SEP 14

From Alfino
Jump to navigationJump to search

5: SEP 14


  • Haidt, Chapter 2, "The Intuitive Dog and It's Rational Tail" (25)

In-class topics

  • Everyday Ethics Discussion - Debrief and review of informal gossip writing.

Looking at good writing: Debrief on your gossip writing

  • I marked a version of the spreadsheet and reposted it for your browsing. At this point, I just picked a few things to point out.
1. Philosophers are touchy about definitions. I put some in red that I had a quibble with. Nobody seemed to like my definition!
2. A red "/" or "//" indicates writing that isn't "flowing" or has paragraph organization issues. Paragraph organization is your way of communicating your "strategy" for explicating your views. More in class.
3. Blue text is writing that flows well. Some definitions I liked are also in blue.
4. "Be prompt savvy" usually means that the writing has taken a rather indirect approach to the prompt. In some cases, some really good writing might still not be "prompt savvy". Remember, your peer evaluators (including you) will have a "prompt checklist" to evaluate your writing.
  • Some suggestions. Look for some of these issues in the writing you browse:
  • 1. Try to eliminate unnecessary references to you or the writing itself. "I think I believe..." Just believe. or, The approach I will take to this essay..." Just take it.
  • 2. Find a logical path for the writing. There are usually several starting points for explicating something, but each one poses a challenge: What needs to be said next? The "order of explication" should not appear random. Flow and Organization are still challenges for upper division college students. Just work on it.
  • 4. Content issue: If you define gossip as bad, you make your job very easy. This generalizes. If you say it could be good or bad, your reader will be expecting you to address both cases.
  • Good writing -- In almost all good writing of the types we are doing (explication, presentation of a viewpoint, arguments and rationales for a position) a successful writer will be able to say not only what view they came to but also how they decided to present it. Usually, you find your strategy by "getting outside of your head" and thinking about what your dear reader might be going through as they both anticipate and follow your writing.
  • Small group suggestions: Start out looking at the some of the highly nominated pieces (sorted to the top in "Everyday Ethics_Gossip" file. Then browse my mark up of writing in "Alfino mark up..." file. At some point you should compare notes with others in the group. Raise questions!

Haidt, Chapter 2, "The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail"

  • Some complaints about philosophers
  • Philosophy's "rationalist delusion" ex. from Timaeus. but also in rationalist psych. -- Maybe humans were once perfect...
  • 30: Plato - Reason ought to be the master of emotions. (Timaeus myth of the body - 2nd soul(emotional)), Hume (Reason is slave of passions), and Jefferson (The Head and The Heart model. Nature has made a "division of labor" - Haidt thinks Jefferson got it right.)
  • The "ultimate rationalist fantasy" is to believe that passions only serve reason, which controls them.
  • The troubled history of applying evolution to social processes
  • Wilson's Prophecy
  • Moralists (Anti-nativism): reactions against bad nativism, like Social Darwinism, 60s ideology suggesting that we can liberate ourselves from our biology and traditional morality (as contraception appeared to).
  • Nativism (natural selection gives us minds "preloaded" with moral emotions) in the 90s: Wilson, de Waal, Damasio Controversy in E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology.
  • Wilson advanced the claim we saw in Sapolsky: Evolution shapes behavior. But he dared to apply it to humans.
  • Wilson also suspected that our rational justifications might be confabulations to support our intuitions. Roughly, we are disgusted by torture so we believe in rights. Read at 32.
  • The emotional nineties de Waal, primatologist who studied moral behavior in primates. monkey fairness. (used to be in the course. See links to he Tanner lectures.); Damasio and Wilson -- 33 -- seems to be a very different picture than Plato's;
  • Some examples of evolutionary psychology
  • Evolutionary Psychology in moral psychology
  • Damasio's research on vmPFC disabled patients. They could watch gruesome images without feeling, but had trouble planning. (Phineas Gage) reasoning (about some practical matters) requires feeling. Lesions shut down the "valence" (flashes of positive neg emotions) encoded in memory. (Quick examples.)
  • Do we make moral decisions under controlled or automatic processing? No problem making moral decisions under cognitive load. Suggests automatic processing. Note this also suggests that we shouldn't think of our "principles" as causal.
  • Can we see automatic processing when reasons are missing?
  • Roach-juice
  • Soul selling
  • Harmless Taboo violations: Incest story; note how interviewer pushes toward dumbfounding.
  • How to explain dumbfounding.
  • Margolis: seeing that (pattern matching - auto) vs. reasoning why (controlled thought); we have bias toward confirmation, which is seen in the mistake people make on the Wasson Card test. "Judgement and justification are separate processes." At least sometimes, it appears the justification is ex post facto. (Reason a slave to the passions.)
  • Rider and Elephant
  • Important to see Elephant as making judgements (Emotions are epistemic), not just "feeling" (Hard for traditional philosophers to do.) (Pause for examples of "intelligent emotions")
  • 45: Elephant and Rider defined
  • Emotions are a kind of information processing, part of the cognitive process.
  • Moral judgment is a cognitive process.
  • Intuition and reasoning are both cognitive. (Note: don't think of intuition in Haidt simply as "gut reaction" in the sense of random subjectivity.
  • Values of the rider: seeing into future, treating like cases like; post hoc explanation, but "expensive" in terms of attention and time. (Like education itself!)
  • Values of the elephant: automatic, valuative, ego-maintaining, opens us to influence from others.
  • Note Carnegie's advice -- fits with Haidt's model. If you want to persuade people, talk to the elephant. (Note: If the elephant is very afraid and powerless, this can lead to bad outcomes.)
  • Social Intuitionist Model: attempt to imagine how our elephants respond to other elephants and riders.
  • Bring up Repligate issue. [1]

Small Group Discussion

  • Go back to roach juice and soul selling. How would you react to this experiment now that you know it's a psychological trigger we have? What else works like this? (In what other contexts can you know there is an evolved psychology operating behind the scenes, but knowing about it doesn't make it an "illusion" that just falls away.)
  • Is Feeling epistemic (part of how we know the world)? Do we process information with emotions?