2014 September 07 Sunday
Peter Frost: No Single Natural Law

Peter Frost argues there is no universally accepted set of innate beliefs about right and wrong behavior. Natural selection and local circumstances have generated big differences in what people see as acceptable human behavior.

Human societies similarly differ in their treatment of murder. There is a general tendency to limit the taking of human life, but the variability is considerable. In some societies, murder is so rare that instances of it are thought to be pathological. The murderer is said to be "sick." In other societies, every adult male has the right to use violence to settle personal disputes, even to the point of killing. If he abdicates that right, he's no longer a real man.

The same "problem" will thus be solved in different ways in different places. Over time, each society will develop a "solution" that favors the survival and reproduction of certain people with a certain personality type and certain predispositions. So there is no single human nature, any more than a single Natural Law. Instead, there are many human natures with varying degrees of overlap./p>

Universal religions that purport to speak to everyone about how to live their lives are built on the false assumption of a common shared human nature. Someone who has a propensity for violence or a brilliant psychopath who enjoys causing emotional pain isn't going to hear a conscience compartment of their brain telling them they are doing a bad thing. Some people can kill, steal, manipulate, and torture (either physical or more common emotional varieties) without any feelings of remorse or guilt.

Or take jealousy. As Peter Frost points out, nudity taboos will vary depending on the amount of sexual competition. People with stronger innate desires for monogamy will be less influenced by nudity than those who are innately promiscuous. So rules surrounding clothing and protection of single females will vary considerably from society to society.

As an illustration of just how much innate reactions on moral issues differ look at the sex abuse and rape of hundreds of girls by Pakistani Muslims men in Rotherham England. The police were afraid or restrained from cracking down and doing mass arrests out of fear of appearing racists. Hey, lots of leftists in Britain think not appearing racist is more important than protecting 13 year old girls from rape by lots of taxi drivers. They really think this way. Yet this reaction is extremely foreign to my own thinking and deeply repugnant to me. I know I differ from these people on the political Left in some very fundamental way. I couldn't bring myself to react the way they can. Their reaction is proof that big innate differences in moral reasoning exist in human brains.

I think the rapes in Rotherham and Rochdale, Derby, and Oxford as well as leftist spin against blame speak to large differences in moral reasoning modules of the brain. There is no universal human nature and the idea of universal values shared by all is a dangerous illusion.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2014 September 07 12:11 PM 

James Bowery said at September 7, 2014 2:51 PM:

RP writes: "Their reaction is proof that big innate differences in moral reasoning exist in human brains."

No it's not. It's evidence -- but for what? If we're talking our respective confirmation bias, in my mind its evidence for northern European tendency toward individualism and indoctrinability combined with the capture of indoctrinability by Jews going back thousands of years via the BIble and continuing in the present day as highly disproportionate Jewish influence in motion picture media and academia.

Some of us slip through the cracks between JudeoChristian indoctrination and motionpicture/academic indoctrination whereupon our individualism requires us to think independently of our zombie peers.

James Bowery said at September 7, 2014 3:46 PM:

Peter Frost argues: " In other societies, every adult male has the right to use violence to settle personal disputes, even to the point of killing. If he abdicates that right, he's no longer a real man."

Yeah, this has no greater standing as natural law than any other just because its mirrored in most sexual species. I mean, since when did non-human species count as part of "nature" anyway?

Mike Street Station said at September 8, 2014 7:33 AM:

"I know I differ from these people on the political Left in some very fundamental way. I couldn't bring myself to react the way they can. Their reaction is proof that big innate differences in moral reasoning exist in human brains."

Although I agree that it seems incomprehensible that fathers would allow their daughters to be raped by adult men just so they don't appear racist, I don't think it's a characteristic of the brain, merely the logical conclusion of political correctness. That's how far it can go. And no doubt the US will be in for our own Rotherhams eventually, and I suspect the reaction will be similar. This is just the first major case that we've been made aware of, but for the left, and even some on the right, trying to appear non racist is the highest moral and social goal. So yes, there are fathers who would sacrifice their daughters on the alter of PC. We just have not seen much of it yet.

But we will.

On moral reasoning, I've viewed societies as operating in a Darwinist survival of the fittest mode. They adapt to many different circumstances and environments, so they are not all the same, however there seems to be enough commonalities to pick out a few behaviors that might be called human nature.

Jim said at September 8, 2014 7:48 AM:

Leftists are hard to understand. They move from bloody disaster to bloody disaster and continue to believe that utopia is just around the corner and that things like the Holomodor say are just little bumps along the way. I assume that they regard a horror like Rotterham as a minor price to pay to achieve their fantasy of a society of totally identical people.

ErisGuy said at September 8, 2014 8:35 AM:

I agree all morality is random. No one can be morally better individually or collectively than anyone else. No morality can be judged by any other, as none are natural or can be proven.

That is why I donít care about genocide, pedophilia, and the other moral panics of our era.

Seth W. said at September 8, 2014 3:04 PM:

"No morality can be judged by any other, as none are natural or can be proven."

Disagree. There are some moral issues that can be judged. For example, self-defence killing can be judged differengly from blood-thirst killing. It can be judged from the point of view of mental health. Of course nobody can judge if killing is morally wrong unless you look at the motivation for violence. The types of violence from the motivation point of view are:

1. Ludic or playful which aims at developing abilities and skills without the intention of harming. It is therefore biofilic, sane and we find it pretty much in mammals. One of its most important productions in humans is competitive sports, and even if the outcome of a competition is causing death to the oponent -like it happened once in olympic fencing or professional boxing- there's nothing morally or ethically wrong on behalf of the "perpetrator" as it was accidental without negligence.

2. Reactive, which is mainly a defensive type of violence. It is also biofilic because it acts in favor or preserving one's life, even if the final outcome is killing in self-defence. Of course the reactive violence will be judged differently depending on whether the threat is real or unreal.

3. Vindictive, in which there's premeditation and ill will. It does not exist in any other species but ours. It's purpose is to erase as if by magic an offence received in the past. It is not biofilic and manifests pathology because it is carried out without the purpose of preserving your life.

4. Compensatory, which is a more pathological form of the vindictive type, because it is a form of revenge against everything that is alive. It is the violence of the person whose life and development has been denied in all forms.

5. Archaic Blood Lust, which aims at affirming one's existence by shedding blood. It comes from the innermost layers of the pre-human brain and it is the most primitive and pathological form of violence in humans, although not so in hunting animals as their means for survival.

These types of violence doesn't always have to do with killing, but I believe they could be a guideline for understanding moral or ethical behavior as dependent of mental health. If you kill or attack in true self-defence you are sane and there's nothing morally wrong. That's why the law exonerates you from "criminal behavior". If you kill a person or even an animal just because you feel pleasure in blood or as a form of vengance towards life, you are sick and there's something wrong with your mental health and therefore morals, and that makes you a criminal.

I don't know if there is no universally accepted set of innate beliefs about right and wrong behavior in all humans, simply because the terms "right" and "wrong" are relative, but that's a different matter. However we can very well judge moral or ethical behavior, but we really need to get into how sane are we as a society.

Wolf-Dog said at September 8, 2014 5:37 PM:

Question: Quantitatively and qualitatively, to what extent is the different types of moral values have underlying innate infrastructures? Maybe some types of the social behavior (and even the types of emotions and thought patterns) are selected after many generations that eliminate those who don't conform to that kind of behavior.

James Bowery said at September 8, 2014 9:13 PM:

If people want to get caught up on the quandary about "human nature" they'd be well advised to look at E. O. Wilson's "Social Conquest of Earth". Although he is biased toward eusociality as the origin of human intelligence (look at the naked mole rat for counter evidence Dr. Wilson) and ignores the importance of fire as a means of cooking to pre-digest foods thereby providing the caloric boost needed for a calorie-hungry large brain, he does make a good case for the origins of human eusociality being deeper than the hominid linage by pointing to the war behavior of chimps.

Wilson's opinion of "morality" is that it is largely a eusocial phenotype based on doing what is good for the group -- which frequently means disregarding the "good" of other groups since group selection means perpetual war in the abstract. He has this idea that he can through rational admonitions, get the identity of "the group" to include not only all humans but all species in some kind of balance that he doesn't address very rationally that I can see. Indeed, he "confesses" to a kind of "blind faith".

I take 3 perspectives depending on the degree to which the audience is enlightened:

1) Sortocracy: Sorting proponents of social theories into governments that test them. I've previously posted the rules for that here.
2) Human eusociality defines "the other" as the physical universe other than Earth -- thereby violating poor old E. O. Wilson's delicate sensibilities about space colonies but thereby giving him the preservation of Earth's biodiversity he so fervently proclaims he desires.
3) Human sexuality has access to Earth's biosphere exclusive of human eusociality by *gasp* imposing a morality on humans remaining in Earth's biosphere in which "every adult male has the right to use violence to settle personal disputes, even to the point of killing. If he abdicates that right, he's no longer a real man.".

I leave it to the reader's imagination as to whether the degree of enlightenment from first to last or from highest numeric value to lowest numeric value.

Dan said at September 9, 2014 5:38 AM:

One must act as if there is an objective right and wrong, or else be antisocial at a minimum and possibly insane.

Jim said at September 9, 2014 6:46 AM:

The universe has no moral structure. Of course human societies have to have moral structures or they wuoldn't exist.. While there are some general resemblances between the moral structures of different societies - eg. all societies sanction the wanton killing of fellow members, the moral structures of different societies can still differ profoundly. Also human morality is basically an ingroup-outgroup thing. For example wanton killing of memebers of the group is wrong but killing members of other groups may be OK and even highly valued.

Mirco Romanato said at September 9, 2014 12:24 PM:

The universe have no moral structure, and morality could be different between populations, depending on genetics and natural selection and evolution.
But actions have logical consequences. If people is driven by shame, they will behave differently in different situations than people driven by guilt.

People driven by guilt is not externally controllable to the extent of people driven by shame is.

Games said at September 9, 2014 4:57 PM:

@Seth W

#3 according to your classification seems to have game theory implications. The implied threat of being murdered by the family / state of a man you killed is an effective way to deter certain types of violence, yet you classify it as not biophilic

Seth W said at September 10, 2014 4:46 PM:

That's right. It is not biophilic, although it is not as pathological as number 4 or 5. Remember, nobody can be fully necrophilic.

Dan said at September 12, 2014 12:17 PM:

If people lack an innate sense of right and wrong then religion is all the more important for giving people that. The missionary-explorers that went from Europe to everywhere knew this well: They were not simply proseletizing: they were civilizing.

The fact that civilizing religions have developed over the millenia is a kind of natural selection. Groups at a higher level of civilation tend to out-compete.

Getting back to natural law, it can be said that natural law favors selected-for religions and moral structures. That would be the old ones. And natural law continues to favor old school religion as its practitioners dramatically out-breed the less religious.

joe said at September 23, 2014 9:11 AM:

Rotherham is not a good example because leftists are inherently amoral. They are consequentialists.

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