The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

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The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Tom Palven » Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:43 pm



Just began reading the book, and on page 4 in the prologue Michael states:

"improvements in the domain of morality are evident in many areas of life...
In short, we are living in the most moral period in our species' history...
As Steven Pinker wrote 'Instead of asking Why is there war? we might ask Why is there peace? We can obsess not just over what we have been doing wrong, but also over what we have been doing right. Because we have been doing something right and it would be good to know exactly what it is.' "

I was a bit gobsmacked by that assertion which may be obvious to some and seems obvious as I ponder it, but to me is worth at least the price of the book.
If one can be taught to believe absurdities, one can commit atrocities. --Voltaire

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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:50 pm

Really? Seems totally definitional to me. What is a good, what is a bad? BUT contemplating the subject and trying to figure out what metrics to measure "morality" sounds like something fun to do..........until the beer runs out.

can you let us know how morality is measured? or what its components are? Pinker is famous for his recent book pointing out that less people died in Wars in the 20th Century than in previous? Did anyone check the math?
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby ElectricMonk » Tue Jul 26, 2016 8:26 pm

We have the luxury to be good, because there will not be a war or winter that will make us choose between feeding our children or feeding ourselves.
We can pay to have criminals incarcerated instead of executed or enslaved.
I don't think our improved morals are due to anything but a strong sense of economic and physical security.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby OutOfBreath » Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:28 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:I don't think our improved morals are due to anything but a strong sense of economic and physical security.

While I agree that our moral fibre maybe hasn't changed that much, that's a bit of a hen/egg thingy isn't it? I think perhaps trust (morals) are the foundation upon which "security" can be built. And there has been an increase in most people's "in-group" . Tribe>Ethnicity>Religion>Nationalism>Humanism>Universalism. Something like that. I'm pretty much on board with Pinker in that violence and war is ever rarer in the long term. Too short time to be genetic, so it must stem from human organization.

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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Tom Palven » Tue Jul 26, 2016 10:29 pm

Right, Dan. Human tribes and clans have been generally nurturing within themselves, but often vicious toward other tribes or clans, as with wolf packs and monkey troops.

Maybe it's just travel and communication that is enlarging the size of our clans, but I'll be interested in learning more of Michael Shermer's take on things.

I'd been under the impression that we're all hell-bent on achieving an Orwellian dystopia, but maybe that's just here in the States. :mrgreen:
If one can be taught to believe absurdities, one can commit atrocities. --Voltaire

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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Tom Palven » Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:13 am

Finished the book this afternoon. Skimmed some sections that I was familiar with or just not interested in, but all-in-all found it to be an interesting and very worthwhile read.
If one can be taught to believe absurdities, one can commit atrocities. --Voltaire

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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sat Aug 06, 2016 11:43 pm

TP--could you favor us with a "major" point you agreed with and one you disagreed with?...maybe a why or two??
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Tom Palven » Sun Aug 07, 2016 11:29 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:TP--could you favor us with a "major" point you agreed with and one you disagreed with?...maybe a why or two??


Nah. I done my bit.
If one can be taught to believe absurdities, one can commit atrocities. --Voltaire

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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Aug 07, 2016 6:31 pm

Nothing memorable then. I'll pass on that book, and wonder why you even posted.
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby digress » Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:54 am

Tom Palven wrote: "improvements in the domain of morality are evident in many areas of life...
In short, we are living in the most moral period in our species' history...
As Steven Pinker wrote 'Instead of asking Why is there war? we might ask Why is there peace? We can obsess not just over what we have been doing wrong, but also over what we have been doing right. Because we have been doing something right and it would be good to know exactly what it is.' "


i live in the USA and couldnt help but think, if were living in the most moral period, why then was Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump my candidates?
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Gord » Wed Dec 28, 2016 7:30 am

digress wrote:
Tom Palven wrote: "improvements in the domain of morality are evident in many areas of life...
In short, we are living in the most moral period in our species' history...
As Steven Pinker wrote 'Instead of asking Why is there war? we might ask Why is there peace? We can obsess not just over what we have been doing wrong, but also over what we have been doing right. Because we have been doing something right and it would be good to know exactly what it is.' "

i live in the USA and couldnt help but think, if were living in the most moral period, why then was Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump my candidates?

Because he's referring to the entire species, not just the population attempting to ferment itself within the US. And just because a few nations slip backward toward "lesser morals" does not mean the domain of morality is not improving overall.
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Angel » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:23 am

First off you cannot compare apples to
oranges... The people being born/created
today are nothing like the people of even
50 yrs ago. :|
To be or not to be?
To believe or
Not to believe?
To be live or
Not to be live?
To exist or
Not to exist?
What was the question?

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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Scott Mayers » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:42 pm

Michael Shermer is trying to rationalize moral evaluation without a need for some god. So his aim is to argue for how we are somehow MORE moral in context to a more secular, and thus less religious, society.

I disagree with his approach but understand the intent. Nature does NOT favor some universal ideal of values. It is only a local phenomena of evolutionary conscious entities that need a motivational factor to force us to seek and avoid. But it begins with windows of development that, to each individual, gets assigned from the environment in some way.

The only way a common morality exists is through the laws and their enforcement through the politics that create them. But these can not appeal to fairness to or for ALL people.
I eat without fear of certain Death from The Tree of Knowledge because with wisdom, we may one day break free from its mortal curse.

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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Gord » Thu Dec 29, 2016 1:27 am

Angel wrote:First off you cannot compare apples to
oranges...

People who say that never seem to stop and think about it. Of course you can compare apples to oranges! How else will you know which is which?
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby digress » Thu Dec 29, 2016 3:40 am

Gord wrote:
digress wrote:
Tom Palven wrote: "improvements in the domain of morality are evident in many areas of life...
In short, we are living in the most moral period in our species' history...
As Steven Pinker wrote 'Instead of asking Why is there war? we might ask Why is there peace? We can obsess not just over what we have been doing wrong, but also over what we have been doing right. Because we have been doing something right and it would be good to know exactly what it is.' "

i live in the USA and couldnt help but think, if were living in the most moral period, why then was Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump my candidates?

Because he's referring to the entire species, not just the population attempting to ferment itself within the US. And just because a few nations slip backward toward "lesser morals" does not mean the domain of morality is not improving overall.


nice try but the fact is i don't see that written ANYWHERE in ma bible
  God is an idea.  

"For now, I am going to err on the side of freedom of speech..." -Pyrrho
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Gord » Thu Dec 29, 2016 5:09 am

digress wrote:
Gord wrote:
digress wrote:
Tom Palven wrote: "improvements in the domain of morality are evident in many areas of life...
In short, we are living in the most moral period in our species' history...
As Steven Pinker wrote 'Instead of asking Why is there war? we might ask Why is there peace? We can obsess not just over what we have been doing wrong, but also over what we have been doing right. Because we have been doing something right and it would be good to know exactly what it is.' "

i live in the USA and couldnt help but think, if were living in the most moral period, why then was Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump my candidates?

Because he's referring to the entire species, not just the population attempting to ferment itself within the US. And just because a few nations slip backward toward "lesser morals" does not mean the domain of morality is not improving overall.

nice try but the fact is i don't see that written ANYWHERE in ma bible

Yer bibble musta been one of them with the misprints all up in it.
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Angel » Thu Dec 29, 2016 12:39 pm

Gord wrote:
Angel wrote:First off you cannot compare apples to
oranges...

People who say that never seem to stop and think about it. Of course you can compare apples to oranges! How else will you know which is which?


U know what I mean. Xp.......
You cannot compare similarities where
there are none.
To be or not to be?
To believe or
Not to believe?
To be live or
Not to be live?
To exist or
Not to exist?
What was the question?

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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Gord » Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:06 am

Angel wrote:
Gord wrote:
Angel wrote:First off you cannot compare apples to
oranges...

People who say that never seem to stop and think about it. Of course you can compare apples to oranges! How else will you know which is which?

U know what I mean. Xp.......
You cannot compare similarities where
there are none.

Then yer still usin' it wrong.:neener: "Comparing apples to oranges" means "judging two things separated into different groups by the same criteria", not that they have no similarities. An example would be comparing an amateur skateboarder with a professional surfboarder -- there are obvious comparisons you could make, but it's not fair to rank one against the other as sportspersons because their individual sports are considered to be within different categories. Another example (also sports-related) would be comparing female Olympic athletes to male Olympic athletes -- there are obvious comparisons there as well, but a female gold medal is not [necessarily] worth less than a male gold medal.
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby scrmbldggs » Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:28 am

Small things arrived with the new avatar... :-P
.

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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Angel » Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:51 am

Gord wrote:
Angel wrote:
Gord wrote:
Angel wrote:First off you cannot compare apples to
oranges...

People who say that never seem to stop and think about it. Of course you can compare apples to oranges! How else will you know which is which?

U know what I mean. Xp.......
You cannot compare similarities where
there are none.

Then yer still usin' it wrong.:neener: "Comparing apples to oranges" means "judging two things separated into different groups by the same criteria", not that they have no similarities. An example would be comparing an amateur skateboarder with a professional surfboarder -- there are obvious comparisons you could make, but it's not fair to rank one against the other as sportspersons because their individual sports are considered to be within different categories. Another example (also sports-related) would be comparing female Olympic athletes to male Olympic athletes -- there are obvious comparisons there as well, but a female gold medal is not [necessarily] worth less than a male gold medal.


Apples and oranges are nature.
Boys with toys are not.
There is nothing fair about nature or
science. Emotional people make useless
scientists. Nature doesn't have morals ~
society does.
To be or not to be?
To believe or
Not to believe?
To be live or
Not to be live?
To exist or
Not to exist?
What was the question?

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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Gord » Fri Dec 30, 2016 3:53 am

scrmbldggs wrote:Small things arrived with the new avatar... :-P

That's the Golden Spiral. Have you never heard of the Golden Spiral?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_spiral

It's one of the things Trump's head has in common with an empty seashell. :mrgreen:

Image
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby scrmbldggs » Fri Dec 30, 2016 4:07 am

Nah, I wasn't talking about the naughtylus, I wus talkin' aboot minuscule things...
.

Lard, save me from your followers.

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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Gord » Fri Dec 30, 2016 4:19 am

His head is fine, he's never had any problems there let me tell you.
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby OlegTheBatty » Fri Dec 30, 2016 7:05 pm

Gord wrote:His head is fine, he's never had any problems there let me tell you.


Ok, I will let you tell me.

How are you defining 'fine'?

To me, it is not 'fine' unless all pieces will pass through a .6mm mesh, the grade of mosquito netting that will also stop no-see-ums.
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Re: The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

Postby Gord » Sat Dec 31, 2016 2:04 am

OlegTheBatty wrote:
Gord wrote:His head is fine, he's never had any problems there let me tell you.

Ok, I will let you tell me.

How are you defining 'fine'?

He's heard it, people are saying it. Many people.

To me, it is not 'fine' unless all pieces will pass through a .6mm mesh, the grade of mosquito netting that will also stop no-see-ums.

See?
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
"Nullius in verba" -- The Royal Society ["take nobody's word for it"]
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