Human Morality

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Zoe Hernandez
English 102-2
Mr. Reed
Winter 2013
Paper 2
Human Morality
A common question throughout history has always been about human morality. Because of our higher thinking capacity, we are hardwired to adapt and refine our basic instincts to survive; therefore, it is obvious this question would be disputed throughout time. Are humans innately good, bad, or plainly neutral? The position that any one person takes may be derived from any number of ideas, be them philosophical thoughts or scientific inquiries. This essay asserts that morality is innate, and uses both scientific studies and ideas from philosophers to support this argument. Man is essentially good, and the different ways people are nurtured—from societal influences to parental influences—creates the large spectrum and variety of behavior that may not be deemed “good” or “moral.”

The magazine Smithsonian published an article named “Born to Be Mild” in January of 2013 on morality in young children. This article wrote about a few different studies done on children by three different experimenters. In one of the studies titled “Spontaneous Altruism by Chimpanzees and Young Children,” Felix Warneken tested the morality of humans through young babies (because they have had little to no socialization) and also tested morality of chimpanzees, the closest relative to humans. In this study, 18-month-old toddlers were tested to see if they would help others in need by retrieving a dropped item that an adult struggled for. In almost all instances, the child returned the item. Warneken stated, “[Helping at that age] is not something that’s been trained, and [the children] come to help without prompting or without being rewarded” (Tucker 39). Not only did the toddlers help people in need, they also helped without social cues (such as the distress someone in need has). Many toddlers in the experiment Warneken created helped retrieve a can that had fallen off a table next to an adult and the adult...
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