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Aquila King

Morality and Intellect

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Aquila King

This may just be me simply making observations here (no real statistics atm), but it appears to me that being factually right or wrong about the world around us appears to play a rather significant role in how we treat others. As well as our reasoning ability, analytical and critical thinking skills, creativity, etc. playing a significant role in our moral decision making.

It seems that whatever it is we believe to be true, has a direct influence over our moral decisions. For instance: If you believe minorities to be inferior to white people, then you're likely to treat them differently. However the question then comes: "Is it the belief that 'minorities are inferior' that causes your emotional detachment from minorities, or is it the other way around?"

I can easily think of examples of people's thoughts and beliefs (or lack there of) directly influencing their moral decisions. However at the same time I can also think of numerous examples of people changing their beliefs in response to some emotional/moral struggles in association with said beliefs.

There are so many questions raised in regards to this topic.

  • Does our intellect influence our empathy, or does our empathy influence our intellect? Or is there an interplay between the two?
  • Does our emotional capacity correlate to our intellectual capacity in some way?
  • Does our ability to think deeply about many things and problem solve play any significant role in our moral behavior?
  • Does a higher IQ equate to a higher moral character? And if so, then does this mean some people are just born 'immoral?'
  • Essentially, is it immoral to just simply be stupid?

These are all just the first thought that come to mind when starting this topic.

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XenoFish

I don't think you'll get a clear cut answer to any of those questions. I think it's more about the individuals persona. Less intelligent individuals can be just as compassionate as highly intelligent ones. Same in reverse, as both can be just as equally cruel. 

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ChaosRose

I don't think there is any significant difference between the morality of people with higher IQs vs. lower. 

Now...should smarter people know better? Should they bear more responsibility when they act in an immoral way?

Maybe. 

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Wes4747

Morality is not a mark of intelligence, empathy and intelligence are not bonded. Emotional intelligence is a thing of an in itself and it is also not on pace with iq.

 

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Wes4747

Nor does a high emotional intelligence suggest a healthy leveled of empathy...e.g. Your average psycopath.

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Wes4747

that last bit, if stupidity were a choice then surely it would be an immoral one lacking empathy for a society that has to support you. I dont think stupidity is a choice... Perhaps ignorance, willful ignorance of key issues facing society could be seen as immoral.

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Aquila King
8 minutes ago, Wes4747 said:

that last bit, if stupidity were a choice then surely it would be an immoral one lacking empathy for a society that has to support you. I dont think stupidity is a choice... Perhaps ignorance, willful ignorance of key issues facing society could be seen as immoral.

That sounds like a game of semantics there.

Stupidity isn't a choice, but willful ignorance is?

One could argue that willful ignorance is stupidity.

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Vlad the Mighty
1 hour ago, ChaosRose said:

I don't think there is any significant difference between the morality of people with higher IQs vs. lower. 

Now...should smarter people know better? Should they bear more responsibility when they act in an immoral way?

Maybe. 

Oh absolutely,some of the most ruthless sociopaths have been very high IQ. Think of those who become the CEOs of gigantic corporations, how they got where they are today, through  cunning and ruthlessness. 

I mean, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, egotistical traits sounds exactly like the qualifications you need to get on in business, or politics.

Edited by Manfred von Dreidecker
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joc

I think that belief is, in the believers mind, Truth.  If one believes it, then it is true.  The Truth however just is. It isn't incumbent upon belief in order to be...it just is.

And I also think that one's beliefs are defined at birth.  If the parents are Christian, the child is raised into that belief from birth...and the morality that follows is part of that belief.  If one's parents are Muslim...the same applies.  Atheist...applies.

Because a lot of very intelligent people believe a lot of things that aren't actually true.  And a lot of less intelligent people believe the same things.

I think that Empathy comes from the shoes one has walked in...but is reflected by the original birthed beliefs.

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Wes4747
34 minutes ago, Aquila King said:

That sounds like a game of semantics there.

Stupidity isn't a choice, but willful ignorance is?

One could argue that willful ignorance is stupidity.

Seperating factor being the ability to comprehend. Argument denied! Lol

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Piney

As I said on another thread I watched this kid with Williams Syndrome who I still see daily. Even though his IQ is about 50 he is actually wired to be honest and good and he doesn't have anger in his emotional toolbox.
 

 

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Not Your Huckleberry
5 hours ago, Manfred von Dreidecker said:

Oh absolutely,some of the most ruthless sociopaths have been very high IQ. Think of those who become the CEOs of gigantic corporations, how they got where they are today, through  cunning and ruthlessness. 

I mean, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, egotistical traits sounds exactly like the qualifications you need to get on in business, or politics.

Business and politics probably attracts more psychopaths than any other two fields. Also, warlords and dictators also tend to be extremely intelligent. Then again, that's pretty much business and politics rolled into one person. Stalin, Khan, Lenin, Hitler and Idi Amin weren't exactly dumb guys. 

Then you have the mentally handicapped, often with IQs below 70, and anyone that has worked with them can attest to just how compassionate and caring they can be. 

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XenoFish
9 hours ago, Not Your Huckleberry said:

Business probably attracts more psychopaths than any other two fields

Works for self:whistle:

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I'mConvinced

Morals do not exist as absolutes, only social cohesion exists in this way.  There are no good or bad acts only acts that positively or negatively affect the social cohesion of a group.  In fact you can't even define an act that has a negative impact on a group as negative, especially if the loss of one group results in gain for another.

There are only actions and consequences, any meaning you wish to ascribe to those actions will be personal to you and your belief system.

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Sherapy
21 hours ago, Aquila King said:

This may just be me simply making observations here (no real statistics atm), but it appears to me that being factually right or wrong about the world around us appears to play a rather significant role in how we treat others. As well as our reasoning ability, analytical and critical thinking skills, creativity, etc. playing a significant role in our moral decision making.

It seems that whatever it is we believe to be true, has a direct influence over our moral decisions. For instance: If you believe minorities to be inferior to white people, then you're likely to treat them differently. However the question then comes: "Is it the belief that 'minorities are inferior' that causes your emotional detachment from minorities, or is it the other way around?"

I can easily think of examples of people's thoughts and beliefs (or lack there of) directly influencing their moral decisions. However at the same time I can also think of numerous examples of people changing their beliefs in response to some emotional/moral struggles in association with said beliefs.

There are so many questions raised in regards to this topic.

  • Does our intellect influence our empathy, or does our empathy influence our intellect? Or is there an interplay between the two?
  • Does our emotional capacity correlate to our intellectual capacity in some way?
  • Does our ability to think deeply about many things and problem solve play any significant role in our moral behavior?
  • Does a higher IQ equate to a higher moral character? And if so, then does this mean some people are just born 'immoral?'
  • Essentially, is it immoral to just simply be stupid?

These are all just the first thought that come to mind when starting this topic.

On the first bullet point: empathy and intellect, I think when we show that we care, that we understand what another is going through, and we connect to the challenges or joys of their journey then we can influence them intellectually. This understanding, for me, comes from my time working with kids and being a mother, and these days working as a memory care specialist, working with people who have early to middle stages dementia, in my experience, empathy is the most effective way to reach them and create common ground. It is important to know yourself emotionally, people respond and connect to emotional integrity and you don't have to have anything more than common sense to know when another actually cares about you. We see it on UM, posters who are only coming from their intellect, they think they are here to teach, yet, they are not in tune emotionally or empathetically and they have the most trouble connecting and getting along, or grasping feedback that allows for growth and they find few taking what they say seriously. An interplay between empathy and intellect is the key to influencing others. 

Bullet point 2: yes, the integration of our emotional nature and intellect guided by integrity is the correlation that is key in infleucneing others in productive viable ways intellectually. The best teachers connect to the student first. 

Bullet point 3: this is an excellent question; one I am going to think deeply about. Stay tuned. 

Bullet point 4: Sociopaths operate void of emotions, empathy, and integrity. They are some of the most dangerous people on the planet to varying degrees. We no longer use the perspective nature versus nurture, it has evolved to nature "and" nurture  a combination/interplay of both influences (Genes and environment). I would recommend The Handbook of Attachment Theory if this subject interests you. 

Great questions AK!

Edited by Sherapy
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XenoFish

Quick question.

c93314ad68cb9ce2e095d23311dda044c2acc883

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Aquila King
6 hours ago, I'mConvinced said:

Morals do not exist as absolutes, only social cohesion exists in this way.  There are no good or bad acts only acts that positively or negatively affect the social cohesion of a group.  In fact you can't even define an act that has a negative impact on a group as negative, especially if the loss of one group results in gain for another.

There are only actions and consequences, any meaning you wish to ascribe to those actions will be personal to you and your belief system.

This sorta goes off topic into whether or not morals exist in the first place, but since this topic loosely relates to it I'll respond anyway...

I can agree on the 'absolutist' style approach, but I do think these moral values can be objectively measured. I hear a number of people surprisingly say this sorta thing, that morality is subjective, that it's all a matter of opinion, and this troubles me. :hmm:

Regardless of culture, belief system, or personal opinion, kidnapping and torturing children for fun (for example) is morally wrong because we can objectively measure the amount of pain and suffering that comes as a result of this. Not just to those children, but to society as a whole if such actions were allowed. The harm that this causes to the overall health and well-being of not just those individuals but to the society/culture that allows such acts can be objectively measured and thereby determined as to whether or not such acts should be deemed 'wrong'.

Take by analogy the concept of physical health. If you were to ask me to define a 'healthy person', I'd struggle to find an answer, as it can appear to be sorta relative when compared to others. Yet despite this there is a clear distinction between a healthy person and someone who let's say has cancer or some debilitating disease. No doctors go around debating one another as to whether or not physical health even exists, because clearly it does despite of it's somewhat loosely defined nature.

In order to further this topic, I think we all need to first and foremost agree that objective moral principles do indeed exist, so that we can therefore extrapolate beyond that into the question of how said principles relate to our intellect (if they in fact even do so at all).

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I'mConvinced
3 hours ago, Aquila King said:

I can agree on the 'absolutist' style approach, but I do think these moral values can be objectively measured. I hear a number of people surprisingly say this sorta thing, that morality is subjective, that it's all a matter of opinion, and this troubles me. :hmm:

There's no need for the two to conflict. Morality is subjective at the absolute level but objective at the group level. 

The only way to really understand when something crosses the line from moral to immoral is by first defining the group you are applying said morality to and a timeframe. One of the bigger groups we can define is the human race, in its entirety. So ask yourself first if you can define an act that always has a positive outcome, foreseeable or unforeseeable, for the entirety of mankind, as that would be an objectively moral act from an evolutionary standpoint.

Doing so is possible but difficult, yet it gets easier the smaller the group you are defining for. I guess what I'm saying is that your personal representation of what an objectively moral act is, is actually subjective and based on the size of group you associate that morality with and from which frame of reference you are viewing it from. 

Think of interspecies morality. Do we include all conscious being's when considering our view of a moral act? Is that even possible? Are trees conscious? 

The answer is that we can define an objective morality as long as we set the group size and some reference frames (period of time maybe?) but it is wise to understand that, given enough time plus cause and effect, no such thing as a truly objective moral act exists.

Bit of a ramble by me there, hopefully some of it makes sense. Aaaand back to the thread...

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I'mConvinced
4 hours ago, Aquila King said:

In order to further this topic, I think we all need to first and foremost agree that objective moral principles do indeed exist, so that we can therefore extrapolate beyond that into the question of how said principles relate to our intellect (if they in fact even do so at all).

I think they relate more to our survival instincts and emotional/physical state than directly to our intellect. On the other hand intellect can affect our ability to effectively carry out a moral/immoral act, so is it the intent that is moral or the act itself, regardless of outcome?

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Aquila King
18 hours ago, I'mConvinced said:

There's no need for the two to conflict. Morality is subjective at the absolute level but objective at the group level. 

The only way to really understand when something crosses the line from moral to immoral is by first defining the group you are applying said morality to and a timeframe. One of the bigger groups we can define is the human race, in its entirety. So ask yourself first if you can define an act that always has a positive outcome, foreseeable or unforeseeable, for the entirety of mankind, as that would be an objectively moral act from an evolutionary standpoint.

Doing so is possible but difficult, yet it gets easier the smaller the group you are defining for. I guess what I'm saying is that your personal representation of what an objectively moral act is, is actually subjective and based on the size of group you associate that morality with and from which frame of reference you are viewing it from. 

Think of interspecies morality. Do we include all conscious being's when considering our view of a moral act? Is that even possible? Are trees conscious? 

The answer is that we can define an objective morality as long as we set the group size and some reference frames (period of time maybe?) but it is wise to understand that, given enough time plus cause and effect, no such thing as a truly objective moral act exists.

Bit of a ramble by me there, hopefully some of it makes sense. Aaaand back to the thread...

I really don't want to derail off-topic here, but I'm just curious though...

I think you might be overcomplicating things here. No doubt that moral questions can often be complex, but it seems that the very basis of morality itself is relatively simple.

You ask me if I could: "define an act that always has a positive outcome, foreseeable or unforeseeable, for the entirety of mankind." The problem is, that would be an absolute moral standard, not an objective one. An act doesn't have to be true in all cases at all times in order for it to be objectively beneficial in any specific case.

I agree that when you narrow things down to smaller specified groups, that these questions are much easier to answer, but that's only because we're dealing with specifics rather then generalities. This doesn't in any way mean that morality is subjective, merely that it's objective answers rely on a case by case individual basis.

You also claim: "given enough time plus cause and effect, no such thing as a truly objective moral act exists." Again, this is an absolute moral standard you're speaking of, not an objective one. It's understandable why people tend to blend the two, though there is a distinct difference.

Objective moral standards only exist on the individual case by case level, and as such there is no absolute moral standard that is beneficial to all conscious beings at all places and at all times. It seems as though you're conflating the two.

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Aquila King

Like you said though, back to the thread...

18 hours ago, I'mConvinced said:

I think they relate more to our survival instincts and emotional/physical state than directly to our intellect. On the other hand intellect can affect our ability to effectively carry out a moral/immoral act, so is it the intent that is moral or the act itself, regardless of outcome?

Good question. I think it's not just the intent, but the sincere action despite any failure. In other words someone may intend to do good, but if they don't put proper action behind their intent then their intent is worthless. Yet the success of said action is not relevant, so long as sufficient effort is carried out.

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Aquila King

I think another question we could ask is in the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Wisdom has to do with the proper application of said knowledge, and so perhaps it is possible to be highly intelligent whilst severely lacking wisdom in how best to apply said intellect to achieve proper moral outcomes.

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Vlad the Mighty

Wisdom is an abstract kind of thing isn't it, the kind of thing that gurus and sages have. Or Jedi Masters. It's nearly always benign. Knowledge is a more immediate,practical kind of thing, and can often be very ruthless. Knowledge, of other people's weaknesses etc, is very often used by ruthless and ambitious people to their advantage, to give them an advantage over others. As the simple formular has it, Knowledge = Power. 

Edited by Manfred von Dreidecker

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I'mConvinced
1 hour ago, Aquila King said:

Objective moral standards only exist on the individual case by case level, and as such there is no absolute moral standard that is beneficial to all conscious beings at all places and at all times. It seems as though you're conflating the two.

I perhaps wasn't very clear in my meaning and it's too lengthy to explain here and now so my apologies. Suffice to say it wasn't my intent to conflate the two.

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I'mConvinced
2 hours ago, Aquila King said:

and as such there is no absolute moral standard that is beneficial to all conscious beings at all places and at all times

I believe there are, they are just unattainable and unknowable by humans...right now. When we can shed the physical bonds that hold us to our objective standard I think we will begin to understand. That's for future generations however.

Wow, I'm leaving now as this is another thread again...

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