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Are we born neither good or bad?

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    I'm probably a little biased in my perspective for I'm an agnostic in the same way Bertrand Russell is.

    Personally, I feel 'goodness' and 'badness' are relative concepts that have developed alongside and are occasionally constructed by humanity. Our ideas over morality have evolved into such that our interests are best served by mostly filling these ideals of how to behave. For example, societies tend to respect the value of young life in order to allow their society to continue to flourish through this next generation.

    To me, the concept of biological evolution seems inherently logical and, by extension, the idea of morality evolving does too. Of course, not all morality seems to have developed naturally from an evolutionary need. I think there are some moral beliefs that developed because a person had a whim and the political/social/economic environment at that time allowed the whim to develop into a moral perspective.

    I suppose then there might be genetic tendencies that might predispose someone to being more subservient to the morality of their society or even genetic tendencies that might lead to a person naturally selecting 'moral' behaviours. I feel this would be the extent of someone being born 'good'.

    Based on this, it's only logical someone might have genetic tendencies to perform against societal expectations of moral behaviour. But I don't think 'evil' can be entirely genetic. I think environmental factors are definitely necessary. Of course, I don't know this for certain as I'm not a psychiatrist/psychologist/numerologist.

    But I like to think it takes some horrific event for a person to behave in an evil manner. That no one is born evil or is naturally evil.
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    (Original post by Kibalchich)
    Really? I thought the current thinking was that there are genetic propensities that make someone vulnerable to psychopathy, but it was the interaction between this and the social environment that was the determining factor.
    Ugh, I think I wrote that when it was late and I couldn't be bothered :P You know when you go back to a previous post and you're like "why did I write that?" I think I was just annoyed at all the people saying 'everyone is born innocent, it's all the environment'.

    Sorry for my past self.
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    (Original post by shyamshah)
    Has this been proven for all serial killers though? Because i know that some as you have said have had bad childhoods etc. but even then is that an excuse to kill many people and even on some cases 20-30 people? I saw an interview yesterday with John Hughes who accepted that if he was released he would kill again and doesnt feel any remorse for what he did. Surely this cant be normal? Most serial killers who i have researched have shown remorse to the victims family but this guy is completely different.
    No. I hardly agree that are people are predisposed, but the majority are. I believe we all have the capability to do such great deals of harm, but when it comes down to it, I believe that mostly, people are affected by something that triggers this form of action, whether it be a genetic predisposition or emotional deprivation at a young age. It's never right, and it is likely that some people choose to kill, but I guess we'll never know for sure until we can understand how to look into the human mind properly!
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    (Original post by walkhms)
    Wait a minute. How on earth is having a "gay gene" a bad thing? It's just a characteristic... like having genes for brown eyes and blonde hair. It's not a bad thing. It just makes the person who they are. A "fat gene" is bad but is only superficial and can be defeated through nurture (exercise and healthy diet).

    You went off topic there. When I said "bad gene" I meant a gene that strongly makes the person evil/bad... etc and is part of their personality. There is no such gene as far as we know and I'm sure there isn't.
    I never said being gay nor obese was particularly bad, however some groups see them as rebellious or wrong.
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    "On the day I was born
    The nurses all gathered 'round
    And they gazed in wide wonder
    At the joy they had found
    The head nurse spoke up Said
    "leave this one alone"
    She could tell right away
    That I was bad to the bone"
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    Tbh i would think in a way we are born bad, until taught otherwise.

    I just know the babies ive been around are extremely destructive, and(unknowingly) could seriously hurt someone had they been any stronger. but i guess i cant generalize that because we are all unique.
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    this is an interesting read, about abuse/neglect and brain development
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    (Original post by Kibalchich)
    You might want to back all that up.
    Why would I want to do that?
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    (Original post by captainaesthetic)
    Why would I want to do that?
    Isn't that how debate works?
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    (Original post by Kibalchich)
    Isn't that how debate works?
    i somehow misinterpreted your post, I thought you were telling me to take it back or something... :confused:

    Well, somebody has to first prove that morality exists, and that it has a source that is dependant of humans. Where do these inherent morals come from? Until then non-morality is simply the default.

    And the second part regarding genetics is backed up by natural selection, amongst other evolutionary theories. Humans have evolved with the basic primal urges to reproduce and sustain themselves, this is undeniable. In order to reproduce and survive, egoism and aggression are simply the best tools to do so.

    Obviously, this model is far more complex in today's society, as we have all sorts of psychological processes such as the concept of delayed gratification that prevent us from impulsively acting on these base impulses. However, we are talking about a baby that has no had these processes wired in yet, an entity that has no concept of delayed gratification, but is simply purely egoistical.
    Take away the civilised society and the upbringing to society's norms and a baby will grow up to be just as egoistic and primal as a caveman.
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    That's not backing it up, that's merely re-asserting it. Never mind.
  12. Offline

    (Original post by Kibalchich)
    That's not backing it up, that's merely re-asserting it. Never mind.
    I don't read enough to reference specific scientific papers or experimental data, if that's what you were after. Sorry.
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    This is just like the argument of nature versus nurture.
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    i personally take the side of nature in the nature verses nurture argument. i think we are all born good and its what happens to us, the decisions we make for ourselves and that others make for us will define who we become
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    No mention whether you born good or bad. In my opinion, it is not our fault that we are bad; but it is our fault that we are not trying to be good.
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    We are born a blank slate. We can be manipulated very easily by the world around us. We do not come into this world as a bad or good person because nothing can influence our state of mind before we are born.
    For example, take Anders Breivik. He probably was born an average human being. Although there were psychological issues in his childhood, nothing before that point had truely influenced his opinion on Islamic migration to Europe. What molded the furious rage inside of him about immigration to Europe was influenced by the world around him and what he saw through his eyes of the world. He became a bad person through his life.
    Certainly nurture over nature in most cases of what makes someone 'good' and 'bad'.
  17. Offline

    I think it's mostly nurture, although some people have genes which mean they're more likely too become a physcopath or be aggressive.

    This was posted from The Student Room's iPhone/iPad App


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