„Selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative.“

The Pragmatics of Patriotism (1973)
Contexto: Selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative. An animal so poor in spirit that he won't even fight on his own behalf is already an evolutionary dead end; the best he can do for his breed is to crawl off and die, and not pass on his defective genes.

Robert A. Heinlein photo
Robert A. Heinlein7
1907 - 1988

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„Granted that any practice causes more pain to animals than it gives pleasure to man; is that practice moral or immoral? And if, exactly in proportion as human beings raise their heads out of the slough of selfishness, they do not with one voice answer 'immoral,' let the morality of the principle of utility be for ever condemned.“

—  John Stuart Mill British philosopher and political economist 1806 - 1873

Dr. Whewell on Moral Philosophy (1852), in Dissertations and Discussions: Political, Philosophical, and Historical, vol. 2, London: John W. Parker and son, 1859, p. 485 https://books.google.it/books?id=w-I3AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA485

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„I do not think anyone can define "behavior that tends toward extinction" as being "moral" without stretching the word "moral" all out of shape.“

—  Robert A. Heinlein American science fiction author 1907 - 1988

The Pragmatics of Patriotism (1973)
Contexto: I now define "moral behavior" as "behavior that tends toward survival." I won't argue with philosophers or theologians who choose to use the word "moral" to mean something else, but I do not think anyone can define "behavior that tends toward extinction" as being "moral" without stretching the word "moral" all out of shape.

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„The next level in moral behavior higher than that exhibited by the baboon is that in which duty and loyalty are shown toward a group of your own kind too large for an individual to know all of them. We have a name for that. It is called "patriotism."“

—  Robert A. Heinlein American science fiction author 1907 - 1988

Behaving on a still higher moral level were the astronauts who went to the Moon, for their actions tend toward the survival of the entire race of mankind. The door they opened leads to the hope that H. sapiens will survive indefinitely long, even longer than this solid planet on which we stand tonight. As a direct result of what they did, it is now possible that the human race will never die.
Many short-sighted fools think that going to the Moon was just a stunt. But the astronauts knew the meaning of what they were doing, as is shown by Neil Armstrong's first words in stepping down onto the soil of Luna: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
The Pragmatics of Patriotism (1973)

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„By believing we are the product of random acts, we eliminate morality and the basis of ethical behavior. For if there is no such thing as moral authority, you can do anything you want. You make everything relative, and there’s no reason for any of our higher values.“

—  Ben Carson 17th and current United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; American neurosurgeon 1951

As quoted in "Evolution? No" http://archives.adventistreview.org/2004-1509/story2.html, The Adventist Review (2004)

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„The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.“

—  John Kenneth Galbraith American economist and diplomat 1908 - 2006

“Stop the Madness,” Interview with Rupert Cornwell, Toronto Globe and Mail (6 July 2002) (see http://wist.info/galbraith-john-kenneth/7463/ )

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„Cultures are relative; morality is absolute. Cultures, as Michael Walzer has argued, are “thick”; they prescribe institutions and behavior patterns to guide humans in the paths which are right in a particular society. Above, beyond, and growing out of this maximalist morality, however, is a “thin” minimalist morality that embodies “reiterated features of particular thick or maximal moralities.”“

—  Samuel P. Huntington American political scientist 1927 - 2008

Fonte: The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996), Ch. 12 : The West, Civilizations, and Civilization, § 2 : The Commonalities Of Civilization, p. 319
Contexto: Does the vacuousness of Western universalism and the reality of global cultural diversity lead inevitably and irrevocably to moral and cultural relativism? If universalism legitimates imperialism, does relativism legitimate repression? Once again, the answer to these questions is yes and no. Cultures are relative; morality is absolute. Cultures, as Michael Walzer has argued, are “thick”; they prescribe institutions and behavior patterns to guide humans in the paths which are right in a particular society. Above, beyond, and growing out of this maximalist morality, however, is a “thin” minimalist morality that embodies “reiterated features of particular thick or maximal moralities.” Minimal moral concepts of truth and justice are found in all thick moralities and cannot be divorced from them. There are also minimal moral “negative injunctions, most likely, rules against murder, deceit, torture, oppression, and tyranny.” What people have in common is “more the sense of a common enemy [or evil] than the commitment to a common culture.” Human society is “universal because it is human, particular because it is a society.” At times we march with others; mostly we march alone. Yet a “thin” minimal morality does derive from the common human condition, and “universal dispositions” are found in all cultures. Instead of promoting the supposedly universal features of one civilization, the requisites for cultural coexistence demand a search for what is common to most civilizations. In a multicivilizational world, the constructive course is to renounce universalism, accept diversity, and seek commonalities.

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„I think if we study the primates, we notice that a lot of these things that we value in ourselves, such as human morality, have a connection with primate behavior. This completely changes the perspective, if you start thinking that actually we tap into our biological resources to become moral beings. That gives a completely different view of ourselves than this nasty selfish-gene type view that has been promoted for the last 25 years.“

—  Frans de Waal Dutch primatologist and ethologist 1948

Frans de Waal, in a NOVA interview, " The Bonobo in All of Us" PBS (1 January 2007) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/bonobo-all-us.html; quotes from this interview were for some time misplaced on this page, which probably generated similar misattributions elsewhere, and the misplacement was not discovered until after this quotation had been selected for Quote of the Day, as a quote of Goodall. Corrections were subsequently made here, during the day the quote was posted as QOTD.
The Bonobo in All of Us (2007)

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