Physicochemical morality puzzles

Was Mona Lisa Created by Physicochemical Reactions Alone (2008)
Russian-born American biologist Nickolas Dorfman’s 2008 Was Mona Lisa Created by Physicochemical Reactions Alone?, attempts to argue that mind and morals cannot come from physicochemical reactions of if inanimate molecules and energy. [6]
In hmolscience, physicochemical morality puzzles refers to seeming puzzlements that tend to arise in the mind when one attempts to carry, scale, or apply standard moral precepts, e.g. killing is wrong, assignment of guiltiness, etc., up or down the great chain of being to the level of the "human = molecule" point of view.

In 1902, Frank Stockbridge, in his article “Creating Life in the Laboratory”, gave a summary of the some of the recent parthenogenesis and or laboratory-created life work of those including: Louis Pasteur, Jacques Loeb, and Henry Bastian, in which he famously summarizing the crux of the issue as such: [7]

“‘Life is a chemical reaction; death is the cessation of that reaction; living matter, from the microscopic yeast spore to humanity itself, is merely the result of accidental groupings of otherwise inert matter, and life can actually be created by repeating in the laboratory nature’s own methods and processes!’ [Loeb/Bastian?] Think for a moment what this declaration signifies. If it be true, where is the theology? If you and I are merely physico-chemical compounds, slightly more complex than a potato, a little less durable than a boulder, what is the basis of our moral code? If man can lump together sand and salt and by pouring water on them create life, what becomes of the soul?”

This ripe statement, which seems to be a mixture of Loeb, Bastian, and Stockbridge, has become a popular quote in scientific circles, e.g. making the pages of: Carl Gaither's Chemically Speaking (2001) and English chemical physicist Philip Ball's Unnatural (2012). [8]

The following are two other noted early 20th century quotes:

“If iron sulphate and caustic potash are brought together, the SO4 ions leave the iron to unite with the potassium. When in nature an adjustment of such differences of potential is about to take place, he who would approve or disapprove of the process form the moral point of view would appear to most to play a ridiculous part.”
Otto Weininger (1903), Sex and Character

“It may sound strange to speak of the morals of an atom, or of the way in which a molecule conducts itself. But in the last analysis, science can draw no fundamental distinction between the conduct of an animal, a bullet, or a freshman, although there may be more unknown factors involved in one case than in the other.”
William Patten (1920), AAAS address “The Message of the Biologist” + The Grand Strategy of Evolution: the Social Philosophy of a Biologist

In 1948, American author Thomas Dreier’s 1948 discussed morality in the context of pure objective chemical reactions, i.e. human chemical reactions, divorce, and marriage: [1]

“The trouble is that too many people get chemical reactions all mixed up with morals. They call immoral what is only a normal chemical reaction.”

In justifying this statement, Dreier states that chlorine can react with sodium to make the moral product table salt; whereas, conversely, chlorine (sulfur dichloride) can react with ethylene to make immoral mustard gas, as was used in WWI by the Germans against the British. Dreier argues that human beings can react and combine according to the same basic laws, making moral and immoral combinations of marriages.

My atoms made me do it?
See main: My atoms made me do it
In hmolscience, when one is introduced to the premise of a human conceptualized as a molecule, one of the first questions that seems to arise in the mind is where to place the wrongfulness, source, and or the “guiltiness” of a given crime, if indeed a person is but an atomic geometry. The following are example “my atoms made me do” like puzzlement queries:

“The flaws of reductionist explanations in an interpersonal context are the same as those of religious explanations. Saying, ‘My atoms made me do it,’ is an attempt to evade responsibility, doesn't explain why what happened happened specifically as it did (although there is an…”
— George Kelling (1975), Language: Mirror, Tool, and Weapon [5]

“You know, I’ve been thinking about what you said about me being a molecule and I want to ask you a question. Suppose I kill someone, does that mean I can tell the judge my atoms made me do it?
— Rodolfo Flores (2013), In person query to Libb Thims, Oct 10.

“So if a man rapes your 5-yr old daughter he can say that it was carbon or actually phosphorus that made them do it?”
— dadorf10 (2013), forum comment to Libb Thims on “Feynman on Purpose” (Ѻ) video, Sep

“Quite frankly, Dahmer’s defense team blew it. Why didn’t Dahmer’s lawyers tell him to say: ‘My atoms made me do it!’ This may sound absurd, but it is consistent with what evolution teaches.”
— Dan Greenup (2014), Generation Why? [4]

The case of Lina Medina, who gave birth at age five, comes to mind here. [3] American philosopher Katherin Rogers, philosophy 301 class, section the pre-Socratics, lists the following as one of the possible problems with atomism (atomic theory applied to the deeper human questions) and or naturalism: (Ѻ)

My atoms made me do it … so I’m not the sort of thing that can be subject to praise and blame.”

These, to some extent, to note are but variants of the slave stealing parable of Zeno of Citium. In modern terms, however, the parable is upgraded to the effect of where to situate the blame, e.g. in the internal force, external force, the molecule in question, the free energy change of the system, etc., all generally themed on tendency towards system stability, and the naturalness and or unnaturalness of the reaction process. This atoms made me do it, supposedly, is one of the five historical forms of determinism: (Ѻ)

- Religious (god made me do it)
- Psychological (my environment or upbringing made me do it)
- Biological (my genes made me do it)
- Economic (the state made me do it)
- Physical (my atoms made me do it)

(add discussion)
Atheistic morality (cartoon)
A cartoon rendition of the so-called “killing spree paradox”, often put to atheists, by believers, who raise the question about the basis of atheistic morality.

Killing spree paradox
See main: Killing spree paradox
In hmolscience, when one is introduced to the premise of a human conceptualized as a molecule, governed by physicochemical principles, commonly one of the first queries to come to mind, for many, concerns the seeming universe without morals issue, typified by the query: “what’s stopping me from going on a killing spree”, or something along these lines, if there is no God and or the universe is moral-less.

A semblance of this premise was stated by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in his The Brothers Karamazov (1880), via the character Ivan Karamazov, who asserts: “If god does not exist, everything is permissible.”

The following, along these lines, are typically killing spree puzzlement queries:

“The morality Libb would propose, is never explicitly proposed. Rather, Libb, each time after he says ‘life does not exist’, goes on to claim that this should have something to do with morality. To me the most obvious moral principle that would follow from ‘life does not exist’ is that ‘it really doesn’t matter whether we would kill somebody’, since life does not exist. Clearly, such reasoning is highly immoral and I hope that Libb does not propose this?” (pg. 97) .... Can Libb be a serial killer if it doesn’t really matter since: one, life does not exist, so you cannot remove it, and two if the negativeness of dG tells me that killing many people is ok, then I must do so.” (pg. 104)
David Bossens (2013), Debates of the Hmolpedians [2]

“What’s stopping me, if I am just a molecule, and morality or the judgment of god does not exist, from going on a killing spree?”
— Rodolfo Flores (2013), In Person Query to Libb Thims, Oct 10

(add discussion)

See also
Moral symbols

1. Dreier, Thomas. (1948). We Human Chemicals: the Knack of Getting Along with Everybody (pg. 59). Updegraff Press.
2. Bossens, David. (2013). Debates of the Hmolpedians (Amz) (Ѻ) (§Morality, pgs. 103-04). Lulu.
3. List of youngest birth mothers – Wikipedia.
4. Greenup, Dan. (2014). Generation Why? (pg. 52). First Edition Design Pub.
5. Kelling, George W. (1975). Language: Mirror, Tool, and Weapon (pg. 242). Nelson-Hall.
6. Dorfman, Nikolas. (2008). Was Mona Lisa Created by Physicochemical Reactions Alone? Open Your Mind and Use Your Logic. iUniverse.
7. Stockridge, Frank P. (1912). “Creating Life in the Laboratory”, Cosmopolitan, 52(6): 774-81, May.
8. (a) Gaither, Carl C. and Cavazos-Gaither, Alma E. (2001). Chemically Speaking (pgs. 75-76). CRC.
(b) Ball, Philip. (2011). Unnatural: the Heretical Idea of Making People (pg. 145). Vintage Books.

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