally.

And you have a point about survival...
MindsWideOpen
Although by that line of argument you could still point to survival, as they then would aim to please God and survive mortal life, ending up in Heaven. I would go a much simpler route and just point to suicide.
Zippo
Well, I don't think there are universal values.

QUOTE
yes, i think there *are* some universal values that can be applied, values such as fredom, individual liberty, economic security etc etc etc - there are however two main opponents of this position.

Freedom is far from beeing a universal value. Actually the word itself is practically an absurd. What is freedom?? There are allmost as many interpretations as people on the planet.
Economic security? If this was an universal value then people wouldn't risk all of their savings in personal projects, and yet they do.
Same goes to democracy. There are lots of interpretactions about it all just as valid.


QUOTE
However, I do believe there is auniversal morality that governs us all. Quite simply, there is right and wrong, and one's individual era, nation, culture, etc are no excuse to break that.

Again no, right and wrong are cultural and social concepts that vary acording to time and place. This is perhaps even easier to see in todays globalized world. Basically we can see how whats right for me its wrong for you..etc.
Its my personal belief that as humans nothing is right and nothing is wrong, but as individuals living in a society we have to accept (willingly or not) those concepts.


QUOTE
There is a single universal human value, which is in all life. Survival.

This doesn't explain suicide. The fact that millions of people in all the history of man kind chose to take their own life for X reason proves theres no universal survaival value or "instinct".



Raider
QUOTE
If you could prove to me [that i'm wrong], I would still believe [i'm right].


Are you retarded or lying?
Demosthenes
There are several universal human values. The most notable is probably free thought. Name one religion/culture that does not allow it.
MindsWideOpen
QUOTE(Raider @ Aug 25 2005, 05:00 AM)
Are you retarded or lying?

I think that what he is trying to say is either: "Even if you could prove to me [that I would get no rewards in the afterlife], I would still [endeavour to follow this morality and make others follow it]" or "Even if you could prove to me [that there was no God], I would still [believe in the existance of an independent, universal morality]".
Wolfenstein
Are there? Or should there be?
Thor of the Orange Hammer
Universal values? Good question.

I believe that all share a basic notion some call freedom and some call liberty. These of course are articulated by John Locke better than by anyone else.

Or as T.Jefferson put it; The right to life, liberty and to persue happiness.

The right to life generally accepted to mean that there are no high and/or low born and nobody has a God given right to take another persons' life or to even rule over them.

The right to liberty is one of the liberty to think and believe as one chooses with out coerhision.

The right to persue happiness is just that. Not to be happy but to try to live your life in a fulfilling way. To try and to sucseed or to fail.

John Lockes' only real qualifier was tht if in the persuit of these liberties or rights that if you infringe upon others' liberties or rights then you are wrong.
kylie
I agree near enough with the second argument listed. A simple example of the flaw of universal human values and rights can be seen in how often there are conflicts between different people's rights. You'll have the christian church defending 'the rights of unborn children' while others argue for the right to choice. In near enough every conflict now you find individuals basing their arguments on their rights. Isreal/Palestine is another example.

All these different groups are able to construct value systems that ensure they are correct and that their interests are served, this shows how values are very much relative.
Gengari
QUOTE(Zippo @ Aug 24 2005, 04:48 PM)
This doesn't explain suicide. The fact that millions of people in all the history of man kind chose to take their own life for X reason proves theres no universal survaival value or "instinct".


Doesn't disprove anything: In our base form, with no societal intervention, we (humans) strive for survival, if nothing else.

Society comes in and changes and complicates things, causing people to lose track of the origonal desire to survive, or they merely believe they have a greater cause now.
Zippo
QUOTE
Doesn't disprove anything: In our base form, with no societal intervention, we (humans) strive for survival, if nothing else.

Society comes in and changes and complicates things, causing people to lose track of the origonal desire to survive, or they merely believe they have a greater cause now.

To talk about human beeing without no societal intervention i belive implicates lots of speculation since humans are born within societies. There are very few known cases of humans been raised completely alone and even still they have been in touch with societies.

Society might change the reasons for commiting suicide, but suicide has been around through all the history of man kind. And appart from suicide, if there was some universal survival value the why do people risk their life to save another person??, why do people go to war?? Shouldn't they be trying to save themselves at all cost??

The thing is, human beeigs are not an animals, we ALLWAYS has something that makes us "lose track of the origonal desire to survive", even if we were born alone in the middle of the jungle, thats what make us humans.


Besides, the question was about "universal" values, that is a value that is the same for all men in all the times and places. So by the fact that some people don't appear to have this value, then you can pretty much discard its "universal" carasteristic. This i why i say there are no universal values.
acow
QUOTE
Doesn't disprove anything: In our base form, with no societal intervention, we (humans) strive for survival, if nothing else.


If we must talk about "our base form", although you and i are almost infintely unlikely to ever meet such a being, or whether such a being even exists to be found, i believe you'll find the more fundamental drive in such a case is aversion to pain, discomfort and suffering. It is, admitedly, very hard to concieve of a painless death outside of alot of modern knowlege.

Of course unfortunately, as with suicide overcoming the desire for survival, there is also cases of individuals overcoming their aversion to pain and suffering (short of making the definition of pain and aversion to it a tautology)
Gengari
Zippo: Don't go in circles...

As for your last paragraph... people change after birth, through experience and learning.

Acow: An aversion to pain is actually part of the survival instinct, in my eyes.
Zippo
QUOTE
Zippo: Don't go in circles...

???????

QUOTE
As for your last paragraph... people change after birth, through experience and learning.

Thats right, people change all the time, societies change all the time, values change all the time....
Stimulant
beauty and stablity.
Gengari
Zippo: And yet, when people are born, there is a natural instinct to obtain nourishment, shy away from painful experiences, gain comfort and safety in a shelter.

This covers all societies and cultures, although oftentimes societies train people out of it for various reasons (military service, religious reasons, etc).
Zippo
Yes, humans much like animals tend respond to different stimulus (estimulos?) that make us act in certain way, this is more easily seen in childs, but the difference is that humans have the posivility, through reason, not to act acording to those biological impulses. So basically, humans have no instinct because instincts are something that animals can't avoid following, dogs cant avoid eating when they are hungry or run away when are in danger, etc. and we clearly can. So even in a biological level there are no human behaviors predefined.


But anyway, when we talk about values we are talking about cultural constructions not biological behaviors.
Gengari
Ah, no. Animals can also be trained to ignore instincts, zippo, so your argument about that falls apart.


And even societies prove my point: the very formation of a society helps with survival.
Zippo
QUOTE
Ah, no. Animals can also be trained to ignore instincts, zippo, so your argument about that falls apart.

Hows that? Some animal can can learn some things through conditioning or via coercion. But you can hardly teach your dog to ignore its inctints. Instinct are genetic inherited group of behaviours, there is no leanring and no thinking in instict, just acting, and that can't be unlearned. You can teach your dog all the trick you like, but if the dog is hungry he will it, if he see a female dof he will try to fuck her etc, etc.
This remind me of the story about the frog and the scorpion crossing the river...


QUOTE
And even societies prove my point: the very formation of a society helps with survival.

Im not saying that people don't tend to try to survive, this is obviuos, all im saying is that in no way this is an instinct or an universal value. If by society we mean a group af persons that join together in order to make life easier, well there are also persons that choose no to join.
Gengari
QUOTE(Zippo @ Aug 27 2005, 08:34 AM)
Hows that? Some animal can can learn some things through conditioning or via coercion. But you can hardly teach your dog to ignore its inctints. Instinct are an inherited group of behaviours, there is no leanring and no thinking in instict, just acting, and that can't be unlearned. You can teach your dog all the trick you like, but if the dog is hungry he will it, if he see a female dof he will try to fuck her etc, etc.


In the past, people taught horses to ignore the roar of battle. Steel clashing with steel, sharp spears pointed at them as they charged at the enemy line, guns being fired off...

Yes, you can train animals to ignore survival instincts, if you want.

QUOTE
Im not saying that people don't tend to try to survive, this is obviuos,  all im saying is that in no way this is an instinct or an universal value. If by society we mean a group af persons that join together in order to make life easier, well there are also persons that choose no to join.



No shit? rolleyes.gif Gah, you're dim... Even religion proves my point. People try and survive by pleasing their god. Even though they could just commit suicide to go t the afterlife, the religions are usually cleverly designed to prevent that-- to help with survival.
Zippo
QUOTE
In the past, people taught horses to ignore the roar of battle. Steel clashing with steel, sharp spears pointed at them as they charged at the enemy line, guns being fired off...

Yes, you can train animals to ignore survival instincts, if you want.

And yet the horses flee from battle once they don't have a coercitive force on top of them. It's not that they ignore their instinct ( they cant), is that they are forced to act otherwise, once they are not forced they run away.


QUOTE
No shit?  Gah, you're dim... Even religion proves my point. People try and survive by pleasing their god. Even though they could just commit suicide to go t the afterlife, the religions are usually cleverly designed to prevent that-- to help with survival.

So what is your point?, that most people try to survive or that ALL people try to survive??? Theres a big difference.


All i said is:

Do most people try to survive? Yes
Do all people try to survive? NO
So, Is the "survival value" universal??? NO
zaragosa
There are rather obviously no moral values that are held universally by all humans simply because at least some humans have no values whatsoever (e.g. because they don't have sufficient brain activity to entertain thoughts).
Whether or not there is a universal morality is a question better left to Alberich.
Gengari
QUOTE(Zippo @ Aug 27 2005, 11:07 AM)
And yet the horses flee from battle once they don't have a coercitive force on top of them. It's not that they ignore their instinct ( they cant), is that they are forced to act otherwise, once they are not forced they run away.


Not necisarily. They are trained to ignore their instinct, not forced to act against it. There's a distinct difference between the two.

Much like humans do to their people, when they join the military.

QUOTE
So what is your point?, that most people try to survive or that ALL people try to survive??? Theres a big difference.


My point was that all people when born try to survive.

Just as a roman catholic priest can become a heretical satanic priest, a person who desires survival can become a person who does not. That people diverge from the instinctual desire to survive does not mean it's not universal, it merely means they have other desires they feel are more important than survival.
Zippo
QUOTE
Not necisarily. They are trained to ignore their instinct, not forced to act against it. There's a distinct difference between the two.

Much like humans do to their people, when they join the military.


Again, instincts can't be ignored, there is no reasoning in instincts, just acting, its in the genes. They are an innate pattern of behaviour product of evolution and are complsive and unmodifiable (only trough evolution of course).



QUOTE
My point was that all people when born try to survive.

Just as a roman catholic priest can become a heretical satanic priest, a person who desires survival can become a person who does not. That people diverge from the instinctual desire to survive does not mean it's not universal, it merely means they have other desires they feel are more important than survival.

Universal implies something that is the same for all time and space in all the galaxies and all the worlds.... So semantically something beeing universal is pretty propostrous. But of course we are only talking about human race.

QUOTE
That people diverge from the instinctual desire to survive does not mean it's not universal, it merely means they have other desires they feel are more important than survival

But how can something even pretend to be universal if its not even something that is a common carasteristic of a specie. I mean, in all the history of man kind there have been suicides and other similarities. Theres has never been a period of time or a place where this didn't happen. Not even in an empiric level this afirmation is accurate.

A silly example: Its like me saying there is a universal instinct for men to walk an their hands all the time but they just have more important thing to do, but belive me, its universal.



Anyway, we have clarly different postures on this subject, thas all right, its been a good debate.
Gengari
QUOTE(Zippo @ Aug 28 2005, 12:22 PM)
Again, instincts can't be ignored, there is no reasoning in instincts, just acting, its in the genes. They are an innate pattern of behaviour product of evolution and are complsive and unmodifiable  (only trough evolution of course).


It is in the genes, but that doesn't mean shit. The genes merely guide in a passive matter, and even for animals, they can be ignored. Everyone has the instinct to eat and drink-- else we'd not feel hunger pains, or a dry throat.

We can ignore it.

We instinctually desire to breathe-- but we can ignore that desire, and hold our breath until we pass out from lack of oxygen.

Just the same, military applications teach one to put themselves in danger, which goes against one's survival instinct.


Also: If you want to argue semantics, then go wave an American flag while dancing around naked in Iraq.
Zippo
QUOTE
It is in the genes, but that doesn't mean shit. The genes merely guide in a passive matter, and even for animals, they can be ignored. Everyone has the instinct to eat and drink-- else we'd not feel hunger pains, or a dry throat.

We can ignore it.

We instinctually desire to breathe-- but we can ignore that desire, and hold our breath until we pass out from lack of oxygen.

Just the same, military applications teach one to put themselves in danger, which goes against one's survival instinct.


No, the very definition of instict is acting not the posibility of acting. Beeing hungry or having a dry throat are not instincts (is in any case they are biological funtions), but eating when you are hungry is. The difference is that humans get hungry like animals, but that doesn't mean that the human is going to eat. In animals this behaviour is compulsive, if he is hungry he will eat, that is instinct.

QUOTE
We instinctually desire to breathe-- but we can ignore that desire, and hold our breath until we pass out from lack of oxygen.

The desire of anything is not instinctive but purely rational, animals don't desire, they act according to their intincts. Breathing is again a biological funtion, that as you said can be controlled by humans, therefore its not instinctive in them.
Gengari
QUOTE(dictionary.com)
inĚstinct    P  Pronunciation Key  (nstngkt)
An inborn pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli: the spawning instinct in salmon; altruistic instincts in social animals.


That is the definition of instinct I use. Notice, that it merely says it's a pattern of behavior a species is born with-- not an unchangable urge to do something. Animals can be trained to ignore their instincts, just like humans.

And instincts are desires and needs. A desire or need does not necisarily have anything to do with logic.
Zippo
QUOTE
That is the definition of instinct I use. Notice, that it merely says it's a pattern of behavior a species is born with-- not an unchangable urge to do something. Animals can be trained to ignore their instincts, just like humans.

And instincts are desires and needs. A desire or need does not necisarily have anything to do with logic.

Yes, thats a correct definition, although instinct are a complicated thing, you can't pretend to define them properly in two lines. When i think of instinct a think perhaps about the ethologyst definition, or at least Lorenz's, even when i dont agree with ethology.

I couldn't find a good link, but basically in this definition instinctive behaviour patterns are innate, rigid and do not get modified. This was an polemic affirmation in its time, and still is, but i just find it much more accuratte than a more phychologist definition. Basically the statement that animals can learn or ignore instinctive behaviours is reduced only to a small number of spicies (apes and stuff) and even then is arguable, so it just doesn't quite make it for me.


Animal do have biological needs and urges, but not desires. Desire implies to reason about something that you may or may not get. Animals don't have that hability. Now, if you tell me that animals have reason, then this is going to be a loooong debate.
Gengari
Again, desires don't necisarily have any real reason for it. A desire is merely a want for something, for whatever reason: A want for food, water, shelter, as they need these things in order to survive. You must make an assumption that survival is good, in order to begin using logic, as logic in itself has no starting point. This, as I said, is innate to all people whom have not been changed by society and circumstance.

As for your rant about instincts: If you claim that instincts are unchangable, then the only things in domesticated animals which are instincts are breathing and the beating of the heart.
Zippo
OK
gnuneo
gengari: excellent arguments.

the desire to survive IS innate in all life-forms - this has been easily demonstrated, from microbes upwards. That behaviour can be taught that circumvents this desire, or ideas learned that modify *personal* survival into national survival, family (close genetic relatives) survival, 'meme' survival (sacrifice life for free speech/pacifism etc), does not detract from this base instinct.

in fact, without accepting this base instinct of survival, its quite hard to see how any form of morality can exist - moral systems are the patterns of behaviour social animals guide themselves through to survival, and depend upon the enivrons of the learning animal, ie the survival behaviour of an australian aboriginal will be quite different from that of a buddhist monk, and an inner city 'gangsta' youth in america, or an upper middle class banker in italy.

IF this is accepted, the question becomes: which values (patterns of fixed and evolving morality in social terms) give the highest survival potentia for the humans within it?


zippo: every criticism you apply to animals can be applied to humans - humans have merely evolved to a level where *more* of our behaviour is learned, it is a false argument to claim we have no instincts - to doubt this is ridiculous, have you never heard of adolescence, when the body *on its own accord* starts pumping out hormones?

equally, *every* animal lifeform we have encountered interacts with its environment in a meaningfull way... in fact thats how we determine it IS a lifeform LOL.

Zippo
QUOTE
zippo: every criticism you apply to animals can be applied to humans - humans have merely evolved to a level where *more* of our behaviour is learned, it is a false argument to claim we have no instincts - to doubt this is ridiculous, have you never heard of adolescence, when the body *on its own accord* starts pumping out hormones?

equally, *every* animal lifeform we have encountered interacts with its environment in a meaningfull way... in fact thats how we determine it IS a lifeform LOL.


I think both Gengari and i have our own particular visions about this subject, now its up to the reader of this topic to make up his own conclutions.

I'll answer this thoug.

genuneo: Humans are not animals and can't (or shouldn't) be analised in the same way. I'm not saying that humans don't get biological and quimical reaction to certain outside stimuli, we do of course, and adolecense is a period of time with lots of biological changes. The thing is that humans don't act compulsively to this quimical reactions. Adolencents suffer lot of changes, but that doesn't mean that a boy is going to jump on a girl to copulate, instead animals will, a dog will even hump in your leg when he is at that age, they can't hepl it. I say humans have no instinct because we have the hability to reason, to controll ourselves. This is not a minor diference, you can't simplify human behaviour to instincts. Humans are biologial and cultural beens, not one alone but both combined.


QUOTE
in fact, without accepting this base instinct of survival, its quite hard to see how any form of morality can exist - moral systems are the patterns of behaviour social animals guide themselves through to survival


Also, for me morality is not a pattern of behaviour but a cultural construction wich sometimes isn't even compatible with "survival".
Killing another persons is a pattern of behaviour, but in most societies this is not considered moral.
Also, in some societies killing yourself is a moral action that goes against the suposed survaival nature of humans.
Gengari
Survival isn't moral, it is the beginning of logic for humans. There is no reason for logic to exist, except to rationalize how we survive and make us feel better, or to help us survive.
gnuneo
QUOTE
gnuneo: Humans are not animals and can't (or shouldn't) be analised in the same way.


so if we are nopt aninmals... are we then 'gawds creatures'? just trying to understand your position - in what way did we evolve so as to be so entirely different from everyone else?

QUOTE
I'm not saying that humans don't get biological and quimical reaction to certain outside stimuli, we do of course, and adolecense is a period of time with lots of biological changes. The thing is that humans don't act compulsively to this quimical reactions. Adolencents suffer lot of changes, but that doesn't mean that a boy is going to jump on a girl to copulate, instead animals will, a dog will even hump in your leg when he is at that age, they can't hepl it. I say humans have no instinct because we have the hability to reason, to controll ourselves. This is not a minor diference, you can't simplify human behaviour to instincts. Humans are biologial and cultural beens, not one alone but both combined.


a bird has the instinct to build a nest (if it is a nest builder breed) - yet does the bird have a rigid determination for how it builds it, or does it adapt to the materials at hand, the size of twigs etc?

this depends on the definition of 'instincts' though - are they rigidly determined behavioural patterns built into the genetic structures, or are they hardwired tendencies towards a certain form of behaviour?

i would say the latter, and i would also say that that opens up the realisation that humans have exactly the same influences upon us - mammalian behavioural habits are markedly different from eg reptilian (parental roles, societal influences etc ), and to deny our inheritance from our mammalian genetic structures seems to be... an extreme viewpoint, not that i necesarily think less of it for that.

QUOTE
Also, for me morality is not a pattern of behaviour but a cultural construction

a cultural construction of *what*? (ps - you might find "pattern of behaviour" fitting quite well... tongue.gif )

QUOTE
wich sometimes isn't even compatible with "survival".


direct survival perhaps - yet in nearly every case (of the top of my head i can't find a single instance other), social morality is the patterns that the society has determined as the highest form of 'survival' - although not necessarily for the individual.

QUOTE
Killing another persons is a pattern of behaviour, but in most societies this is not considered moral.


so "most societies" would regard the execution of murderers as immoral? i find it a pity that it is not *all* societies that achieve this level of enlightenment, but heartening that you so do. you seem to have a higher morality than most americans... at least higher than those from the Deep South. But hell - that isnt exactly hard is it wink.gif

QUOTE
Also, in some societies killing yourself is a moral action that goes against the suposed survaival nature of humans.


in fact this is largely a red-herring argument - even someone on the verge of leaping in front of a trian will likely tell you that survival is the right of all humans (and if they are VERY developed they might even extend it to all life) - survival IS a human value that crosses all boundaries - whether it is instinctual or cultural, whether it is instinctual but can be culturally adapted, is in actual fact irrelevant to the discussion.

The fact of the matter is, the value of survival is indeed a common human universal one.

at least in my opinion.


but what about 'freedom'? i have seen it argued that freedom is learned, yet it is extremely clear from studies on animals in zoos that these creatures, whilst they may not have the concept of 'freedom' to play around with, most certainly have the understanding of what it is to live without it. And i tend to think that if an animal can understand something, then humans can too. Freedom is one of those things, as the saying goes "you don't appreciate it until it is gone" - if you can agree with this, then the logical next thought is that that supports the notion that freedom is the natural state - we only question when it is removed, although to be sure this also requires conceptual thinking to understand exactly *what* it is lost.


and on this topic, i remember someone posting an article about a study done on monkeys where the understanding of 'fairness', was clearly shown to be... perhaps instinctual, perhaps otherwise, but i am willing to bet that in every culture, in every time, children had their own version of "But thats not fair!!!!".

survival, freedom and fairness - whats the collective wisdom on these two potential universal values?
Zippo
QUOTE
so if we are nopt aninmals... are we then 'gawds creatures'? just trying to understand your position - in what way did we evolve so as to be so entirely different from everyone else?

Gawds animals?? whats that??
Anyway, we are not animals, we have lots of thing that separate animals from us. Mainly im thinking of our thinking capacity wich no other species have. I could also mention language, bipedism, and others caracteristic that atropologist consider important in the hominization proces. I don't think any serious scientist would tell you we are just talking monkeys. We are biological beens, but not animals where are something else, humans.


QUOTE
a bird has the instinct to build a nest (if it is a nest builder breed) - yet does the bird have a rigid determination for how it builds it, or does it adapt to the materials at hand, the size of twigs etc?

Why yes, go to your back yard and notice how the same species of birds build the same tipe of nest.


QUOTE
this depends on the definition of 'instincts' though - are they rigidly determined behavioural patterns built into the genetic structures, or are they hardwired tendencies towards a certain form of behaviour?

i would say the latter, and i would also say that that opens up the realisation that humans have exactly the same influences upon us - mammalian behavioural habits are markedly different from eg reptilian (parental roles, societal influences etc ), and to deny our inheritance from our mammalian genetic structures seems to be... an extreme viewpoint, not that i necesarily think less of it for that.

I gave my definition of instincts in some posts above.

QUOTE
a cultural construction of *what*? (ps - you might find "pattern of behaviour" fitting quite well...á )

By cultural construction i mean that is a concept product of cultural life. It is something that is learned in society, not something that is given automatically when you are born. And since there are different types of societies, then there are differnt concepts of morality.

QUOTE
direct survival perhaps - yet in nearly every case (of the top of my head i can't find a single instance other), social morality is the patterns that the society has determined as the highest form of 'survival' - although not necessarily for the individual.

Morality is what let you judge if an action is good or not and to act according to this. Its not a pattern of behaviour, is what you use to analise and judge a pattern of behaviour. Killing someone is a pattern of behaviour, now if this action is moral or not is up to the concept of morality of a society to judge.


QUOTE
so "most societies" would regard the execution of murderers as immoral? i find it a pity that it is not *all* societies that achieve this level of enlightenment, but heartening that you so do. you seem to have a higher morality than most americans... at least higher than those from the Deep South. But hell - that isnt exactly hard is it

Yes, lots of societies (if not most) don't consider killing moral, even killing of murderers. This doesn't mean i have a higher morality, only that i have a different one.


QUOTE
but what about 'freedom'? i have seen it argued that freedom is learned, yet it is extremely clear from studies on animals in zoos that these creatures, whilst they may not have the concept of 'freedom' to play around with, most certainly have the understanding of what it is to live without it. And i tend to think that if an animal can understand something, then humans can too. Freedom is one of those things, as the saying goes "you don't appreciate it until it is gone" - if you can agree with this, then the logical next thought is that that supports the notion that freedom is the natural state - we only question when it is removed, although to be sure this also requires conceptual thinking to understand exactly *what* it is lost.

Now, i can understand discussing survival, but freedom and fairness?? they are waaay more ambiguous concepts. So please before we continue, could you explain basically whats your undertanding on this two.
Gengari
Clarification: By scientific definition, we are animals.
MindsWideOpen
I did not re-read all your posts fully (and I won't as I'm tired, you are boring and I'm going to bed after I finish typing this), but as I understand it the argument of the pro-survival_is_an_universal_value posters is that suicide is not a valid argument against the universality of survival, as it is a "learned" behaviour so to speak?

If so, I would object to your objection. Whether or not it is a learned behaviour is irrelevant, as it in both cases serves as a defeater. If person A does not value life and survivial and wants to commit suicide because she had a bad childhood, was socially conditioned to do so, etc, then the fact still remains that the value of survivial does not apply to her.
Gengari
Actually, it is more that the value of survival no longer applies to her, or "A" is ignoring it. If A true wants to stop living, why not stop breathing? Or stop eating? Stop drinking? Etc. In almost all cases, people who want to commit suicide continue to do things which prolong the very life they wish to end.
MindsWideOpen
QUOTE(Gengari @ Sep 2 2005, 02:25 PM)
Actually, it is more that the value of survival no longer applies to her, or "A" is ignoring it.

Ah, so you have reached the equivalent of DS' universal morality. It's no longer a matter of value stemming from people, but some meta-value beyond people that you use to judge.

In other words, the value of survival according to your model is not anything that stems from the individual, it is something that exists beyond the individual and applies to the individual whether she holds the value to be "true" (for the lack of a better word) or not.

The question then is, what can we not apply this model to?

QUOTE
If A true wants to stop living, why not stop breathing?  Or stop eating?  Stop drinking? 

Because it's hard to stop breathing to death, and shooting/stabbing/gassing/poisoning yourself is faster and more comfortable than most of the alternatives.

QUOTE
In almost all cases, people who want to commit suicide continue to do things which prolong the very life they wish to end.

If we accept that this is true in almost all cases, that still means that there are the few cases where survival does not apply.
Gengari
QUOTE(MindsWideOpen @ Sep 2 2005, 07:10 AM)
If we accept that this is true in almost all cases, that still means that there are the few cases where survival does not apply.


That's true, and I really believe there is none. But I've been bored, and that's a boring point to argue sometimes...
gnuneo
QUOTE
If so, I would object to your objection. Whether or not it is a learned behaviour is irrelevant, as it in both cases serves as a defeater. If person A does not value life and survivial and wants to commit suicide because she had a bad childhood, was socially conditioned to do so, etc, then the fact still remains that the value of survivial does not apply to her.



i would disagree on this point: i would not agree that she does not 'value life' - i would say there are *other* values that are outcompeting it. We are not single-source thinkers/consciousness.

also, there are more levels than mere personal survival. survival can be a held value, without necessarily accepting the *interpretations* of that value held by others.
gnuneo
hey MWO, good to meet you again, whats up?
Mai
Quite clearly, there are no "universal" human values. the denial of survival instinct is a clear sign of it.

As for freedom... if it's a universal value, then why has mankind (well, parts of it, anyway) strived so hard towards oppression? and that includes those that are oppressed. Why do literally billions of people follow the jewish faiths, which all are the very epitome of oppression and slavery?
Gengari
That won't go over well with the JFTD.
Dragonspirit
What the Jew hate?

Also, many don't see their religion as oppression. In fact, they see it as a key to their desire to be closer to God.

They see their religion as a reward, not a liability.
Mai
but they accept an entire legion of boundaries, most of them rather unneccessary - boundaries, which' removal would allow for greater degree of freedom. Whether liability or reward, they are afraid of too much freedom, for one reason or another (a major one among them the fear that someone else may actually wield a bigger club, so to speak).
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