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2: SEP 2. Unit One: Primers and Background
- Ariely, Why We Lie (6)
- Haidt, The Righteous Mind, Intro and Chapter 1 (24)
- Zimbardo Experiment -- view one of the youtube videos about the experiment. read the wiki page.
- Brief glance at Philosophical Methods
- Tips on How to report study findings
- Philosophy makes use of a wide range of evidence and knowledge. In this course you will encounter alot of psychological, anthropological and cultural studies. You have to practice the way you represent studies (as opposed to theories) and how you make inferences from their conclusions.
- Some key elements to distinguish in reporting research:
- observational, survey, experimental
- study setup: for observational: who were the test subjects, what were they asked to do; for survey: what instrument was used, to whom was it given?
- what conditions were tested?
- what was the immediate result?
- what was the significance or inference to be made from the results?
Ariely, Why We Lie
- Assumptions: we think honesty is an all or nothing trait.
- Research on honesty with the "matrix task"
- Shredder condition
- Payment condition
- Probability of getting caught condition
- Distance of payment condition
- Presence of a cheater condition
- Priming with 10 commandments or signature on top of form
- Implications: for current and possible new approaches to limit cheating.
- Philosophical Implications: What, if anything, does this tell us about the nature of ethics?
Debrief on Zimbardo - Stanford Prison Experiment
- Let's practice our protocol for reporting research here.
- What are the principle insights from this experiment? How might they relate to recent events?
Everyday Ethics: Thinking about Gossip
- Defining gossip is difficult, but it typically involves sharing information about someone in a way that you would not want that person to discover.
- Small group discussion: In small groups, share your general view of gossip. Feel free to share old gossip stories, such when you discovered people gossiping about you, or were discovered gossiping. Can you recall benefitting from someone sharing gossip with you?
- Is gossip always bad or does it sometimes serve a legitimate purpose? Imagine a continuum of positions on gossip, each justified by a particular principle. Where are you on that continuum? What principle would you use to justify your position. Can you go beyond a principle to defend and consider a "theory of gossip"? What would that look like?
- Over the weekend, ask 2-3 people about their views and rules about gossip. Try some of our questions or just engage the conversation on its own terms. Try to figure out how people are thinking about gossip.
Haidt, The Righteous Mind, Intro and Chapter 1
- Note: starts with problem of "getting along" -- problem of ethics is settling conflict (recall contrast with more traditional goal of finding a method or theory to discover moral truth).
- The "righteous" mind is at once moral and judgemental. It makes possible group cooperation, tribes, nations, and societies.
- Majors claims of each section:
- Intuitions come first, reasoning second. The mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider's job is to serve the elephant.
- There's more to morality than harm and fairness
- Morality binds and blinds -- We are 90 percent chimp, 10% bee.
- Keep notes that help you tie content back to these claims.
- Method Note: This is explanatory writing. Not philosophy directly. Digression on difference between explanatory and justifactory writing.
- Moral reasoning as a means of finding truth vs. furthering social agendas. Paradox of Moral Experience: We experience our morality the first way, but when we look objectively at groups, it's more like the second way.
- Chapter 1
- Harmless taboo violations: eating the dog / violating a dead chicken.
- Brief background on developmental & moral psychology: p. 5
- nativists -- nature gives us capacities to distinguish right from wrong, possibly using moral emotions.
- empiricists -- we learn the difference between right and wrong from experience. tabula rasa.
- rationalists -- circa '87 Piaget's alternative to nature/nurture -- there is both a natural developmental requirement and empirical requirement for understanding the world in the way we consider "rational" (folk physics, folk psychology).
- Piaget's rationalism: kids figure things out for themselves if they have normal brains and the right experiences. stages: example of conservation of volume of water (6) "self-constructed" - alt to nature/nurture. 7: We grow into our rationality like caterpillars into butterflies.
- Kohlberg's "Heinz story" - pre-conventional, conventional, post-conventional. 
- note problems, p. 9. seems to support a liberal secular world view. Egalitarianism, role playing, disinterestedness.... Is it obvious or suspicious that that's what rationalism leads to? Haidt suspects something's been left out.
- Additional criticisms of Kohlberg (also at Haidt 9): seemed to diminish the importance of loyalty, authority, and tradition as less developed levels of moral response.
- Turiel: note different method. Probing to find contingencies in kids' thinking about rules. kids don't treat all moral rules the same: very young kids distinguish "harms" from "social conventions". Harm is "first on the scene" in the dev. of our moral foundations. (Note: Still following the idea that moral development is a universal, culturally neutral process.) (Note on method: we have, in Turiel's research, a discovery of an unsupported assumption.)
- Haidt's puzzle about Turiel: other dimensions of moral experience, like "purity" and "pollution" seem operative at young ages and deep in culture (witches -- how do human minds create witches in similar ways in different places?). 11-13 examples. Found answers in Schweder's work.
- In what ways is the concept of the self culturally variable?
- Schweder: sociocentric vs. individualistic cultures. Interview subjects in sociocentric societies don't make the moral/conventional distinction the same way we (westerns) do. (Schweder is "saying" to Kohlberg and Turiel: your model is culturally specific.) For example in the comparison of moral violations between Indians from Orissa and Americans from Chicago, it is important that these groups don't make the convention/harm distinction Turiel's theory would predict. That's a distinction individualist cultures make.
- Haidt's research: Wrote vignettes to ask test subjects, including Turiel's uniform / swing pushing incident. focus on vignettes is "harmless taboo violation" (no victim /no harm), which pits intuitions about norms and conventions against intuitions about the morality of harm. Study in three cities with two socio-economic groups. Showed that Schweder was right. The morality/convention distinction was itself culturally variable.
- Americans make big dist. between morality and convention. upper-class Brazilians like Americans. lower class groups tended to see smaller morality/convention difference. All morality.
- Turiel is right about how our culture makes the harm/convention distinction, but his theory doesn't travel well. Roughly, more sociocentric cultures put the morality(wrong even if no rule)/convention (wrong because there is a rule) marker more to the morality side. almost no trace of social conventionalism in Orissa.
- Identify, if possible, some practices and beliefs from either your personal views, your family, or your ethnic or cultural background which show a particular way of making the moral/conventional distinction. (Example: For some families removing shoes at the door is right thing to do, whereas for others it is just experienced as a convention. Would you eat a burrito in a public bathroom? Tell story of dinner out with a vegan friend.)