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Science Forum

  1. 03 Aug '14 12:49
    Charles Darwin once wrote in the Descent of Man:

    "With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their own kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but expecting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

    The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of the patient, but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased through this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage."

    As we see here, Darwin is conflicted. He sees that "the weak" are bringing society down through their genetics as well as time and expense to care for them. He even uses the term "evil". This is very interesting coming from a man who rejected the Bible and embraced science as his Bible. This is a man who once said, "A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affection, - a mere heart of stone."

    Darwin seems to be saying that caring for the weak weakens the human race, but at the same time, helping them is noble. He then resolves this conflict within him by saying that at least the weak should not be allowed to reproduce.

    How many agree with Darwin?
  2. 03 Aug '14 12:55
    Darwin once said, "Animals whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal."

    Should animals be considered our equal?
  3. 03 Aug '14 15:04 / 4 edits
    Originally posted by whodey
    Charles Darwin once wrote in the Descent of Man:

    "With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our ...[text shortened]... saying that at least the weak should not be allowed to reproduce.

    How many agree with Darwin?
    He then resolves this conflict within him by saying that at least the weak should not be allowed to reproduce.

    No, he didn't say they should not be “allowed” to reproduce but rather “...but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased through this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage...." . If you read that very very carefully, he isn't saying nor implying nor trying to imply that we should take any action to stop them reproducing.
    In fact, your interpretation doesn't make any sense since it is totally logically contradicted by his earlier assertion of:
    “...Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; ...”
    The “ we must bear without complaining” very clearly implies that we should ALLOW them to reproduce! I simply cannot see any other possible interpretation here. Can you? If so, tell me how.
    How many agree with Darwin?

    On what? Your interpretation of his opinion is clearly false as it doesn't make sense.
    Don't get me wrong; I don't necessarily agree with all his assumptions and opinions and I know for a fact that at least a few of his assumptions was wrong (nobody is perfect ) including his implicit assumption that all, or at least virtually all, of our physical and mental characteristics are inherited (a rather unsafe assumption I would say ) . It is just that you have misrepresented them.
  4. 03 Aug '14 15:26 / 3 edits
    What is the meaning of the title of this thread "The morality of science"?
    Real science by itself is nether moral nor immoral but amoral because it is solely about rationally obtaining knowledge through observation, experimentation and flawless logic and doesn't say nor imply anything about what we morally should do, only what we could do (our options, whether morally bad or good ) and what is.

    Also; what has Darwin's moral opinions got to do with it? What? Is Darwin's moral opinions supposed to represent some kind of "morality of science"? That doesn't make any sense. What if Darwin had an opinion that most other scientists disagreed with? What is so special about Darwin moral opinions that nobody else opinions in science and of scientific matters that contradicts his opinion counts?

    Morality doesn't come from science but from compassion, empathy, sympathy and a sense of fairness. Some people who lack theses qualities might use scientific knowledge to do bad things but others with these qualities would generally use scientific knowledge to benefit and protect humanity. To blame science for its occasional misuse (would you? ) would be as irrational as blaming the first person who discovered fire whenever you burn yourself.
  5. 03 Aug '14 15:43
    Originally posted by whodey
    How many agree with Darwin?
    As humy says, you have misrepresented him.
    I agree with Darwin that medicine and caring for the sick and even basic hygine is making humans less capable of surviving without these things. I am less inclined than Darwin to label these changes 'weekness'. It does mean that if in the distant future, we loose all our technological advances, we may be in dire trouble, just as releasing some domesticated species into the wild would result in their demise.
    But that is far from guaranteed, as it is clear that many domesticated animals have successfully survived in the wild and in some cases thrived.
    Also globalization has in some ways caused human diseases and human genes to spread around the globe which has to some extent made us more resistant to disease.

    It won't be long however before it is possible to screen embryos for their full genetic makup before choosing to have a child. I expect this will at a minimum lead to less people having children with sever genetic problems. To what extent people will avoid more minor genetic issues I do not know. I am sure some will reject the technology altogether, and others will misuse it.

    I personally have certain genetic diseases in my family (diabetes and pernicious anemia amongst others) and I would certainly consider using such technology if it was available.
  6. 03 Aug '14 17:58
    Originally posted by humy
    He then resolves this conflict within him by saying that at least the weak should not be allowed to reproduce.

    No, he didn't say they should not be “allowed” to reproduce but rather “...but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marry so freely as the sound; and this ...[text shortened]... erited (a rather unsafe assumption I would say ) . It is just that you have misrepresented them.
    So it is your assertion that Darwin was merely saying that the weak or "inferior" do not marry and then reproduce as readily as the sound because this was the natural state of affairs back then?
  7. 03 Aug '14 18:02
    Originally posted by humy
    What is the meaning of the title of this thread "The morality of science"?
    Real science by itself is nether moral nor immoral but amoral because it is solely about rationally obtaining knowledge through observation, experimentation and flawless logic and doesn't say nor imply anything about what we morally should do, only what we could do (our op ...[text shortened]... uld be as irrational as blaming the first person who discovered fire whenever you burn yourself.
    I used Darwin because he was a scientist. This is a science forum, is it not?

    I also picked him because he struggled with the morality of helping the inferior weak patients instead of allowing them to die off on their own via natural causes. He said that not helping them was to be considered "evil".

    I find this line of thinking interesting, especially for someone who had already rejected religion of any sort and because he once stated, "A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affection, - a mere heart of stone."

    Does he not seem conflicted to you?
  8. 03 Aug '14 18:08 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead

    It won't be long however before it is possible to screen embryos for their full genetic makup before choosing to have a child. I expect this will at a minimum lead to less people having children with sever genetic problems. To what extent people will avoid more minor genetic issues I do not know. I am sure some will reject the technology altogether, and ot ...[text shortened]... anemia amongst others) and I would certainly consider using such technology if it was available.[/b]
    So you would favor the eugenics of abortion to allow parents to terminate the inferior unborn children?

    What if by that time they can tell if the child is gay? Would you favor parents selectively terminating them for genetic preferences such as this?
  9. 03 Aug '14 18:13
    Originally posted by whodey
    I used Darwin because he was a scientist. This is a science forum, is it not?
    But your thread title does not say 'the morality of a scientist'. There is a significant difference.
    You also seem to be under the delusion that atheists have no morals. You should know better.
  10. 03 Aug '14 18:19 / 4 edits
    Originally posted by whodey
    I used Darwin because he was a scientist. This is a science forum, is it not?

    I also picked him because he struggled with the morality of helping the inferior weak patients instead of allowing them to die off on their own via natural causes. He said that not helping them was to be considered "evil".

    I find this line of thinking interesting, especially ...[text shortened]... o have no wishes, no affection, - a mere heart of stone."

    Does he not seem conflicted to you?
    I used Darwin because he was a scientist.

    so what if he is a scientist? No scientists represents some kind of “morality of science” whatever that is supposed to mean and that would include Darwin. The title of your thread doesn't make any sense and Darwin has nothing to do with it.
    especially for someone who had already rejected religion of any sort and because he once stated, "A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affection, - a mere heart of stone."

    the actual reason he rejected religion is because he noticed his discovery appeared to logically contradict his own personal religions beliefs (remember, he was a devout Christian before his discovery ) and so he doubted his own personal religious beliefs because of it. And, even then, he didn't become a true ashiest (nobody is perfect ) but rather he become an agnostic thus to say he “ rejected religion of any sort “ would be an exaggeration -he merely wasn't sure about it any more, that is all.
  11. 03 Aug '14 18:29
    Originally posted by whodey
    So it is your assertion that Darwin was merely saying that the weak or "inferior" do not marry and then reproduce as readily as the sound because this was the natural state of affairs back then?
    That is one of the things he implied, yes.
  12. 03 Aug '14 18:39 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    So you would favor the eugenics of abortion to allow parents to terminate the inferior unborn children?

    What if by that time they can tell if the child is gay? Would you favor parents selectively terminating them for genetic preferences such as this?
    So you would favor the eugenics of abortion to allow parents to terminate the inferior unborn children?

    We are talking embryos here, not conscious human beings. It is obvious from your carefully contrived words what you imply here but killing an early embryo, certainly before it has formed any brain, would be no more a murder than killing a vegetable such as a cabbage because, in both cases, no mind would be terminated. Something mindless has no moral rights.

    Would you would favor the eugenics of killing cabbages terminate to terminate the inferior strains to help selectively breed them? Expressing selective breading of cabbages like that makes it sound like evil Nazism but it isn't because cabbages are mindless -and so are early embryos.
  13. 03 Aug '14 19:44
    Originally posted by humy
    I used Darwin because he was a scientist.

    so what if he is a scientist? No scientists represents some kind of “morality of science” whatever that is supposed to mean and that would include Darwin. The title of your thread doesn't make any sense and Darwin has nothing to do with it.
    [quote] especially for someone who had already rejected ...[text shortened]... b]any sort
    “ would be an exaggeration -he merely wasn't sure about it any more, that is all.[/b]
    It most certainly has to do with science. First of all, it was written in the Descent of Man. He is showing us that there are moral concerns when it comes to science.

    We could move on to other moral issues in science. Let's take global warming, for example. If global warming is destroying the world, then what moral obligations does that give society to stop it? Must human freedoms be stripped to "save the world", no matter what that might entail?
  14. 03 Aug '14 19:46
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    But your thread title does not say 'the morality of a scientist'. There is a significant difference.
    You also seem to be under the delusion that atheists have no morals. You should know better.
    Nonsense. We all have a morality. That is what I'm saying, there is morality in every endeavor, including science.
  15. 03 Aug '14 19:49
    Originally posted by whodey
    So you would favor the eugenics of abortion to allow parents to terminate the inferior unborn children?
    Yes, I do support it for very early abortions.
    Currently, it is already possible to do some of the genetic tests I am talking about:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prenatal_diagnosis
    I believe it is also sometimes used for sex determination.

    What is your opinion? Should parents be required to bring to term foetus' with Downs syndrome? What if the genetic condition is so severe that the child will almost certainly die within a few years of birth?

    What if by that time they can tell if the child is gay? Would you favor parents selectively terminating them for genetic preferences such as this?
    If it is in the first trimester, then yes, I think I am OK with parents making any decision they like. I am undecided about later abortions, but I lean towards letting the parents decide.

    What would your own opinion be regarding the same if the test could be done prior to fertilization ie no abortion involved, but a choice of genetic characteristics available to the parents. (I don't think being gay is entirely genetic though, but suppose it was).