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Thread: Are animals moral?

  1. #1
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    Jun 2007

    Are animals moral?

    Animals with tooth and claws seem violent in nature and it seems morality is an attribute exclusively of humans. Wrong. Animals are more laws / rules bound I point of fact. Naturalists know it more than us. And I as an observer have watched this deeply. I love to study behaviors of animals, insects, birds and even plants.

    Monkeys move in groups. Bees, ants are the common types they work in togetherness all the time. I am neither a naturalist nor a scientist. I am simply an inquisitive homo-sapiens.

    This is a little bit philosophical or logical argument in essence. Of course animals have little to do with God even if we have gone through mythologies that animals and birds too love God. There are plenty of stories in Hinduism that animals too love God. In actuality God is an idea invented by man when he climbed the ladder of civilization evolutionarily. The topics of God, religion and morality are mutually inclusive ideas. Morality has to do with equality, rules, regulations, systems. Animals, birds, insects are more guided by codes of conducts and moral order in point of fact. Many animals, birds, insects always choose to parade rather than move alone. When one moves in groups they will have to sacrifice or compromise with their packs. Religiosity has to do with morality and of course out of two wings of religion-one morality and the other belief in God, animals are always superbly religious if not believers of God. That means animals are religious, spiritual as well.

    Religion, morality, socialism are evolutionary concepts where as the existence of God is a different issue in point of fact. If God exists animals must be closer to God for they obey God more than humans for they follow natural laws but we break them.

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

  2. #2
    Livin' in Slow Motion Hurricane's Avatar
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    Moving in packs is an indicator of a survival tactic and learned behavior, not necessarily morality. I gave this a cursory google search and came up with one book, which was written by a philosopher (not a naturalist) and seemed to contain largely anecdotal evidence.
    Also, what are you considering a moral action? If we're calling morality, for example, a conscious decision to do "the right thing", even at personal detriment, for the "right" reasons, then there's not way to tell with animals. You can't ask a gorilla what it's thinking, it might be following the most practical course of action.
    I'm not trying to totally dismiss your thinking. I've had pets my entire life, and I think that animals feel emotion, but I'm not buying that animals have some kind of inherent moral code that guides them. I'm just not seeing the hard evidence.
    Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not.

  3. #3
    Skol'er of Thinkery The Comedian's Avatar
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    Why wouldn't animals have some sort of moral code? Social behaviors are learned, as you note. Our moral behaviors, moral norms (which shift as society shifts) are essentially rule that help us get along with each other. Are animals any different than us in this regard?

    If we associate morals with adherence to a religious doctrine, then I could see some difficulties in making such "objective" connections.

    If there is a god, God, or gods, who created the world or universe, then animals would be a part of divine creation.
    “Oh crap”
    -- Hellboy

  4. #4 MarkBastable's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by blazeofglory View Post
    Religion, morality, socialism are evolutionary concepts where as the existence of God is a different issue in point of fact. If God exists animals must be closer to God for they obey God more than humans for they follow natural laws but we break them.
    That all seems eminently sensible and so implacably irrefutable that it's futile even to consider discussing it further - which, now I think about it, is true of most of the threads you initiate.

  5. #5
    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    You have to define what you mean by morality for this post to make any sort of sense and for discussion to occur.

    Cultural evolution plays a huge part in what humans consider to be moral or immoral, to an extent that our behavior can change in drastic ways that are not easily predictable. What was moral for humans 200 years ago will not be moral for humans 200 years from now.

    Our preferences for moral actions, and what we consider to be moral behavior in humans, is likely heavily influenced by selective pressure for social animals to interact in non-competitive ways to some extents. However, for someone to behave morally requires an awareness and a capacity to take responsibility for ones actions, and cultural aspects are often much more important than the biological.

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