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Unformatted text preview: 1 The perception of Stepping Stones of Morality In this paper I will argue against the idea that there are a series of distinct traits that lead to morality. Specifically, I will argue that human morality is not necessarily distinct, that there is a difference between all the traits that make up morality and morality itself, and that complex emotion cannot be categorically limited to just one species. I will introduce a model, stepping stones, to explain the opposition and a simple model to explain my position. My first argument is against Jerome Kagans take on Flack and DeWaal and their argument for the morality of apes and its applications to evolution. Kagan says the human moral system is special, distinctive: a unique product of evolution (Kagan 2000, 48). However, I disagree with his treatment of individual traits. While these traits may be building elements as Thierry said, and will be explored later, they cannot be assumed to make up morality in primates or humans (Thierry 2000, 61). Kagan uses as an example guilt, claiming that guilt has a lot to do with intelligence Guilt is not a possible state for chimpanzees. Indeed these animals are unable to make much simpler inferences; for example they do not assume that a blindfolded adult can not see their actions (Povinelli and Eddy 1996) (48). The problem with Kagans view here is that it is assumed that simpler thinking must be learned first. I will call this the stepping stone view: the idea that simple emotions must be mastered before moving on to a more complex emotion. The reason that the stepping stone view does not make sense is that if guilt or selflessness is a natural emotion just as easily felt in humans as simple emotions of sad and angry. In primates though, it is important to look at their morality without making judgments about their intelligence. Kagan uses guilt to make another argument as well; he explains the progression of children into moral adulthood: The first signs come in the second year with fear of punishment followed by empathizing, setting goals, and finally guilt. This 2 applies in an individual, not evolutionary scope. The point could be made here that if individual apes cannot progress past the first stages that they do not possess morality. But, it could also be apes cannot progress past the first stages that they do not possess morality....
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- Spring '08