Massimiliano B wrote:The transition from the consideration of what is to the consideration of what ought to be is inherent to a world which is determined by the evolution.
I'm somewhat familiar with this line of thinking. I follow the discussions in a place online called The Skeptical Zone, which is originally intended as a forum for people to discuss evolution and intelligent design, but a lot of the discussion that arises between representatives of these two positions actually often ends up being about morality and specifically with this argument --- in other words intelligent design proponents claim that if evolution (or "materialism", or "Darwinism" as they like to call it) were to be considered true by a person, then that person would be obligated by rationality and logic and consistency to also think X. That X, as they argue, pertains to morality and is usually some form of "everything goes, there are no rules". (The follow-up argument is then that since evolution-accepters do not
think that "everything goes, there are no rules", that they need to recognise this contradiction and let go of their erroneous premise, i.e. that evolution is a real mechanism (and also, that objective morality doesn't exist).)
I've read through quite a few of those debates there, and I think there is a profound difference in thinking that underlies the formulation of this argument, which is pretty interesting in and of itself. To many non-religious, evolution-accepting people who don't believe in objective or absolute morality, I think this argument comes across as a strange jumble of ethics and naturalistic reality. Those two spheres don't mix or depend on each other in the world-view of that type of person. Whereas for someone who bases their view of the world on (a possibly religion-based) objective morality those two spheres (ethics and naturalistic reality) are linked by necessity. Already in the formulation of the argument is there an underlying world-view difference that is hard to overcome. The debate easily derails into "What are you even asking?" and "Why are you pretending not to understand?".
Anyway, I feel a bit like this when I look at your sentence above. Why would that transition be inherent?
Massimiliano B wrote:Even the capacity of thinking about values and imaginary worlds have to be seen as properties that have been selected by evolution.
They are properties that have come about through the evolution mechanism, yes. (Not necessarily selected for by natural selection, though.)
Massimiliano B wrote:The evolution legitimises any kind of outcome of its process
I'm not sure what you mean with "legitimises". Evolution is
the process. What comes to be through it is just what comes to be through it. It doesn't have a goal beyond a drive for alive things to procreate and stay alive. It can lead to shitty outcomes (shitty from the point of view of someone), like HIV or parasites or too narrow birth canals.
Massimiliano B wrote: - and any kind of value which one can have.
Any kinds of values that occur in people are factual occurences, yes. But we must decide what to think about them and how to, well, value them.
Massimiliano B wrote:Therefore, I don't understand why one should consider the equality as the only and the highest value to be pursued.
It's not, objectively
. This is where we hit upon that world-view rift again. You seek something I have even difficulty understanding as a theoretical concept. Objective values. When you say the above to me, I shrug and feel a bit baffled, and say "It's not
the highest value, objectively. But it can be, for you
, subjectively. And if it's not, others may try to convince you of it. You may be convinced. You may not. Many people never start valuing equality. This is a factual occurence. I don't really understand what you are asking."
Massimiliano B wrote:The problem is that if a value has been selected by the natural selection, we could not rationally uphold a value.
On a side note: natural selection is not the only mechanism of evolution, and nowadays scientists actually think it may be overshadowed by other mechanisms like neutral drift. I am not an expert, but I think in light of this we can't attribute to natural selection anything as complex and fickle as values that human beings hold. I'm mentioning this because natural selection is often thought of as the mechanism with a purpose, and many mistakenly think this means that whatever properties that survive it, are good
. But those properties are only good by the metrics of the mechanism of natural selection, i.e. better short term survival in an ecological niche. That's all they are. However, values in particular could also be the result of neutral drift, and that makes their only accomplishment that they haven't particualrly hindered
survival. That's all.
So I'd like to read your sentence more like "If a value has appeared through the processes of evolution, we could not rationally uphold a value." And I don't understand what you mean by that.
As in, why not? And rationally how? As opposed to what?
Massimiliano B wrote:The strongest group of people would impose its worldview and all its values by forces.
Well, you are pretty much describing what is
. That is how it works. Also if God is the source of the ultimate values, that is how it would still be. However, I'd like to point out that inner values can't be imposed. You may be forced by social consensus to act outwardly according to some dominant values you don't hold, but inside you would still have your own moral compass. It is also possible to change inner values through introspection, persuasion or brainwashing, I suppose (the latter I'm not sure of, I'm not a psychologist).
Massimiliano B wrote:On the other hand ,if you want to rationally assert your position, you have to be ready to go against the principle of natural selection.
No problem. The most accurate models for what is
does not have much to do with what ought
Massimiliano B wrote:There are in effect some values that everyone shares: rape and paedophilia are abominable crimes and everyone agrees about that (even though someone considers the latter normal - what a sick world!).
I mentioned earlier that I struggle to understand what objective values mean on a theoretical level --- and here that bafflement comes up. Because what you say is not how it is. Absolutely not
does everybody share those values.
Massimiliano B wrote:Also the assistance of terminally ill persons, of disabled and old people, are almost everywhere considered moral duties - together with equality. What leads us to consider these people to be worthy of our respect? Why do we need to help them? Is there a rational ground for all these values? If the answer is "yes", then I don't see how could they derive from natural selection. This model can explain well the origin of our body, but the origin of the capacity of rationally thinking of good and evil is out of reach of it.
Why is it more rational to hold a value if it isn't natural in origin, than if it is natural in origin? I'm intrigued especially since you use the word rational
, and not for example important
, or good
. Arguing that they are more important or good or ultimate or something, if they come from outside of us (like from God), would seem easier.
I think you are thinking about natural processes too uncharitably, so to speak.
You have something that you find beautiful and good: philanthropy. You feel this is so good it must be a pinnacle, and something really special. Then you look at what science thinks is the likely path through which it came to be, and you find that that's just not special enough. But why? The ability to reason and empathise and see the big picture (well, compared to animals) is something human beings have ended up with. We can also talk to each other, communicate ideas and feelings, and organise in societies. Why cannot those abilities be trusted to arrive at some pretty good values? What is so unacceptable in the idea that humans also display a pretty large variety in values, and that inevitably this leads to some values being dominant in certain places and times, even if there is not full consensus on them? Why is it so unacceptable that we who may have good values, only have that opinion subjectively
, and that we can still justify trying to make those values dominant in our society?
Massimiliano B wrote:We cannot say that evolution is not teleological. We don't know whether the teleonomy in nature has been wanted by a divine architect or not.
If we cannot know, then best act as if there was no divine will. Anything else would be mere guesswork and makebelieve. That's how I see it.