Spring 2017 Ethics Course Lecture Notes

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JAN 18

Audio from class: [1] [2]

  • First Day Notes:
  • Course Content: A brief look at the major course research questions.
  • Course mechanics:
  • Websites in this course. alfino.org --> wiki and courses.alfino.org
  • Roster information -- fill in google form
  • Main Assignments and "Grading Schemes"
  • To Do list:
  • Send me a brief introduction through the "Tell Me" form on the wiki. (Soon, please.)
  • Login to wiki for the first time and make a brief introduction on the practice page. (3 points if both are done by Friday.)
  • After rosters are posted, login to courses.alfino and look around. Note "Links" for pdfs. Retrieve reading for Monday (and read it).
  • Browse wiki pages.
  • Get the book. Haidt, The Righteous Mind and Peter Singer, One World Now
  • Start printing pdfs. Highly recommended.
  • The Prep Cycle -- recommendations for success in the course!
  1. Read - Follow "Focus" notes on Reading schedule. Be ready for quizes.
  2. Track study questions during and after class - use your note taking to express main ideas in your terms, link in-class notes to your reading notes. Remember, almost all assessments in the course are open book & open note.
  3. Class -- Our pattern is to consolidate our understanding of the reading and then engage in philosophy on the basis of it.
This is the basic pattern for our coursework. From this cycle we then develop short philosophical writing and position papers using by instructor and peer review.

JAN 23

Audio from class: [3] [4]

Audio from class: [5] [6]

Philosophical Method

Please find time to review the wiki page Philosophical Methods. Today we'll be working with the following methods:

  • Theorizing from new or established knowledge
  • Identifying presuppositions
  • Defining terms
  • Fitting principles to cases
  • Counter-examples

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?

Method: 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 and cultural studies and theories. You have to practice the way you represent studies (as opposed to theories) and how you make inferences from their conclusions.
  • 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 immeditate result?
  • what was the significance or inference to be made from the results?

Singer, Chapter 1, "About Ethics," from Practical Ethics

  • Ethics and religion
  • Mentions Plato's dialogue Euthyphro- review core argument. Can you think of other positions on religion and ethics that might be compatible or incompatible with Singer's?
  • Singer's arguments against Ethics and relativism -- different versions of relativism:
  • Ethics varies by culture: true and false, same act under different conditions may have different value, but this is superficial relativism. The different condition, for example, existence of birth control, are objective differences. The principle might remain the same and be objective (don't have kids you're not ready to care for)
  • Marxist relativism and non-relativism: Morality is what the powerful say it is. But then, why side with the proletariat? Marxists must ultimately be objectivists about value or there is no argument for caring about oppression and making revolution.
  • Problems for real relativists ("wrong" means "I disapprove"): consistency across time, polls could determine ethics
  • Problems for subjectivist: making sense of disagreement
  • 2 versions of subjectivism that might work: ethical disagreements express attitudes that we are trying to persuade others of (close to Haidt's "social agendas"). Or, ethical judgements are prescriptions that reflect a concern that others comply.
  • Singer: Ok to say the values aren't objective like physics (aren't facts about the world), but not sensible to deny the meaningfulness of moral disagreement. Ethical reasoning.
  • Singer's view (one of several major positions): p. 10 - ethical standards are supported by reason. Can't just be self-interested.
  • The sorts of reasons that count as ethical: universalizable ones. Note: most standard ethical theories satisfy this requirement, yet yield different analysis and advice.
  • Consequences of "equality of interests" in utilitarian thought: Principle of Utility: Greatest good (happiness) for the greatest number. 13: first utilitarians understood happiness in terms of pleasures and pains. Modern utilitarians are often "preference utilitarians".

JAN 25

-before we get to our discussions of today's reading, we will need to finish up on a couple of points from the end of the Singer reading.

-note on meta-theory and ethical theories.

Cooper, Chapter 1, "Intro to Philosophical Ethics"

  • p. 3: definition of ethics; in terms of value conflict; note alternative.
  • some terminology, two points about the relationship between actions and justifications:
  • values of actions often reflect their context in institutional and social context.
  • just as there are levels of justification for any action, there are levels of justification for any theory of ethics. Pretty important point when you start trying to relate competing intuitions in your own moral outlook.
  • Zimbardo; recall experiment; take a minute to identify some of the episodes;
  • implications for ethics: situational control and autonomy; social psychology of responsibility. How do you know when you are acting on authentically held views given the power of social environments to condition our thinking? Also seen in the experience of intercultural value differences.

Haidt, Chapter 1,"The Divided Self"

  • opening story
  • Animals in Plato's metaphor for soul; contemporary metaphors. metaphors for mind/emotion, but also to explain "weakness of the will"
  • Haidt's unstated hypothesis is that looking at the brain's divisions will help us understand our moral experience.
  • Mind vs. Body -- the gut brain.
  • Left vs. Right -- confabulation
  • New vs. Old - importance of the frontal cortex. orbitofrontal cortex in particular. Attractions and failures of the "Promethean script". Damasio's study of patients with orbitofrontal cortext disorder. also impaired rationality.
  • Controlled vs. Automatic -- suggested by priming experiments, controlled processes "expensive"; tradeoffs. power of controlled processes are limited in their power over desire, but they do have the ability to remove us from immediate enivronmental and other behavioral controls.
  • Failures of Self-control [[7]]
  • Haidt's "disgust" stories.
  • Add in sociological dimension to consider values as socially

Small Group Work

  • Within each of the four sections of Haidt's article, "The Divided Self," remind yourselves of the main claims or points, along with things you found particularly interesting. Then try to state, in one sentence, one implication of each feature of the brain for the nature of ethics. Send someone to the board to write it out.
  • Principle philosophical methods used: Speculation from new knowledge, finding entailments, finding implications.

JAN 30

Audio from class: [8]

Haidt, The Righteous Mind, Intro and Chapter 1

  • Intro
  • Note: starts with problem of "getting along" -- problem of ethics is settling conflict (recall)
  • Track section and subsection title. The argument of the book is laid out clearly in them.
  • 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.
  • 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 looking 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 distinguishing right from wrong.
  • 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. Is it obvious or suspicious that that's what rationalism leads to?
  • 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.)
  • 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 creates 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. (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 group don't make the convention/harm distinction Turiel's theory would predict. That's a distinction individualist cultures make.
  • Point of harmless taboo violations: pit intuitions about norms and conventions against intuitions about the morality of harm. Showed that Schweder was right. The morality/convention distinction was itself culturally variable. 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?)

Group Discussion

  • Use a google form to discuss Study Question 2 and report your findings.



Some structure for locating philosophical ethics theories

  • Intentions (kantian), Act (aristotle), Consequences (utilitarian)

Cooper, Chapter 5: Cognitive and Moral Development

  • Review of Piaget's stages of cognitive development:
  • Sensorimotor, Symbolic, Concrete, Formal
  • Critics: missing variability from rich vs. poor environments. (Vygotsky)
  • Importance of Formal Operational level for "breaking" with situational control. (recall Zimbardo)
  • Kohlberg's stages of moral development
  • Preconventional, Conventional, Postconventional: review stages with each level.
  • Note theoretical claim: hierarchy represents increasingly more developed ways of staying in equilibrium with environment. Where does this leave ethnicity and culture? p. 78.
  • "Decentering" of ego crucial to post-conventional stage. Are we all supposed to get to this level? (Note similarity to Utilitarian premise: equal happiness principle)
  • Application to My Lai massacre
  • Questions for Kohlberg: Revisit Haidt's research story; should we all be postconventional moral agents? Is loyalty and a sense of authority an "inferior" basis for morality?

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1

  • First: What do ancient Greeks mean by "virtue" (arete).
  • Opening: Noticing how arts are arranged in society.
  • Politics as the master science: its end: happiness (but notice that the means is the cultivation of "excellences," of virtue)
  • Defects of the life of pleasure, honor, even virtue as the meaning of happiness. Defect of money-making.
  • Section 7: argument for happiness as the final end of life.
  • something not desired for the sake of something else: happiness.
  • But what is happiness? Search for the function of man to find the answer to the nature of happiness.
  • Nutrition and growth? No
  • Perception? No
  • def: Activity of the soul implying a rational principle, in accordance with virtue (perfective activities that realize our "highest" and more unique capacities)
  • Other characteristics needed: complete life, active life.
  • Section 13: Aristotle's tripartite division of the soul:
  • Rational
  • Appetitive (desiring) (partly rational)
  • Vegetative
  • Summing up: developmentalist, naturalist, rationalist, eudaimonistic, virtue ethics. Aristotle gives us the first detailed draft of the "Western rational self" - note it's characteristics. (not really a socio-centric self, though man is a political animal for A).
  • Primary ethical insights about how to think about virtue:
  • the pursuit of virtue is a movement toward an "end state" of the perfection of the sort of thing we are.
  • the Golden Mean, pursuing action that strikes a "mean" between extremes of emotion, is often a good guide to virtuous action. (Further topics in Nichomachean ethics: voluntary action, deliberation and choice, responsibility, moral failure, analysis of specific virtues)
  • Primary claim about morality in virtue ethics: Moral virtue is an expression of a virtuous character and (in modern virtue ethics).
  • Contemporary virtue ethics adds: If we value the development of human capacities, we will want to see others develop their capacities for human excellence.
  • Critical issues:
  • Note how developmental moralities look different depending upon one's background theories: Aristotle, Kohlberg, evo-psych.
  • Aristotle's rationalism.
  • The relationship of virtue to happiness.


Audio from class: [9]

Sandel, Utilitarianism

  • life boat case: They eat Parker (more canabalism!) - similar to Trolley Problem.
  • Is this a case of costs vs. benefit? How does it come out?
  • Contrast in Approaches to Justice: consequences vs. right and duties.
  • Bentham's defense of the principle of utility: we are driven by pleasure and pain, the rest is illusion. Alternative principles, like rights are ultimately advocated for by appeal to outcomes. (Kind of like Aristotle's teleology). Later Mill would provide the "equal happiness" principle.
  • Workhouse for poor: though the form of Bentham's imagining is rough, note that this is the start of modern social welfare.
  • Panopticon
  • (also the start of social welfare statistics, public health, sewers, etc. These things are easier to justify on grounds of utility.)
  • Objection 1: Rights are primary.
  • Case of torture under extreme conditions (Trolley Problem on steroids.). New condition: torturing terrorist's daughter. Harder.
  • How negotiable are rights in extreme cases?
  • Objection 2: Is there a common currency for comparison of pleasures?
  • Case: Phillip Morris in Czech Republic.
  • Case: Ford Pinto '70s.
  • Issue: Does life span enter into value. Older cost less.
  • Empirical approach: Actual cost we pay in driving fatalities.
  • Utilitarians respond:
  • Whose problem is it? The cost-benefit may not only be part of the theory, it may be part of our moral life: even our driving behaviors (trade offs of speed and fatality rate) have implications for how much we value life in monetary terms). generate examples: when is it ok to be "calculative" in social and moral life?
  • The theory can recognize higher and lower pleasures. Probably true that all value cannot be captured by pleasure and pain, but most can be captured by "flourishing and the avoidance of unnecessary suffering".
  • Mill and the defense of Liberty
  • Progressivism: liberty promotes happiness over the long term. (Update on desirability of "liberty" and self-determination as a political ideal.)
  • Can a Utilitarian admit difference in kind between pleasures?
  • Doctrine of the qualified judge.
  • Other approaches to human difference.
  • Sandel's claim that appeal to ideal of human dignity independent of wants and desires is an inconsistency.
  • not sure it is independent of wants and desires. p. 51: what does "moral ideals beyond utility" mean to a Millian?
  • Small group assessment: Develop three examples of situations in which you would definitely want someone to use utilitarian thinking in solving a moral problem and three examples of situations in which you would NOT want someone to follow utilitarian thinking. What core moral intuitions, stated as a claim, does this theory align with?
  • OLD Small Group Assessment: How should we value human life in cases involving compensation or investment (e.g. in safer highways) given that we have a deep intuition that lives are not objects to be bought and sold? Then, take the problem down to a personal level. In your social and moral lives, when is it ok to be calculative? When is it wrong? Think about how you would criticize someone who violates this distinction.

Sandel, Libertarianism

  • Libertarianism: fundamental concern with human freedom; minimal state; no morals legislation; no redistribution of income or wealth. Strong concern with equality of liberty and avoidance of oppression, understood as forced labor.
  • Facts about concentration of wealth: 1% have 1/3 of wealth, more than bottom 90%.
  • objections to redistribution: utilitarian and rights-based.
  • general commitments of libertarian. Uneasy to fit directly to conservatism. Cuts across several MFs.
  • Argument from self-ownership (Nozick)
  • Free Market philosophy
  • Redistribution and self-ownership
  • First four objections: 1. taxation; 2. importance of resources to poor; 3. social nature of talent; 4. implied consent/participation in democracy; 5. Jordan is Lucky.
  • "Hard cases" (note on method) -- Markets in kidneys, assisted suicide, consensual canabalism (again!)
  • Small group assessment: Develop three examples of situations in which you would definitely want someone to use utilitarian thinking in solving a moral problem and three examples of situations in which you would NOT want someone to follow utilitarian thinking. What core moral intuitions, stated as a claim, does this theory align with?


Audio from class: [10] [11]

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

  • Philosophy's "rationalist delusion" ex. from Timaeus. but also in rationalist psych.
  • 30: Plato (Timaeus myth of the body - 2nd soul), Hume (reason is slave of passions), and Jefferson (The Head and The Heart)
  • Wilson's Prophecy: brief history of moral philosophy after Darwin.
  • moralism (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.
  • Note, for example, debate over rights: rationalists(moralists) vs. nativists: note the claims and counter-claims. brings in feminism, resistance to science, naturalism.
  • de Waal (soon); Damasio -- 33 -- seems to be a very different picture than Plato's;
  • Evolutionary Psychology in moral psychology
  • 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.
  • 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. (From this perspective Kohlberg was focused on "reasoning why". Note from p. 44, some "reasoning why" is crucial to moral discourse (similar to universalizability in Singer reading)
  • Rider and Elephant
  • Important to see Elephant as making judgements (processing info), not just "feeling"
  • 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. Claims you are processsing information through emotional response.
  • Values of the rider: seeing into future, treating like cases like; post hoc explanation.
  • Values of the elephant: automatic, valuative, ego-maintaining, opens us to influence from others.
  • Social Intuitionist Model: attempt to imagine how our elephants respond to other elephants and riders.

Sandel, Chapter 5, "What counts is the Motive: Immanuel Kant"

  • Background: Enlightenment era search for a secular basis for rights. Kant and Mill represent two answers.
  • Contrast with Utility. Kant bases moral value on idea of "rational being" (challenge is to give this content from further study of his theory). Helpful to think of connections between "reason (and autonomy) as a source of dignity" and human rights.
  • Analysis of Freedom
  • real freedom can't just be choosing preferences external to me: "preference satisfaction" (antonomous/heteronomous), but choosing ends.
  • neg/positive freedom
  • choosing best means to end vs. choosing end. Kant: "Whenever my behavior is determined by biology or social conditioning, it isn't truly free." 109
  • Thinking about Motives
  • Pushing the man in the trolley problem isn't possible for Kant.
  • Calculating Shopkeeper; incentive for good behavior at U Maryland 113. "Doing well by doing good"
  • For Kant, we have a duty to preserve our lives so that we can exercise our moral duty. (Duty to reason!)
  • How do motives become more visible? moral misanthrope, spelling bee hero
  • Main Theory
  • Contrast so far:
  • duty / inclination
  • autonomy / heteronomy - brings in strong notion of free will (p. 117); reason is a source of causation outside of physics. consider.
  • categorical / hypothetical imperatives
  • motive of action "good in itself" or "necessary for a will which is in accord with reason" 119 (some examples)
  • Categorical Imperative: Two formulations
  • 1 "Act only on those maxims that you can will as universal law." - p. 120 - Universalizability (recall Singer's similar point) -- note: It's NEVER about consequences, just being consistent with the idea of yourself (and others) as rational beings.
  • 2 "Act so as to treat others as ends in themselves" p. 121 - Treating rational being as ends in themselves. Discussion: What does that entail? Not "using" others, but what else?
  • Some critical points from the questions 124-129
  • Not the same as the golden rule
  • Duty and autonomy: giving a law to yourself. (Consider how that might look to an anthropologist today.)
  • Choosing under conditions of universality --

FEB 13

Audio from class: [12] [13]

Note on Philosophical Method

  • Today we start work on the skills and considerations that go into "giving an ethical analysis". This is distinct from meta-ethics and philosophical ethics. Giving an ethical analysis requires understanding the kind of applied problem at stake, immersion in factual information and related theories, and a kind of reflective consideration of a wide range of positions. Ultimately, your analysis should reflect your own committments and you should always be trying to develop your particular positions in such a way that you also develop a coherent ethical outlook.

Singer, "Rich and Poor"

  • definitions and facts about absolute poverty
  • difference between grain consumption accounted for in terms of meat consumption. problem of distribution rather than production.
  • absolute affluence = affluent by any reasonable defintion of human needs. Go through paragraph on 221. Also, consider UN Millenium Dev. Goals [14]
  • figures on giving by country: OPEC countries most generous. U.S. and Japan least. (more in Sachs)
  • Is not giving to the relief of absolute poverty the moral equivalent of murder? Five purported differences:
  • 1. allowing to die not eq. to killing. no intention to kill.
  • 2. impossible to ask us to be obligated to keep everyone alive.
  • 3. uncertainty of outcome in not aiding vs. pointing a gun. less direct responsibility, less like 1st deg. murder.
  • 4. no direct and identifiable causal connection between consumerist action and death of individuals in other countries.
  • 5. People would be starving with or without me. I am not a necessary condition for there to be starving people.
  • Singer's point: these differences are extrinsic to the moral problem. there would be cases with these features in which we would still hold the person responsible. read 195.
  • Showing the extrinsic character of the differences: Singer's argument strategy at this point is to show that the differences are smaller and more contingent that one might think. Point by point:
  • 1. Lack of identifiable victim: Example of salesman selling tainted food. doesn't matter if no identifiable victim in advance.
  • 2. Lack of certainty about the value of donations does reduce the wrongness of not giving (concession), but doesn't mean that its ok not to give. Note: development of aid industry since this writing. Measures of effectiveness becoming common, but still an issue.
  • 3. responsibility for acts but not omissions is incoherent way to think about responsibility. consequences of our actions are our responsibility. irrelevant that the person would have died if I had never existed. They might also have gotten help if I hadn't existed!
  • Considers non-consequentialist justifications for not aiding
  • idea of independent individual in Locke and Nozick doesn't make sense. Note appeal to social conception of humans based on ancestry!
  • absence of malice also doesn't excuse inaction. involuntary manslaughter (in the case say of a speedin motorist) is still blameworthy.
  • 4. Difference in motivation. But again the speeding motorist is blameworthy even though not motivated self-consciously to harm.
  • 5. Easier to avoid killing, but saving all is heroic. S. grants that we may not be as blameworthy for not saving many lives if saving those live requires heroic action.
  • The obligation to assist: Main Principle: If it is in our power to prevent something very bad happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance, we ought to do it.
  • goes on to claim that it is within the power of dev. countries to aid the poor without sacrificing . . . etc. (Fits with Sachs article.)
  • Considers major objections:
  • taking care of your own
  • property rights [at most weakens the argument for mandatory giving (but note that governmental means might be the most effective, esp. where problems have a political dimension)
  • population and the ethics of triage:
  • questions whether the world is really like a life boat
  • leaving it to government. .7 GNP figure.
  • too high a standard?

Sachs, Jeffrey, "Can the Rich Afford to Help the Poor?" (2006)

  • (One of the architects of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Opposed by some noted development economists.)
  • Optimist about relief: .7 GNP level of giving adequate.
  • Absolute poverty down from 1/3 to 1/5 (interesting to compare US discussion in 1960 at the start of the domestic "war on poverty" of the Johnson administration); the rich world is alot richer than it was; we're better at poverty alleviation.
  • Would have taken 1.6% of GNP in 80's now only .7%
  • Note analysis on pages 294 of amounts that developing countries can supply to meet their own poverty needs. Middle-income countries like Brazil, Chile, and Mexico have enough.
  • Can the US afford to meet a .7 GNP target?
  • Sachs considers this obvious. To dramatize his point, on pages 304-308, he points out that the wealthiest 400 US citizens earned more than the total populations of Botswana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda. More to the point, the tax cuts this group received during the Bush administration in 2001, 2002, and 2003 totaled about 50 billion a year, enough to meet the US giving goal of .7% of GNP.
  • Digression on actual giving: [15]

FEB 15

Audio from class: [16] [17]

Class Group Research and Topic Discussion

  • The paper topic prompt is: "What is the basis and extent of our obligations to help those in absolute poverty"
  • Some parameters of positions:
  • no obligation.
  • no obligation, but praiseworthy
  • no directly obligation to fix poverty, but maybe some related obligations.
  • individually obligatory, but not communally.
  • communally obligatory.
  • emergency aid, refugee security, food security.
  • direct aid vs. development aid. The topic is not limited to direct aid.
  • trade vs. aid
  • When thinking about the basis of our obligation, consider the moral intuitions which our theories focus on. Try to locate and develope principles for the "moral motivation" that forms the basis of the obligation. Often your articulation of that helps focus your understanding of the extent of the obligation.
  • Motivations, such as: protection of rights, alleviation of suffering, compensation for historical exploitation.
  • Philosophical ethical theories such as we have studied help us articulate principles that sort and prioritize our value commitments and competing intuitions. These principles also help you see the extent of the obligation. What does it commit us to? What are the limits?

FEB 22

Audio from class: [18] [19]

Haidt, Chapter Three, "Elephants Rule"

  • Personal Anecdote: your inner lawyer (automatic speech)
  • Priming studies:
  • "take" "often" -- working with neutral stories also
  • Research supporting "intuitions come first"
  • 1. Brains evaluate instantly and constantly
  • Zajonc on "affective primacy"- small flashes of pos/neg feeling from ongoing cs stimuli - even applies to made up language "mere exposure effect" tendency to have more postive responses to something just be repeat exposure.
  • 2. Social and Political judgements are especially intuitive
  • flashing word pairs with dissonance: "flower - happiness" vs. "hate - sunshine" (affective priming)
  • Implicit Association Test
  • flashing word pairs with political terms. causes dissonance. measureable delay in response when, say, conservatives read "Clinton" and "sunshine".
  • Todorov's work extending "attractiveness" advantage to snap ju-- note: Dissonance is pain.'
  • judgements of competence. note speed of judgement (59)
  • 3. Bodies guide judgements
  • Fart Spray exaggerates moral judgements (!)
  • Zhong: hand washing before and after moral judgements.
  • Helzer and Pizarro: standing near a sanitizer strengthens conservatism.
  • 4. Psychopaths: reason but don't feel
  • Transcript from Robert Hare research
  • 5. Babies: feel but don't reason
  • Theory behind startle response studies in infants
  • helper and hinderer puppet shows
  • reaching for helper puppets "parsing their social world"
  • 6. Affective reactions in the brain
  • Josh Greene's fMRI studies of Trolley type problems. The Trolley Problem
  • Pause on Joshua Greene quote, p. 67
  • When does the elephant listen to reason?
  • Paxton and Greene experiments with incest story using versions with good and bad arguments. Harvard students showed no difference, though some when allowed delayed response.
  • Friends... The Importance of Friends...Friends are really important...

de Waal, p. 5-21

  • Veneer Theory - starts in a story about Enlightenment efforts to explain morality. social to the core.
  • Clue from intro about how commentators will respond: not as veneer theorists, but to question continuity between moral emotions and "being moral".
  • Thesis: No asocial history to humans. And note: unequal in competition for status.
  • note critical comments on rationalist psychology 6.
  • Distinction between: 1) seeing morality as a "choice" humans made; and 2) morality as "outgrowth" of social instincts.
  • T. H. Huxley: gardener metaphor. (contra Darwin, who includes morality in evolution.)
  • Freud: civilization as renunciation of instinct.
  • Dawkins: genes are selfish, but in the end we can break with them.
  • Veneer Theory: "Scratch an altruist and watch a hypocrite bleed"
  • Robert Wright (contemporary evolutionist): morality as mask for selfishness.
  • Darwin on Ethics
  • Evolutionary "selfishness" vs. moral "selfishness" -- role of intention (13). Seem opposed, but major thesis for de Waal is that they are not: a "selfish" evolutionary process can produce altruism as a strategy. very important theoretical claim.
  • Darwin influenced by Adam Smith: look up scottish moral sense theory. Precursors to evolutionary moral psychology.
  • Key theoretical claim, bot 16: question isn't whether animals are nice to each other, but whether they possess capacities for reciprocity and revenge, for the enforcement of social rules, for the settlement of disputes and for sympathy and empathy.
  • Westermark
  • Westermark: observation of camel's revenge.
  • Chimps punish and seek revenge also. Engage in reconciliation.
  • "reciprocal altruism"
  • "moral emotions" p. 20 - disconnected from immediate reactions, involve judgements about how anyone should act or feel.

Haidt "Out-Take on Virtue Ethics"

  • Main point: Virtue ethics as third alternative to utlity and duty (deontology) which fits the social intuitionist model (if you think of it apart from Aristotle's bias about reason and the contemplative life).
  • virtues are "character traits that a person needs in order to live a good, pariseworthy, or admirable life" - the well-trained elephant.

Notes on Position Paper 1: Giving an applied ethical analysis

  • Paper deadlines: Rough Draft, Friday 2/24; Peer Review Deadline, Wednesday 3/1; Final draft, Wednesday 3/8. All deadlines at midnight.
  • Paper Assignment: What is the basis and extent of our obligation to people in absolute poverty?
  • In a three page, typed, double spaced paper, present a well-argued position on this question. Be sure to give attention to both basis or grounding of whatever obligation you argue for and an account of what the obligation commits you to (the extent of the obligation), as well as its limits. In articulating your answer, try to demonstrate your awareness of a morally diverse audience for your view.
  • Turning in your draft
  • Prepare your answer in a Word document ending in .docx. Save the document using your section number only. 17.docx for the 4:10 class, 14.docx for the 5:45 class.
  • Inside the document, where you would normally put your name, put the animal pseudonym below that matches your section and saint. Use this key. [20]. Note: You will likely use a different animal name than you had for the last assignment.
  • Peer Review Stage:
  • Please review 4 other rough drafts from your section using the following Google form: [21]
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, open up the this key [22], find your animal name and review the next four (4) animals' work. To see the papers, use this URL, substituting the animal whose paper you would like to see: http://alfino.org/comments/301PP1/bluejay_17.docx
  • You will notice that some papers are missing. If you are in line to review a missing paper, allow a day or two for it to show up. If it does not show up, go ahead and review enough papers to get to four reviews. This assures that you will get enough "back evaluations" of your work to get peer review credit.
  • The deadline for completing your four peer reviews is Wednesday March 1.
  • Revision and Back Evaluation Stage:
  • Please review the peer comments you received on the attached spreadsheet. Then, for each set of reviews, fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [23].
  • Continue to revise your papers for the March 8th deadline. Upload your final draft to the Position Papers dropbox.
  • Back evaluations are due March 6, midnight.
  • Turning in your final draft
  • Prepare your answer in a Word document ending in .docx. Save the document using your section number only. 17.docx for the 4:10 class, 14.docx for the 5:45 class.
  • Inside the document, where you would normally put your name, put the animal pseudonym below that matches your section and saint. Use this key. [24]. Note: You will likely use a different animal name than you had for the last assignment.

FEB 27

Class was cancelled today due to a campus speaker I am hosting, Dr. Emry Westacott.

Audio on notes: [25]

Haidt, Chapter 4, "Vote for Me (Here's Why)"

  • Ring of Gyges - example of veneer theory.
  • Functionalism in psychology
  • Reminder of big theoretical choice about ethics. 74
  • Tetlock: accountability research
  • Exploratory vs. Confirmatory thought
  • Conditions promoting exploratory thought
  • 1) knowing ahead of time that you'll be called to account;
  • 2) not knowing what the audience thinks;
  • 3) believing that the audience is well informed and interested in truth or accuracy.
  • Leary's research on self-esteem importance- "sociometer" -- non-conscious level mostly.
  • Confirmation bias
  • Wasson again -- number series
  • Deann Kuhn -- 80: We are horrible at theorizing (requiring exploratory thought)....
  • David Perkins research on reason giving
  • Can I believe it? vs. Must I believe it?
  • (section 5) Application to political beliefs:
  • Does selfish interest or group affiliation predict policy preferences?
  • Drew Westen's fMRI research on strongly partisan individuals. dlPFC.
  • Good thinking as an emergent property. individual neurons vs. networks. analogy to social intelligence.
  • Statement, 90, on H's view of political life in light of this way of theorizing. read and discuss.

Primate family tree.gif

de Waal, "Morally Evolved," 21-42

  • Empathy -- posits more complex forms (moral emotions) from simpler (ex. emotional contagion)
  • Culture modifies empathy just as higher order mental functions modify lower (prefrontal orders memory recall).
  • Evidence in primates of simple emotions:
  • comforting, response to distress (25) -- from emotional contagion to empathy.
  • sympathy defined "sorry and concern"(26) compared to "personal distress" in which we try to resolve our own pain -- empathy is broader "changing places in fancy" (Adam Smith) "feeling another's pain".
  • children and pets.
  • Rhesus monkeys won't shock each other (29)
  • Note the theoretical alternatives at 29: 1) aversion to distress signals; 2) distress from emo contagion; 3) true helping motivations.
  • Apes appear to engage in perspective taking more than monkeys. Hypothesis at 30: this is due to a cognitive overlay, a differentiation of self-other plus a capacity to imagine the other's perspective. Kuni and the starling. Kuni capable of imagining the "good" for a bird.
  • Anecdotes:
  • How does Ladygina-Kohts get her chimpanzee off the roof?
  • Kuni and the starling
  • Jakie's helping behavior toward Krom with the tires "targeted helping" (ToM - understanding intentions)
  • Binit Jua, zoo gorilla, rescues child.
  • Consolation behavior in apes (chimps and apes and gorillas, but not monkeys)
  • de Waal study on post aggression comforting contacts (34)
  • Why not monkeys? Self-awareness level -- mirror self-recognition (MSR) in apes. Correlates with children.
  • de Waal's "Russian Doll" metaphor: from emotional contagion to cognitive empathy.
  • PAM - Perception - Action Mechanism - perception and action share cognitive representations. seeing disgust is like being disgusted, facile muscles mimic others.
  • defintion of empathy at 39 (ranging from "matching the mental state of the other" to cognitive empathy which includes knowing the reasons for another's emotions (as in Jakie's case)) and 41: def of cognitive empathy -- targeted helping, distinction bt self/other.


Audio from class: [26] [27]

de Waal, Morally Evolved, Part 3

  • Reciprocity and Fairness
  • testing hypotheses about food sharing and grooming study in chimps
  • competing hypotheses: good mood sharing vs. partner-specific reciprocity (favoring those who previously cooperated).
  • evidence favored latter hypothesis.
  • studying fairness in terms of reward expectation or "inequity aversion" results p. 47 --mention Ultimatum Game here.
  • limits to monkey fairness: no sharing between rich and poor.
  • Mencious and "reciprocity" (note: this is a way of making the "strong" argument for evolved morality.) (note veneer theory at work 50-51)
  • Community Concern: evolution in human thought to expand circle of moral concern.
  • Dark side of morality. Groupish behavior.
  • Mention of Haidt: intuitionism compatible with de Waal's viewpoint.
  • Alien thought experiment. sort of like a trolley problem. consider the Crying Baby Paradox.
  • The Beethoven Error
  • some hints at theory...


Audio from class: [28] [29]

Philosophical Method

  • Two philosophers this week offer critiques and alternative views of de Waal's theory of "gradualism" regarding primate/human ethics.

Korsgaard, "Morality and the Distinctiveness of Human Action"

  • On Veneer Theory
  • not coherent: views morality as contraint of self-interest maximization (morality as needing to defeat egoism)
  • Do we really pursue our self-interests (ha!)
  • Not a coherent concept for a social animal as complex as us. Can't define our interests in isolation.
  • Morality not constraints on self-interest, but defining of a way of life. not just a way of "having", but also of "doing" and "being"
  • 101-102: develops an image of the isolated self-interested monster you would have to think we were to believe in veneer theory.
  • animals don't have self-interests. They are "wanton" need a conception your long term good and a rational motivation toward it.
  • treating as ends/means. What could it mean to treat someone as an "end in themselves"? (Short digression on Kant -- treating others as persons, as sources of their own life planning.)
  • On continuity/discontinuity of ethics with evolution
  • we're more like apes than people think, but there's still a deep discontinuity 103-104: language, culture, ability to befriend other species.
  • we're "damaged" in some way that suggests a break with nature.
  • de Waal is like some sentimentalists who incorrectly infer intention from behavior. Sceptical at 105 for example. Embarks on analysis of different levels or meanings of purpose or intention. Core argument here: inferring intention is difficult and inferring awareness of self-interest is unlikely. (Note digression on moral sense theorists of 18th century.)
  • range or scale: anything with "function organization" can be said to have purposes (ex. p. 107)
  • next stage: perceptual animal's movements have purposes, but those purposes are not "before the mind" 108
  • next stage: animal that has purposes "before the mind" and can "entertain thoughts about how to achieve them" -- closer to being an agent. Still, at this level there is no choosing. "the animals purposes are given to him by his affective state"
(from earlier in the article: "Is the capuchin "protesting the unfairness" or "angling for a grape"?")
  • next stage: Asking "Is wanting this a good reason for pursuing it?" (justification)
  • we choose not only means to ends but ends themselves: another brief digression on Kant's deontology: to determine whether there is justification for wanting a particular end, you formulate a maxim about it and try to imagine it as a universal law. Can your maxim serve as a rational principle? Or it is self-contradictory or incoherent when imagined this way? Kant: we always have the possibility of setting natural desire aside for principle. duty to "normative self-government".
  • Smith and Darwin on the development of capacity for normative self-government. sympathy for Smith and memory of regret in letting desire overide social instincts for Darwin.
  • 117: "not a mere matter of degree" humans can put the idea of themselves before the action...


Audio from class: [30] [31]

Singer, "Morality, Reason, and the Rights of Animals," p. 140-151

  • cites his own work arguing for biological basis of morality. Agrees that morality has "roots" in our evo history. kin altruism.
  • de Waal too harsh with Veneer Theory: note thesis at 141 - there is dualism running through the history of ethics.
  • Roots of ethics in social/evolved nature, but not all ethics is derived from evolved nature as social animals
  • Darwin quote from Descent of Man -- moral sense of modern humans is a big diff from earlier.
  • Singer's argument against deWaal's dismissal of veneer theory:
  • De Waal passage on "disinterestedness," impartial spectator, universalization" Does this capacity come from our evolved history? No, claims Singer -- crucial difference: emerged from in-group processes. (But how significant is this as a difference in kind?)
  • when de Waal notes the groupish aspect of our morality (the yin/yang aspect) and the "fragility" of impartiality, he's not so far from veneer talk.
  • 145: It's reason that lets us make the leap to impartiality. Reason comes from nature and evolution, but it's not specifically tied to sociality. 145
  • 146: follow talk about reason, takes us to places not related to survival/fitness
  • Singer objects to de Waal's use of trolley problem: Singer's reading of the J.D. Greene fMRI research on Trolley problem: shows that getting the right answer in the second condition (pushing the big dude) requires overcoming emotion. 149: "automatic emotional responses" (not judgements) -- (Interesting how differently he is thinking about emotions, intuitions, and reason here. Reason can take the reigns.)
  • Kant - reason over emotion

Small Group Discussion

  • Focus on Singer's language for describing the role of reason in morality and his corresponding interpretation of the Trolley Problem. Which interpretation of the TP do you favor? Can you think of examples of ethical problems in which we ought to feel "reason overcoming emotion" and other times in which we ought to feel the conflict of reason and emotion. (Perhaps a third example in which that's what's up for discussion.)

Notes on Philosophical Method

  • Notice distinctive characteristics of Korsgaard and Singer essays: concern with argument, lack of concern about data, but concern about significance, ability to view things in different perspectives, close reading, conceptual arguments. S: finding cases to fit claim. K: identifying presuppositions.
  • Notice how argument burden shifts in light of either position. Putting forward intentionality or rationality as standards for morality raises new questions.
  • Philosophical Method Slogan of the Day: "Philosophy often uses a criticism of how we think about something as a way of coming to a recommendation for how we ought to think about it."

MAR 13


MAR 15


MAR 20

Audio from class: [32] [33]

Recap of Part One of the course

Haidt, Chapter 5, "Beyond WEIRD Morality"

  • WEIRD morality is the morality of Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic cultures
  • just as likely to be bothered by taboo violations, but more likely to set aside feelings of disgust and allow violations
  • only group with majority allowing chicken story violation.
  • "the weirder you are the more likely you are to see the world in terms of separate objects, rather than relationships" "sociocentric" moralities vs. individualistic moralities; Enlightenment moralities of Kant and Mill are rationalist, individualist, and universalist.
  • survey data on East/West differences in sentence completion: "I am..."
  • framed-line task 97
  • Shweder's anthropology: ethics of autonomy, community, divinity 99-100 - gloss each...
  • claims schweder's theory predicts responses on taboo violation tests, is descriptively accurate.
  • ethic of divinity: body as temple vs. playground
  • vertical dimension to values. explains reactions to flag desecration, piss Christ, thought exp: desecration of liberal icons. (Note connection to contemporary conflicts, such as the Charlie Hebdot massacre.)
  • Haidt's Bhubaneswar experience: diverse (intense) continua of moral values related to purity. (opposite of disgust). Stop and think about how a mind might create this. Detail about airline passenger.
  • Theorizing with Paul Rozin on the right model for thinking about moral foundations: "Our theory, in brief" (103)
  • American politics often about sense of "sacrilege", not just about defining rights (autonomy).
  • Stepping out of the Matrix: H's metaphor for seeing his own politics as more "contingent" than before, when it felt like the natural advocacy of what seem true and right. Reports growing self awareness of liberal orientation of intellectual culture in relation to Shweder's view. Social conservatives made more sense to him after studying in India.
  • Discussion questions:
  • Does it makes sense to look at contemporary political differences solely in terms of the ethic of autonomy, or do we also need to bring in the ethics of community and divinity?
  • Does Haidt's matrix metaphor makes sense? What does it mean?

MAR 22

Audio from class: [34] [35]

Singer, Ch. 1, "A Changing World"

  • Globalization: Terrorism, climate change, (added: human migration)
  • US interests: political consensus (dems/repubs) on Bush remark.
  • Should political leaders adopt an internationalist stance (beyond interests of their nation-state)? p. 4
  • Beyond a World of Sovereign States: raises conventional status of nation state (less than three hundred years), examples of horrors not averted. terrorism and climate change still in background here. Adds in the way internet connects for good and ill. Finds it interesting that we paid up a half billion in UN dues after 9/11.
  • Historical parable (illustrates change in sovereignty ideas): reaction to 1914 assasination of Austrian Crown Prince Ferdinand (and wife) by Bosnian Serb nationalists, starting WW1. Objections to Autro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia. Compare to international reaction to US demands of Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden. principle p. 7, new today vs. WW1.
  • Rawls "old school" scope for theory of justice: very much a nation-state model for justice. Digression on Rawls model.
  • International vs. Global --p. 10 cites research suggesting acceleration of "global" since 80s, hard to limit politics to internal states. (Note the obvious.) Logic of the "golden straightjacket" international capitalism plays the nation state.
  • Notes the Marxist point that technology determines superstructure. We have big technological change. Expect disruption.
  • Singer's project: q 14.

Singer, "One Atmosphere"

  • The Problem
  • Example of Ozone depletion in 70s, resolved with Montreal Protocol in 87.
  • Facts and level of consensus. born after 85 and you've never experienced a month in which global temps were below the 20th century average for that month.
  • Who is affected? 22: rich vs. poor.
  • Holocene (12,000 yrs) -- "Anthropocene" (also a food story)
  • 25: how are our value systems prepared/unprepared for this issue? individual vs. communal problem. externality.
  • Means of addressing climate change: polluter pays, cap and trade (note more recent arguments: address human impact, try to moderate change).
  • 1997 Kyoto Protocol. US withdrawl under 2nd Bush admin, Cophenhagen Accord, then Paris update: [36]; Now Paris Accords of 2015, which are still not legally binding, but have some "name and shame" transparency.
  • thinking about equitable distributions p. 32 on:
  • Historical vs. time slice principles (give examples from race/ethnicity).
  • A way of thinking about historical principles of equitable distribution: giant sink: as long as it keeps working, we are leaving "enough and as good" for others. Locke give us a way of showing how property can be legitimately acquired. More examples: intellectual labor.
  • sink stops working = tragedy of the commons (over grazed land; over used "sink")
  • Lockean justifications of property and unequal acquisition; Smith's "invisible hand" (calls Smith out on consumption of rich: in environmental terms there's a huge difference. Data on Am carbon footprint 36.). Point is that you might, ala Rawls, recognize that the poor or those affected by industrial nations' pollution are somehow better off. Might try to apply this to climate change, but it's hard to see benefits to poor.
  • Analysis by Teng Fei. p. 39
  • Time slice: arguably developed nations don't have full historical liability. didn't know. leads to equal share view. p. 40
  • not much diff from historical view. US would have to reduce by 80%.
  • Aiding the Worst Off
  • How would a Rawlsian look at the "difference" between wealthy and poor on climate change abatement?
  • Fairness as aiding the worst off. Yet, you could also argue that rich nations shouldn't have to bear all the costs if it diminished their ability to help the worst off.
  • Difference principle: p. 47: "When we distribute goods, we can justify giving more to those who ar ealready well off only if this will bring about "the greatest benefit of the least advantaged"". Note this is not strict egalitarianism.
  • How would utilitarians approach the problem?
  • greatest happiness or preference utilitarians come out about the same.
  • Bjorn Lomborg analysis: because of "discounting" of future harms/benefits utilitarians might rather help the poor now rather than address future harms. But Singer claims this ignores the difference between discounting an asset and discounting the suffering of future humans or species.
  • 1. utilitarian would endorse "polluter pays" as a "rule" the at produces good results
  • 2. "equal shares" principle is not the only option for a utilitarian, but makes better sense than other critieria.
  • 3. because of "diminishing marginal utility", utilitarians can support additional aid to the worst off.
  • Emissions Trading

MAR 27

Audio from class: [37] [38]

Haidt, Chapter 6, "Taste Buds of the Righteous Mind"

comment on retronasal olfaction.
  • analogy of moral sense to taste sense. "the righteous mind is like a tongue with six taste receptors"
  • unpacking the metaphor:
  • places where our sensitivities to underlying value perception have depth from evolution, but have flexibility or plasticity from the "big brain", which allows for shaping within culture and retriggering.
  • morality is rich, not reducible to one taste. A way of perceiving the world.
  • like cuisines, there is variation, but within a range.
  • explaining moral diversity. argument against the reductive project of philosophical ethics 113-114.
  • Hume's three way battle: Enlightenment thinkers united in rejecting revelation as basis of morality, but divided between an transcendent view of reason as the basis (Kant) or the view that morality is part of our nature (Hume, Darwin, etc.). Hume's empiricism. also for him, morality if
  • Austism argument: Bentham (utlitarianism), Kant (deontology) Think about the person who can push the fat guy.
  • Bentham told us to use arithmetic, Kant logic, to resolve moral problems. Note Bentham image and eccentric ideas. Baron-Cohen article on Bentham as having Asperger's Syndrome (part of the autism range). Kant also a solitary. Just saying. clarify point of analysis. not ad hominem. part of Enlightenment philosophy's rationalism -- a retreat from observation.
  • the x/y axis on page 117 shows a kind of "personality space" that could be used to locate Enlightenment rationalists. (Note that Haidt is looking at the psychology of the philosopher for clues about the type of theory they might have!)
  • Avoiding bad evolutionary theory or evolutionary psychology: "just so stories" -- range of virtues suggested "receptors", but for what? the virtue? some underlying response to a problem-type?
  • moral taste receptors found in history of long standing challenges and advantages of social life.
  • Modularity in evolutionary psychology, centers of focus, like perceptual vs. language systems. Sperber and Hirshfield: "snake detector" - note on deception/detection in biology/nature.
  • original vs. current triggers, 123
  • See chart, p. 125

MAR 29

Audio from class: [39] [40]

  • Form for updating your grading scheme for Q&R and PP1. [[41]]

excerpt from Sandel, "Rawls"

  • Nature of a contract
  • fairness of contract may dep. on circumstances of execution
  • expectations change with timeline and events (ex of lobsters)
  • Two main concepts underlying contracts:
  • autonomy
  • reciprocity
  • Consent and Benefits -- examples of fair/unfair contracts
  • baseball card trade example: among diff aged siblings -- notion of "bargaining endowment"
  • contractor fraud in the leaky toilet case -
  • Hume's home repairs -- no consent but still obligation
  • repair guy -- what if he fixed the car? would benefit alone confer obligation.
  • squeegee men -- potential for benefit to be imposed coercively
  • Point: Rawls veil of ignorance establishes theoretical equality of participants to contract. Contract could be fundamentally fair and guarantee autonomy and reciprocity
  • Point looking to the Singer chapter: "Constructing a contract" in the law involves a framework of norms and value commitments of the parties.

Singer, One World Now, Ch 3, "One Economy"

  • Background on GATT and WTO -- Seattle riots 1999, 40,000, surprise, ridicule, but range of critiques p.71.
  • 4 Charges against Economic Globalization
  • 1. Puts economic considerations ahead of other values
  • 2. Erodes state sovreignty
  • 3. Rich countries dominate
  • 4. Increases inequality
  • 1. Puts economic considerations ahead of other values
  • problem: How do you get people to avoid using other values as an excuse to protect their own industries? WTO uses a test of fairness: countries have to act consistently toward their own producers regarding the issue at stake. exmaple: tuna catch methods. Controvery over "process/product" rule. 79. If applied to human rights, for example, we couldn't restrict import of child labor products.
  • Singer, 83: 1. no reason to only care about the wildlife in your own country or whether a snuff film was made in one place or another. Moral concerns are less territory bound than we might think. But then what are the implications for just trade?
  • Sea turtle case. Court finally acknowledged legitimacy of tying trade avoidance of species extinction (sea turtles), but still disallowed claim. 2001 allowed in light of US efforts to reach multilateral agreement on shrimp harvest methods.
  • 2014 seal pup case. could also be seen as victory for values in trade.
  • 2. Erodes state sovereignty
  • WTO formally voluntary, but that doesn't settle the question. Hard to leave, presents itself as counterweight to internal interest groups.
  • AIDS case 2000, Cipro anthrax case. 2001 Agreement to update understanding on emergency medical relief - compulsory licensing.
  • goes into the politics of free trade, often unite left and right (cosmopolitan liberals and business minded conservatives), but note how we can use CFLAS to look at that.
  • Conclusion: States in the WTO do give up some sovreignty to participate in running the global economy.

  • 3. Rich countries dominate
  • significant evidence of problems, some efforts to address them. bring in concept of "bargaining endowment"
  • 4. Increases inequality
  • mixed evidence; cheap imports, especially commodities, can affect the poorest people in a country,
  • need to distinguish between two questions: inequality and welfare. background on absolute poverty 97-100. oligarchy
  • 101: new research on global inequality: Branko Milanovic study. follow. other measures of well being 102..
  • intermediate conclusion: global economy may be contributing to inequality in some ways, but not at expense of the poor. But wait! bottom 5% might still have been better off without global trade. More problems with inequality: makes it harder to reduce poverty, hampers growth, "regulatory capture"

  • How we might do better, according to Singer
  • free trade alone will not solve problem of "externalities". Race to the bottom. (Also seen within US in competition for corporate relos).
  • 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy. paradox: if developing country workers had protection and fair wages, they would be less competitive.
  • Problem of Complicity -- benefiting from stolen goods, case of Angola, blood oil, who has the right to sell resources of a country?
  • Problem of Legitimacy -- traditional assumption that legitimacy meant territorial control. Could use human rights.
  • Clean Trade -- in tradition of elimination of the slave trade.

Assessing Global Trade

  • One way to assess the prospects for a global economy is the way Singer has. How has it worked in practice, what are the challenges, benefits, limits?
  • Note that problems of complicity and legitimacy can work to favor of a more isolationist (nationalist) perspective.


Audio from class: [42]

Haidt, Chapter 7, "The Moral Foundations of Politics"

  • Homo economicus vs. Homo sapiens -- column a b -- shows costs of sapiens psych. commitments "taste buds"
  • Note on Innateness and Determinism: "first draft" metaphor; experience revises - pre-wired not hard-wired. innate without being universal
  • Notes on each foundation:
  • Care/Harm -- ev.story of asymmetry m/f (does this seem too gender deterministic?), attachment theory. current triggers.
  • Implicit theory about "re-triggering" note red flag. unexplained. Consider plausibility.
  • Fairness/Cheating -- We know we incur obligation when accepting favors. So,... Trivers and reciprocal altruism. "tit for tat" ; equality vs. proportionality. Original and current problem is to build coalitions (social networks) without being suckered (exploited).
  • Loyalty/Betrayal -- tribalism in story of Eagles/Rattlers. liberals experience low emphasis here. (also Zimbardo); note claim that this is gendered 139. sports groupishness is a current trigger. connected to capacity for violence. (Singer will echo this in next class reading on "Law")
  • Authority/Subversion -- Cab driver story. (Personal example in travel.) hierarchy in animal and human society; liberals experience this differently also; note cultural work accomplished by the "control role" -- suppression of violence that would occur without hierarchy. Alan Fiske's work on "Authority Ranking" -- suggest legit recognition of difference. Tendency to see UN and international agreements as vote dilution, loss of sov.
  • Sanctity/Degradation -- Miewes-Brandes horror. Mill's libertarianism might be evoked. ev.story: omnivores challenge is to spot foul food and disease (pathogens, parasites). (Being an omnivore is messy. One should not be surprised to find that vegetarians often appreciate the cleanliness of their diet.) Omnivores dilemma -- benefit from being able to eat wide range of foods, but need to distinguish risky from safe. neophilia and neophobia. Images of chastity in religion and public debate. understanding culture wars.
  • Random bumper sticker on a truck in downtown Spokane: Annoy a Liberal. Work. Succeed. Be happy.
  • Group Discussion: Critical Evaluation of Moral Foundations Theory as explanation of moral and political difference.
  • Take each of the moral foundations and try to find examples from your own experience (or others') that helps you identify your general place along the spectrum of each foundation (which is a mixed metaphor). For example, you might recall a reaction your had to something that showed your "trigger" for one of the foundations. Then try to explain to each other what accounts for the different places we occupy in each case. (You could check out political bumper stickers for fun and try to locate them among the moral foundations [43].)
  • Follow-up questions (after group work):
  • What is the status of our reports?
  • Is it odd that the picture of politics in H's theory is so different from our experience of it?


Audio from class: [44] [45]

The Moral Foundations of Social Conservatism and Nationalism (Trumpism)

  • Major demographics of current political scene: fate of non-STEM economy, rural working whites earning depressed, suicide epidemic in this demographic; US in foreign military interventions with bad or ambiguous outcomes.
  • The following is a pretty general "CFLAS" analysis of both traditional conservatism and more recently nationalist versions. Important not to assume that all conservatives or all nationalists believe everything below. Gov't generally perceived as potential source of harm to "private orderings".
  • Care/Harm: primary arena for promoting care is within family structure and private associations. Sceptical of collective movements to prevent group harms. In civil rights, a roll back on oversight of police departments. In social spending, opposition to collectivizing health care.
  • Fairness/Cheating: For conservatives, a more proportional than egalitarian way of looking at this. Gov't regulation unfair to elites (accomplished businessmen/women, who deserve more respect and authority for creating wealth, Gov't spending unfair redistribution to those often perceived as undeserving. In international arena, less willing to bear disproportionately the costs of promoting liberal democracy.
  • Loyalty/Betrayal: Differential success of workers in stem economy feels like betrayal. Multilateralism in international politics also. Promotion of interests of group found in bi-laterial agreements vs. multi-lateral.
  • Authority/Subversion: More plutocractic, more willing to allow powerful to be authoritative (plutocracy). Sensitivity to police over Black Lives Matter; perceives collective regulatory action as limitation of authority of elites. Protective of authority of military and executive branches over judiciary/legislative. Objection to sanctuary cities.
  • Sanctity/Degradation: Shift from sanctity of environment, to seeing (among racial isolationists) "impurity" in immigration, advocacy, for some, of white cultural identity vs. multiculturalism. Anti-abortion.
  • Random bumper sticker on a truck in downtown Spokane, seen just after election: Annoy a Liberal. Work. Succeed. Be happy.

Singer, One World Now, Ch 3, "One Law"

  • Issues addresses: genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, crimes against humanity. Cites biblical source authorizing genocide against the Midianites. Pretty typical for pre-ag humans. 125 detail This is the 1st reason.
  • Pinker hypothesis in Better Angels of Our Nature: violence down globally by every measure.
  • 2nd reason: groups don't need much of a cause to commit violence
  • 3rd reason: human historical tribal violence seems to fit with evolutionary predictions: kill the men, boys, and most of the women, capture the virgins.
  • Chimps have similar capacity for violence. Countervailing force: We're also good at making relationships (note relevant moral foundations). cites difficulty in getting European soldiers to kill each other.
  • Conclusion he draws: You need a bigger authority to create fear of punishment.
  • Rise of Inter'l Criminal Law
  • Nuremberg, 1984 Conventional Against Torture,
  • Problem of universal jurisdiction, history of cases 131: Eichmann, Hissene Habre, Pinochet
  • 2001 Princeton Principles on Universal Jurisdiction. - still, potential to politicize judicial process. structural problem.
  • better strategy might be international criminal courts. 1998 ICC. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Handled Milosevic case in the Hague, which is where ICC is. US relationship to the treaty. 136
  • 2006 Thomas Lubanga case, Congo. child soldiers, atrocities
  • From Judicial intervention after the fact to "responsibility to protect"
  • what is criterion for intervention (in the sovreignty of another country): "shock to the conscience" problems of subjectivity in both directions: false positives/negatives.
  • Kofi Anan: UN charter commits to standard of protection of civilians.141
  • work of ICISS commission to address this question, "responsibility to protect" accepted at 2005 UN Summit.
  • Invoked in Cote d'Ivoire election standoff with Laurnet Gbagbo. Libyan case 148.
  • Does a state need the UN Security council to approve intervention: Anan raised question hypothetically in relation to Rwanda.
  • Some limits to UN model under current charter. Obligated to respect state sovereignty. Reconciling intervention with charter depends upon any of three possibilities:
  • 1. Violating human rights is a threat to peace.
  • 2. Tyranny is a threat to peace.
  • 3. Sovereignty doesn't include committing crimes against the ruled.
  • 1. Violating human rights is a threat to peace.
  • Used in 91 Iraq, 90s Somalia, 04 Haiti 11 Libya
  • Singer is sympathetic to the consequentialist thinking behind this claim, but thinks it is a fiction and likely to be abused.
  • 2. Tyranny is a threat to peace.
  • Similar problem here. There are counterexamples ("democratic" states that still commit crimes against citizens), but general problem is same as 1. too broad a standard. No strong theory of link between democracy and peace.
  • 3. Sovereignty doesn't include committing crimes against the ruled.
  • best standard, supported by ICISS, tight connection to UN charter language.
  • Does democracy prevent genocide?
  • Rwanda moving toward democracy, but most cases not democratic states. 157
  • Does Military intervention cause more harm than good?
  • Good example might be Iraq, (650,000 dead) in which intervention created a political vacuum. A failed state. Also Libya.
  • Cultural Imperialism, Relativism and a Global Ethic
  • mistake to argue that all forms of intervention are imperialism. complete relativism doesn't make sense. Must be possibility of argument across cultures. Respecting a culture and critiquing it are compatible activities
  • right to intervene & duty to intervene.
  • UN reform: Security Council veteos dont' make sense anymore. Super majorities might.
  • problem with General Assembly. Represents states, not populations. 170

Group Discussion

  • Locate your views in relation to our discussion of both the moral appeal of isolationism and conservatism and Singer's advocacy of a form of world government. Keep track of questions and concerns that arise in the discussion. Report a summary of key group observations and insight using the Google group form.
  • Small Group Discussion Report

APR 10

Audio from class: [46] [47]

Group Discussion

  • Assessing our intutitions and principles in response to Syrian Chemical attack and US response.
  • Share you responses to last week's news in relation to our discussion of Singer's principle for justification of intervention. Do these events make you any more confident of Singer's analysis?

Haidt, Chapter 8: The Conservative Advantage

  • Hadit's critique of Dems: Dems offer sugar (Care) and salt (Fairness), conservatives appeal to all five receptors. Imagine the value of "rewriting" our own or opposing ideologies as Haidt imagined doing.
  • Republicans seemed to Haidt to understand moral psych better, not bec. they were fear mongering, but triggering moral foundations.
  • The MFQ: consistence across cultures; large n; tracks preferences in dogs, church (content analysis of different denominations sermons), brainwaves (dissonance, "fingerprint", first .5 seconds) see chart.-
  • 164: Haidt's beef with liberal researchers. Note ongoing work on bias in the academy. Liberals don't get the Durkheimian vision. But note range of responses excerpted.
  • Mill vs. Durkheim - note the abstraction involved in Millian Liberty -- just like the MFQ data for very liberal. (supports a range of positions including liberatarianism, just is considered a conservative position.)
  • More on Proportionality (which is 5-channel and Durkheimian)
  • 6th Moral foundation: liberty and oppression: taking the "fairness as equality" from Fairness and considering it in terms of Lib/Opp.
  • Evolutionary story about hierarchy, p. 170. original triggers: bullies and tyrants, current triggers: illegit. restraint on liberty. Evolutionary/Arch. story about emergence of pre-ag dominance strategies -- 500,000ya weapons for human conflict take off. Parallel in Chimps: revolutions "reverse dominance hierarchies" are possible. Claims that some societies make transition to some form of political egalitarianism (equality of citizenship or civic equality). Mentions possibility of gene/culture co-evolution (as in dairying). We've had time to select for people who can tolerate political equality and surrender violence to the state. (Note Oregon constitution change on dueling.) Timothy McVeigh (Sic
  • Tea Party (Santelli) is really talking about a conservative kind of fairness, which shares some features of the "reciprocal altruism", such as necessity of punishment. As seen in public goods games.
  • Public Goods games. Setup. 1.6 multiplier. Still, best strategy is not to contribute. altruistic punishment can be stimulated (84% do) even without immediate reward. cooperation increases.
  • Summary: Liberals have emphasize C, F, Lib while conservatives balance all six. Libs construe Fairness in more egalitarian ways and have diff emphasis for Liberty/Oppression.

APR 12

Audio from class: [48] [49]

Singer, Ch 5, "One Community"

  • Opening comparison: aid to victims of 9/11 vs. aid to prevent childhood death. [Problem of partiality vs. universality.]
  • Sidgewick's list: parents to children, grown children to parents, kin, those who render service, friends, intimates, neighbors coutnrymen, ... (race religion)..., humans.
  • Singer's point. limits to each of these forms of partiality. Some, like race, are now objectionable for many.
  • Universality "intuition pumps": Singer's pond (distance/comparative value), U1: {slavery, child pornography, crimes against humanity, torture, famine}.
  • Challenges: Godwin's burning building - save the chambermaid or Fenelon? Partiality to communities of
  • Finding "edges" and limits: Utopian experiments, cheating on Kibbtzum, psychology of commitment - much happiness depends on it, General Robert E. Lee,
  • Group discussion / individual notes:
  • Part One: In a general discussion, try to locate with each other some of the borderlines of your "partiality" in Sidgewicks' modified list. What would make you not invite a guest back? What sorts of conduct by a family member or partner would override your committment, your partiality? Are there limits to our capacity to show partiality through expenditure of resources (personal time or money)? How much money would you have to have at the end of your life not to leave it all to your family? Does sending your kids to private school trigger any concerns about commitment to civic group? Would you support a return to the "national origins formula" for immigration? Are you more concerned about negative social indicators in your home state vs. another part of the country? (Generate your own "intuition pump" questions to find some of the limits and borders of your partiality.)
  • Use the Tell Me form [50] to report your findings as a one paragraph response. using your real name. Report by Thursday midnight for 5 points.
  • Part Two: You've been hired by a very rich person who is deciding how to distribute her estate before she dies. She has one adult child who is a successful doctor with a family of her own. Otherwise, she lives in a typical American town. She has sought you out because she understands that you have been studying very up to date ethical theories and knowledge about moral psychology so she thinks you will have some insights about how to distribute her 100 million dollar estate across the following beneficiaries: her daughter, her hometown, her country, agencies working to alleviate absolute poverty. Identity the distribution you recommend.
  • Use the Tell Me form [51] now in class to report your numeric results anonymously
  • Universal moral values:
  • In addition to U1 (see above), what other universal values can you affirm (that is, values that are not, in principle, dependent upon partiality. In this sense "friendship" is not a universal value, but "good will" might be:
  • Candidates: Education, Intellectual Freedom, Rights, Personal Security, Health Care, Economic Opportunity, Impartiality in immigration [52],

Section 17 topics: health care, immigrants and refugees, euthanasia, ethical treatment of animals, sovreignty and right to protect.

Section 14 added ethical treatment of prisoners(including death penalty) and Climate change.

APR 19

Topic Workshop Day

  • Today's class is a discussion and research workshop. We'll look at some initial resources across all topics and then get into topic specific research and posting.

APR 24

Audio from class: [53] [54]

Haidt, Chapter 9, "Why Are We so Groupish?"

  • Part III: wants to complete the picture: sure we're selfish (or pursure enlightened self-interest), but we're also groupish.
  • track meanings of terms: selfish, enlightened self-interest, groupish - mental mechanisms for each
  • Slogan for part three: morality binds and blinds.
  • Major Theoretical Claim: Multi-level selection, which Darwin originally proposed, is the right theoretical approach for explaining groupishness. Note that we do need an explanation. It's not that altruism can't come from selfishness, but how?
  • Darwin quote: 192. Multi-level selection -- can be thought of as a measure of selection pressure for genes and gene expression that can influence selection at different levels.
  • Example: suicide -- bad for individual fitness, but could be good for group. seen in bees where all selection is group. Groups that can suppress selfishness tip the balance toward group fitness. Your best individual strategy becomes "being good".
  • Revisit the connection between concern about appearing good and being good: reputation functions in both ways. Memory and gossip matter.
  • Background to theory of multi-level selection:
  • Williams, 1966, Adaptation and Natural Selection.
  • favored lower level structures to explain selection. "fast herd is just a herd of fast deer, individuals."
  • altruism reduces to self-interest. Also Dawkins, 76, Selfish Gene. Williams quote on morality 198. Veneer theory!
  • Evidence for a group selection (multi-level selection) view of morality.
  • Exhibit A: Major transitions in organism structure involving wholes. From "eukaryotes" to "eusocials"
  • From biology: cell structure with non-competition among parts. single celled eukaryotes, add a few hundred million years -- multi-cellular organisms. The emergence of a super organism occurs when organisms connect their survival.
  • example of wasp cooperation: hymenoptera divide reproduction labor from maintenance of "hive".
  • "the genes that got to ride around in a colony crushed the genes that "couldn't get it together" and rode around in selfish and solitary insects" (note: a groupish trait can spread among individuals and outcompete non-groupish individuals)
  • Eusociality -- the human story (as opposed to the eusociality of ants, bees, and wasps) - conditions for human eusociality also include "keeping a nest" or camp, sharing access to food. (Note recent books like "Catching Fire". Note how basic divisions of labor over food is in our evolved psychology. Even yuppie dudes grill.). Nests, needy off-spring, threats from neighbors.
  • Exhibit B: Shared Intentionality
  • Chimps vs. Us -- shared intentionality. Tomasello quote: you'll never see two chimps carrying a log. chimps and two year olds.
  • two ways to hunt
  • thesis: we crossed the rubicon when we achieved shared intentionality "when everyone in a group began to share a common understanding of how things were supposed to be done, and then felt a flash of negativity when any individual violated those expectations, the first moral matrix was born." 206. (also Tomasello's view). "joint representation of the world"
  • [Take a moment to notice how this locates a "modern metaphysics of morals" in the culture space opened by evolution. Morality is a creation of cultural creatures who imagine something like a "moral community". How might this reposition political discussion?]
  • Exhibit C: Gene-culture co-evolution - culture as an independent factor in creating selection pressure.
  • Learning, accumulation, (mention The Great Sea)
  • Homo habilis' big brains, then 2.4 million years of them. 5-7 millions years ago we parted company with Chimps and bonobos, but there is evidence of many dozens of hominid species 5-15 million years ago.
  • Achueulean tool kit. significance: lack of variation suggests cognitive adaptation
  • Hunting with spears - Homo Heidelbergensis: 600-700K "the rubicon" - sophisticated spears, shared hunting, campsite.
  • Lactose intolerance - textbook case of gene-culture co-evolution
  • prototribalism -- heightened attention to social instints, allows us to expland social discrimination markers and stratify society through culture.
  • we engage in "self-domestication" (Pinker's "end of violence" thesis might fit here.)
  • Exhibit D: Speed of evolution
  • controversy over speed of selection, or even whether selection is still occuring in last 40-50,000 years.: Gould (great biologist, but skeptic of MLS) vs. recent evidence of acceleration
  • breeding foxes (mention dogs social cognition)
  • group selected hens.
  • evidence from analysis of Human Genome Project: genetic change is measureable and has increased over the last 50,000 years. We're on a fast ride.
  • past "die offs" -- What predicts success after a die off?
  • concluding point about competition vs. war. competition is also over energy capture

APR 26

Audio from class: [55] [56]

Haidt, Ch 10, "The Hive Switch"

  • Humans are "conditional" hive creatures; satisfy the conditional and you flip the switch.
  • Muscular bonding: examples? rowing, dance teams, cheer, serpentine, retreat rituals...
  • Hive switch in celebration and dance: cultures which repress dance.
  • Durkheim's social sentiments, which bind us to our group, "collective effervescence"; sacred / profane; for evaluation. Do we go wrong by not nurturing this? Or is it an outdated sort of virtue?
  • Awe in nature: Emerson's transparent eyeball experience. (suppression of ego, even in solitude -- beautiful and the sublime) - (especially in religious experience?)
  • Entheogens - in history of religion; contemporary versions. Maslow studies in 60s. bonding in adolescent social groups.
  • Oxytocin - note studies: effect on bonding and trust, but not with outgroups. Mixed evidence with Dutch men. generally about bonding rather than exclusion, but can stimulate some out group behaviors. (research ambiguous.)(Paul Zac, The Love Molecule wedding story.)
  • Mirror Neurons - in humans hooked more into emotional and goal oriented systems. recognizing intentions. (good for short research paper. some skepticism about theorizing from mirror neurons.) Tania Singer study -- less empathy for selfish players.
  • Economic hives: corporations and cartels.
  • Leadership studies - transactional vs. transformational. (How do you want to live and work? Does belonging matter?) notes from working at a mission-centered non-profit. the magic of 150. building inter-group unity without stimulating out-group negative judgements.
  • Political Hives: might think of hive switch as same phenomenon as fascism. But not all calls for "binding" (fascia, fascist) involve the hive. Hive switch is about dissolving individuality, but also social hierarchy. (Ehrenreich claims fascism was essentially hierarchical, elevating the leader to a cult figure.) Also, hives embody social capital.
  • Evaluating the Hive Switch
  • examples in your experience.
  • anthropological value of the hive.
  • dangers of the hive -- loss of critical distance, over-trusting. communal thinking. turns over a lot to the elephant.


Audio from class: [57] [58]

Haidt, Chapter 11, "Religion is a Team Sport"

  • Sports at UVA: Durkheim would call it creation of community, as in religious ritual.
  • Main thesis about all forms of collective bonding, including religion:
  • Wants to focus on the sociological value of religion as a way of binding people together, but also to acknowledge to possibility that the effect of the groupishness is to blind us.
  • Thinks people misunderstand religions by focusing on assessing the truth of their beliefs.
  • Examples include the "New Atheists" -- Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens
  • "Trying to understand the persistence and passion of religion by studying beliefs about God is like trying to understand the passion of college football by watching the movement of the ball. " 250
  • Belief/Doing vs. Belief/Belonging/Doing
  • new atheist arguments/explanations: religion as the "peacock" of culture; psychology of our capacity for religion (hypersensitive agency detection, shared intentionality). Haidt agrees with psychological account, but criticizes new atheists for not considering evolutionary value of religion and group selection pressure it might have created. Pressures which stabilize values in communities, for example.
  • Haidt's (and others; Scot Atran, Richerson & Boyd, Sosis. (mention sosis public goods game research)..) more religion friendly account: religions make cohesive groups. but this implies that religions evolve as well. Digression on "Disarmament of God"...
  • Notice the messages of the gods of different cultures from hunter-gathers to agriculturalists. Old/New testament.
  • Contemporary research: Sosis study of 19th US communes. Interesting point on effect of costly sacrifice in sacred vs. secular communities. 6 of secular survive, 39 of the religious communities.
  • major problem religions address: cooperation without kinship.
  • Note: Atran's thesis doesn't require an evolved "religion module"; just the capacities for cultural transmission of religion. Religion might be more accurately and positively seen as a product of cultural selection that promotes cooperation.
  • More detail: David Sloan Wilson on Balinese water temples, Calvinism, and Judaism. metaphorical connection bt gods and maypoles. (Note contemporary research on religion and well-being)
  • Wade: group value of early religion: group level adaptations for producing cohesiveness.
  • Critical Problem: Religion and violence
  • Religion makes us parochial altruists
  • research on religious: 265ff religious people give lots of money and time, but most of it benefits their own group. the more religious you are the more generous you are across the board.

266: trust affected by religious identity (Mention adoption thought experiment.) religions, trust and trade....

  • interestingly: beliefs and dogmas didn't correlation with generous behavior, only community experience. Moral benefits of religion determined by "how enmeshed people were in relationships with their co-religionists."
  • Definitions of Morality
  • Durkheim: 270
  • H's: all of the ways we suppress self-interest and promote cooperation. functional def vs. "About" Acknowledges that his definition is descriptive rather than normative. (Needs another layer.)

Small Group Discussion

  • Assuming Haidt's viewpoint about the positive value of religion, what adaptive challenges are religions facing today? How should they meet those challenges
  • Heterogeneity of modern society
  • Religion and rights - consider challenges to traditional religions on civil and human rights.
  • Religion and political life.
  • Speculative topic: What will the next evolution of religion produce?


Audio from class: [59] [60]

Haidt, Ch 12, "Can't We All Disagree More Constructively?"

  • evidence of polarization in American politics; changes in political culture. compromise less valued.
  • theory of ideologies, which might be thought to drive political identity formation
  • "right" and "left", simplifications, but basis of study and comparative to Europe in some ways, historical origins in French Assembly of 1789, basis in heritable traits - twins studies. L/R don't map wealth exclusively (as in recent election). (Ideologies appear to be more fluid now.)
  • One more time through the modern genetic/epigenetic/phenotype explanation pattern (note what's at stake: if you misunderstand the determiinism here, you'll misunderstand the whole theory):
  • 1: Genes make brains - Australian study: diff responses to new experiences: threat and fear for conservative, dopamine for liberal. (recall first draft metaphor)
  • 2: Dispositional traits lead to different experiences, which lead to "characteristic adaptations" (story about how we differentiate ourselves through our first person experience. mention feedback loops). (Lots of parents would corroborate this.) Does the story of the twins seem plausible?
  • 3: Life narratives; McAdams study using Moral Foundations Theory to analyze narratives, found MFs in stories people tell about religious experience. Thesis: different paths to religious faith. We "map" our moral foundations onto our faith commitment to some extent.
  • So, an ideology can be thought of as the political version of a narrative that fits with a personal narrative you tell about your experience.
  • Political narratives of Republicans and Democrats.
  • Haidt, Graham, and Nosek study: Liberals worse at predicting conservatives responses. Interesting point: the distortion of seeing things as a liberal makes liberals more likely to believe that conservatives really don't care about harm. But conservatives may be better at understanding (predicting) liberal responses because they use all of the foundations.
  • Muller on difference bt conservative and orthodox. Post-enlightenment conservatives: want to critique liberalism from Enlightenment premise of promoting human well being. follow conservative description of human nature. 290. - humans imperfect, need accountability, reasoning has flaws so we might do well to give weight to past experience, institutions are social facts that need to be respected, even sacralized. (Consider countries in which judges are abducted or blown up.)
  • Moral and Social Capital -- moral capital: resources that sustain a moral community (including those that promote accountability and authority.). moral capital not always straightforward good (293), also, less trusting places, like cities, can be more interesting. Social capital more about the ties we have through our social networks which maintain trust and cooperation relationships.
  • Liberals
  • blindspot: not valuing moral capital, social capital, tends to over reach, change too many things too quickly. Bertrand Russell: tension between ossification and dissolution..
  • strength: 1) regulating super-organisms (mention theory of "regulatory capture"); 2)solving soluble problems (getting the lead out - might have had big effect on well-being. note this was a bipartisan push back against a Reagan reversal of Carter's policy).
  • Libertarians. Today's political libertarian started out as a "classic liberal" prioritizing limited gov/church influence.
  • Note research suggesting how libertarians diverge from liberals and conservatives on the MFs.
  • libertarian wisdom: 1) markets are powerful -- track details -- often self-organizing, self-policing, entrepreneurial)
  • Social Conservatives
  • wisdom: understanding threats to social capital (can't help bees if you destroy the hive)
  • Putnam's research on diversity and social capital : bridging and bonding capital both decline with diversity. sometimes well intentioned efforts to promote ethnic identity and respect can exacerbate this.
  • Group Discussion: Shifting from the focus on national political differences, what strategies can we develop on an interpersonal level to reduce political polarization and re-orient political engagement to account for the research we have been studying all semester?


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MAY 10

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