Why is murder wrong? What is murder?

Referring to killing fellow humans in a non-defense situation…

Just curious as to what you think. What are your personal boundaries regarding the act itself?

Above all, why is it wrong?

My reasons are moral and religious ones. I don’t know if anyone on this board would want to listen them in that case – given the type of people on here – so I’ll wait for other replies before I share.

Utilitarianistically, it is wrong because it causes suffering: The act of killing is usually incredibly painful, grief is caused to the victim’s loved ones and there would be a very definite stress caused to everyone if there was a real chance that they might be next unless they do it first to someone else.

It is possible that, in some cases, suffering is lessened by the death of some, even if this is only in the long long term.

Pragmatically, saying it is “wrong” is simply the easiest way to keep this thing called “civilisation”.

Krillan, please share.
SM - If we have to say that pain and suffering and stress are wrong to justify why murder is wrong, how is that any different than just saying that murder (which you admit is the sum of many things) is wrong on its merit alone? Or, why is something wrong because it causes pain and suffering and stress?

How do those who don`t believe in a higher power explain why murder is wrong - whether it be abortion, capitol punishment, or flat out killing for the joy of it?

I may play the Devil`s Advocate to advance some thought here.

For religious reasons, I believe killing a human is wrong.

Outside of that, I think the main reasons murder laws are in place is so people can feel safe. Knowing some of the kinda of people in the world, i wouldn’t want to have to worry 24/7 about being killed.

Most people here will likely say that murder is wrong because of suffering and whatnot. But I am willing to bet, the main reason it is illegal is so people don’t have to worry about it happening to them.

Well, I would not list abortion or capitol punishment or flat out killing for the joy of it as necessarily being instances of Murder.

We need a deffinition of Murder before we can argue its pros and cons.
Since this is your OP whuckfistle would you mind supplying the deffinition of murder that you want us to discuss.

Well, I don’t like to cause suffering in others, because I know that suffering just plain sucks. This was probably ingrained into me at an early age by cultural influences. As for where those cultural influences came from, well, probably from a desire for self preservation.

There’s the purely practical and self-serving logic that a mutual agreement not to kill each other can result in living longer, and self-preservation is probably the strongest of all our biological goals. We’re hard-wired to avoid death, and when you add in our ability to think and reason, it makes sense that we’d develop a sort of mutual cease-fire for purely selfish purposes.

Of course, there’s also retribution waiting for those who would ignore this implied contract. Whether it’s imprisonment, or being put to death, society has attempted to make the consequences of murder problematic enough to deter anyone contemplating taking the life of another human. Again, this makes sense from a self-preservation standpoint.

However, none of this explains why murder is “wrong”, only why it’s in the best interest of everyone not to commit murder. The whole concept of it being morally wrong to kill someone probably became embedded in most human cultures as a result of constant exposure to the “not killing is beneficial to me” logic.

So I guess you could say that murder is no more right or wrong than anything else. Morals are not, after all, universal or absolute. I would hazard to guess that our sense of morality is either a result of, or precursor to, our nature as social animals. If a group is able to form a common sense of morality, then they tend to be more stable. Thus, morality is a construct that allows humans to live relatively peaceably in large groups.

Sorry Bippy, I dont want to argue wether murder is right or wrong. Rather, I would like to discuss/debate the *reasons* why its wrong. Does that make sense?

As far as the definition of murder?, that is open to debate - as well as the reasons why its wrong. **Joe Random** has explained the Primal reason against murder pretty well. But what if I was the baddest MFer on block and I wasnt afraid of anyone(person) killing me? What would be wrong with me killing all my potential enemies before they ganged up on me? I understand your reasoning **Joe** and it makes perfect sense,- I wont kill you if you dont kill me. But what are people thinking today? Most people wont follow the logic that far back. They stop at the religious or societal reasons and don`t engage the thought any further.

Well, my personal morality is contigent on property rights, and tresspass and vandalism against one’s person are thusly immoral to me. I have issues with any morality which tries to reduce suffering as its primary goal.

Most people today aren’t thinking. At least, not under normal circumstances.

I feel that our sense of morality is likely an evolved trait. Morals are not necessary for survival; Survival can be accomplished from a purely practical way of viewing the world. Morals are, however, useful for stabalizing large groups of people. Thus, humans evolved the ability to be moral.

As for how murder came to be morally wrong, I would propose that most of the more fundamental “rules of mutual survival” that were developed by early humans became ingrained into the moral fabric of human societies early on. These moral rules are passed down from generation to generation, and are reinforced by the fact that society at large shares the same (or similiar) moral values.

I’d be willing to bet that if you raised a group of children (isolated from the rest of society) to believe that killing others was an acceptable course of action, then they would grow up to view murder as perfecty moral behavior.

The reduction of suffering can also be traced back to selfish origins. If you help reduce the suffering of a fellow human, then they are likely to return the favor, and thus reduce your suffering. And the reduction of one’s own suffering is always a good thing.

I think that the majority of human morality can be condensed into the Golden Rule. Humans are always likely to reciprocate the actions of fellow humans. Do something bad to someone, and they’re likely to do something bad to you. This negative reinforcement should lessen the amount of bad stuff you do to people. Likewise, do good stuff to people, and they’re likely to do good stuff to you. Here we see positive feedback in action.

In both cases, the reciprocation is done for self-serving reasons, with the goal of either reducing the amount of bad stuff that people do to you, or increasing the good stuff.

Sorry, I forgot to address this part.

There would be nothing inherently “wrong” with that course of action. In fact, that’s the course of action I would expect from someone who is both stronger than everyone else, and who lacks the ingrained morals that tend to be present in human societies.

However, someone who acted like that would not last long without help. Likely, he’d gather a number of followers who would help enforce the dominance of the Bad MF’er in exchange for not being killed by said MF’er. I would consider this another self-preservation tactic.

And, of course, the Oppressed Masses would do their best to survive, as well. That would entail either obeying the Bad MF’er to avoid his wrath, of banding together to overthrow the Bad MF’er.
Man, that sounds like a movie cliché, if you ask me. Another example of art imitating life?

Right on.

This is simple game theory. Multi-agent systems ultimately evolve into states that ensure the highest cumulative rewards (or the least cumulative punishments) for the entire group. Look into the Prisoner’s Dilemma problem for an atomic example of such behavior. (Incidentally, game theory is a field pioneered by the recently repopularized mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr.)

It seems obvious to me that human morality, along with all the world’s religions, were developed by leaders who recognized the logic of game theory (if not its formalized underpinnings) and created a set of beliefs for their subjects to memorize, regurgitate and simultaneously shape behavior thereof. “Murder is evil” is one such belief among many others. As a result of their work, these leaders were rewarded with highly obedient, well-behaved subjects who were a pleasure to rule over.

It’s wrong because we as a society have decided to give up the option of murdering another person with the understanding that those who exercise this option will be punished by society as a whole. Societies that allow (indiscriminant) murder are not likely to survive long.

Other than that, I don’t see how you can say it’s wrong without referring to religious ideas. Not being religious myself, I wouldn’t accept a religious argument.

At this point I would like to interject the thought of abortion into the discussion. How has something like abortion become so widely accepted given that we have anti-murder morality ingrained into our behavior? I realise that very early term abortions may not cause any suffering to the fetus, but later term aborts can and do create some pain and do, by definition, terminate the life. With later term and partial birth abortions becoming more common how do we as a society cope with this issue? Won`t we eventually become complacent and recognise the killing of newborns which will lead to a lax attitude towards murder in society as a whole?

Here is WI, we gave a mother only 9 months after she stabbed her newborn baby to death. The DA recommended 20 years.
Where will this go? How will this bend our views on murder?

Heh! You`re essentially describing what readily occurs NOW pretty much everywhere on the planet. From inner city gangs, to the drug world, to third world uprisings, to coup attempts, to our invasion of Iraq. Whenever there is a combination of greed, pride, and power, - morality and murder take a second seat.

socially speaking, murder is wrong because it removes a member of a society. under most circumstances, removing members of society is among the worst things for the survival of that society, so it is socially prohibited. as previously stated, there are cases when a society might be better off without a member of a society, so the killing of that person might be acceptable (a la execution). also, societies such as ours place value on individual persons, so if a person has a right (such as life) threatened, he may take certain steps (such as killing in self-defense) to prevent the hindrance of that right.

personally, i think murder is wrong because i would not like someone to murder me. i would like even less for someone to murder those that i love. seeing other people as different versions of myself (in a way) it is natural to share an empathy with them and to in general value their rights as you would value your own. so i would not like someone to do it to me, and due to that empathy, i would not like to murder or have someone else murder someone else. and i therefore label it as “wrong”.

abortion is tolerable because the right to life is a right we attribute to human beings, and would-be children are not considered human beings until they are born. they are a part of the would-be mother’s body, and the choice to give birth rests in her.

abortion is similar to not having sex in the first place in that regard, in that it prevents the addition of a person into the society rather than eliminates an already-existing member.

As a nation and a culture, we seem to practice ‘selective morality’, for lack of a better description. Killing each other is not an acceptable social more in most societies. It’s a cultural taboo, instituted for the preservation of order and discipline. Indiscriminate killing would probably result in the rapid decline of our society into chaos, as has been witnessed in all too many historical venues.

That said, we suspend that taboo in times of war, where killing others takes on a veneer of nobility and bravery, since we are quashing ‘evil’ or ‘wrongness’, or defending our own lives or values. We don’t call such killing ‘murder’, because it’s in defense of (our) society, not the destruction of (our) society.

Segments of our society seem to have no moral issues with the killing of a fetus, while others are unalterably opposed. The term ‘murder’ is used by the one group, while the word is carefully avoided by the other. In the case of abortions, the emotional arguments weigh heavily. As the father of a raped daughter who aborted the fetus, I feel I was correct in complying with my daughter’s wishes. Was it murder? Can one possibly make a reasoned judgement when one’s child is at stake?

My stance:

Your rights to take whatever actions you choose ends when those actions might affect me.

It is wrong to do to someone something that they do not want you to do to them (with exceptions made in the case of punishments by authority figures such as parents or governments). (Actually, that’s not phrased perfectly. It is wrong to do what they want you not to do, rather than simply not actively wanting you to do. And, hmmm, again that’s not phrased perfectly either, but I hope you get the idea.)

I do not want anyone to kill me. Therefore, if you kill me, you are doing something wrong. I do not wish anyone to steal from me. Therefore, if you steal from me (or increase taxation :slight_smile: ), then you are doing something wrong.