TED Conversations

Senior Scientist, Johnson Matthey


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Can we unify our moral code?

From Haidt's talk, for humans there seems to be five moral pillars: harm, fairness, ingroup, authority, purity.
From de Waal there seems to be the possibility that non-human conscious creatures exhibit moral attributes too.
Saxe found that our interpretation of others actions within the moral realm stems from a source of brain activity that is not necessarily maximised in everyone - and I presume this is easily observable by those who have higher related brain activity.
Sam Harris argues that there are moral truths that can be answered by science and Dan Ariely presents an excellent example where he has done just that - by testing the harm and cheating principles.

With all of this under consideration: could we begin to organise a set of moral principles (possibly under Haidt's pillar set) which we can openly discuss in depth order to evolve our moral standards?

Topics: morality

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    May 1 2012: The question is "can we unify our moral code". Absolutely. King Constantine of Greece in 325 AD called Council of Macaea to establish Christian Cannon even though he was Muslim. He took symbols, doctrine, and cannon from many religions to extablish the Christian Cannon. However, having said that there is no central authority with the power or influence to call or enforce such a meeting in modern society. It would be difficult to come to agreement with one party that believes "non-believers must die" and one that believes "forgive the sins of others", other that say "if you do not follow us you are going to be condemed to hell", etc ....

    We cannot even get our politicians to obey common moral codes, marriage vows, and even the law of the land. With that in mind how do we work to get the world to join in common codes.

    Just as a question even if we agreed to a common code how would it be enforced. I understand the pillars and applaude the effort. I would recommend that we start a little smaller. A village may share common morals but how about London, New York or other such melting pots of cultures and nationalities.

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Solve that first step in one large city and expand. All the best of luck. Bob.
    • May 4 2012: Robert, with all due respect, what are you talking about in your opening paragraph? Emperor Constantine I of Rome called the Council of Macaea- he wasn't the emperor of Greece. Furthermore, he wasn't Muslim. He had converted to Christianity in 312, and had issued the fairly revolutionary (in the Roman world, anyway) edict of Milan in 313, granting significant religious freedoms to citizens.

      Beyond that, he didn't define a moral code for all the Earth, just for the Roman Empire. And while that was the major western power at the time, to suggest he unified all the Earth's moral code would anger some North Europeans, Chinese, Africans, etc.
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        May 4 2012: Hi Adam, I went back to the above item I wrote and see I wrote "King" not emperor. I check with competent authorities and find they say he remained muslim through out his life and never converted to christianity. I believe he was over the Turkish not Romans. There was no intent to infer he solved the world problems. He did what he could within his relm. Bob.

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