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Mukesh Adenwala

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Given that morality in humans is embedded, what rules can be laid down that would preserve and enhance such morality in society?

The `Blank Slate' argument now stands modified as the cognitive psychologists now claim. We are born with certain tendencies and proclivities, some of which are known. Morality is one of such tendencies we all are born with. We also know that such embedded morality is lost rather steeply in some societies and some individuals. It may be useful to ask under what circumstances our embedded morality takes a beating establishing a lower than `normal' moral order.

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    Apr 13 2012: Did the notion of the blank slate apply to morality or epistemology?

    and I'm curious, what would a notion of a blank slate have to do with morality?

    Anyone's opinion is welcomed
    • Apr 13 2012: So far as I can think, notion of blank slate can apply only to the idea of morality. The way it has been argued in lecture of Jonathan Haidt and in this lecture, no matter how we define morality, be it in terms of reciprocity, empathy, taking care,fairness, piety, or whatever, animals have shown such tendencies. This shows that we have capacity for such behavior right at birth - in other words, such tendencies are embedded in us. As regards epistemology, one needs rational faculty and analytical capabilities to know whether something is true or not. Perhaps in the realm of sensory perceptions, we can differentiate between hot and cold, bitter and sweet etc., but beyond that, epistemology cannot function without rational faculty and hence cannot be embedded. In other words, notion of blank slate cannot possibly apply to the epistemology.
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        Apr 13 2012: Hi Mukesh,

        Well the notion of a blank slate started off as an epistemological concept. The great John Locke used it to prove that all knowledge derived from experience. Using the term blank slate as a epistemological concept would repudiate the entire notion of innate ideas, which before Locke's time was widely accepted (except for those who followed Aristotle). The notion of a blank slate does not state that humans are not rational. All it asserts is that humans learn from experience and many people that take this position realize that humans are born with certain facilities.

        What you say about the blank slate in terms of morality is interesting and based off what you said I can see why Steven Pinker would deem it be a bad thing if a blank slate was actually the case. I am in agreement that humans, like every other living organism, are born with certain traits and these traits influence our behavior.


        do you think epistemology plays a role in terms of morality?

        and thanks for answering my questions
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          Apr 13 2012: Orlando thanks for the answer and same here , I believe John Locke's idea of Blank slate was more about Epistemology and less about Morality per say

          As you said we born with certain traits but I think whatever that is, its called blank slate and that is why humans are equal and free by John Locke as a natural right

          If were unequal based on those traits then we could not have been possibly equal
        • Apr 14 2012: Mr. Hawkins and Mr. Sarajy, in my earlier answer I had voiced my opinion. I am not surprised that as so often happens, reality is counter-intuitive. Thank you for informing me about the history of the concept. However, I still am not convinced of the argument because I am still not sure whether anything can become knowledge without some interpretation of external reality. Such interpretations can take place only within the constraints and potentialities of the physiology as well as cognitive systems of the organisms. Take for example, dictates and preferences of the authority shaping the nature of learning that takes place in group of monkeys. Drawing a parallel to the Lockean reference, could we say that all truths follow from authority? Hardly, because it does not make sense. I would not like to lock horns with anyone, especially when I have not read the reference but still it does not make sense to me. I will be thankful if you inform me.

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