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Luis Javier Salvador

Translator English to Spanish / Spanish to English,


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Survival of the smartest: Brains over brawn, why? (moral question)

Hello, fellow TED users,

First of all, I would like you to look upon this exposition more as a philosophical moral exercise than anything else. As you can expect, this is not in any shape or form a claim in favor of physical abuse or any other kind of abuse, for that matter.

We live in a society where people who take advantage of other people by means of their superior natural strength are rightly considered bullies (except in sports, of course). On the other hand, people who do the same by means of their innate intelligence are considered winners in virtually every possible circumstance. For instance, in the ruthless business world (among many others). Is it right to use this innate advantage to make mincemeat of less intelligent competitors, crush their hopes and destroy their lives? Why is this behavior not even frowned upon?

Some could say that in order to success in life or in business in particular, it's also required to work very hard, that a high IQ is simply not enough. Yet, a similar effort is made by the muscular guy in the gym. Consequently, level of effort doesn't seem to be the key to understand the difference in perceived morality.

Some others could say that strong people can success in sports and smart people in business and therefore, they should stick to what they excel in. Very well, but then we find that in every single sport or physical job, it's morally acceptable to use our intelligence to our advantage (even in weight-lifting, where a wise workout planning is vital), while in white-collar professions, it's unacceptable to use our physical strength to defeat our competition. So, appropriate field of work is not likely to be the key either.

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    Jan 24 2013: (Part 2)

    In addition, taking advantage of one's strength does not necessarily imply physically hurting anybody. A puny little man can be immobilized and hindered from performing his duties without being physically hurt (of course, he would be in other ways). Besides, even if he is physically hurt, intelligent individuals can also cause harm to people in a similar degree. As a result, degree of harm doesn't appear to be the differentiating factor either.

    Indeed, there is no denying that the use of intelligence is instrumental in developing new technologies and medicines that will help us all move forward and prosper. After all, the cerebral cortex is what sets us apart from most of the species. But let us not forget that this discussion only concerns morals, not natural/artificial selection. The undeniable fact that, today, intelligence is of higher importance than strength should not in any way give us the moral right to abuse the less bright individuals.

    To conclude, from a moral standpoint, why does it seem socially acceptable to ruin other people's lives by way of our intelligence but not of our strength? (of course, neither should be considered acceptable.)

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