Reason vs emotion?

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Reason vs emotion?
swstephe
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Posted Nov 28, 2007 - 8:37 PM:

Reason can only get you from point A to point B, but emotion places the points on the map. Without emotions, reason can't prefer one situation over the other, or might overgeneralize, (abusing a child is wrong, so killing a fly is also wrong -- or, causing pain to a child is wrong, therefore it is wrong to give children vaccinations or treat injuries.

A monkey can use reason to figure out how to stack boxes to get to a banana, but needs emotions to *want* the banana and get him to perform the unnatural and taxing work of moving the boxes. Emotions are the motives, (and I guess are linguistically related). What we call "morality" is simply applying emotions and reason to imagined, potential, situations and making rough generalizations.
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Posted Nov 28, 2007 - 9:28 PM:

swstephe wrote:
Reason can only get you from point A to point B, but emotion places the points on the map. Without emotions, reason can't prefer one situation over the other, or might overgeneralize, (abusing a child is wrong, so killing a fly is also wrong -- or, causing pain to a child is wrong, therefore it is wrong to give children vaccinations or treat injuries.

A monkey can use reason to figure out how to stack boxes to get to a banana, but needs emotions to *want* the banana and get him to perform the unnatural and taxing work of moving the boxes. Emotions are the motives, (and I guess are linguistically related). What we call "morality" is simply applying emotions and reason to imagined, potential, situations and making rough generalizations.


Wonderfully said.

The recently deceased philosopher Robert Solomon wrote a lot about this.

And tragic cases of injury have resulted in people's loss of emotional brain centers, or of their connections, with devastating consequences to the injured people, expressed often in their total inability to choose among rational courses of action. Without this ability to prefer one outcome over another, there is no direction in which to apply our rationality. The high degree of integration of the emotional and the rational in the human brain is increasingly well-documented in the cognitive sciences.


Our emotions are an integral part of our brain processing (a.k.a. thinking) most of which is below our conscious awareness.


Cheers.
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Posted Nov 29, 2007 - 10:54 AM:

swstephe wrote:
Reason can only get you from point A to point B, but emotion places the points on the map. Without emotions, reason can't prefer one situation over the other, or might overgeneralize, (abusing a child is wrong, so killing a fly is also wrong -- or, causing pain to a child is wrong, therefore it is wrong to give children vaccinations or treat injuries.

A monkey can use reason to figure out how to stack boxes to get to a banana, but needs emotions to *want* the banana and get him to perform the unnatural and taxing work of moving the boxes. Emotions are the motives, (and I guess are linguistically related). What we call "morality" is simply applying emotions and reason to imagined, potential, situations and making rough generalizations.




Is it emotion that makes him want the banana or instinct? Its fair to call this instinct a motive, but I don't think it is like emotion. Emotions are akin to a reaction to a thought or realization, instinct is more like a preconcious rationality.
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Posted Nov 29, 2007 - 11:22 AM:

In recently encountering conflict in which reason and emotion were at odds with a friend of mine, aspects of this conflict emerged in my mind framed a bit differently.

What makes morality (as I understand it) different from hard logic and reason is that it takes into account a person's life and perceptions.

In a given scenario there are two systems that come into play: the first is the macro-system of the external world and the way in which the individual relates within that context. The details and nuance of this system are seemingly infinite in that the information tends to exceed our ability to comprehend it. The second system is the internal perception and experience of the individual, the way in which the external world act upon and within that life, a micro-system of sorts. This too is seemingly infinite in nuance and relevant detail. A "moral" decision, or one that seeks to account for the well being of those involved, must take into account both of these systems and how they interplay. One is impersonal, the other personal. One is reason, the other is something like what you are calling emotion, but there may be a better term. When one system is used to the expense of the other, violations can more easily occur.
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Posted Nov 29, 2007 - 11:26 AM:

Logos wrote:

I would question whether any morals are devoid of rationality. I posit that they are due to a kind of cosmic order or a cosmic rationale of a much higher order [1]; a higher order that our limited minds cannot conceive of, but only feel. As below, so it is above.

The inability of your reflection to do anything other than be more certain of the event is a testament to our limited rational faculties. You may realize that if your child were to be abused you would not like it to say the least and thereby conclude that for anyones child to get abused is wrong. This could be considered rational [2]...


1. This higer order could be a "the limitations of emotional expressions" or "the limitations of moral emotional expressions" The way a well-functioning person feel about childabuse, for example.

2. I mean that moral awareness isn´t derived from rational thought, in the same way as the awareness of the beauty of a bird isn´t derived from rational thought - even though rational thought is necessary for every conception of the beauty in a bird.

/BM



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Posted Nov 29, 2007 - 1:06 PM:

B. Mattias wrote:
2. I mean that moral awareness isn´t derived from rational thought, in the same way as the awareness of the beauty of a bird isn´t derived from rational thought - even though rational thought is necessary for every conception of the beauty in a bird.


I think it is interesting that we have moved from justification to derivation. I agree that in most cases, one can draw a pretty straight line between emotional reactions to a behaviour and the judgement "It is wrong". The act of justifying it (offering post hoc speech in order to persuade others to agree with you), when it is questioned, seems to involve both appeals to shared (or presumed shared) emotional reactions (How would you feel if someone did X to you or your family?) as well as apeals to the intellect (moral theories, appeal to relevant facts).

I think it is important to note this distinction.


B. Mattias
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Posted Nov 30, 2007 - 4:17 AM:

Reformed Nihilist wrote:


I think it is interesting that we have moved from justification to derivation. I agree that in most cases, one can draw a pretty straight line between emotional reactions to a behaviour and the judgement "It is wrong". The act of justifying it (offering post hoc speech in order to persuade others to agree with you), when it is questioned, seems to involve both appeals to shared (or presumed shared) emotional reactions (How would you feel if someone did X to you or your family?) as well as apeals to the intellect (moral theories, appeal to relevant facts).

I think it is important to note this distinction.


Well I don´t. A "moral awareness" is the impulse of an ethical value. If I have the impulse that an observed childabuse has negativ ethical value, it is impossible to justify it to anybody, by rational means. That is, if we don´t share any moral feelings. If person A share some fundamental moral feeling, F, with person B, and disagree about a less fundamental moral feelings, F1 and F2, they can use rational means to investigate which of the moral feelings, F1 and F2, that are to be justified.

/BM

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Posted Nov 30, 2007 - 4:46 AM:

Here is an indicator. The well-known "crying baby" ethics puzzle. A group of people are hiding in a basement. A baby has started to cry and it would be impossible to stop the baby from crying without killing it. A group of enemy soldiers are approaching from outside and will certainly discover the people and kill everyone if the baby is not killed. A purely rational robot would see that the clear rational solution is to kill the baby without hesitation, (a clear choice between one person dying and everyone dying). This is why many people instinctively feel that computers and robots are incapable of ethical decisions, (they *are*, but we instinctively depend on emotional context). A person that made the same rational decision would be considered essentially evil monsters, (even though he made the "right" decision). People with brain damage in the area of the prefrontal lobes make the "right" decision without this emotional burden. So do people with emotional problems that prevent them from empathizing with anyone else -- they might even need clarification that they are considered to be one of the people in the basement.
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Posted Nov 30, 2007 - 12:21 PM:

Swstephe wrote:

A person that made the same rational decision would be considered essentially evil monsters, (even though he made the "right" decision).


What is your position here, do you think that killing the baby is the right decision?
/BM

PS. Why do you call yourself professor?

swstephe
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Posted Nov 30, 2007 - 8:01 PM:

My position is that killing the baby is the "right" rational decision. It is extremely difficult to contemplate, but it is the only way to save the other lives. The puzzle is set up to contradict certain cultural/instinctive ethics: absolutist, ("do not kill an innocent under any circumstances, even to save the lives of others"), or those who don't see death as an absolute negative, ("they were persecuted, so they will receive better rewards in the afterlife").

The system calls you things based on how many posts you make, unless you override it in your profile. There is a thread somewhere that mentions the number of posts you need to make to reach each level.


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