Posted: Oct 04, 2017 8:13 am
by zoon
romansh wrote:
I have desires, wants ... wills if you like. These as far as I can tell are products of prior causes. No sensible person would argue against this, I think. Do I control these desires? I feel I do, but I don't think so. To keep vaguely on topic I could say the same of morals. Why would I take up an inaccurate model (that I can't help but find inaccurate) in navigating my immediate bit of the universe? The only argument that makes sense to me would be evolution has provided me a "short cut" to making choices regarding my behaviours and perhaps those of others? Is this short cut infallible? No. Is the identifying behaviour that will likely lead to successful implementation of my desires infallible? No. For some reason that escapes me I have elected the latter route.

I don't see this as a neutral moral stance. It is also related to the colour thread. Morality like colour exist as concepts as do the luminiferous ether, unicorns etc. I don't have to believe in them. But I can use them.

Not sure I answered your question?

We could use the same argument on every last one of our desires? They are all evolutionary short cuts to the ultimate drive to maximise the representation of our genes in the next generation. For example, wanting to eat tasty food is an evolved short cut to gaining the nutrients which will help me help my genes. It would be somewhat weird, though, to fixate explicitly on my genes’ fate as the ultimate factor in all my decisions. I think it’s an interesting fact that that’s how all my desires originated, and it could perhaps be a tie-breaker if I had a decision in the balance, but in general I weigh my desires against each other.

All our basic desires probably evolved, both the self-interested and the not so self-interested. I think I can say that other things being equal, I would prefer that innocent people in my community should not suffer. Which is an evolved desire, alongside my desire that my next meal should be reasonably tasty. It’s not that one is a short cut and the other is a real desire; either they are both really short cuts to my genes’ flourishing, or they are both really desires, depending on how I’m looking at them. If they happened to conflict, I might weigh them against each other, and either might win, but most of the time they aren’t in conflict, at least as far as my fairly elastic conscience is concerned. I was taking Stephen Finlay’s example of a moraI desire that most people have (link in my post #363 above, a more or less unreadable paper). He was taking it as basic, I’m assuming with him that it’s one you probably share? I might not be prepared to do much about the suffering of innocent people beyond supporting the taxes towards the welfare state, or perhaps signing a petition opposing a regime’s torturing innocents (Finlay’s example), but even that’s something. I’m more likely to support doing something for the innocent sufferers if the other non-suffering people in the community are joining in. It probably does help my genes, but that would not be the motivation, any more than it’s my motivation for eating a good meal or staying healthy.

(Just adding the point that either of those predispositions could be overridden by others as a result of further thinking through, a community may be too poor to do much about suffering, or we may have to keep to a restricted diet for health.) I’m using “basic” desire as one that comes at the end of a chain of reasoning explaining why someone has acted in a certain way, or why they should act in a certain way.