Saturday, May 08, 2021

Towards A Universal Morality

      "You can't trust those other people.  They're not like us.  They don't hold the same values."

     True or not?  An anthropology discussion turned into a research paper, in which the authors assert -- with examples -- that there is, in fact, a "universal human morality." 

      Yay, hooray, the lion will lay down with the lamb?  Not so fast; it's a very human set of behavioral rules; they're not without overlap and can even, at times, contradict or conflict with one another:

     1. Help your family
     2. Help your group
     3. Return favors
     4. Be brave
     5. Defer to superiors
     6. Divide resources fairly
     7. Respect others’ property

      There's plenty of range for heroism, individualism, group action and tragedy in all that. There are a lot of ways it can go wrong. But it's a start. You've got this much in common with the other guy, even if he is a jerk or a fool.


John Peddie (Toronto) said...

A recipe for decency and common sense.

So few have it.

RandyGC said...

Overall a list that I don't have any issues with and could live by.

The problems come when one of those values gets out of balance with the others:

"Defer to superiors"; yeah that can get real ugly real quick. Yes the US revolutionaries got away with breaking that one, but the French revolutionaries a few years later?

And history is full of examples of going too far in favor of deferring to your superiors.

Help your family/group can get out of whack as well such as seen in low trust societies around the world and nationalist/religious extremists.

Perhaps there needs to be an 8th point? Maintain a balance between 1-7?

I dunno, "if I was smart..."