MAR 2

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13: MAR 2

Assigned

  • Sapolsky, Chapter 13, "Culture, context, public goods games, religion" (493-509) (16)
  • Sandel, "The Case for Equality" p. 151-166 (25)
  • Rawls Theory of Justice
  • 16 minute video focsued on Rawls: [1].
  • 6 minute video, PBS series: [2]

Rawls' Theory of Justice

  • Original Social Contract tradition. Another Enlightenment philosophical product! See Social Contract wiki.
  • Rawls' basic method: Principles of justice should be chosen by following a kind of thought experiment in which you imagine yourself not knowing specific things about your identity and social circumstances. Adopting this special stance is what Rawls calls the "original position" (parallel in Social Contract tradition)
  • Original Position in Rawls' thought: Choosing principles of justice under a "veil of ignorance" (simple intuition about fairness: How do you divide the last piece of cake?
  • Note how this realizes a basic condition of moral thought: neutrality, universalization, fairness.
  • In the original position:
  • You still know: human psychology, human history, economics, the general types of possible situations in which humans can find themselves.
  • You don't know: your place in society, your class, social status, for tu in in natural assets and abilities, sex, race, physical handicaps, generation, social class of our parents, whether you are part of a discriminated group, etc.
  • Note Rawls' argument for choosing things you don't know. He considers them "morally arbitrary." You don't deserve to be treated better or worse for your ethnicity, talents, health status, orientation, etc. Recall historically arbitrary differences like noble birth that we used to treat as morally significant.
  • A conservative theorist might object. If a health person can earn more money and the freedom to earn money is a matter of moral consequence, then maybe health isn't morally arbitrary? On the other hand, you might be hard pressed to claim that you “deserve” more money because you had healthier genes. For Rawls, it might still be just for you to earn more, but we need to develop his theory to see why.
  • So, what principles would it be rational to choose?
  • Maybe equality? But what if that (paradoxically) made you worse off? Knowing what you know about people, motivations, talents, etc. . . .
  • Rawls claims we would choose the following two principles
  • 1) Principle of Equal Liberty: Each person has an equal right to the most extensive liberties compatible with similar liberties for all. (Egalitarian.)
  • 2) Difference Principle: Social and economic inequalities should be arranged so that they are both (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged persons, and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of equality of opportunity.
  • Note other possible principles.
  • Questions for understanding Difference Principle "a": Are the least advantaged better off in a society with economic inequality? Do improvements in the society's wealth improve the situation of the least advantaged? Do decreases in wealth unfairly worsen the condition of the least advantaged?
  • Rawl's theory is mostly a way of justifying two principles of justice, but you can also think of these principles as guiding policy. Example of policy implications of the Difference Principle. Changes at the margins should satisfy the Diff Principle. (Mention California covid reopening mandate to mitigate effects on least advantaged. Related evidence of disproportionate effects of Covid by SES (Social and Economic Standing).
  • The core intuition behind Rawls' approach is that some things are "morally arbitrary". The veil is an attempt to exclude them.

SW2: Review and Small Group Discussion

  • Review of concepts and principles for fair contract writing
  • Conditions for entering contracts: non-coercion, equal standing (understanding and knowledge)
  • Values in contract interpretation:
  • reciprocity (quid pro quo)
  • fairness,
  • respect for autonomy,
  • consent (agreement).
  • reliance
  • Challenges of settling contract disputes: all of these values can be prioritized differently and applied differently.
  • Breakout rooms
  • Questions on assignment

Sapolsky, Chapter 13,"Culture, context, public goods games, religion" (493-520)

  • Context, Culture, and Moral Universals
  • given all of the ways our moral judgements can be altered by context and culture, are there universals? Some forms of murder, theft, and sexual misbehavior. The Golden Rule is nearly universal.
  • Schweder. autonomy,community, divinity
  • Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory (coming to you Thursday)
  • Cooperation and Competition
  • Public goods game research - review experimental model p. 495. Rational choice theory predicts zero contribution to public good. But, research documents consistent prosociality, with some variation by culture.
  • Simple version, pay to punish deadbeats version.
  • Robust results: 1) Everyone is prosocial. In no culture do people just not contribute. 2) In all cultures, people punish low contributors. (Prosocial or altruistic Punishment)
  • Interesting recent result: Anti-social punishment is also universal, though it's strength varies. Interestingly, the lower the social capital in a country, the higher the rates of antisocial punishment. (I would question Sapolsky's interpretation of this result. - Alfino)
  • research by Joseph Henrich, U BC, subjects from wide range of cultures play three simulation games: The Dictator and two versions of the Ultimatum Game. Variables that predict prosocial patterns of play: market integration, community size, religion. 498.
  • Henrich's research on fairness: Testing 1. fairness without consequence, 2. fairness as measured by strength of 2nd party punishment (Ultimatum game), and 3. fairness as measured by 3rd party punishment.
  • Social Capital (early draft of Henrich book I think): market integration, community size, religion.
  • World Religions and Moralizing Gods
  • What is the connection between participation in world religion and prosocial play? 499: When groups get large enough to interact with strangers, they invent moralizing gods (research from Chapter 9). The large global religions all have moralizing gods who engage in third party punishment. So we do. Still. Think about that.
  • Bottom of 499: Two hypotheses: 1) Our sense of fairness is an extension of a deep past in which sociality was based on kin and near kin. (don't forget monkey fairness) or, 2) Fairness is a cultural artifact (product of culture) that comes from reasoning about the implications of larger groups size.
  • Note theoretical puzzle on p. 500: You might expect small kin-based communities to have higher offers in PG games, punishing unfairnes, but "impersonal prosociality" and "impersonal fairness" are really part of a different "cooperative toolkit".
  • the chapter's survey and quest for cultural moral universals continues.....
  • Honor and Revenge - (mention Mediterranean hypothesis - Italian honor culture & research on southerners....)
  • Collectivists -- diffs from Individualists. note 501.
  • more likely to sacrifice welfare of one for group. use as means to end. focus of moral imperatives on social roles and duties vs. rights.
  • uses shames vs. guilt. read 502. shame cultures viewed as primitive, but contemporary advocates of shaming. thoughts?....examples p. 503.
  • gossip as tool of shaming -- as much as 2/3 of conversation and mostly negative.
  • Fools Rush In -- Reason and Intuition p. 504
  • How do we use insights from research to improve behavior?
  • Which moral theory is best? (trick question). In this section, he's
  • Virtue theory looks outdated, but maybe more relevant than we think.
  • reviews the point from trolley research about the utilitarian answer from the dlPFC and the nonutilitariain from the vmPFC. Why would we be automatically non-utilitarian? One answer: nature isn't trying to make us happy, it's try to get our genes into the next generation.
  • Moral heterogeneity - new data: 30% deontologist and 30% utilitarian in both conditions. 40% swing vote, context sensitive. theorize about that.
  • Major criticism of utilitarian - most rational, but not practical unless you don't have a vmPFC. "I kinda like my liver". Triggers concerns that you might be sacrificed for the greater happiness.
  • Sapolsky claims that optimal decisions involve integration of reason and intuition. 508:"Our moral intuitions are neither primordial nor reflexively primitive....[but] cognitive conclusions from experience. morality is a dual process, partitioned between structures for reasoning and intuition. (Note that both processes are cognitive. Intuition sometimes called "automatic inference" in both how they emerge and are applied. Saying "thank you".)
  • Slow vs. Fast
  • More Josh Greene research. Old problem: tragedy of the commons -- how do you jumpstart cooperation. It's a "me vs us" problem. But there's an "us versus them" version when there are two groups (cultures) with competing models for thriving.
  • Tragedy of Commonsense Morality (a group version of what I call The Paradox of Moral Experience). It's really hard not to conclude that your way of doing something isn't just culturally contingent, but really true.
  • Example of Tragedy of commonsense morality using Dog meat. -- used as example of how you could induce us vs. them response.
  • Example of framing: Samuel Bowles example of switching people's mind set in the case of the school responding to late parents.
  • Veracity and Mendacity
  • interesting book [3] on deception in nature.
  • note range of questions 512. Truth telling not a simple policy matter.
  • primate duplicity -- capuchin monkeys will distract a higher ranking member to take food, but not a lower one.
  • male gelada baboons know when to hold off on the "copulation call"
  • differences with humans: we feel bad or morally soiled about lying and we can believe our own lies.
  • human resources for lying -- poker face, finesse, dlPFC comes in with both struggle to resist lying and execution of strategic lie.
  • 516: neuroplasticity in white and gray matter in habitual liars.
  • 517: Swiss research (Baumgartner et al) -- playing a trust game allowing for deception, a pattern of brain activation predicted promise breaking. Think of a time when you broke a promise..... Did it feel like what S is describing? A noisy brain cut off by a decision. (Good example of cognitive dissonance. )
  • Subjects who don't cheat. will vs. grace. grace wins. "I don't know; I just don't cheat."