Re: morality and memes

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Mon May 20 2002 - 16:30:16 BST

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    Subject: Re: morality and memes
    Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 08:30:16 -0700
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    > Hi,
    > Came across this definition of morality in a book about journalism
    > & Beauchamp's 'The Virtuous Journalist') whilst doing something entirely
    > un-memetics related the other day. They define morality as a set of
    > 'culturally transmitted rules of right and wrong conduct that establish
    > basic terms of social life'.
    > Despite being an artefact-meme supporter, this piqued my interest. Can
    > morals be culturally transmitted, if so, how? If so, are they memes?
    > fundamentally are morals innate, or culturally produced? If the latter,
    > how/why do some spread more than others? Are what we perceive of as
    > values, actually environmentally specific- which I mean in a way distinct
    > from culturally specific (e.g. isolated communities favouring polygamy due
    > to a gender imbalance).
    > I'm not sure what my own views are at this point in time, but it raised
    > these questions in my mind.
    > Any takers?

    Interesting question Vincent. I feel that individual animals living in
    solitude know no morals.
    That is, they will stop at nothing, including killing or wounding other
    animals of their species, to get their
    share of food. Social animals are a little different. It simply isn't good
    for the species to have no
    stop at getting food if it damages the wellbeing of fellow social
    group-members. So here's
    some set of morals desired however basic and primitive.

    Regarding memetically. Morals can be expressed linguistically. So they are
    intrinsically memetic
    or culturally transmittable. If morals lead to increase in fitness of the
    group at hand moralistic memes
    may flourish. So yes, morals can very well be memetic and yes they can also
    have a biological basis.


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