At what Point in Evolutionary History....

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Dimmesdale
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At what Point in Evolutionary History....

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Post by Dimmesdale »

At what point in evolutionary history was a specifically human essence instantiated? Was the generation before that first official human not essentially human because it lacked a certain attribute? So would the grandfather of the first human be rightfully shot down like Harambe if the baby got into his vicinity?

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Re: At what Point in Evolutionary History....

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Post by Purple Knight »

Dimmesdale wrote: At what point in evolutionary history was a specifically human essence instantiated?
Whenever you want it to be. What do you think makes a human different than an ape? Well, when they achieved that thing or combination of things. Depending on how you define it, it might not have been a last trait imparted but some realisation that came of said trait.

It isn't hard to imagine that a group of primitive hominids had that last required piece (morality gene floating among them) and one fine day the ones that saw that murder was wrong expressed that and stood against violence, and viola, humanity.
Dimmesdale wrote:Was the generation before that first official human not essentially human because it lacked a certain attribute? So would the grandfather of the first human be rightfully shot down like Harambe if the baby got into his vicinity?
Depends on how you define right and wrong.

If you were an anthropomorphic cat whose DNA came in part from a regular cat, would you have qualms about killing the regular cat because family?

I would. But I believe the moral issue rests upon the capacity for morality versus whether or not it was achieved. By the time it was achieved a great deal of people probably had the capacity. If you want to gun down great-great-great-great grandpa because he's not quite human yet, it's your question to answer as to whether or not you ought to.

None of these questions refute evolution or even address it. They're all moral questions.

The fundamental assumption of your argument is the idea that because good moral answers might not exist to a particular situation, the situation is simply impossible, just shows this is assuming the conclusion of god.

Nevermind that it's begging the question because I can show a counter-example anyway: Suppose someone used the sperm from a man who was a complete vegetable and never conscious nor possessed the capacity for consciousness, to produce you? Could you then shoot pa? Same question. Still yours to answer.

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Re: At what Point in Evolutionary History....

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Dimmesdale wrote: At what point in evolutionary history was a specifically human essence instantiated? Was the generation before that first official human not essentially human because it lacked a certain attribute? So would the grandfather of the first human be rightfully shot down like Harambe if the baby got into his vicinity?
We know that $1 is a small amount of money and $1,000,000,000 is a large amount.

If you start with a bank balance of $1 and I add a single dollar at a time, at what point will you say that your bank balance has stopped being small and has instead become large?

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Re: At what Point in Evolutionary History....

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Post by Purple Knight »

Tiberius47 wrote:If you start with a bank balance of $1 and I add a single dollar at a time, at what point will you say that your bank balance has stopped being small and has instead become large?
Considering the bank account, I would say that when it had more money in it than the average bank account, it would be large, less would be small, and average would be medium.

But you see I have emphasised I. I would define it that way.

Someone who asks when apes became fully human is asking after their own answer, not anyone else's.

All they have to do is imagine an ape, and imagine adding or subtracting traits one at a time until they believe it is now a human. And there is their answer.

(The order isn't particularly important, since no one really knows when many specific traits were added or subtracted.)

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Post by Dimmesdale »

I think the key differentiation is, the point at which moral capability is instantiated. What makes us completely different from other animals is our ability to make ethical decisions. Animals can empathize and care for their young, or eat each other - but they cannot go against their consciences and willingly do evil, knowingly do wrong. It seems only humans can do that. And so, what gives? Why are humans so unique? It seems to suggest there is something within our essence that evolution cannot account for. Or perhaps it can, but I am yet to be fully convinced.

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

More recent work in a Kantian vein develops this idea. Christine Korsgaard, for example, argues that humans “uniquely� face a problem, the problem of normativity. This problem emerges because of the reflective structure of human consciousness. We can, and often do, think about our desires and ask ourselves “Are these desires reasons for action? Do these impulses represent the kind of things I want to act according to?� Our reflective capacities allow us and require us to step back from our mere impulses in order to determine when and whether to act on them. In stepping back we gain a certain distance from which we can answer these questions and solve the problem of normativity. We decide whether to treat our desires as reasons for action based on our conceptions of ourselves, on our “practical identities�. When we determine whether we should take a particular desire as a reason to act we are engaging in a further level of reflection, a level that requires an endorseable description of ourselves. This endorseable description of ourselves, this practical identity, is a necessary moral identity because without it we cannot view our lives as worth living or our actions as worth doing. Korsgaard suggests that humans face the problem of normativity in a way that non-humans apparently do not:

A lower animal’s attention is fixed on the world. Its perceptions are its beliefs and its desires are its will. It is engaged in conscious activities, but it is not conscious of them. That is, they are not the objects of its attention. But we human animals turn our attention on to our perceptions and desires themselves, on to our own mental activities, and we are conscious of them. That is why we can think about them…And this sets us a problem that no other animal has. It is the problem of the normative…. The reflective mind cannot settle for perception and desire, not just as such. It needs a reason. (Korsgaard 1996: 93)

Here, Korsgaard understands “reason� as “a kind of reflective success� and given that non-humans are thought to be unable to reflect in a way that would allow them this sort of success, it appears that they do not act on reasons, at least reasons of this kind. Since non-humans do not act on reasons they do not have a practical identity from which they reflect and for which they act. So humans can be distinguished from non-humans because humans, we might say, are sources of normativity and non-humans are not.

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