Study posits a theory of moral behavior

Feb 16, 2012 By Bettye Miller
To understand the illicit behavior of some, we need to study the moral dimension of the self and what makes some individuals more dishonest than others.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Why do some people behave morally while others do not? Sociologists at the University of California, Riverside and California State University, Northridge have developed a theory of the moral self that may help explain the ethical lapses in the banking, investment and mortgage-lending industries that nearly ruined the U.S. economy.

For decades, have posited that individual behavior results from cultural expectations about how to act in specific situations. In a study, “A Theory of the Self for the Sociology of Morality,” published in the February issue of the journal American Sociological Review, Jan E. Stets of UC Riverside and Michael J. Carter of CSU Northridge found that how individuals see themselves in moral terms is also an important motivator of behavior.

Bankers, stock brokers, and mortgage lenders who caused the recession were able to act as they did, without shame or guilt, perhaps because their standard was set at a low level, and the behavior that followed from their personal standard went unchallenged by their colleagues, Stets explained.

“To the extent that others in a situation verify or confirm the meanings set by a person’s identity standard and as expressed in a person’s behavior, the more the person will continue to engage in these behaviors,” Stets said of the theory of moral identity she and Carter advance. “One’s identity standard guides a person’s behavior. Then the person sees the reactions of others to his or her behavior.  If others have a low moral identity and others do not challenge the illicit behavior that follows from it, then the person will continue to do what he or she is doing. This is how immoral practices can emerge.”

The sociologists surveyed a diverse group of more than 350 university students in a two-phase study that measured students’ moral identity, assessment of specific situations as having a moral component, and moral emotions, such as guilt and shame. The students first were asked how they responded in specific situations where they had a choice to do the right or wrong thing; for example, copy another student’s answers, drive home drunk, take an item, give to charity, allow another student to copy their answers, let a friend drive home drunk, return a lost item, or return money to a cashier.

Three months later, survey respondents were asked how to rate each scenario in moral terms, and how they thought individuals ought to feel following doing the right or wrong thing in each situation. The students placed themselves along a continuum between two contradictory characteristics — honest/dishonest, caring/uncaring, unkind/kind, unfair/fair, helpful/not helpful, stingy/generous, compassionate/hardhearted, untruthful/truthful, not hardworking/hardworking, friendly/unfriendly, selfish/selfless, and principled/unprincipled. The more that individuals endorsed themselves as honest, caring, kind, fair, helpful, generous, compassionate, truthful, hardworking, friendly, selfless, and principled, the higher their moral identity.

Wherever individuals are located on this continuum, they act with the goal of verifying the meanings of who they are that is set by their moral identity standard, Stets and Carter said. “We found that individuals with a high moral identity score were more likely to behave morally, while those with a low moral identity score were less likely to behave morally. Respondents who received feedback from others that did not verify their moral identity standard were more likely to report guilt and shame than those whose identities were verified,” they said.

The goal is to live up to one’s self-view however that appears across the moral continuum from being very uncaring and unjust to very caring and very just, the researchers said. “When the meanings of one’s behavior based on feedback from others are inconsistent with the meanings in one’s identity standard, the person will feel bad,” they said.

More research is needed to identify the source of moral identity meanings, Stets and Carter said. “Exposure to particular social contexts and individuals may encourage a higher moral identity. For example, when parents are involved in their children’s lives, their children are more likely to recognize moral values. Schools can also sensitize individuals to moral meanings by providing an atmosphere that fosters justice, virtue and volunteering. Religious traditions that promote reflection on moral issues and foster charitable work also help individuals recognize moral meanings.”

Studying the moral self is opportune given the unregulated practices of bankers, stock brokers, and mortgage lenders whose behavior facilitated the recent recession in the United States, Stets and Carter said.

“The cost of their irresponsible practices has touched the lives of many innocent victims, as witnessed in the loss of individuals’ retirement savings, homes, and jobs. The fact that a few greedy actors have the potential to damage the lives of many (as evidenced in the Bernie Madoff case) brings issues of right and wrong, good and bad, and just and unjust to public awareness,” they said. “To understand the illicit behavior of some, we need to study the moral dimension of the self and what makes some individuals more dishonest than others.”

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antialias_physorg
3.6 / 5 (15) Feb 16, 2012
Bankers, stock brokers, and mortgage lenders who caused the recession were able to act as they did, without shame or guilt, perhaps because their moral identity standard was set at a low level, and the behavior that followed from their personal standard went unchallenged by their colleagues, Stets explained.

Counter theory: Maybe people who actively seek jobs in businesses that don't produce value but just live off of other people's work (like bankers, stock brokers, and mortgage lenders) have a low (or no) set of morals to begin with?

We may not see people going to new lows for lack of feedback. We may just be seeing a group of people with an inherent bias towards the low spectrum of moral values enacting those values.
Squirrel
4.2 / 5 (10) Feb 16, 2012
antialias_physorg is right. A selection process exists by which bankers get picked and this favors those with less concern for others and general fewer moral scruples. Bernie Madoff was not greedy (as suggested by these sociologists) but from his behavior and ability to fake "genuineness" what the Victorians called a moral deficit and we call a psychopath.
_ilbud
4.6 / 5 (9) Feb 16, 2012
It wasn't an "ethical lapse" it was a systemic failure and a willingness to commit crimes for profit. White collar crime is NEVER prosecuted because the damage to the company is greater than a cover up. How many banker criminals have even seen a trial never mind a prison cell.
ShotmanMaslo
3.4 / 5 (11) Feb 16, 2012
Maybe people who actively seek jobs in businesses that don't produce value but just live off of other people's work (like bankers, stock brokers, and mortgage lenders) have a low (or no) set of morals to begin with?


Just because you dont see the value does not mean there is not one. If there wasnt, they would hardly get paid (disregarding fraud and bailouts). There is no modern economy without these people, as they may do an importnant job solving the economic calculation problem.

I do agree that people of low set of morals tend to be overrepresented in these professions, tough.
antialias_physorg
3.5 / 5 (11) Feb 16, 2012
Just because you dont see the value does not mean there is not one.

Oh, I do see the _theoretical_ value in these things. It's just that they don't fulfill those values anymore in reality.

E.g stocks were once instituted as an instrument to provide capital to businesses that you had faith in: Giving them money to expand/invest, so that they (and you) could reap the benefits. With trading of stocks day-by-day (or better: second-by-second) that idea has long since gone the way of the dodo.
This is forcing companies to makes short term decisions, only, once they go public.

There is no modern economy without these people

Is there? I'm not so sure. Force long term investment. Use state banks with set interest rates fixed to the rate of inflation... I think we could very well do without the current in-play crop of money-lenders. They are middle-men. It is the art of the middle-man to make you THINK he's indispensable.
Modernmystic
2.5 / 5 (12) Feb 16, 2012
Bankers, stock brokers, and mortgage lenders who caused the recession were able to act as they did, without shame or guilt, perhaps because their moral identity standard was set at a low level, and the behavior that followed from their personal standard went unchallenged by their colleagues, Stets explained.


Mmmmm...either that or it was the government that forced them to make bad lending decisions based on emotional legislation...

Schools can also sensitize individuals to moral meanings by providing an atmosphere that fosters justice, virtue and volunteering.


WOW...really? How about teaching high school kids enough about math, science, and English that they can pass an elementary school benchmark test instead?
volantis
4.7 / 5 (3) Feb 16, 2012
This study is strikingly incomplete. Morality is those actions and behaviors that lead to the good health and well-being of individuals and communities. The "morality" being tested in this study is not morality at all, but rather it is judgment.

Morality is action; judgment is observation. Judgment is useful, but not nearly as much as morality. The study should have examined the actual actions and behaviors of people and their cultural paradigms guiding their morality.

The participant sport of morality has given way to spectator sport of judgment. Cultures, including ours, have forgotten that morality is about staying healthy and happy, and it is not about judging whether others are successful in that endeavor, or not.
Jotaf
1 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2012
without shame or guilt, perhaps because their moral identity standard was set at a low level, and the behavior that followed from their personal standard went unchallenged by their colleagues, Stets explained.


Or, in less politically correct words, they were a bunch of crooks. We all know that, it's in the news every day.

I like Antialias's suggestion -- if the market was slowed down so that you actually have to think about your investments in the long term, instead of just minute-to-minute trading, the system as a whole would be a lot more stable. Smooth out the noise and let the true trends manifest themselves.

Force long term investment. Use state banks with set interest rates fixed to the rate of inflation...
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 16, 2012
without shame or guilt, perhaps because their moral identity standard was set at a low level, and the behavior that followed from their personal standard went unchallenged by their colleagues
PERHAPS they and their colleagues identified themselves as part of a tribe apart from general society and were acting in support of their tribe at the expense of outsiders.

As humans are social animals and fundamentally tribal in nature, the tribal dynamic - internal solidarity and altruism in CONJUNCTION with animosity toward outsiders - can be expected in all social interaction.

From this perspective, crimes against outsiders are not perceived as immoral and are not naturally a source of shame or guilt. Quite the opposite, they are a source of pride, mutual admiration, and gratitude.

Society struggles to maintain the perception that we are all members of one tribe. But individuals will always tend to clump and group together to improve their lot. Familial, ethnic, religious, class, etc
kaasinees
3 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2012
One thing is for sure, the system sucks.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (6) Feb 16, 2012
This behavior was selected for.

"Darwin (1871) considered the possibility of (violent) intergroup competition in (early) hominid/human evolution in his tentative explanation of the evolution of morality and other specifically human qualities:
There can be no doubt that a tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to give aid to each other and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection (Darwin, 1871, i, p. 166; italics added)."
http://rechten.el...RID2.pdf

-I do not understand why something so obvious and so universally understood is not considered by people who conduct studies such as this.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 16, 2012
"How about teaching high school kids enough about math, science, and English that they can pass an elementary school benchmark test instead?" = ModernMystic

Why? Will learning math and science help them play Halo?

I don't think so.

Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2012
"if the market was slowed down so that you actually have to think about your investments in the long term, instead of just minute-to-minute trading, the system as a whole would be a lot more stable." - Jotaf

If you purchase a stock you must hold it for a minimum of 6 months before selling.
Lurker2358
2 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2012
There is no modern economy without these people, as they may do an importnant job solving the economic calculation problem.

I do agree that people of low set of morals tend to be overrepresented in these professions, tough.


The modern economy is a fraud dude. Just look at how bad the debts are for the U.S. and Europe. Not just the Federal government either, but every state and local government is in debt.

We don't need these people.

They are parasites which have destroyed our civilization, not enhancement at all.
Lurker2358
3 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2012
WOW...really? How about teaching high school kids enough about math, science, and English that they can pass an elementary school benchmark test instead?


First, you need a competent PARENT, as most are deficient.

Second, you need a competent Teacher.

third, you need a curriculum which focuses on teaching people problem solving and critical thinking, rather than rote memorization.

We also need to develop a culture in which learning and brain power as at least as popular as football...which we are a long way away from.

In South Korea, people go to watch strategy games by the thousands.

In America, people go watch football players or "Wrastling," half of whom can hardly spell football, and major in kinesiology.

When TLC first came on television, it was about science and learning, but they couldn't get enough ratings, so they had to make it into a reality soap opera channel. Nat Geo, History, and Discovery have all degraded that far as well.
Telekinetic
3 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2012
@ GhostofOtto
I'm really surprised to see your explanation of the economic debacle as the action of minor players on a broad scale, rather than the hidden agenda of world forces that use deliberate and forced bankruptcy of nations for tightening control and global power, reforming and reinforcing the reins of those who are really in control.
Telekinetic
3 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2012
Along with all of this, I would think that you would also think, that it's the perfect storm/ scenario for another World War, and we all know how profitable those can be.
kochevnik
3 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2012
Force long term investment. Use state banks with set interest rates fixed to the rate of inflation...
Long term investment is absurd because humans are crazy monkeys with no idea of what they want before they get it, if even then. Who would decide what's the worthwhile long-term investment? Banksters? Woodrow Wilson? Stalin? Nazi Pope? The inflation is caused by banksters taking all the world's gold and giving you worthless paper.

Far from worthless, intraday traders ARE the men who set the pulse of the economy for nation-states, corporations and your slave job. Their worth is not the point: they are your masters. Your worth is subject to debate, not theirs. Of course most wage-earners surrer the delusion of their own worth, which keeps the US economy moving despite being hollowed out with the gold transferred to the aristocracy. Why do you think the Rothschilds determine the price of gold every morning? You think you factor in to their machinations?
kochevnik
5 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2012
I like Antialias's suggestion -- if the market was slowed down so that you actually have to think about your investments in the long term, instead of just minute-to-minute trading, the system as a whole would be a lot more stable. Smooth out the noise and let the true trends manifest themselves.
That would suit an agrarian society sometime in the 1900s, not a world where wars break out overnight and skyscrapers get vaporized by box-cutter wielding goatherders on dialysis living in caves on the other side of the planet.
antialias_physorg
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 17, 2012
Who would decide what's the worthwhile long-term investment

If you see a company that has a business model you believe in, than that would be worth a long term investment. E.g. if you believe that the future will requiremore renewable energy sources then investing in a wind farm or solar power plant might be sensible.
The inflation is caused by banksters taking all the world's gold and giving you worthless paper.

Not quite, since gold - per see - is as worthless as paper is. (Apart from a few specialized uses in electronics and medicine it's of remarkably little utility). The 'gold-based-economy' is just a consensual illusion.
Kinedryl
1 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2012
The question is: do gregarious animals exhibit moral behaviour? If yes, we can exclude the arbitrary human social rules and religion from the origin of moral behaviour and we can deal with utilitarian and evolutionary principles only. After then we are dealing with biology and biology is just an applied physics....;-)
Jotaf
not rated yet Feb 17, 2012
The question is: do gregarious animals exhibit moral behaviour?


No, but they're stuck in a crappy Nash Equilibrium where they must constantly screw up each other's lives. We humans must be half-way between that and some sort of global optimum. (If you think I'm being optimistic, consider that we're discussing this over the Internet, not communicating with bongo signals.)

That would suit an agrarian society sometime in the 1900s, not a world where wars break out overnight and skyscrapers get vaporized by box-cutter wielding goatherders on dialysis living in caves on the other side of the planet.


Because that happens every day, and it completely crushed the first world countries where it happened, right? Oh wait, no. Business takes a few hits but continues as usual (some exceptions notwithstanding). A company that provides needed services/products shouldn't go down because of that. The problem is that healthy companies are exposed to day-by-day speculation.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2012
The question is: do gregarious animals exhibit moral behaviour?


Examples of altruism in animals:
http://en.wikiped...altruism

(Whether you want to count altruism as moral behaviour is up to you. I'd say it is, but one can always argue that altruism also has emotional benefits - so in some sense altruism is also egoistical)

Then there's tests that show that monkeys have a sense of fairness, like this one:
http://news.natio...ess.html

I'd argue that such a sense - while probably not qualifying as full blown ethics is a necesary prerequisite.
Deesky
5 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2012
The question is: do gregarious animals exhibit moral behaviour?

Not 'moral' but group beneficial/cooperative behavior. Morality is a human term that is often laced with religious overtones and so should not be used in this context, but it derives from the same basic roots (ie, cooperative behavior).
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2012
@ GhostofOtto
I'm really surprised to see your explanation of the economic debacle as the action of minor players on a broad scale, rather than the hidden agenda of world forces that use deliberate and forced bankruptcy of nations for tightening control and global power, reforming and reinforcing the reins of those who are really in control.
The actions of minor players are entirely predictable and whats more they are inevitable. This means 1) they must be Controlled and 2) they can serve as reliable Tools for Machinating much larger Events.

The weakness of minor players thus will not endanger the future but can and will be Used to determine it. Lemmings at every level of society. Some eat quite well.

The Cycle of growth, decay, collapse, and rebirth are Inevitable. 7 years of famine always follow 7 years of feast as pops swell during good times. They always swell faster than the ability to feed them. Collapse can be a very Constructive thing - ask joseph and pharoah.

Klar?
truth4life
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 19, 2012
It is sad that humanity has de-evolved to a point where moral conciseness is merely a figment of my truth is for me and yours is not mine. The problem inherently lay in the fact that sin is neither embraced for what it is, nor will anyone fess up to the sinfulness that humanity is capable, is doing daily. The fact that no one even mentions this as the root of the problem heart, is proof in the pudding
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2012
Not 'moral' but group beneficial/cooperative behavior. Morality is a human term that is often laced with religious overtones and so should not be used in this context, but it derives from the same basic roots
Right, which moral behavior therefore doesn't fall into category of beneficial/cooperative behavior, after then? We should make sure, that the moral behavior is nothing more, than the strictly utilitarian approach, when applied to global level, i.e. Lagrangian physics in its very consequences. We can find a number of such analogies of collective behavior in the dense aether model. For example, the particles inside of water droplets are individualistic and egoistic, as they collide mutually, but at the general scale they cooperate spontaneously on the formation of water droplets, as it helps them to maximize the density of their mutual energy and information exchange. IMO the people aren't different and they do exhibit the moral behavior from the same reason.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2012
Not 'moral' but group beneficial/cooperative behavior. Morality is a human term that is often laced with religious overtones and so should not be used in this context, but it derives from the same basic roots (ie, cooperative behavior).
Religions include very clever ways of extending the tribal dynamic over ever larger and disparate groups. Xianity was able to unite the warring euro tribes under a common cultural theme. Monotheism was easier to understand and more resistant to change than polytheism.

The new testament could be used to unite by forgiving old enemies, while the old testament could be used to divide communities and set them against one another.

So after europe was united under catholicism and a single Rule it could be easily and quickly divided again under strictly Predetermined ways, simply by generating enough animosity to facilitate Protestantism.
Twitch
2 / 5 (2) Feb 20, 2012
Can someone explain to me how we got all of these morals by evolving? Electrical impulses traveling across neurons doesn't really fit...
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
Morals (as pertaining to societies) are memes. They get passed on via teaching (actively via laws or passively via peer pressure)

Ethics is something you can develop yourself from very simple premises. Some of these premises are actually biologically evolved traits (drive to survive, drive to procreate, social nature of humans, ...)
Twitch
5 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
So how did the first "morals" or "ethics" come into existence? Why do we punish rape, when biologically, it would be a good thing? Why do we say Hitler was an evil man, when, in fact, he was just purging the world of a species? Species go extinct all the time, why such a big deal?
And if we have morals and ethics, can we be machines? Can we just be working parts with no conscience and still have morals?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
Morals (as pertaining to societies) are memes. They get passed on via teaching (actively via laws or passively via peer pressure)
Not so. You didnt visit my link. Morals are part of the tribal dynamic which is genetically encoded, as is the herd instinct or the pack instinct or the school instince of the flock instinct. These all include instinctive modes of behavior both toward members of the group and toward outsiders.

Human social interaction is also governed by instinct - does this bother you?
Twitch
5 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
Nobody is answering my question. You're just passing it off to a similar idea with another name. Morals, instincts, memes, ethics, etc. How did this start? How did electrical impulses create this?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
So how did the first "morals" or "ethics" come into existence? Why do we punish rape, when biologically, it would be a good thing?
And you did not visit my link either and learn about the tribal dynamic. Rape has been condoned throughout history against outsiders, as stated in the bible, but it disrupts tribal cohesion and trust and so is severely punished within the tribe.

As humanity is being convinced of necessity that it is all one tribe, then rape is universally condemned. Except in many religionist cultures where it is still condoned and encouraged.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
Morals are part of the tribal dynamic which is genetically encoded, as is the herd instinct

What we learend from the few humans that have been raised in isolation would disagree. If morals were somehow genetically encoded then they would have them nonetheless. But without the social dynamic of a group these morals never develop.

So morals are independent of genetics.

How did electrical impulses create this?

Look up what a meme is. Impulses is not all a brain is. Memory is encoded in connection strengths. Once we came to have some form of communication we started to pass on ideas (usually along the lines of: "don't do that or I'll hit you"). These are things that lead to cooperative (or at least non-destructive) social behavior pretty quickly.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
Nobody is answering my question. You're just passing it off to a similar idea with another name. Morals, instincts, memes, ethics, etc. How did this start? How did electrical impulses create this?
Maybe you want to stop twitching long enough to read a little?
http://rechten.el...RID2.pdf
What we learend from the few humans that have been raised in isolation would disagree. If morals were somehow genetically encoded then they would have them nonetheless. But without the social dynamic of a group these morals never develop.
Oh thats not true. READ THE LINK. People raised in isolation tend to be insane. But I think you just stated that without actually looking it up?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
Once we came to have some form of communication we started to pass on ideas (usually along the lines of: "don't do that or I'll hit you").
Not only we. The animal groups I listed all have modes of social interaction which are instinctive, and which benefit the group.

Isolated tribes around the world are all found to exhibit similar such moral behaviors, simply because evolution has selected for them - the tribes whose members behaved this way were the ones which survived.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
Well, I'll cite it for you:
(from http://en.wikiped...Reality)
Feral children lack the basic social skills that are normally learned in the process of enculturation. For example, they may be unable to learn to use a toilet, have trouble learning to walk upright and display a complete lack of interest in the human activity around them. They often seem mentally impaired and have almost insurmountable trouble learning a human language. The impaired ability to learn language after having been isolated for so many years is often attributed to the existence of a critical period for language learning, and taken as evidence in favor of the critical period hypothesis.


If morals were genetic, as you suggest, they should show basic social skills and interest in human activity.
Twitch
5 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
Maybe you want to stop twitching long enough to read a little?
http://rechten.el...RID2.pdf

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that link just quotes a whole bunch of people's thoughts about how historical organisms interacted with each other. It doesn't explain how/why those interactions started to take place. Where in the chain of evolution did instincts evolve? What had to evolve for there to be instincts? Why did morals come about if instincts allows animals to live happily just fine? How did they come about?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
I remember a cat lover once claiming that cats do not hunt instinctively - they must be taught to hunt by other cats. AS if hunting was a cultural meme. This person was a hopeless pacifist. Humans are instinctively tribal. This includes all the associated behaviors which are part of tribal life.

This is a meme:
"Dawkins advocates the "theory of religion as an accidental by-product a misfiring of something useful" as for example the mind's employment of intentional stance. Dawkins suggests that the theory of memes, and human susceptibility to religious memes in particular, can explain how religions might spread like "mind viruses" across societies." Dawkins
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
Correct me if I'm wrong, but that link just quotes a whole bunch of people's thoughts about how historical organisms interacted with each other. It doesn't explain how/why those interactions started to take place. Where in the chain of evolution did instincts evolve? What had to evolve for there to be instincts? Why did morals come about if instincts allows animals to live happily just fine? How did they come about?
But why mommy, WHY??
http://en.wikiped...Instinct
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
Well, I'll cite it for you:
(from http://en.wikiped...Reality)
Feral children lack the basic social skills that are normally learned in the process of enculturation.


If morals were genetic, as you suggest, they should show basic social skills and interest in human activity.
Hmmm nothing in there about kicking cats or raping women. Like I say this behavior could best be described as insanity?

Normal healthy humans do not grow up in isolation. Nurturing mothers are essential to normal brain maturation whether in animals or humans. Nurturing is wholly instinctive is it not?

Stunted brains do not act normally and are likely the cause of most human and animal social dysfunction and sociopathology. Try again.
If morals were genetic, as you suggest, they should show basic social skills and interest in human activity.
And again I am not the one suggesting this. The people in the paper are.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
They dont seem too healthy to me:

"A feral child (also, colloquially, wild child) is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no (or little) experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language. Some feral children have been confined by people (usually their own parents); in some cases this child abandonment was due to the parents' rejection of a child's severe intellectual or physical impairment. Feral children may have experienced severe child abuse or trauma before being abandoned or running away."
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2012
Your source emphasizes lack of language skills. Pinker and others think that this is innate.

A wiki article on 'The Language Instinct' by Steven Pinker:
"The implications of the language-instinct hypothesis are far-reaching. Language and similar abilities are some of the traits that most clearly set humans apart from other animals, and have been claimed by thinkers such as Alfred Russel Wallace and Samuel Taylor Coleridge as the work of God. If language and other mental abilities are in fact explainable as products of evolution, as Pinker argues, then appeal to a higher power is not necessary to describe why these abilities exist."
http://en.wikiped...Instinct

If not stimulated, the language centers of the brain can atrophy in the same manner as vision. I assume it is the same with areas responsible for normal social skills.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Feb 22, 2012
[q9Hmmm nothing in there about kicking cats or raping women. Like I say this behavior could best be described as insanity?
So? What has 'insanity' got to do with moral behaviour?

Insanity is simply saying: Acting in a way that does not conform to the majority (who evince some sort of moral behavior). Insanity IS amoral behavior. You've just made my point I think.

If morals were genetic there would be either
a) no one who is amoral (which is xclearly not the case)
b) some gentic component identifiable with amoral behavior

While there are some brain damage issues that suppress moral decision making thatis all it is: decision making.

Don't confuse the ABILITY to make a moral decision with a genetic source for morals.
It's like language: Language isn't genetic - it's an aquired skill. With damage in the approprate brain sections it can be eradicated.