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Thread: On the morality of evolution

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    Flinn's Avatar His Dudeness of TWC
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    Default On the morality of evolution

    Ok so, I guess everybody knows Darwin and his theory, if you don't, just have a look here.

    So now, the point being in question here is: everything evolves, it changes, it leaves behind something to become something else, nothing is eternal;

    Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed - Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier
    In other words, change is unstoppable, it's the nature of the reality itself that says so. And the more we dig into physics with quantum theories, the more we see this is true. Without movement and change there won't be existence.

    But we, as humans, sometimes tend to be conservative (this because of the survival instinct, "what worked well this time should work well next time as well", basically) and we (not all of us of course) feel somewhat compelled to "conserve" the nature, our planet, our status quo... but whatever we will do, the nature around us will change, even if we will spend all our energies in trying to prevent this, and we will adapt and evolve along with it (or become extinct).

    The question now is, morally speaking, is that correct? Or would it be more proper to let the evolution do its work?

    And even more:

    Should we be trying to preserve the status quo for ourselves, or for the other living beings? Are we really responsible for how the evolution on this planet will develop, since when we became the ruling species?

    And, to further expand:

    When we explore the space, should we be careful in not influencing the natural evolution of other celestial bodies, or should we be exploiting any chance to spread the life in the universe? Is our world in any way different from the others, when it comes to how we should behave?

    I believe that there are plenty of moral implications, either if we go one way or the other (or even with a mixed one), and frankly speaking I'm uncertain
    Last edited by Flinn; September 30, 2021 at 08:59 AM.
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Evolution is not a moral subject, or at least not moral in the sense it can be controlled by civil or societal bodies in a meaningful way. Rather I would say it is an inevitability; as nature itself has a knack to try and make things more efficient with time, humanity has a vested interest in bettering itself even if its disagreements on the means often result in disastrous aftereffects and consequences. It's my belief that humanity is a relatively unnatural parasitic entity, which is destined to consume all it colonizes by the boundless needs of its membership. Even if a society forms that is stable for a time, the need to achieve ends better will result in its growth be it the span of years or centuries. Should we try to preserve that which we touch? I think so. But I'm under no illusion that this is the default choice, or that it isn't eventually the end regardless of the care shown by leaders and influences of a particular time. The opening quote is sound at a galactic level, but from the human perception of resources and ethics I would say destruction is an inevitability just as it may galactically be for the universe - all things meet their end regardless of scale, the trick is that an end is typically the catalyst for the new beginning.

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    Flinn's Avatar His Dudeness of TWC
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    It's my belief that humanity is a relatively unnatural parasitic entity, which is destined to consume all it colonizes by the boundless needs of its membership.
    That's an interesting way of putting it.. though I believe that nothing happens by chance and that everything has a sense in the great scheme

    However, if it was not clear, there's a hidden question in the OP: if the humanity is morally called to preserve the nature, does that means that natural evolution in amoral?

    Not an easy question eh?
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    as nature itself has a knack to try and make things more efficient with time
    Rather not. A better characterization is good enough for the current conditions.

    Should we be trying to preserve the status quo for ourselves, or for the other living beings? Are we really responsible for how the evolution on this planet will develop, since when we became the ruling species?
    We should since we can envision the consequences of not running our planet well.

    When we explore the space, should we be careful in not influencing the natural evolution of other celestial bodies, or should we be exploiting any chance to spread the life in the universe? Is our world in any way different from the others, when it comes to how we should behave?
    Depends. Do feel bad we eradicated small pox? If not not sure how to come down on other life if its a threat maybe it just need DDT etc.
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Flinn View Post
    That's an interesting way of putting it.. though I believe that nothing happens by chance and that everything has a sense in the great scheme

    However, if it was not clear, there's a hidden question in the OP: if the humanity is morally called to preserve the nature, does that means that natural evolution in amoral?

    Not an easy question eh?
    Everything may have a sense in a greater scheme, but I would not presume to understand the nature of this scheme and I believe there is no definitive mortal way to do so without frankly fooling yourself. One can only operate by the most reasonable conjunction of their world that they can piece together. I do think the question is (relatively) easy - the morality of evolution is pairing human beliefs and circumstances with the inevitable process of the universe. Or perhaps human disruption is the natural and intended course of the universe. So I dare say the answer ranges between unknowable equivalence or simple design for unknowable reasons. Humanity has a vested interest in keeping something in the universe to colonize and appreciate further, since the destruction of everything obviously leaves nothing left and leads to eventual extinction. But humanity's foresight in actually realizing this interest is another story. I do think the question is more practical than moral, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    Rather not. A better characterization is good enough for the current conditions.
    I would disagree. Natural process does not stagnate (in the way I'd say a lot of human processes do), although it has setbacks. I think it is merely too complicated with too many variables for it to be clear that everything has a vested interest in performing its function, and with time things that ever so slightly perform better become the norm. By accident more than design, but still. Conditions change frequently enough that this state would be in constant flux with many 'good enough' elements slipping and new adaptations taking place to restart the cycle on its many levels. But I do think there is a concerted 'chance' for nature to evolve and more efficiently realize itself in most comparable spectrums, even if 'nature' is not an actual homogeneous entity and thus often works at cross purpose.

    Wikis are like panthers. It's a good idea to feed them.

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    Gigantus's Avatar I don't get worked up over people anymore: they get a post-it with 'ridiculous' on their forehead and that's it.
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Nothing moral about evolution or attempts to stall it for one's own benefit - it's in the viral nature of humans: expand and exploit until you have killed the host. One might argue that attempts to not kill the host would be against the 'morale' of humans. After all eradicating anything that impedes and exploit everything that provides is a basic survival instinct, unfortunately it will in the end result in killing the host which will kill humankind as well, unless the 'morale' in general changes (unlikely that it will happen in a timely manner) - which may actually not be that bad a thing, considering that there might be other life out there that would be spared annihilation by mankind.

    And we certainly are responsible for aspects of evolution through triggering excessive extinctions, eg large scale change of environments.
    Last edited by Gigantus; September 30, 2021 at 10:50 PM.




  7. #7

    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantus View Post
    And we certainly are responsible for aspects of evolution through triggering excessive extinctions, eg large scale change of environments.
    The human propensity to "trigger excessive extinctions" is itself a consequence of evolution.



  8. #8
    Gigantus's Avatar I don't get worked up over people anymore: they get a post-it with 'ridiculous' on their forehead and that's it.
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    The human propensity to "trigger excessive extinctions" is itself a consequence of evolution.
    Undoubtedly correct, with attaining the abilities through evolution to become the dominant species also comes the ability to terminate the very same species.




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    basics's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    A lot of words being said here but sadly for you all, " In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth," only some six thousand years ago and each to its own kind. So, evolution as you thik it to be is non-existant.

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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Hmmm, that evolution exits is the opinion of almost all scientist, while some evangelical "scientists" with graduations from christian "universities", which are not acknowledged by any public university with real renomee on the field of science, deny this.

    Who should i believe?

    The one with scientific facts, especially geological, paleontological one. Or those with the book, which was composed by many authors?

    For me the choice is not complicated.

    OT:

    The question now is, morally speaking, is that correct? Or would it be more proper to let the evolution do its work?
    For me the starting point is:

    Are the recent changes naturally?

    In my opinion they are not, as normally evolutional changes are happening in hundredthousands of years and not in a few hundred like in our time. And they are obviously human made, so its our moral duty to stop them, as in most cases, species are on the blink of extinction, which could survive without human destruction of their living space.
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Morticia Iunia Bruti View Post

    For me the starting point is:

    Are the recent changes naturally?
    .
    And that opens up the second part of my doubt, or:

    since the humankind is a product of the Nature like any other thing that exists in this Universe, is it proper to say that any human intervention is "unnatural"? Aren't our deeds just the result of the natural process of evolution? So aren't they just another step in the evolution?

    Consider for instance the Great Oxidation Event:

    The Great Oxidation Event (GOE), also called the Great Oxygenation Event, was a time period when the Earth's atmosphere and the shallow ocean first experienced a rise in oxygen, approximately 2.4–2.0 Ga (billion years ago) during the Paleoproterozoic era.[2] Geological, isotopic, and chemical evidence suggests that biologically-produced molecular oxygen (dioxygen, O2) started to accumulate in Earth's atmosphere and changed it from a weakly reducing atmosphere practically free of oxygen into an oxidizing atmosphere containing abundant oxygen,[3] causing many existing species on Earth to die out.[4] The event was caused by cyanobacteria producing the oxygen, which stored enough chemical energy[5] to enable the subsequent development of multicellular life forms.[6]
    So, basically, this event was caused by biological life, caused the extinction of many living forms (mostly anaerobic bacteria) and subsequently enabled the development of multicellular life forms.

    With a great destruction, comes a new, strong impulse to life (and to evolution of the same)... could it be that intelligent forms of life, with their global destruction potential, are meant to give a new impulse to life and evolution by crippling and destroying what was before, included themselves?

    And if so, why should we care at all?
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    Morticia Iunia Bruti's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    But are we not already outside of the natural system? We have a highfunctional brain, which can develop high efficient tools. Normal species which are overpopulated, will be decreased by disease. We have the means to counter this regulation mechanique by medicine and vaccine. So i'm doubtful, that we are still part of the natural system.

    So we can't take retreat ourselves on "Its natural selection" arguments.
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    Gigantus's Avatar I don't get worked up over people anymore: they get a post-it with 'ridiculous' on their forehead and that's it.
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Care....That's probably were the 'I just want to see the world burn' saying stems from.

    What is more natural then taking advantage of a position of knowledge and strength to alter circumstances to one's benefit? Whether that benefit is sustainable and\or has negative impact on others is hardly of concern if you are in that position. And by the time this taking advantage has impact on the taker it's most likely going to be too late. No morale involved as far as I can see.

    But then I also think the two basest purveyor of mankind's (and everyone else's) doom are the faceless shareholder and the perfidious lobbyist. No morale those two, no thought about evolution either. Should make a great addition to those biblical riders.

    "Another horse, furiously pink, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the conglomerates, and that people should outspend one another; and there was given to him a great megaphone."
    Last edited by Gigantus; October 01, 2021 at 06:11 AM.




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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Morticia Iunia Bruti View Post
    But are we not already outside of the natural system?
    Are we? I guess that my point indeed is that nothing, and no one, can claim to be "outside of the natural system". This is typically human to consider ourselves superior, and that's both a positive and a negative thing.
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    Morticia Iunia Bruti's Avatar Praepositus
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    I would say no, as the normal mechaniques to maintain the balance in the system of nature work not very effective against humans.

    But i guess thats a matter of viewpoint.
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Unusual yes. Unnatural no. If something can happen, no matter how unlikely it is, it is part of nature. We might be freaks, so to speak. Given the fact that we haven't found a blip of life in the massive universe even today, it is logical to say that life is something extremely unusual. Sentient life even more so. We are the freak among freaks. And still, we are here. We are real, and anything we do is simply... well, nature. A crazy event of nature, but nature still.
    'Normal' and 'Morale' are human viewpoints. The universe does not have that.
    Last edited by Abdülmecid I; October 02, 2021 at 06:04 AM. Reason: Off-topic.

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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Should we be trying to preserve the status quo for ourselves, or for the other living beings? Are we really responsible for how the evolution on this planet will develop, since when we became the ruling species?
    The real question of the thread should be highlighted. A few people seem to have missed it.
    I think we are responsible for future evolution. We can't help but influence the environment and effect the course evolution takes. We also deliberately reshape evolution for our own benefit: Dog breeds, engineering crops, etc.
    The negative impacts we can have do have a moral element: famines, extinctions, engineering creatures that suffer needlessly to suit our whims (eg. the breathing problems of pugs). It is a category of morality that we should begin to take seriously and will become a larger issue in the future.
    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves, but wiser people are full of doubts.
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    Gigantus's Avatar I don't get worked up over people anymore: they get a post-it with 'ridiculous' on their forehead and that's it.
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    I agree with himster: Morality, as has been pointed out, is a yard stick created by humans for humans, to shame others into specific actions or omissions, and degrees vary from region to region, never mind being in flux all the time. So I think we should focus on this question in the OP instead:

    "Are we really responsible for how the evolution on this planet will develop, since when we became the ruling species?"

    Given that we are actively changing the environment on a large scale as well as modifying gene composition of plants and animals through selective breeding and\or direct manipulation then the answer seems obvious. If one feels the need to top that with 'morally obligated' then be my guest, although I doubt something vague and ambiguous like moral obligation is required to take rather clear defined responsibility - although shaming people into action maybe required here before things become irreversible. So yeah, morality as means to an end, not as a reason.
    Last edited by Gigantus; October 01, 2021 at 07:52 AM.




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    Flinn's Avatar His Dudeness of TWC
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    'Normal' and 'Morale' are human viewpoints. The universe does not have that.
    Exactly. The way I structured the title is intentionally provocative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Himster View Post
    The real question of the thread should be highlighted. A few people seem to have missed it.
    I think we are responsible for future evolution. We can't help but influence the environment and effect the course evolution takes. We also deliberately reshape evolution for our own benefit: Dog breeds, engineering crops, etc.
    The negative impacts we can have do have a moral element: famines, extinctions, engineering creatures that suffer needlessly to suit our whims (eg. the breathing problems of pugs). It is a category of morality that we should begin to take seriously and will become a larger issue in the future.
    Yes that remains the main question, though of course there are various different viewpoints to unfold, so I'd be happy for anyone to share theirs, of course

    edit to answer to Gig:

    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantus View Post
    Given that we are actively changing the environment on a large scale as well as modifying gene composition of plants and animals through selective breeding and\or direct manipulation then the answer seems obvious. If one feels the need to top that with 'morally obligated' then be my guest, although I doubt something vague and ambiguous like moral obligation is required to take rather clear defined responsibility - although shaming people into action maybe required here before things become irreversible. So yeah, morality as means to an end, not as a reason.
    Is that really obvious? Didn't the cyanobacteria do the same when they caused the Great Oxidation Event?
    Last edited by Flinn; October 01, 2021 at 08:05 AM.
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: On the morality of evolution

    We are natural. We are of nature, and in no way separate from it. We may well not be the only life form capable of this discussion. We may have a special place in nature, but (muddled misunderstanding of particle physics aside) this is not really demonstrable scientifically.

    If we choose to be moral (or if morality is an evolved element of our make up we choose to develop) then yes we should view our part in evolutionary processes, on ourselves and on pugs etc through a moral lens.

    For me Pugs are an abomination. We have taken a functional lifeform and tortured into something that does not function well, save to "look cute". The same can be said for a lot of "fancy breeds" that is dogs breeds with a club, often enthusiasts rather than vets or evolutionary biologists, who have set arbitrary and incomplete breed descriptions that force certain traits without regard to overall survivability. I'm thinking of the hip and leg problems "fancy" German Shepherds and Toy Poodles experience, the breathing hell pugs and British Bulldogs experience etc.

    They are the product of "false expertise" (self appointed fancy club administrators assigning values to traits) and money. Pragmatically the fail the test of survivability in that they consume resources far beyond what they produce. Of course that argument is an immoral one too, as it leads to forced euthanasia of the disabled etc. so my disgust at pugs etc is disgust at the human stupidity that produced them, not the pug itself.

    The tendency to moral actions is I think a useful one (and a "good" one within a self contained moral universe, but that's a bit self serving) but needs education and discussion to develop. We can recognise the moral yearning of the vegan who puts animal life before human as coming from a good place and tries to shut down "meat industries" (which would lead to a lot of animal deaths).

    If you attempt to apply morality to human actions you will see a lot of evil, and a lot of it petty and thoughtless. The little I know of the commercial actions of Monsanto show how our interference in evolution and plant selection can appear to a normal person as quite evil, but it sure seems good to someone.
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