Excellent piece! I like to say that This world is justice. We unwittingly choose whether to become more human or more animal, or even become like stone. The moral consequences are built into the logical structure of reality itself, although this is not externally apparent as ‘suffering’ but internalised in the metaphysical constitution of every conscious agent.

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Thanks Michael, that strikes me as a good way of putting it (and yes, I think it's very possible to become "like stone"). As you can tell, your pieces and our exchanges have partly inspired me to write this up, so thanks for that.

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It is clear we were roughly on the same page before even talking to one another.

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What do you think of this way of framing it? In any given situation, there are better and worse ways of achieving "x." In some contexts, that will mean doing one thing, which might not apply as well in other contexts. So for one society, for example, to achieve or maximize "x" might entail certain values, but for another society, those might not work. (And it's possible that any given society might do a very poor job, even given their own context.) Moral realism is thus true in the sense that there are better and worse ways. But those ways will vary, which means no (or few?) one-size-fits all moral imperatives under which we are obligated.

Also, what works in one context might not work in a larger context. So, I might be able to maximize some things for myself, but at the expense of everyone else. It's a limited viewpoint that shuts out understanding and loving ALL, and thus fragmentary.

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Sounds about right, although I would say the question also is, what is x? I.e., whether the goals that we set (individually and as a group/society) are the right ones also depends on context.

I recently rewatched The Last Samurai (excellent) and found the depiction of the Samurai village very interesting: it was portrayed as a spiritually very advanced and good society, to the point that just spending time there can lead to profound healing. And yet, some of its features, if looked at in isolation, would seem pretty appalling to us. So I guess it's more about looking at the organic whole, and the subtleties of the interactions and deeper values behind the more apparent values. Often it can be small details that make or break such a "good society". I would also say that there are probably some features that all "good societies" share, but listing them would do it no justics: take some isolated feature, drill down, and you end up having to write whole libraries to put it into context!

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"Sounds about right, although I would say the question also is, what is x? I.e., whether the goals that we set (individually and as a group/society) are the right ones also depends on context."

X-actly. ;) Morality and ethics seem to me to be a strange mix of objective and subjective. Not fully "objective" in the sense of a set system of obligatory rules, and not fully subjective in the sense that anything goes at any time.

As for Last Samurai, haven't seen it yet, but I've had it on the to-watch list for a while. If you haven't read Shogun, you'll probably enjoy it. One of my favorite historical novels.

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💬 more about looking at the organic whole, and the subtleties of the interactions and deeper values behind the more apparent values

↑↑ The only way to deal w/ ordered complexity (aka middle-numbers systems) w/o running the risk of reaping ruinous whirlwinds. Trying to maximise for a single isolated variable (or few) = fool’s errand. <-- That’s if you’re immensely lucky 😏

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Nov 26, 2022Liked by L.P. Koch

there is of course no Absolute Other-Power causing things to happen.

Countless beings and forces both visible and invisible are causing things to happen.

This is a cause-and-effect cosmos.

The pattern of the cosmos itself is the totality of all causes and effects.

There is no single anything in charge.

EVERY thing is in charge.

EVERY "one" - or every space-time located (and thus apparently separate) point of view - is in charge, as both cause and effect, moment to moment in space-time.

Every "one" is having an effect on all "others", and every "one is suffering from the effects of all "others".

Everyone is inherently involved in a universal world-pattern of causes and effects - and, thus, there is no personal absoluteness about moral faults.

The negative exploitation and killing of human beings by human beings violates the heart in one and all.

The negative exploitation and killing of non-human beings by human beings violates the heart of one and all.

The negative exploitation, and progressive degradation, and potential destruction of the fundamental order of the natural environment on which all Earth-life depends violates the heart and directly threatens the life of one and all.

Are you familiar with the findings and purposes of the Heartmath Institute which is introduced via this reference: http://www.heartmath.org/gci

Also check out the book by Joseph Chilton Pearce titled The Heart-Mind Matrix - How the Heart Can Teach the Mind New Ways to Think via http://www.josephchiltonpearce.org

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Excellent article, thanks.

(sorry if you already went over this topic, I'm a new reader.)

From what I can tell, human morality is biological in its (evolutionary) origins because "morals" were originally rules about the need for social cooperation and kinship-group altruism, and social cooperation increased the chances of survival in early human kinship groups. Socially cooperative, eusocial, "domesticated" human gene pools survived better than "wild" humans, so genes for social-cooperation had a better chance of being selected for and retained.

E.O. Wilson made that kind of case, and apparently so has Iain McGilchrist (I have not read his recent book yet).

Here is Darwin's take:

Peter Richerson, biologist at UC Davis, quotes Darwin (as an example of the group selection hypothesis and the neurobiology of sympathy in "primeval times"):

"It must not be forgotten that although a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over other men of the same tribe, yet that an increase in the number of well-endowed men and an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another. A tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to aid one another, and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes, and this would be natural selection (178-179)."

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Thanks e.pierce for the comment. To my mind "evolutionary realism" is interesting in the sense that it might shed some light on the nature of our biological programming, but it doesn't really address the philosophical problems around ethics. For if you think about biological programming as deterministic, then there's nothing we can do, really, but if you allow consciousness to overwrite the programming, then all the philosophical problems remain untouched. The question really is this: if we can override biological programming, how, exactly, does it work? And how do we do it? To what end? And what does it say about the so-called genetic evolution to begin with if we can consciously change its results? I have some things to say about that, perhaps in another article!

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Nov 25, 2022Liked by L.P. Koch

I'm not sure what the definition of "evolutionary realism" is, but the work that followed E.O. Wilson's establishment of the field of sociobiology has more or less settled on gene-culture co-evolution, also known as "dual inheritance" theory.

I do not see any hardline deterministic thinking given that humans evolved to be extremely "plastic" in their cognitive capacities: able to adapt to a wide variety of habitats and cultural challenges to survival. But there are biological limits to that flexibility (Turner and Lakoff).

Cultural evolution speeds up biological evolution, and then there are subsequent feedback loops (Joseph Henrich's material on the evolution of W.E.I.R.D. culture shows that the early medieval Church's ban on cousin marriage created a huge "accident" of history that changed the NW European gene pool from inbred and clannish to outbred and Manorial, leading to "Western civilization", "classical liberalism" and modern rationalism).

Evolution presumably best explains how human consciousness is structured to solve ethical and moral problems (as survival challenges to emergence/disruption) more than to solve the problems specifically.

A severely inbred gene pool (historical Spanish nobility, or Arabs, etc.) results from the cultural practice of cousin marriage, which functions to keep resources and power within a clan (kinship group, gene pool). Social trust is low beyond the kindship group. (social order is a function of Fealty Oaths.)

An outbred, classically liberal gene pool has high social trust in social institutions, so that social order is a function of modern rationalism and Constitutional order. Literacy, wealth and individual liberty increases.

Evolution just says that the ethics of marriage each social form lead to different outcomes: inbred gene pools have lower average IQ and much less technological innovation, they maintain social order by authoritarian control, literacy is low and the peasant classes are locked in poverty over long periods of time.

Disruption of modern, classically liberal civilization by technology, global economics and postmodern social conditions (suburban consumerism) seems to cause cultural regression to "illiberal", authoritarian personality, as Ronfeldt's work explains:

re: David Ronfeldt's TIMN model of social change

disruption -> disintegration -> regression to ideological tribalism -> reintegration at a higher level / social form


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I’ve got a naggin’ hunch empathy.guru would give you his imprimatur 😊 Higher-level v-Meme stacks that open wider horizons, evolving psychosocial dna in Spiral Dynamics—all that & more frame your musings gainfully.

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No problem

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Hey Anju, please don't post links without a comment that puts it into context and gives readers a hint as to why it should be relevant to the discussion. Thanks!

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deletedNov 20, 2022·edited Nov 20, 2022Liked by L.P. Koch
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Thanks, Jay.

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