Jonathan Hait introduced the five foundations of morality, see Ethics Defined.

  • Harm/Care
  • Fairness/Reciprocity
  • Authority/Respect
  • In-group/Loyalty
  • Purity/Sanctity

He claims that successful civilizations have used all five, and that Liberal morality is insufficient for our civilization because Liberals value only the first two.

  In his TED talk Jonathan Haidt points out that one thing in common with every successful civilization through history is that all five tenants of morality as he defines them have been present.  These successful civilizations seem “to use every tool in the tool box”.

I see Liberal Morality changing to meet the realities of the Anthropocene Era. In particular I think we are beginning to define Loyalty as Loyalty to the human species and Disloyalty as placing the short term advancement of an In-group, such as the 1%, over survival of humanity in the long term. I also embrace a secular Sanctity, "Is it green?" "Does this destroy the planet for future generations?"

Purity/Sanctity is rooted in the emotion of disgust, tied to evolved responses to avoid disease contagion. It's disgusting the way Climate Destabilization is changing our fresh water supply and the oceans.

Harmful cyanobacteria benefit from global warming

Professor Hans Paerl of the University of North Carolina (USA) and professor Jef Huisman of the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) conclude on the basis of several recent studies that the worldwide proliferation of harmful cyanobacterial blooms is linked to climate change.

Just touching water with toxic cyanobcteria is dangerous as the poisons penetrate skin. Toxins also spread through the air near contaminated lakes and ponds.

I was impressed by the story of a man whose dog ran into a contaminated lake. Taking the dog home, he washed him immediately. The dog died and the man was hospitalized from absorbing the poison through the skin while he washed his dog.

In the same way I'm disgusted by fracking, where companies inject poisons directly into the water table to extract natural gas. Nobody should have tap water that burns.

I'm also disgusted when I see tour buses and tractor trailers running their motors for hours, parked in lots, in order to heat or cool the interior. Designing such dependence and purchasing vehicles with this design flaw aren't just unwise. It's revolting. It's not just the plumes of exhaust which billow out surrounding large immobile "dirty" vehicles, in terms of fuel efficiency and pollutants emitted. It's the obvious carbon footprint that accompanies those noxious fumes. The operators are forced to kill future generations and pollute their immediate surroundings just to avoid freezing or baking to death.

Why aren't we articulating and promoting secular versions of loyalty and sanctity?

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So I take it that you equate the "right" to have an unlimited number of children with personal freedom, Jay? Don't you view the planet as a commons? You're in the same basket on this issue as Quiverfull and fundamentalists of all stripes?

What we view as freedom varies according to the social contract we value. At one time people who lived on the second floor of a London building had the right to pour human waste out of the window on to the street. I'm sure some of them objected to having their freedom restricted when mandatory sewers were installed. If we don't restrict our population, if we don't override our instincts based on "millions of years of mammalian evolution", evolution will , by starvation, disease, and conflict. For millions of years those forces, plus predation, were responsible for limiting human population. We either take responsibility ourselves or allow a "natural" dieback.

By taking responsibility out of "the hands" of evolution, we would actually empower ourselves in a new way. For example, each individual could choose a group which shared his or her priorities in granting birth rights. What is your vision for the next generation? Would you prefer healthy children over children born with genetic diseases? Should carriers of genetic disease be required to use genetic screening to only bring children to term who had a chance at a healthy life? Should the intelligence of parents count? Should their behavior count, such as criminal records or carbon footprint? Should serial killers get the same priority as those who positively contribute to their communities? Each group would freely set their own priorities, their own selective pressures. Eventually the descendents would reflect those choices, just as Ashkenazi Jews today have a higher average IQ than other ethnic groups. Human evolution would diversify in response to differences in values. Everyone would have a new power, exercised by their participation in one or another group, to shape humanity's future. Individuals would no longer be limited to choosing to reproduce or not, to marry this person or that one. Simply by coordinating our reproductive choices we'd construct a collective tool that didn't previously exist, a "vote" for the traits of our descendents.

I don't see voluntary collective population limits as a loss of freedom but as an exchange of one kind of freedom for another. Sewer systems gave urban populations freedom from filth and some disease while it took away freedom to dump your poop on your neighbors. Collective "smart" birth control could give future generations not only a change to survive but to excel in new ways.

Introduction of legalized abortion was followed about 18 years later with a reduction in crime. A rainbow of constructive choices for future generations could also improve lives in such a short span. We're not just talking quantity of human beings but new visions of quality human beings.

Sadly, I agree that it would take an authoritarian government to enforce population control.  But, Ruth is absolutely correct that our continued existence depends on curbing our numbers.  If the afternoon TV shows have it right, the most common explanation, of why a woman gets pregnant, is, "It just happened!"  I, myself , was born because it was god's will. In what percentage of childbirths was the pregnancy deliberate?  Though I feel pessimistic about sensible, voluntary population control being embraced, it's too important not to keep trying.

I disagree that an authoritarian government would be required. We haven't seen international Partnership government yet, based on cooperation instead of top down coercion. It's the theory of democracy, of course. But the so called democracy in the US has always been biased toward the interests of elites. The UN is also biased toward the most powerful countries interests.

@ Ruth, You are right, obviously. However, matching up demand with supply makes good sense. If one person expecting a child and wanting to find a good home, matched with people who want a child, is reasonable. People wanting a job done and others who want to do the work, can be matched. People wanting child care or adult care matching with those who want to provide the care makes sense. 

I was not thinking of a mega-registry for everyone for everything. 

Those unfortunate people in New York City who fight slum landlords surely have other options if they knew about them. I guess I am too western in my thinking, but if the weather is too hot and dry, move. If there are no jobs, move; or create a job. If one can't afford child care or elder care, do it. 

Clearly, life is more complex than I suggest, but I am capable of solving problems, even the complex ones. It requires changes in my behavior and thinking, but that is what mentally healthy, mature life is about. 

Joan, you suggest

...if the weather is too hot and dry, move..

That's the only option left for climate refugees. The problem with such individual solutions applied to the population level is that you end up with conflict such as violence against immigrants, even wars. In our world of dwindling resources, if we don't cooperatively and constructively to deal with the source of Climate Destabilization the ultimate outcome is dog eat dog / everybody loses.

I know I sound simplistic, and like a middle class white woman; however, when faced with a problem beyond my control, I have to acknowledge that fact. The Dust Bowl Farmers of a former generation were faced with the drought reality and many moved ... to ... everywhere. 

Of course you are correct, weather refugees invite conflict and unresolved trouble. A planned re-distribution of people to more livable conditions is preferred, but not probable. Who would be involved in the planning, how would decisions be made, can a united effort be possible? 

If I let my imagination fly, I can see a group of people with a common unsolvable problem, getting together to explore options, combine resources, develop a plan, set guidelines and behavioral limits, self police and self manage. 

When I was a child, I lived in a migrant workers camp. It included "Okies" and "Arkies", and a whole lot of other groups who self identified with their group. However, in the migrant worker camp, we all had something in common, poor, dislocated because of drought and depression, and wanting a better life. Of course, as a child, I remember it very differently than any adult, but we were bonded by our commonality. We were community. We had to move camp to follow the building of bridges across the USA southern tier, and we shared oatmeal, beans, rice, and music. Music seemed to be the catalyst as we sat around a bucket or barrel of water at night, singing and dancing. 

I am not saying we were "happy" but we weren't "unhappy". We just were in a situation struggling to make better lives. 

Perhaps it isn't possible to be so low-down today as it was then. We were coming out of a depression, and this stage was better than the former one. The next stage was better yet and I think most grew and developed into pretty decent people, willing to work hard, able to play and sing and dance, and our families prospered. 

Perhaps people won't be able to do those kinds of things until and unless we go into another deep depression and have to claw our way out. 

"The Lorenz attractor is an example of a strange attractor. Strange attractors are unique from other phase-space attractors in that one does not know exactly where on the attractor the system will be. ..."

"small changes can make big differences over time. Therefore, such small things as, "high efficiency car,"

What you are describing in the second statement is NOT a strange attractor (like Lorenz). By definition a strange attractor has completely unpredictable results, which means that a small parameter step in ANY direction, including the 'right way' is very likely to produce 'wrong' results. It sounds like you are viewing this more as a knife edge than a strange attractor. While people suggest the situation is a strange attractor, there is no actual evidence of that, actually the only way you could demonstrate that would be through thorough understanding of the mathematics (not done) or statistical results of many many systems (not done). So it is very speculative. Historic evidence is that it is neither, otherwise the planet would have gone off the rails long ago (like all the orbiting bodies in the solar system with unstable orbits)


When you are in a chaotic system there is NO predictability. Period. When you have a chaotic system, models (like the ones being done by scientists) make no sense, the would tell us nothing. If the models even partially reflected a true chaotic system, they results would be flying all over the place (which is not happening... there are many contradictions in the models but the outcomes are in a general parameter space).

If we were in a true chaotic system, over history we would see many many abrupt flips because a chaotic system would not stay constant. Just because we can imagine climate as a Lorenz or other system does not mean it actually behaves that way.
"We haven't seen international Partnership government yet, based on cooperation instead of top down coercion."

You got that right.

"But the so called democracy in the US has always been biased toward the interests of elites. The UN is also biased toward the most powerful countries interests."

That's where it ends up. Even among people trying to cooperate, large organizations become unmanageable, particularly when it involves surrendering some fundamental desires.

Evolution works against this. This is one of the things that really shot down 'group selection' theory (which interestingly Haidt somewhat believes but is pretty much shot down by evolutionary biologists--Jerry Coyne has written a lot on this). The ONLY types of animals that actually surrender their 'own' reproduction for the group are the ones with completely shared DNA .. ants, termites, bees, etc. Such sacrifice of reproduction does not, it CANNOT evolve in a genetically variable population.

Ultimately in the conflict between ideology and biology... biology wins.

Jeez, John D, I know there is no love lost between you and animals, but an animosity to trees?  Or is it, "Love the tree, hate the hugger."

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