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7 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2008 - 12:21PM #1
FantasiaSmith
Posts: 284
Hello, Lovely People!

I've been thinking a bit lately about...  well, about all sorts of things -- you know me!

Justice.  Where does the concept of "justice" come from?  Human beings have a sense of justice that isn't shared by any other creatures on earth.  Other animals have the ability to learn according to their instincts and experiences -- my cat learns "if I meow and knock my claws against the door, she will open it.  Then I can go in or out," and he becomes frustrated if his expectations aren't met -- but this learning is different from the sense of "justice" (i.e., "I deserve to be free to go in or out as I please.")

"A little bird will drop frozen to the ground without once feeling sorry for itself."

Human beings think they "earn" or "deserve".  Human beings rail at injustice, which we see as "evil".  In this respect we are unique.

Why?  Where does the sense of justice come from?

LLnB to all of us!

Claudia
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2008 - 12:27PM #2
Kwinters
Posts: 22,119

FantasiaSmith wrote:

Hello, Lovely People!

I've been thinking a bit lately about... well, about all sorts of things -- you know me!

Justice. Where does the concept of "justice" come from? Human beings have a sense of justice that isn't shared by any other creatures on earth.



Actually, this isn't an accurate statement.  Other animals do have a sense of fairness:

Monkeys Have Sense of Fairness, Study Finds

Two researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center have found that brown capuchin monkeys have a sense of fairness and will reject inequitable rewards, much as humans do.

Frans de Waal, C.H. Candler professor of primate behavior, said his work with Georgia State University professor Sarah Brosnan was based on a study they did in 2003. In that experiment, monkeys responded negatively when a partner received a superior reward for completing the same task, retrieving a pebble and placing it the researcher’s hand.

“As soon as the partner’s getting something better, like grapes, they don’t want to do it any more,” de Waal said. “They throw the food out of the cage sometimes.”

Brosnan and de Waal conducted a follow-up study to rule out alternative explanations for why monkeys would reject slices of cucumber, a previously acceptable reward.

“The most important one was you could argue that the monkeys reject the cucumber pieces because they see grapes and they want grapes,” de Waal said. “We would show them grapes, but we would put them away, and showing them the grapes didn’t make a difference in our test. It had to do with what partner was getting.”

http://www.emorywheel.com/detail.php?n=24747






FantasiaSmith wrote:

Human beings think they "earn" or "deserve". Human beings rail at injustice, which we see as "evil". In this respect we are unique.

Why? Where does the sense of justice come from?

LLnB to all of us!

Claudia




Again, humans are not the only animals to display a sense of morality:

Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior


Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.

Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are.
Moral philosophers do not take very seriously the biologists’ bid to annex their subject, but they find much of interest in what the biologists say and have started an academic conversation with them.

The original call to battle was sounded by the biologist Edward O. Wilson more than 30 years ago, when he suggested in his 1975 book “Sociobiology” that “the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of the philosophers and biologicized.” He may have jumped the gun about the time having come, but in the intervening decades biologists have made considerable progress.

Last year Marc Hauser, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, proposed in his book “Moral Minds” that the brain has a genetically shaped mechanism for acquiring moral rules, a universal moral grammar similar to the neural machinery for learning language. In another recent book, “Primates and Philosophers,” the primatologist Frans de Waal defends against philosopher critics his view that the roots of morality can be seen in the social behavior of monkeys and apes
. Dr. de Waal, who is director of the Living Links Center at Emory University, argues that all social animals have had to constrain or alter their behavior in various ways for group living to be worthwhile. These constraints, evident in monkeys and even more so in chimpanzees, are part of human inheritance, too, and in his view form the set of behaviors from which human morality has been shaped.

http://www.primates.com/morality/index.html




So one answer to your question 'Where does the sense of justice come from?' is that species that co-operated, acted morally and created stronger social bonds survived with great success than primate groups which didn't co-opereate, didn't act morally and had weak social bonds.

Jesus had two dads, and he turned out alright.~ Andy Gussert

“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”

Dale Spender
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2008 - 12:31PM #3
Kwinters
Posts: 22,119
See also:

Evolutionary ethics concerns approaches to ethics (morality) based on the role of evolution in shaping human psychology and behavior. Such approaches may be based in scientific fields such as evolutionary psychology or sociobiology, with a focus on understanding and explaining observed ethical preferences and choices. Alternatively and to a large extent separately, theories or ideas about evolution may be used to justify and advance particular ethical systems and particular morals (i.e. what is right and wrong).

Evolutionary psychology attempts to explain major features of psychology in terms of species-wide evolved (via natural selection) predispositions. Ethical topics addressed include altruistic behaviors, deceptive or harmful behaviors, an innate sense of fairness or unfairness, feelings of kindness or love, self-sacrifice, feelings related to competitiveness and moral punishment or retribution, moral "cheating" or hypocrisy, and inclinations for a wide variety of actions judged morally good or bad by (at least some within) a given society.

An historically key challenge to evolutionary psychology has been how altruistic feelings and behaviors could have evolved when the process of natural selection is based on competition between different genes. Theories addressing this have included kin selection and reciprocal altruism (both direct and indirect, and on a society-wide scale). Group selection theories have also, more controversially, been advanced.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_ethics
Jesus had two dads, and he turned out alright.~ Andy Gussert

“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”

Dale Spender
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2008 - 1:16PM #4
mountain_man
Posts: 39,655

FantasiaSmith wrote:

Human beings have a sense of justice that isn't shared by any other creatures on earth. 


Every time someone makes a statement like that, trying to claim some difference between humans and other animals, nature proves them wrong.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

I am a Humanist. I believe in a rational philosophy of life, informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by a desire to do good for its own sake and not by an expectation of a reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife.
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2008 - 6:01PM #5
gooddogma-sit
Posts: 123
Fantasia,

Before you can really ask the question of where justice comes from, you have to define justice.  I have found that the definition of "justice" varies enormously, largely depending on the individual or group that is seeking it out... or dispensing it.

You seem to equate justice with a sense of fairness, and I think that your claim of that as a unique human quality is handily taken up by Kwinters in her posts.  I personally prefer the concept of a sense of fairness being a quality that transcends humanity.  I think that attempts to separate and distinguish ourselves as humans from animals (which is what we we all really are) has succeeded only in distancing ourselves from the natural world.  I believe that we should seek to be more a part of that world, and not hold ourselves apart from it.  Also, I think that rejecting our own animality (is that even a word?) is the kind of denial that is spoken of by alcoholics and compulsive gamblers.  By refusing to acknowledge it, you only increase your potential to be controlled by it.

As to your bird quote, how the hell does the author know that for a fact?  I've seen some pretty miserable looking sparrows this winter, and there's no way you can be sure that they're not up on that branch in the freezing rain thinking: "This really sucks.  Why didn't I just fly south like all of the other birds?"

GD
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2008 - 9:45AM #6
AintKatie
Posts: 1,657

FantasiaSmith wrote:

Human beings have a sense of justice that isn't shared by any other creatures on earth. 



And your proof?

[QUOTE]Other animals have the ability to learn according to their instincts and experiences -- my cat learns "if I meow and knock my claws against the door, she will open it.  Then I can go in or out," and he becomes frustrated if his expectations aren't met -- but this learning is different from the sense of "justice" (i.e., "I deserve to be free to go in or out as I please.")[/QUOTE]

I believe humans learn according to instincts and experiences, as well.Whether or not they do, what does that have to do with Justice?

[QUOTE] "A little bird will drop frozen to the ground without once feeling sorry for itself."[/QUOTE]

Uh, how do you know that? If a man, who's stood outside without a jacket on for far too long, drops frozen into the flower bed, how do you know he felt sorry for himself..or if he didn't feel that?

[QUOTE] Human beings think they "earn" or "deserve".  Human beings rail at injustice, which we see as "evil".  In this respect we are unique. Why?  Where does the sense of justice come from?[/QUOTE]

You may be right about this part. I think I deserve M & M's and some stick pretzels. My cat Beadie KNOWS she deserves her cat crackers in her dish. ;)

As for other critters not railing at injustice, we'd have to agree on what injustice means and then examine little bunches of animals to see if any of them might be doing it. I would bet that among Chimps or Gorillas, something in the general vicinity of "railing at injustice" might go on from time to time. I can't see it in a flock of Chickadees, but then I don't do careful observation of Chickadees, either. I just feed 'em.

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7 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2008 - 9:52AM #7
AintKatie
Posts: 1,657

gooddogma-sit wrote:

  I think that attempts to separate and distinguish ourselves as humans from animals (which is what we we all really are) has succeeded only in distancing ourselves from the natural world.  I believe that we should seek to be more a part of that world, and not hold ourselves apart from it. 



I agree. I think the more we distance ourselves from other animals, from nature, the more we suffer..the more our planets suffers.

[QUOTE]Also, I think that rejecting our own animality (is that even a word?) is the kind of denial that is spoken of by alcoholics and compulsive gamblers.  By refusing to acknowledge it, you only increase your potential to be controlled by it.[/QUOTE]

That one I find confusing. Can you give more details?

[QUOTE]As to your bird quote, how the hell does the author know that for a fact?  I've seen some pretty miserable looking sparrows this winter, and there's no way you can be sure that they're not up on that branch in the freezing rain thinking: "This really sucks.  Why didn't I just fly south like all of the other birds?"[/QUOTE]

Good point.  I'm not sure the language would be just that, but close enough.  ;)

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7 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2008 - 11:07AM #8
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,073

AintKatie wrote:

Good point. I'm not sure the language would be just that, but close enough. ;)

Like all good linguists the good dog has translated from the Chickadeese into the common vernacular, rather than academically correct English. 

Jcarlinbn, community moderator
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