you put the speck in speculation


The linguist Noam Chomsky theorized that children possess a natural, inborn tendency to learn language. Not to learn a specific language (e.g. "Japanese babies are genetically inclined to learn Japanese"), but any language they are exposed to from infancy.


It seems interesting to speculate whether young children likewise have an inborn tendency to learn morality and ethics.


What I mean is, rather than having an inborn conviction that, for example, "Murder is wrong", we would have an inborn tendency to adopt the convictions expressed around us as we grew up; if 'everybody' expressed their convictions that murder is wrong, young children would imbibe this as unconsciously as they imbibe their first language. They would learn it without realizing they were learning it.


And conversely if the child were surrounded by others who manifested no particular aversion to murder, the child would never form a moral objection to it.


In morals, as in language, we form strong feelings of right and wrong long before we learn what reasons might underlie them.


And the version of things we learn first seems unarguably right to us.


Unlike other kinds of mere knowledge, moral sense affects us at the gut level. And so does language: people will get indignant about the correct pronunciation of "either" or "aunt" in a way they never do about the tenth digit of pi or who invented styrofoam.


Anyway, there seem to be quite a few similarities between language sense and moral sense.