Here’s an interesting articles on the theory that morals are programmed in our genes. I don’t agree with it necessarily, though there are certain points that have a great deal of weight and raise important questions about exactly how much of who we are is governed by our genetics.
Psychologists long ago coined terms like instinct and, in reference to particular animal groups: pack behaviour. There are inherent systems within us and within the animal kingdom that harks back to a distant past and makes us act in specific ways – we are, it is believed by some, derived from the natural evolution process. If you remember my recent articles on
“Though no one has identified genes for morality, there is circumstantial evidence they exist."
This article does make sense in regard to DNA development and its discussion on frontal lobe damage directly relating to mood swings. However, does that mean that we have a number of immoral people who are specifically capable of carrying out crimes because they are incapable of acting morally? I don’t think so.
“People given diagnoses of ‘antisocial personality disorder’ or ‘psychopathy’ show signs of morality blindness from the time they are children.”
So, just as some people have greater affinity with complex mathematical problems, others are more adept at learning new languages and others still might be more comfortable with a paintbrush than a pen, so too it might be possible that our emotions and our morals are initially governed by our genetic make up.
Consider a child who loves to pain, but never develops the ability to a professional standard – perhaps they become an art critic or dealer instead. Something in their nurturing (their parents / environment) led their want (for art), but genetically they were deficient in being able to turn that thought to the canvas.
But can it be true of emotions and morals?
The article does suggest so, and I quite like the idea. Imagine repairing that criminal’s morals at the genetic level. I’d argue for the possibility that this too could help realign those victims of frontal lobe damage to some extent – however, no one has yet altered a person’s DNA to re-grow elements of their body.
And, as the article concludes, this has some relation (through nurture is my guess) to the perception of the moral code – perhaps it’s more a predisposition to abide by rules!