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The Origin of Morality and Ethics


Let me first state that I know of no scientific evidence to support the origin of morality and ethics. This is just an educated guess and my opinion.

First, letís agree with what ethics and morality mean. Ethics and morality are concepts of what is right and good versus what is wrong and evil. For a more detailed definition, please read this article, however this is not necessary to understand the origins of morality and ethics.

To help determine the origin of ethics, we first need to understand if morality was invented by mankind or a part of nature. I believe some animals, that are slightly sentient and have lower intelligence than man, have some sense of morality. For instance, some dogs appear to know when they are doing or did something wrong, such as eating someone elseís food. Some dogs will immediately hide or lower their heads when they know they did something wrong. Sometimes dogs would simply look around to see if they were caught stealing food or if they got away with it. Hence, I believe that basic forms of morality and ethics are shared by animals and are therefore natural and not invented by mankind.

Somehow, evolution has morality and ethics as an advantage to survival. Maybe ancient humans or primates, who were more fair and just to each other, socialized significantly better, thus they were more likely to have more children and successfully raise them too. On the other hand, individuals who were more selfish and less fair to each other were less likely to have as many children. Maybe ethics and morality is because animals and people have a natural fear of punishment from their peers for bad behavior. This punishment could be the decreased likelihood of having fewer children or something far more severe, such as being banned from the tribe, physical harm, or even death.

Thus, the process of evolution has somehow deemed ethical behavior to be more advantageous to several species including people. We can logically conclude that as mankind developed higher intelligence, the concept of morality and ethics became better developed in the human psyche too.

In conclusion, I believe ethics and morality evolved along with our intelligence. Therefore, there was no single defining point in time when morality started, thus there is not a specific origin to ethics as they exist now.

by Phil for Humanity
on 20080710

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