Monday, April 21, 2008

The Instinct Theory of Morality

Some unbelievers assert that the universal moral code (see blog #22, The Universal Nature of Morality) is instinctual. According to the instinct theory, we humans have a concept of right and wrong because nature gave it to us. The moral urges we all experience are simply nature’s spurring us toward self-preserving behavior.

But we often have conflicting urges. For example, the urge to sacrifice personally for the sake of others runs utterly against the urge of self-preservation, yet it is considered the highest of virtues by unbelievers and believers alike. Then along comes another mysterious urge that we call conscience. It tells us not to do that thing we really want to do, simply because it isn’t right to do it.

If all urges come from nature, the standard that judges between them cannot also be from nature. Morality is not natural. It is too much at odds with our natural desires to share kinship with them. Morality obviously is an intruder from somewhere outside nature.

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