Evolution of Ethics
An Introduction to Cybernetic Ethics
Unedited notes please go to visceral morality for edited version.
Visceral morality addresses the seminal ground of social morality It profoundly shapes the evolution of ethical systems. It is not morality learned from a book rather it is known through emotions and experience. For example, you have been standing in a long line on a hot day at the supermarket. As you approach the check-out someone cuts in front of you. Depending on other issues of stress and fatigue in your daily life you react with annoyance or outrage. This is visceral morality expressing itself. Moral expressions such as this are not always fair and reasonable, but those that have endured over decades or centuries of time they take on a form of legitimacy in written codes of conduct that define behavior in almost every aspect of social life.
Visceral Morality as Moral Knowledge
Most of what is accepted as credible moral theory of the past three hundred years would dispute the existence of "moral knowledge." By conventional meta-ethical reasoning one cannot define morality, right and wrong behavior, or claim murder is morally wrong. This is because by conventional rules of logic one cannot logically move from "what is" to one ought to do.
Stimuli that is directed in the brain's prefrontal lobes is filtered delaying an immediate response. Harsh stimuli that directly affects the emotions often inspires an immediate and unreasoned response. The response often is directed back at the person attacking often in an amplified way. The attacker can respond with another amplification of emotions. The whole situation can spiral out of control to the point of great bodily harm to one of the other participants. The cultural morality intervenes and gives rational cause on an emotional level to inspire restraint. Moral laws, sentiments and customs play a powerful role in stabilizing a large and complex society.
The intensity of response to environmental stimuli. A normally unreactive cerebral person can suddenly flip into a highly reactive state given a certain convergence of events. Such a person might have just broken up with his girlfriend after an intense fight or lost his job in a power struggle at work. In this highly charged emotional state he might, for example, respond to the mechanic over an expensive repair job on his car with intimidating language and mind games. The mechanic in response to this mental provocation reacts powerfully in an emotional way that further sets off the car owner, who now is in the unfamiliar territory of high emotions. Morality addresses both the needs for clam of both the mechanic and car owner.
*religious morality not covered here