a question of science, philosophy, morality…and Scandinavians

Having butted into a discussion on another blog about morals and god and stuff, I becameImage embroiled in a tricky argument with a nice fella who was some kind of Christian, and who took the position that science was a religion. I’m not sure I equipped myself very well, not being particularly clear and certainly far too longwinded, but in the end I managed to summarize my argument like this:

Where I step in is when people suggest that there is no way that evolution can account for certain behaviors. I’ve yet to find any evidence to support that position, and considering there is no evidence that the behavior of every animal on the planet has been shaped by *anything* other than evolution through natural selection, evolution is not even competing with serious alternative hypotheses. The construction of the origin myths and various deities are endlessly fascinating, producing a wonderfully rich texture to the history of our species, but the claim that without some of them we would somehow behave less morally is, to me, ridiculous. If the claim is that the Christian myth gives us superior morals compared with, say, Norse mythology, I see no evidence for that. The people of Scandinavia developed a complex society with social codes, restrictions, expectations, legends and guiding stories passed down generations. To claim that they lacked a morality (with the inference that they still do, as most of the Nordic nations are only nominally Christian) is just silly, but if this claim is not made, that leaves the whole validity of Christian morality hanging, imho.
So, to conclude, if people take inspiration from supposedly wise words written down a long long time ago, great! Do we need any of those words to live a good life? Probably not.
Give a child an understanding of the world around them through science, give them language skills, the gift of communication for them to share ideas and grow intellectually, independent of those around them, and give them the confidence to question, everyone and everything, to take nothing at face value, and to keep exploring until they form their own picture, do these things, and you’ll find you’ve done a pretty good job equipping that child with what they need.

So finally I felt that I got to sum up my main point, probably far too late in the day, but there you are. If you’re interested in such philosophical musings, the blog Love and Heretics is a lovely place to dip into.

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28 comments

  1. chicagoja

    Nice post. I don’t think that I was the fellow you referred to above, but science does tend to act rather like a religion. In both science and religion, we are told that wiser men than us understand the workings of the universe and we should blindly accept their beliefs as fact. Religion belies the use of reason and science uses reason in a vain attempt to understand the unknowable (i.e. what is beyond space and time). It would be far better for religion and science to admit that the simple truth that such things are beyond man’s limited ability to comprehend.

    • adaminberlinio

      Thanks for your comment. I believe the problem lies in what is a straw man argument here. Scientists don’t, as a rule, ask people to “blindly accept their beliefs as fact”. I suspect your understanding of the scientific method may come from theological arguments rather than an understanding of science itself. I don’t believe that science is what you think it is. I would suggest a starting point is to understand Popper’s theory of falsifiability. This explanation of scientific inquiry may also be useful. You’re starting your argument on a few false premises here. Science is not interested in “wiser men”. It is often collaborative, and no professorship or even Nobel prize automatically adds to a scientific opinion. So, as you may start to see, you have a long long way before your broad statements even begin to form an argument that holds any water, in my view, but I’m most grateful for your comment, thanks again.

  2. Robert F

    Is it necessary to adhere to any ethical value to practice science? I mean, does the practice of good science require the practice of any ethical value? If yes, what would that value be? I assume that to lie about one’s research invalidates it; so is truth-telling essential to good science? And if so, wouldn’t that mean that ethics is foundational for, and independent of, good science?

    • adaminberlinio

      What great questions! What do *you* think?
      Here’s my take:
      It may not actually be necessary to adhere to ethics to practice science, but in my view it’s certainly a good idea.
      In their most simple form, the rule “do no harm” would be a good starting point, but your next comment leads us back to the actual process of science, rather than guiding principles. Truth-telling in research is preferable, as it saves time, but here comes one of the wonders of science (IMHO), it’s not necessary! Put simply, any results are not accepted until they have been through not only peer review but ideally replication. One lot of data, of whatever size or quality, does make a scientific consensus.
      So, interestingly, science can be riddled with cheats and frauds, and it *still* works! Great stuff! Leading to the answers to your final questions, which are, truth-telling is not essential to good science, and therefore ethics certainly isn’t a foundation.
      I believe ethical decisions do need to be made by society, such as “do not use slave labor” and “do not cause unnecessary suffering to animals” and these should, of course, apply to the work of scientists along with everyone else.

  3. Robert F

    I think you are correct that no ethical commitment to truth-telling is required of those who practice science in order for it to succeed, but that’s only because the entire methodology of science is designed to reach the objective of attaining accurate, truthful descriptions and knowledge of natural processes; the methodology weeds out the frauds and incompetents as it moves along to the goal of reaching truthful knowledge. So the methodology of science values truth above all else as its goal. Is this an ethical commitment of science as a methodology? Not necessarily. It seems to me that the knowledge that science is designed to attain is not a disinterested knowledge; rather, it is knowledge that gives human beings, or some human beings, power to manipulate nature through understanding nature. So the truths that science attains are at the service of what Nietzsche called the will-to-power. Truth is valued in such a project not as an ethical commitment but only to the degree that it is necessary to achieve the objectives of mastery and control. Any delight that the individual scientist (or layman, for that matter) may have in unlocking and deciphering the secrets of nature are merely an epiphenomenon at the fringes of the real objective, which is service to mastery and control. So science, despite valuing truth very highly, is amoral, and its practitioners may also be amoral; but they are certainly not disinterested.

    The ethical positions that you mention, the prohibition of slavery and “unnecessary” cruelty to animals; does scientific knowledge provide us with these ethical values? If yes, please enlighten me as to where in the corpus of scientific research I may find support for them; if not, then what kind of knowledge are they derived from?

    • adaminberlinio

      All excellent points, none of which I disagree with. The language you use (mastery and control) reads a little more sinister than I would like to characterize it, but I agree with your epiphenomenon point. Are you hinting at a teleological reading of ethics, which, if so, I find interesting, although I don’t think I can subscribe to it due to the lack of any evidence. I’d have to read up on that further.
      So, if we agree that science is amoral, where do these ethics I spoke of come from? For me, I see them as coming from outside science, from society, as a pretty direct interpretation of the Golden Rule, the slaves and animals in these cases being the “others”.
      As I described in the other blog discussion, I don’t see any evidence for the golden rule arising from any other system other than evolution by natural selection.
      My tentative conclusion is that we ethically police science in exactly the same way we police everything else, the Golden Rule, a rule almost certainly derived from evolutionary development.
      I hope that makes sense, as this is my first attempt to explain my understanding of ethics in science, and I worry that not all the neurons are firing correctly.

  4. Robert F

    I’m a theist.

    What you are saying is that ethics are biologically determined; in fact, you are saying that ethics (the Golden Rule) is an epiphenomenon caused by natural selection as a strategy to assure survival of genetic information. So, there are no ethical prescriptions; there are only biological imperatives. I would argue that to call behavior ethical when it is not prescriptive is a mystification, because you are not using the word in the same way it has been used in discourse since the dawn of ethics as a philosophical inquiry and endeavor. I think you are talking nonsense and hiding from yourself and/or others that you don’t believe there is anything inherently right or wrong in any behavior, including slavery and cruelty. And the idea that ethics deal with what is inherently right or wrong behavior is essential to the definition of ethics.

    Of course you think my wording is too “sinister.” I would expect that since you’re are a relativist.

    • adaminberlinio

      So you’ve built up a straw man who has no problem with slavery and cruelty (surely we could place slavery within the category of cruelty, but never mind), because he is a relativist. If this straw man existed I’d be right by your side, accusing him of spouting nonsense too.
      Our discussion appears to have gone a little off course due to you arguing against someone that only lives in your imagination. That’s fine, I don’t mind, but if you want to actually take what I say on face value and continue addressing me instead of some inner daemon, the ball is, I think, still in your court.
      Kind regards!

    • adaminberlinio

      I’m also a little puzzled as to why you feel the need to declare your theism at the beginning of your post. I’m not interested in theism. If what I’m discussing has repercussions upon your faith, I’m sorry, or happy, or whatever, but I don’t see the relevance it has to the discussion.

  5. Robert F

    You responded to the offensive edge in my comments. You did not respond to the substantive observations. My apologies for offending you; but my observations are well founded. So the ball is in fact in your court.

    My statement about being a theist was for the sake of making my own commitments clear in the discussion, especially regarding the issue of teleology.

    • adaminberlinio

      I’m not in anyway offended by anything you wrote (i feel that any ad hominem attacks only really damage the attacker), however, I cannot be expected to defend your straw man. I’m definitely against slavery and animal cruelty (and the fact that i have to write that really doesn’t shine a very good light on your debating style), I’m also not a relativist, and you offer no evidence otherwise.
      I find your discussion of my use of the word ethics to be a little pedantic, frankly. Do you want to work with the Aristotelian definition, the one put forward by Kant, or the utilitarian version? I’m not so keen on the Kantian one, but either of the other two is okay by me. Either way, I’m afraid I don’t really find much to answer from your post. Perhaps I’m being stupid, or hiding from myself subconsciously, and if so I’d be most grateful if you’d take the time to reword your rebuttal, perhaps in such a way that even a relativist (which I’m not) could understand. 🙂
      Just to be super clear, I’m quite happy to carry on this debate, but I’d rather avoid any combatitive tone if possible, and if I start to feel that your goal is to beat me, rather than to honestly and robustly discuss differing worldviews, I wouldn’t find that very productive and may neglect to reply at some point.

  6. adaminberlinio

    To make it absolutely clear what I’m talking about here, I’m interested in critical, rational and logical thought, ideally built upon empirical evidence. For me, much of theology lies well outside that because the claims are unfalsifiable, and are therefore of no interest to me. I have no desire to attack religion, as I have no interest in religion, so if you see what I say as threatening, I’m sorry, but that’s about your own theological issues, none of my business. If you have an alternative viewpoint that can be presented in a rational format, separate from a claim that needs faith, great! Let’s do it!
    Hope that clears things up a little.

    • sunofmysoul

      adaminberlinio, 🙂
      Thanks for the mention. And the further reading. I am enjoying the discussion. The point that Robert brings up is one that I have had continual discussion with , with a few other theists. And the point intrigues me. I fight between pure rationalism, logic, and critical thinking on one side, and more “spiritual” concepts – compassion, empathy, forgiveness, justice, fairness, love…on the other. I do wonder if a combination of both is necessary. With science, rationalism and logic, we can make new discoveries, such as extending human life, and then are faced with ethical decisions such as…how far should we go? Science can answer that we are overpopulated but ethics answers what should we do about it?

      For instance, would it be better for the earth if there was a lesser population? (is it okay to decrease population?)
      Would it be better to extends mans life if we have the capability? what about the quality of life extended? should it be an individuals choice?
      And then the things I mentioned in our past discussion about effects of things like love and forgiveness on man. do they make the most rational logical sense? But if change is seen, what do we do with that? how does that fit into science? (i probably left too many gaps in here, but wanted to just throw out some further thoughts as I love your ability to discuss without getting in a tizzy. 😉 )

      • adaminberlinio

        Hi sonofmysoul, I hope you don’t mind me carrying the theme from your blog over to mine. I feel a bit like I stole it.
        You bring up some really interesting points here. Great stuff.
        IMHO, halting population growth would be a good thing, the best method being the emancipation of women globally, giving them jurisdiction over their own reproductive systems, i.e. access to contraception as well as equal opportunities. This could only be achieved by a huge education program and the active promotion of science, reason, critical thinking and the banishing of superstitions and traditions that blight billions of women’s lives. Population problem solved ethically, with the bonus of liberating nearly half the planet.
        The extension of life, judging by what we can currently do in lab conditions with other mammals, could, in my opinion, carry on a little further, but there’s no indication that we’ll be doubling life spans any time soon, so I don’t worry about it too much. Maybe I’m wrong though.
        I personally believe that people should certainly retain the right to refuse treatment. Nobody should have extended life enforced against their will. Interestingly, the vast majority of medical doctors explicitly state that they do not wish to be resuscitated. Our urge to prolong life at all costs appears to come more from fear of death than some idea of utopian immortality.
        Ah, again you go into the fascinating area of love, and again I’ll have to stop myself there, because I believe such an emotive concept cannot be discussed dispassionately, and beyond some interesting neuroscience, science has little to contribute to the subject, especially when it’s used in the theological sense of loving mankind, or a deity, or a soul. Sexual love however, that we know about, but I don’t think that’s what you’re referring to 🙂
        Quick secret: I do get in a tizzy really, I just hide it behind a cloak of politeness and jollity. There you go.

  7. Robert F

    It seems to me that all core ethical beliefs themselves are unfalsifiable, because they are properly basic beliefs. If you prohibit discussion of whatever is not empirically demonstrable or falsifiable, then it becomes practically impossible to meaningfully discuss or argue about ethics, so I will discontinue doing so with you. But I do have one last thing I want to say before I stop: I think that if you deny that you hold certain core, unfalsifiable, properly basic beliefs, you are not examining closely enough the epistemological substructure that supports your ethical valuations.

    Live long and prosper.

    • adaminberlinio

      I’m not prohibiting anything Robert, as I suspect you know. Discussing theological matters with me would be most unsatisfactory for both of us I’m afraid, as I consider all beliefs outside our rational understanding of the universe to be exactly of equal worth. All gods, spirits, fairies, ghosts and monsters may carry their own magical meaning to some, but I cannot accept your premise that there is “something” outside the natural universe without some pretty amazing evidence to go along with it (and thereby bringing it into the natural universe. See the problem now?). If you need that premise to make your point, we’re no longer discussing, you’re just preaching, which doesn’t work for me.
      Oh well, it was worth a try. If you’d like to try again some time, you’re most welcome.

  8. adaminberlinio

    Okay, one more point for anyone who’s still interested in this theme. If you need me to accept any of the following premises, that there are some things that will always lay outside the ken of Homo sapiens, that there is a reason for everything, or that reason, logic and science are unnecessary when looking for the truth, I’m happy to engage with you, I’ll attempt to be polite and friendly to you, I’ll consider your points, but I cannot take the debate seriously. This is because there are some clear rules of logic within a discussion, and if you play your faith card right at the beginning, it’s already over.
    For example, it appears to me that the above discussion hit a roadblock because I used the word “ethics” to describe a branch of knowledge that is a refinement of the Golden Rule. Now this definition doesn’t imply teleology or a Kantian duty to an exterior force, precisely because I see no evidence for Either of these. If you don’t like this definition, you’ll need to bring some pretty good evidence for teleology, which would be cool, but if I concede the theological definition of ethics, then I’m allowing the faith card to be played, and all bets are off.
    I don’t know how to make it clearer that that. If anyone would like to help me by pointing out where it doesn’t make sense, I’d be super grateful.

  9. Robert F

    Okay, I’ll bite.

    Imo, the above discussion hit a roadblock when you wouldn’t acknowledge that your own ethical values are not based on empirical observations or rational deliberations.

    • adaminberlinio

      Maybe we can get this back on track then, because, as I’ve already explained, I believe that the origins of my (and everyone else’s) ethics are a result of empathy, something that has evolved through natural selection, and I draw that tentative conclusion from my understanding of animal behavior and the evolutionary process. So, if anything, I’m claiming that ethics may be innate, and therefore they cannot be based on empirical observations or rational deliberations. If i gave the impression of the opposite, I have done poor job explaining myself. So, we have a point we can agree upon. Nice. I’d imagine you may have a problem with the way I arrive at that point, but hopefully that’s still open to discussion.
      We were, perhaps, talking at cross purposes because I do require some degree of rational reasoning, ideally with some evidence, in order to believe in things, so I justify my understanding of ethics with the evidence of, for example, animal behavior. That’s where the confusion may have arisen.

      • Robert F

        So, when you say that you are not an ethical relativist you mean that, as a human being, you are genetically hard-wired by evolution to have empathy, and so your ethical attitudes and behavior will necessarily be relatively constant?

        Given the wide range of human ethical behaviors over time, one might argue the point; the different attitudes and practices regarding the institution of chattel slavery over time in different human societies that had essentially the same genetic make-up as we do now would be an example of a counter argument; but, a plausible case could be made that changes and differences in the institutions of human societies over time were the result not of ethical considerations but rather changes and developments in technologies. That, however, would leave empathy a very weak influence in comparison with technological influence over the ethical practices of human beings.

        Be that as it may, your position regarding ethics finds no inherent value in either empathy or the ethics that flow from it; rather, the value of both is that they lead to adaptive behaviors that facilitate human survival given the process of natural selection. I have a couple of questions: 1) is my above outline of your position correct; 2) if empathy is conducive to survival, whose survival are we talking about? The survival of individual human beings, or the survival of clusters or groupings of human beings. Because I do not think that empathy necessarily leads to the more likely survival of individual human beings. If the survival benefits of empathy accrue to the group rather than the individual, how does that work biologically? I know that ant colonies seem to provide a model for this, but ant reproduction is very different from human reproduction.

      • adaminberlinio

        1. No, not really I’m afraid. We clearly have separate understandings of what being a relativist is. I’ll address this later.
        I can’t accept that acts of barbarism such as slavery, or even 20th century genocide, counteract the evidence for the evolution of ethics, because on balance we’ve done pretty well at spreading our DNA (7 billion and counting), and, without trivializing the horrors we’ve committed, they could be seen as evolutionary bumps in the imperfect road of survival (please don’t take this phrase out of context to suggest I’m a heartless social darwinist ;)).
        2. This is an interesting point. We are DNA carrying machines, and our goal is to pass that genetic code on through replication. This central goal we share with every living organism on this planet, from an aardvark to a zebra, encompassing viruses, fungi, giant redwoods and vast clouds of algae. Each species has evolved its own adaptations to suit it’s environment. The chances of our particular adaptations that manifest themselves though acts of empathy coming from this system appear, to me, to be extremely high. Importantly, I see no evidence in support of any alternative hypothesis. So yes, we’re talking about the survival of clusters of human beings, as we each share so much DNA with all other members of our species (the fact that we also feel empathy with big-eyed cute animals, even when only distantly related, could, in my view, be an epiphenomenon).
        I don’t have a certain, complete picture in my mind of how *my* actual decisions regarding ethics are shaped by evolution although a good place to look is the interactions of the other large primates (the documented lending of tools among chimps springs to mind).
        Here is perhaps where we diverge, because although I may be currently unable to link every subtle social interaction between humans with a recorded behavior among other mammals (although there seems to be lots of interesting research going on here), I don’t see that as a reason to leap to the conclusion that there is some other force at work. We evolved a seemingly unique form of intelligence some 200,000 years ago (although other known forms are, to me, equally astounding), and this has led to levels of self awareness and complex social interactions that we have yet to find elsewhere. I find this fact astonishing, but it sits pretty snugly into my understanding of the workings of evolution.

        If I may, I’ll address the point of relativism (hopefully without too much digression).
        In it’s most simple form, I associate relativism with a post-modernist, “hey, everyone has their own opinion and therefore all opinions are equally valid” approach, and I am vehemently opposed to such thought, because I believe it has led to a lot of foolish and distructive decisions that I’d be happy to go into, but that’s best left for another thread.
        You may have a different definition, specifically *ethical* relativism, so we may need to unpick that. I’m uncertain about many things, but I still wouldn’t classify that as relativism.

        Sincere thanks for your reengagement in this interesting discussion.

  10. Robert F

    I find myself confused by part of your answer. Do you or do you not believe that human empathy has an intrinsic value apart from (though not excluding) its functionality in enhancing the likelihood of survival either of individuals or clusters of individuals?

    Also, when you talk about the “evolution of ethics,” it almost seems as if you’re suggesting that this evolution involves progress, that is improvement, in ethics as the result of evolutionary process. If that is what you are saying, by what standard do you assess such improvement? Wouldn’t such a standard itself be an ethical value, and wouldn’t it stand outside the evolutionary framework as a fixed measure by which to assess the “evolution of ethics”?

    Am I wrong in thinking that, from a philosophical materialist viewpoint, biological evolution does not involve the concept of improvement? And that what is an adaptive mutation today, including intelligence and empathy, may turn into a maladaptive characteristic tomorrow if the environment changes and through natural selection no longer chooses those qualities for survival?

    • adaminberlinio

      “Do you or do you not believe that human empathy has an intrinsic value apart from (though not excluding) its functionality in enhancing the likelihood of survival either of individuals or clusters of individuals?”

      A value to whom? If it does anything else other than assist survival, that could be seen as an epiphenomenon I suppose, but I don’t think that’s what you’re after here. Any value we place upon it is just that, something we decide. It says nothing about the thing itself. I’m not being evasive, just trying to be as precise as possible.

      “…when you talk about the “evolution of ethics,” it almost seems as if you’re suggesting that this evolution involves progress, that is improvement, in ethics as the result of evolutionary process.”
      I don’t mean to say that, I’m talking about adaptation, which could involve an increase in complexity (the eye lens) or a decrease (loss of flight among some island bird species). So, no, there’s no need for an exterior measure of “improvement”.

      “Am I wrong in thinking that, from a philosophical materialist viewpoint, biological evolution does not involve the concept of improvement?”
      No, you’re not, although you don’t need to be a materialist, merely someone with a good understanding evolutionary biology. First you get the science, then the materialism usually comes later (hence the attempts at suppressing scientific knowledge among the more superstitious communities of the world).

      “And that what is an adaptive mutation today, including intelligence and empathy, may turn into a maladaptive characteristic tomorrow if the environment changes and through natural selection no longer chooses those qualities for survival?”
      One small problem here, and I know this sounds pedantic, but you can’t use the word “maladaptive”, because that would imply an exterior judgement system, which I’ve already explained we don’t need. Also, it’s not in the dictionary 🙂
      But your broader point here is interesting. Could we somehow lose the ability to empathize, much like the island birds’ loss of flight?
      Let’s consider this. Our environment would need to change in such a way (meteor strike, nuclear war, heating of the planet) that those without empathy would be more likely to reproduce. If you’re asking me if this could be a hypothetical possibility, then although the likelihood seems vanishingly remote, and I can’t (and don’t really want to) envisage the mechanism that would bring about such an unpleasant adaptation, I cannot rule it out.
      If you’re suggesting, however, that my rather stark evolutionary reading of ethics is less likely to be true because of one grizzly possible outcome that you can think of, well, logically that would be an appeal to consequences, a fallacy I’m afraid.
      I’m not trying to be antagonistic here, just as clear as possible.

    • sunofmysoul

      This one intrigues me as well. I do believe empathy has been part of the evolution process. We see it in a few other species, (generally the ones that also we have found self recognition in)
      and it certainly plays its role in social society.

      Consider this example. (given to me once by a friend that stirred considerable ponderings)
      A man …a single being…on an island. No other beings exist.
      Will this man know or have empathy? morals? any type of concepts that involve social creatures?

      • adaminberlinio

        This may well turn out to be somewhat of a digression, but your mention of “a few other species” has set my brain off.
        Evolutionarily we can look at empathy in our closest relatives (orangutan, gorilla, bonobo and chimp, as well as some of the smaller primates) to try and build up a picture of when we may have first begun to empathize.
        Perhaps even more interestingly, there is growing evidence for some kind of self-sacrificing consideration for others being a convergent behavior, in other words, something that has evolved completely seperately in our more distant relatives. The way the sterile ant clones protect the nest with their lives with no hope of passing on DNA themselves being a wonderful example.
        I love your proverb/thought experiments, but I’m afraid I’m rather poor at working with them. This is where my scientific mind just causes problems by asking the wrong kinds of questions.
        I see the man on the island and first I’m concerned about water filtration, then food supply. And then I try to address his ability to empathize. He’s unable to apply any empathy, and genetically he’s a dead end anyway, so this is the philosophical question about the tree falling in the woods. Does it make a sound if nobody is there to hear it?
        Well, scientifically, yes. Sound waves are just waves passing though air (or another substance) and a falling tree would certainly move air, but this doesn’t help to solve your riddle. This is why I’m a very bad philosopher.

      • sunofmysoul

        Yes, the study of altruism in nature is very interesting. The paradox? (an interesting article you might enjoy -http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/02/the-paradox-of-altruism/ ) And are you familiar with Paul Zak’s work on oxytocin, trust and morality? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFAdlU2ETjU

        As to the thought experiment, it was first used to me to illustrate morals, rights and wrongs…sin…etc. Can a singular being all alone on an island…sin? cause harm to another? How does one decide moral values? But if we add another being…then suddenly for survival one has to realize and understand things like cooperation, empathy, compassion…all those things become valuable commodities…usable…
        Would they exist without more than one being on their own? things like justice, loyalty? love? I suspect you are right in we have no way of knowing that. But it does at least make sense that a plus one, or having more than one person in your circle allows FOR such traits and qualities. I would not like my hut burned down, or the fish I caught to eat taken from me…Therefore…perhaps we can agree to not steal each others fish, or burn each others huts down. Also , If i am sick and unable to catch a fish today…and the other person does not help…I could die. The understanding that what I would like done to me, could be done to another then becomes….selfish? or….a way to survive? not just…..sacrificial kindness like we like to think?

      • adaminberlinio

        Thanks for that. I haven’t had a chance to read though the Wired article properly yet, but it looks interesting, especially considering what happened to the article’s author (see his wiki page for the full story. It was quite a kerfuffle at the time).
        I have seen the Paul Zak video before actually. I follow Ed Yong’s blog quite closely and he attacked Zak at the time for that very video. It seemed a little harsh, but what do you think? http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2012/07/oxytocin_is_not_a_love_drug_don_t_give_it_to_kids_with_autism_.single.html
        I find it fascinating that you have such a different way of looking at these things. I genuinely can’t get my head round philosophical arguments, especially when they can’t be poked at by the cold finger of science.

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