What is [interpersonal] moral legitimacy, and do we need it?

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This topic contains 134 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Davis 4 years, 7 months ago.

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    Prohibition of slavery and forced labour

    Yeah, until they decide they need to press you into military service. And you are liable to loose your life, so much for that right as well.



    Yep I can see the validity of both your ( Reg& Robert) points.

    That statement on what is enlightenment. Is not mine its an Essay by Kant in reply to a theological argument by Reverend Johann Friedrich Zöllner.

    In my opinion what he  ( Kant) is saying is exactly what you Reg is stating.

    With the European Enlightenment & the scientific revolution. We humans can use science, logic, philosophy etc to make our way in the world.

    We don’t need to rely on superstition, or God anymore.

    But we have to be brave enough to do this. Which as he again stated to literally grow up and think for yourself use autonomy. Not to rely on an external source of guidance on God. To in effect become your own locus of control. Also that any Human with a normal intellect can do this if they choose to.

    As Friedrich  Nietzsche said “God is Dead” ( in that the European Enlightenment and science has permanently decreased the power of the Church)

    Carl Linnaeus. Named our species Homo Sapiens from    “Sapere, wise, sensible, to think to know.


    Simon Paynton

    the forest

    I love that Deep Forest album!  I recently got it on CD and put one of the tracks on my mixtape.  I have it on vinyl too.  It’s a classic.


    Simon Paynton

    keeping promises.

    I agree that those are two everyday examples of where the CI “works”.  I think it’s artificial to single out “duty” as a thing on its own and use it to explain the whole of morality, partly because Kant doesn’t give a satisfactory definition of “duty” (it has too many exceptions to be any good).

    Tomasello, most of whose account I take on trust, says that the original “ought” was in the form of keeping to a commitment, so, a form of promise-keeping.  It’s fundamental to cooperation.




    Maybe what you are asking is why do duties & what one ought to do exist in the first place? What is good?

    If you are then I think a person can go deeper via 2 routes.

    The traditional route is to go into meta-ethics,people like

    G.E Moore in his book Principia Ethica. Have tried to answer these really complicated but fundamental questions.

    The other is to look not so much at the semantic term, but at the behaviour. Then to turn to sciences; Biology, neuroscience, anthropology etc & evolution to give an account. Which I think Michael Tomasello and others are working on.

    The other person who has a good explanation is Robert Sapolsky in his book which you may have read.

    Behave The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. Its a big book but he gives a short TED talk which explains some of it below.



    Simon Paynton


    I completely agree.  Why not just describe what’s there, and be content with that?  Within that, we find “the good”, and “duty”.  We are living behavioural beings, after all, and anything that’s disconnected from biology is a non-starter (like some of Kant’s account).

    Thanks for the video.


    Simon Paynton

    @clearsky – that video is great, @bellen might like it.


    Simon Paynton

    Belle Rose has left?  That’s a shame.  She’ll be missed around here.  I hope she’s doing OK and maybe she might come back one day.


    Belle Rose might be back at some point in the future. We do miss not seeing her about the place.



    Thanks glad you liked it



    But its not all just Biology & Gene’s! There is also culture & the environment



    It’s also more than just evolutionary pressure. We evolved to live in tiny groups of people roaming Savannah with mostly enough resources to get by, not too much violence and using ingenuity and speculation to adapt to slowly changing environments.

    Having a detailed world view or a supernatural creation explanation is a consequence of this, not the actual evolutionary benefit. You don’t need a god figure to be part of a supportive social group or to have a code of morality or to have some useful knowledge. Though having spookey explanations about spookey things is a given once man starts to think innovatively and speculate. But it’s when we became sedentary that these qualities got totally out of control very quickly (not long enough to be the result of evolutionary pressure) and there are very rare moments in history were people understood this and gain that control back. Now many of us do understand how critical thinking helps us escape this cycle, though many people still seem to be somewhat ignorant of where man was in its evolutionary cycle before it all exploded to hell.



    Good points there @davis I think that your right to consider the relationship of the environment also. Of culture.

    One example of a really powerful cultural meme is the ability to make fire. Its not  genetic & there is evidence that man lost the ability and relearn it.

    But it was the ability to produce fire that allowed cooking, which some scientists theorize that allowed for development of sapiens complex brains ( through the availability of nutrients) It also allowed a shorter bowel length, and helped with slash & burn farming.

    There is also epigenetics, which allows the modifications of gene (expression)  within one life time through interaction with the environment.

    If people just think purely of genes & evolutionary pressure, then it may lead to a hard kind of biological determinism. Which history has shown has led to some of the worst mistakes in human history in the second world war.


    The other point is that sometimes we look at animal evolutionary models and try to induct them to human ones.

    The main of problem here is the vast majority of animals cannot change their environment. They are subject to the selection pressure of their ecology & natural environment

    Humans can modify their environment extensively. So in some ways we create the environment we live in. Humans also have culture, memes ect.

    Which may have far reaching consequences for future evolution of Humans.

    Its a contentious issue, I think its quite complicated. I read a article a few years back by Sir David Attenborough. Which you might find interesting.





    • This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by  Clearsky. Reason: Spelling errors

    I do not agree that we have stopped evolving. Evolution has no master blueprint or utopian ideal of what a human should be.  We are still evolving. See if this old video works (OK to allow Flash Player if asked). I have all 4 parts on a server somewhere so will look for it.



    You are both right. Evolution didn’t stop. Of course it didn’t. There is an enormous difference between how we can handle the heat, certain foods, skin color, endurance, blood type and much more. It has only been a near microscopic number of generations since man went sedentary and lived in large groups.  It’s true all species to have a potential to rapidly expand out of their original environment and adapt quickly, though their qualities that formed through evolutionary pressures may not be enough for them to avoid a short, miserable life. However, it’s a bit of a stretch to claim that us going ape shit, with half the world starving, the atmosphere being destroyed, rampant sexism and homophobia, endless social, physical and psychological suffering is a result of evolutionary pressures. I believe the last thousands of years is a consequence of the results of evolutionary pressures sitting on top of a barrel of fuel that exploded jettisoning us abroad. It’s sort of like when a species of insects adapted to a small ecosystem suddenly finds all its predators gone, spreads out over thousands of square kilometers, are extremely destructive using up all the resources it comes across and then with no resources left, die out en mass and end up back in a small ecosystem they were adapted to. This does happen with many species and it is not a stretch to say we did something similar: us not being able to adapt quickly enough to the social pressures of living in dense cities, mass knowledge, parceling out land, limited mate choosing, mass leadership, disparity of possessions between leaders and slaves or virtual slaves, using our sense of reasoning constructively. In the end we might just burn out the atmosphere and die off en mass and end up a small group of humans living as we once did in a limited setting, slowly losing memory of the things achieved. Humans are unique though in the sense that we are capable of adapting extremely quickly and remoulding our own environment…but catching up to the pressures of living in a high-speed social jungle can only work if we are very smart and careful about it…and im not sure we are equipped to last that long.

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