The ‘challenge’ was to provide evidence independent of a “transcendent Lawgiver” for “Why ought I be moral tomorrow/ Why I ought to be moral at all”; and the challenge was addressed directly with evidence.
The response was not “ought to because I ought to“. Instead it was a reasoned argument for ‘ought to’ (Brain Shaving’s original wording) because scientific evidence is revealing that the moral way (the Golden Rule way) is the strategy that maximizes everyone’s outcomes.
It’s an argument that doesn’t resort to an unprovable, faith-based belief in a “transcendent Lawgiver”. Instead it’s an argument that appeals to rationality and reasoning. Furthermore, as will be reasoned in a moment, it’s an argument that is in keeping with our ‘selfish’ nature.
Maybe I misunderstood. It wouldn’t be the first time. We’ll soon see, eh?
“Why I ought to be moral at all”, by definition, implies a decision point and a search for a rational argument.
It’s the very ‘moment of truth’ that rational/reasoning humans are capable of. It’s as if the mind is going through a decision tree and saying, “Now, I can easily see the immediate reward of a selfish action…but what’s the case/argument for a non-selfish (moral) action…why even bother when the case for immediate ‘reward’ is self evident.”
I’m with you so far. This is the key question, alright.
We ‘bother’, because rationality and reasoning is an integral part of our genetic makeup…an inherited trait that has made us successful, at least up to this point in evolutionary time.
Our ability to reason and rationalize complements our other inherited traits; like acting in a ‘selfish’/self-preservation mode. It’s not a question of whether humans are rational or ‘selfish’…humans are both.
There is no guarantee that an individual will act morally once provided with the rational argument, just as there’s no guarantee for morality once an individual is given the faith-based ‘transcendent Lawgiver’ argument. But the rational argument does have an added benefit. It goes as follows:
If indeed individuals have a predisposition to act in selfish ways to maximize the viability of their offsprings, then it can be argued that it is a ‘selfish’ act to work towards creating an environment (society) that will maximize the outcomes for future offsprings. Applying the Golden Rule is ultimately a ‘selifish’ act. This type of reasoning has been put forth by Richard Dawkins and his research into the ‘Selfish Gene’.
The argument for those that recognize their ‘selfishness’ and seek to reconcile moral actions with selfish actions is: Don’t be shortsighted in your selfishness. By all means, recognize it and take it to the next level on behalf of all the generations that follow you…apply the Golden Rule and maximize their potential survival and the propagation of your genes.
That still doesn’t answer my question, and I think it’s my fault for being unclear in my wording. You’re offering appealing enticements to behave morally, but you haven’t yet offered anything along the lines of “You must behave morally because …” What I take your explanation to mean is something like “You would be wise to be moral because …” or “It’s in your long-term interest to be moral because …”
When I first asked my question and used the word “ought”, I meant it in its mandatory sense. Perhaps I should re-word my question. How about:
no transcendent moral Lawgiver?”
Hopefully that’s a little clearer.
Here’s some additional food for thought: The scientific research referred to in ‘Generous Players: game theory explores the Golden Rule’s place in biology’ provides evidence that outcomes are maximized by the Golden Rule strategy even when rationality and reasoning is not factored in at all:
…It’s not that a paramecium, say, mulls over possible strategies. “You don’t need to assume that the players of a game are rational and are bent on out-thinking each other,” says Karl Sigmund, a game theorist at the University of Vienna in Austria. “They just have to follow their inbuilt programs.”
What’s needed is for strategies to be predetermined by an organism’s genes and inherited from one generation to the next. Then, if one strategy outperforms the others, the individuals using that strategy will tend to have more offspring, who will also follow the superior strategy. After many generations, the weaker strategies will have been weeded out, and the players will be using the strategies that rational thinkers would have come up with…
So, applying the Golden Rule is not only supported using rationality, but it is a superior strategy even when it is implemented by organism that don’t poses human levels of reasoning.
This is a straightforward theory that plausibly explains the evolutionary advantages of certain behaviors, but it is only descriptive and not prescriptive. It doesn’t explain why a human being must obey a given moral rule, only that he’d be wise to do so, and that such past behavior has conferred benefits.