First, a second "welcome" to TGL. I recommend you " put yourself in the mood" by reading this
Your question has been exercising minds since time immemorial. There's no "right answer" to your question (unles you want to accept a religious perspective which merely switches the fundamental uncertainty to the validity of the religious perspective) or even no answer at all, but lots of people think they have one and they mainly agree on the content if not the reasoning behind their answer.
There are discussions happening at TGL right now. Please enjoy and join in!
First, a second "welcome" to TGL. I recommend you " put yourself in the mood" by reading this
The question is one of the most discussed and disagreed about questions of all time - although most people agree about most of the answer.
You speak of a "moral code" as if it is handed down by our creator and simply to be accepted. From that perspective it's fairly unproblematical. There are those who believe that there is a moral code to which we should all subscribe.
In the opposite corner are those who hold that there is no such universally acceptable code, that ethics (like beauty) are in the eye of the beholder and of course there are those who hold that ethics from their own perspective should be accepted by everyone as the only "reasonable" or "rational" answer to the question
I wonder why it is Parody that you don't steal from the folks to whom you give care?
You can't blame people for casting around asking why they have a moral sense - even when they reject any "philosophical" justification for it.
Back in my early formative years (I hope these are my later formative years) I picked up a distaste for lying and stealing - they were "naughty" and my self esteem was at risk. Little old atheist me still has a sense of being watched!
The formative event I remember having the biggest emotional impact was between myself and my brother. I don't remember how I was hurting him but he asked "How would you like it if I did that to you?".
I didn't take it as a threat - I think I felt sympathy (or compassion) for the first time.
I suppose my "morals" grew out of my parent's (Sunday school teachers' etc) control and my realisation that my brother was much like me inside.
I use the word "should" as much as anyone when I'm not "doing philosophy". I noticed (no tu quoque intended) that Campanella used the word "should" in reference to film critics in has last post.
As with beliefs ("we believe what we prefer") I think we behave as we prefer and rationalise later that there's something universal about our preferences.
In order to be able to handle the huge complexity of the world we experience we have to classify things.
That's "one basketball" because that's what it's designer and maker intended it to be. It's a standard size and weight and has a standard "bounciness" and it's near enough spherical so that it bounces evenly and has a surface that isn't too slippery so that players can grip it ....etc
Really its sewn together strips of leather with a rubber lining - or it's the molecules of whatever the chemicals are forming the materials that have been used - or it's "those protons, neutrons and electrons there" or it's just "energy" controlled and behaving in a particular way.
The "unity" is a mental device that recognises it as a single valid member of a class. It's also a unity in the sense that it coheres when you throw it or bounce it or any of the things you normally do with basketballs.
If you cut it in half it will stop being either a unity or a basketball.
There seems to be some imaginative stuff in the "Neuroscience for kids" section. I wonder though why it's called "Neuroscience" instead of "Psychology".
I don't think there's any link between studying traditional neuroscience (learning about neurones and synapses and neurotransmitters etc) and developing mental abilities, no more than any other specialist field anyway.
In what's being presented here as "neuroscience" there are lots of stimulating games. Play is recognised as a great way of learning and developing.
There's stuff about nutrition and sleep which is good health education.
If you stuff everything that makes developmental sense under the umbrella term "neuroscience" then you promote a typical science (where progress is slow and research hard and painstaking work with lots of blind alleys and setbacks) into something scintillating and appealing.
By all means listen to what the enthusiastic site has to tell you - but question whether the subject matter is what is normally known as "neuroscience".
I can't see how else we're meant to get a handle on reality.
When you say "The basketball is flat" you've communicated what I needed to know and I reach for a pump.
If you'd started with some string of words that referred to the quantum phenomena or chemistry in some given area of space and I'd taken three weeks to realise you meant that the basketball was flat we'd never get our game.
Whatever the psychology of communication, it wasn't your perception that flattened the basketball it was leakage of air from the valve (or a puncture).
"Flat" is a property of "that basketball". We mix concretes and abstracts all the time in language.
"The basketball (concrete) was flat (abstract) so we used a soccer ball(concrete) as a basketball (abstract)". Might ruin the game but it gives an example of both a concrete and an abstract basketball.
As I see it, words are tools of communication, concepts our human way of handling things "out there" mentally and what we play basketball with is all those molecules of whatever it's made of.
I expect I've missed your drift but that's the way I've interpreted what you've said.
I wonder if we need to be confusing definitions 1 & 2.
Again we need Campanella to clarify what he meant.
I think I've been talking about morality (def 2) as having no referent and thinking of morality (def 1) as "mores".
I suppose what we do is what we percieve as being the most likely course of action to achieve what we want and if we're motivated by "charity" (for lack of a warmer term - perhaps "benevolence"?) or sometimes "self esteem" then what we do will more nearly approximate the popular idea of "morality".
If I'm not going to be abysmally inconsistent I'll have to turn my above observation on it's head.
If there is no "true morality" then moralities cannot be immoral.
I'll begin from my inevitable starting place (for me) and hope that people starting elsewhere can slip in alongside.
As an atheistic believer in darwinian evolution I have an instant problem the the idea of "real" good, moral virtue, moral obligation and the entire star cluster of ethical concepts.
The primeval amoeba had no moral obligations and as a descendant I have no idea where a metaphysically existing obligation can have arisen from.
We use the word "good" in reference to behaviour continually ...
"Has the baby been good?" means "Has the baby been fretting and crying with the discomfort of teething (or whatever) or giving you peace to enjoy your smiling, bouncing offspring?" The baby obviously has no "moral obligation" not to cry, The "goodness" is in the effect on Mum. I have a lot of sympathy with the comparing and almost equating of the ethical and the easthetic.
I frequently use the term "good dog" meaning that the dog has done what I wanted it to do. I'm seeing progress in my training and I praise or reward the dog accordingly. The dog doesn't have a "moral obligation" to please me - it just happens to be in our mutual interest that it should.
Moving on from the case where the "well behaved" are not "moral agents":
I can be a "good citizen" by refraining from criminal activity, paying my taxes etc. From my perspective this is not far removed from my relationship with my dog. In this example society has replaced me and I have replaced the dog. I get rewarded for my compliant behaviour and penalised for errant behaviour. There is the same element of mutual advantage.
I think though that the example is missing the idea thought of as "morality". If my behaviour is dependent on the gaining of rewards and avoidance of penalties, there is nothing whatever preventing me from "bucking the system" i.e. taking the rewards, avoiding the penalties and yet e.g. "forgetting" to mention my lucrative little sideline on which tax is due or melting down the Anglo-Saxon artefact I found in my field to obtain the gold. "Thou shalt not get found out" is the humourist's "eleventh commandment." "The law is weak through the flesh" is the biblical take on the example.
Is there a way of addressing "The law is weak through the flesh" in a broader context? A way of escaping from the "motivation trap"?
For me, a good attempt is "eudaemonia" where the link is between reason, morality and happiness. Reason tells you what is good (e.g. others are to be treated as ends and never means), knowing what is good provides the motive to be "good" by way of the value of self esteem and this in turn results in hapiness. I'm sure it works for many people. The problem for me is the circularity. There's no real reason why I should come up with a "moral law" matching the religious "moral law". I can get self esteem from being the best con-man in town
Moving on to a scenario where such "motivation conflicts" are missing, I think the clearest example would be from romantic or sexual "love" in the more than physical sense.
Lovers don't just experience physical pleasure, they experience pleasure in giving physical pleasure to their partners - this is a difference between merely "having sex" and "making love". There's a regression (or should that be progression?) .. Feeling "loved" gives pleasure so enabling your partner to "feel loved" gives you pleasure.
The idea of obligation has gone! The motivation is unconflicted. The phenomenon is called mutual love and I don't think it's a fiction - however often it breaks down or is merely imitated. The partners are "being good" to and for one another and have no drive to be anything else. Morality and beauty are very much at home together here!
There's an extension. Parental love is about as near as you can get to unconditional love. It's by no means universal but where it does happen it's an example of recieving pleasure from giving pleasure. There's no "ought" involved. There's no foundation for "parents ought to love their children" - it just happens. Parents get great pleasure from providing their children with the best they possibly can.
I like to think that this route is available in a wider context. Just as our children are, in a sense, extensions of ourselves, so also it is possible to view other people as "extensions of ourselves". Just as there is delight in "giving" to your lover or your child there can be delight in giving to other people. There can be pain in hurting other people and I think many religions of the world have seen this. There is still no "morality" or "ought", what there is instead is the pleasure of being motivated by giving pleasure (or relieving pain) and the pain of inflicting pain, carrying hatred and grudges. This is not to be driven by reason and pride but to be driven by compassion. There's no obligation - but it's a way to our own happiness! Once more the distinction between morality and beauty seems academic, both are about the pleasure or relief they give.
There's nothing mystical or mysterious about this last option - it comes naturally to many. It's called caring about people.