Fall 2018 Ethics Course Lecture Notes

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Contents

SEP 17: 1

  • Introduction to the Course
  • Welcome
  • About the Course
  • Succeeding in the Course
  • Course Management

SEP 18: 2

GIF Fall 2018 Everyday Value Differences in Italian Culture

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 cultural studies. 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?

SEP 20: 3

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

  • Some initial points:
  • Ethics not just about sexual morality
  • Ethics not an "ideal" that can't be put into practice
  • Ethics is not based on 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:
  • Version 1: 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)
  • Version 2: Marxist relativism (and similar critiques) 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. Focus for Singer and many philosophers is that Ethics is the attempt and practice to justify our behaviors and expectations of others The focus falls on reason-giving and argumentation.
  • 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".

SEP 24: 4

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?

Haidt, Chapter 1,"The Divided Self"

  • Notice how Haidt's approach shifts the focus from "What is reason like and what role does it play in morality?" to "What is a human brain like and what might that tells us about what morality might be like?"
  • opening story
  • Animals in Plato's metaphor for soul; contemporary metaphors. metaphors for mind/emotion, but also to explain "weakness of the will" What does weakness of the will feel like? H: Just thinking about reason as information processing doesn't help. Older metaphors sort of work better.
  • 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. We don't just think with our brains. Embodied cognition, embedded cognition, extended cognition. (Fit Ariely and Zimbardo phenomena.)
  • Left vs. Right -- confabulation - Mind as confederation of modules. (No single chariotter.)
  • 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. The old brain is still with us.
  • 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. Does morality only live in controlled processes? Is that plausible?
  • Failures of Self-control [[1]]
  • Haidt's "disgust" stories.

SEP 25: 5

Haidt, The Righteous Mind, Intro and Chapter 1

  • Intro
  • Note: starts with problem of "getting along" -- problem of ethics is settling conflict (recall contrast with more traditional goal of finding a method or theory to discover moral truth).
  • The "righteous" minds is at once moral and judgemental. They make possible group cooperation, tribes, nations, and societies.
  • Majors claims of each section
  • Intuitions come first, reasoning second. The mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider's job is to serve the elephant.
  • There's more to morality than harm and fairness
  • Morality binds and blinds -- We are 90 percent chimp, 10% bee.
  • 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 understanding the world in the way we consider "rational" (folk physics, folk psychology). (This was supposed to move us beyond nature and nurture, but it took a bit longer. -MA)
  • Piaget's rationalism: kids figure things out for themselves if they have normal brains and the right experiences. stages: example of conservation of volume of water (6) "self-constructed" - alt to nature/nurture. 7: We grow into our rationality like caterpillars into butterflies.
  • Kohlberg's "Heinz story" - pre-conventional, conventional, post-conventional.
  • note problems, p. 9. seems to support a liberal secular world view. Egalitarianism, role playing, disinterestedness.... Is it obvious or suspicious that that's what rationalism leads to? Haidt suspects something's been left out.
  • Turiel: note different method. Probing to find contingencies in kids' thinking about rules. kids don't treat all moral rules the same: very young kids distinguish "harms" from "social conventions". Harm is "first on the scene" in the dev. of our moral foundations. (Note: Still following the idea that moral development is a universal, culturally neutral process.) (Note on method: we have, in Turiel's research, a discovery of an unsupported assumption.)
  • Haidt's puzzle about Turiel: other dimensions of moral experience, like "purity" and "pollution" seem operative at young ages and deep in culture (witches -- how do human minds create witches in similar ways in different places?). 11-13 examples. Found answers in Schweder's work.
  • In what ways is the concept of the self culturally variable?
  • Schweder: sociocentric vs. individualistic cultures. Interview subjects in sociocentric societies don't make the moral/conventional distinction the same way we (westerns) do. (Schweder is "saying" to Kohlberg and Turiel: your model is culturally specific.) For example in the comparison of moral violations between Indians from Orissa and Americans from Chicago, it is important that these groups don't make the convention/harm distinction Turiel's theory would predict. That's a distinction individualist cultures make.
  • 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? Tell story of dinner out with a vegan friend.)

SEP 27: 6

OCT 1: 7

Some structure for locating philosophical ethics theories

  • Intentions (Kantian), Act (Aristotle), Consequences (Mill, Singer - utilitarian)

Hinman (exerpt), Ethics, C 9

  • Basic elements of Aristotle's thinking on ethics:
  • Centrality of concept of flourishing, "well-being"; eudaimonistic ethics; character ethics
  • Connection between "function" and "flourishing" - virtue involves the excellences appropriate to our nature and function. (We're not trying to be excellent pigs, we're trying to excellent human beings.)
  • The exercise of virtue is a holistic commitment of thought and emotion; an habituation to a high standard of conduct.
  • Assessements, p. 275
  • The Structure of Virtues
  • Four features of a virtue: habit or disposition involving feeling and action seeking the mean of emotion relative to us. (Note my phrasing emphasizes emotional regulation.) -note glosses on p. 278.
  • Virtues and typical human challenges ("spheres of existence") -- note examples, p. 279
  • Courage
  • Follow the discussion. Note how courage can be thought of as a response to our own fears or objective dangers. In both cases, virtue involve bringing reason to bear on the challenges that fear poses to living a good life.
  • Some tough cases -- extreme risk environments,


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.

OCT 2: 8

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

  • Note the reference to "The Divided Mind" at the start -- back to akrasia --
  • Philosophy's "rationalist delusion" ex. from Timaeus. but also in rationalist psych. -- Maybe humans were once perfect..........
  • 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. nativism gets a bad name...
  • 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 (quick small group: practice your "study reporting skills in reviewing briefly these findings. Be sure to include significance.)
  • Damasio's research on vmPFC disabled patients.
  • 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" (Hard for traditional philosophers to do.)
  • 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.

Some Questions to consider

  • What does Akrasia look like in light of our reading so far?
  • What are the challenges of being virtuous or finding good ethical solutions if ethics is more like Haidt is describing it?

OCT 4: 9

Some starters

  • The Trolley Problem

Sandel, Utilitarianism

  • This is a traditional approach to presenting Utilitarianism. We'll be able to see the theory from this, because Sandel very clear about that, as well as contrasting the concerns of a traditional vs. contemporary metaethics. (Try to track this.)
  • life boat case: They eat Parker - 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.

OCT 8: 10

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%. Some current data
  • 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 libertarian thinking in solving a moral problem and three examples of situations in which you would NOT want someone to follow libertarian thinking. What core moral intuitions, stated as a claim, does this theory align with?

OCT 9: 11

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 [4]
  • 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?


OCT 11: 12

Short Writing Exercise: 400 words

  • By midnight Monday, October 15, 2018, please write a 400 word maximum answer to the following questions:
  • Choose one of the philosophical ethics theories we have been studying (virtue ethics, utilitarianism, or libertarianism) and, after explicating its main principles and rationales, briefly explain its strengths and limits using examples. This should take about 200 words. Then answer this question in the second half of your answer: What does it tell us about the nature of ethics if specific ethical theories do not work for all situations? Feel free to draw on your emerging understanding of moral psychology to answer this question.
  • Advice on collaboration and plagiarism: Feel free to discuss this question with classmates, including verbal discussion of particular resources (notes and references to readings) for answering it. To avoid plagiarism, choose your own examples and do not share outlines or drafts of your answer.
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
  1. Do not put your real name or saint name in the file or filename. You may put your student id number in the file.
  2. Put your word count in the file.
  3. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point normal font.
  4. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "SW1". (So, all files should be saved as "SW1.docx".)
  5. Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the Q&W dropbox.

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: [5]

OCT 15: 13

Symposium on Rich and Poor

  • Today we will focus on the paper and you will have an opportunity to work out some of your views with different groups of students in the class. In addition to working in the small group you are accustomed to, you will switch once or twice to engage different groups of students in the class. Sort of like philosophical speed dating.

Critical Analysis #1 Topic Assignment

What, if any, obligations do we have to alleviate absolute poverty outside of the United States and how should we meet them? In assessing this questions consider both the empirical standards (what are the goals of the aid) and the theoretical basis of any obligation you advocate. Be sure to explain you views and why you do not hold justified alternative views.
  • Write a 3-4 page (typed, double spaced) paper on this topic drawing on course reading and discussion as well as your own reading about background knowledge. Successful papers attempt to take a broad view of the problem, incorporate relevant information and argumentation, and consider opposing thought.
  • Some advice about your papers.
In the broadest sense, ethical persuasive writing promotes a social or individual agenda based on claims about what is good for humans in a particular place and time. Good persuasive writing does, by definition, attempt to persuade an audience of something, but don't assume this only involves talking to the rider. Empathetic consideration of opposing views is something to aspire to. Provide arguments, but also try to engage the emotions of the reader with examples and considerations the extend the arguments into our emotional life.
  • Due Dates
  • Final Draft of paper due, October 22 11:59pm
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
  1. Do not put your name in the file or filename. You may put your student id number in the file.
  2. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point normal font. Add page numbers.
  3. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "CA1final".
  4. Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the Critical Analysis 1 dropbox.

OCT 16: 14

Primate family tree.gif

de Waal, p. 5-21

  • Thesis: No asocial history to humans. And note: unequal in competition for status.
  • note critical comments on rationalist psychology 6. Recall Haidt's similar account of rationalism in psychology and philosophy.
  • 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".
  • 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. (Note that you'd have trouble with this if you thought our nature had to be "essential" or found in one trait.)
  • 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.

OCT 18: 15

2nd Wave of Immigration Research

  • Today we'll review and discuss the second wave of research on immigration. Team B should post their research on the 2nd wave wiki page.

OCT 22: 16

  • No formal class, but I will be in class for paper consultations.

OCT 23: 17

  • Bring up Repligate issue.

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 Project Implicit
  • 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
  • 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...

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.

OCT 25: 18

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". (Recent research on empathy -- Sapolsky)
  • 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 to fully taking another's place (mental state attribution).
  • Interesting difference between monkey and ape moms. p. 40.
  • PAM - Perception - Action Mechanism - perception and action share cognitive representations. seeing disgust is like being disgusted, facile muscles mimic others. (note Sapolky's research analysis.)
  • 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.

OCT 29: 19

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

Note: 1/2 of this chapter will be discussed on Tuesday

  • 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.
  • Section 1: Obsessed with polls
  • Leary's research on self-esteem importance- "sociometer" -- non-conscious level mostly.
  • Section 2: Confirmation bias and exploratory thought
  • Confirmation bias
  • Wasson again -- number series
  • Deann Kuhn -- 80: We are horrible at theorizing (requiring exploratory thought)....
  • David Perkins research on reason giving
  • Small Group discussion:
  • We all have examples from social life of people who are more or less interested in exploratory thought and holding themselves accountable to external information and "their side" arguments.
  • Share examples of the verbal and non-verbal behaviours of people who are not very good at exploratory thought and inviting diversity of viewpoint in social settings (other people, of course).
  • Then, try to consider or recall the behaviours of people who do the opposite. What are some verbal or other behaviours that you can use to indicate to others' that you are open to having your views examined? What have you noticed about the practices of people who are good at generating viewpoint diversity in social setting?
  • We will cover the second part of the chapter in the next class session.......
  • more examples of people behaving as Glaucon would have predicted. Members of parliment, Ariely, Predictably Irrational,
  • more evidence of reason in the service of desire: Can I believe it? vs. Must I believe it? We keep two different standards for belief-assent.
  • "motivated reasoning" - 84ff.
  • Section 5: Application to political beliefs:
  • Does selfish interest or group affiliation predict policy preferences? Not so much. We are groupish.
  • Drew Westen's fMRI research on strongly partisan individuals. We feel threat to dissonant information (like hypocrisy or lying) about our preferred leader, but no threat, or even pleasure, at the problems for the opponent. the partisan brain. Difference in brain activation did not seem to be rational/cog (dlPFC). bit of dopamine after threat passes.
  • Research suggests that ethicists are not more ethical than others. (89 Schwitzgebel)
  • Mercier and Sperber. Why Do Humans Reason?
  • 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

OCT 30: 20

  • Note: Second part of Haidt, Chapter 4 will be discussed today

de Waal, Morally Evolved, Part 3

  • Reciprocity and Fairness
  • chimps and capucin monkeys among few primates (ok, let's include humans) that share.
  • Chimp gratitude and reciprocity - grooming/food sharing
  • 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.
  • Monkey Fairness as 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" Ethics as a kind of cultivation of the heart and pro-social emotions. Note, reason comes after in this tradition.
  • Community Concern: evolution in human thought to expand circle of moral concern. Claims it was a big step in moral evolution (or new capacities from bigger brains) to show general concern for a group.
  • 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 - the mistake of thinking that "since natural selection is a cruel and pitiless process of elimination, it can only have produced cruel and pitiless creatures.

NOV 5: 21

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. (evaluate) Ethics news about older criticism of Jane Goodall
  • treating as ends/means. What could it mean to treat someone as an "end in themselves"? (Short digression on Kant -- the language of persons/bodies, treating others as persons, as sources of their own life planning.) (How much of this language is captured by social status?)
  • 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.
"Is the capuchin "protesting the unfairness" or "angling for a grape"?" -- (Note that you can ask a similar question about humans.)
  • 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"
  • 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...

NOV 6: 22

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 and at 142 note the use of philosophical method to distinguish de Waal's thesis.
  • 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.
  • 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 "...the evolutionary advantages reason conferes are not specifically social."
  • 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.

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.

NOV 8: 23

Italian and American Tax Brackets

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
  • Kantian and Millian ethical thought is rationalist, rule based, and universalist. Just the ethical theory you would expect from the culture.
  • 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). Confusing at first, but notice that he started to like his hosts (elephant) and then started to think about how their values might work. 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). Not just harm, but types of moral disgust.
  • 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:
  • Identify some of the key influences on your morality, especially from religious, regional, and family culture. Have you had any experiences similar to Haidt's in which you become aware of a moral culture that at first confused you, but then showed you something about your own moral culture?
  • Does Haidt's matrix metaphor makes sense? What does it mean? What hope will we have of having "critical" ethical discussions if very contingent differences of culture are part of the fabric of our morality?

NOV 12: 24

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

  • 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.
  • Enlightenment approaches, again: argument against the reductive project of philosophical ethics 113-114. ethics more like taste than science.
  • 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 is like taste
  • Autism 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. The "moral foundations" in Haidt's theory just are the evolved psychological centers of evaluation that make up moral consciousness for humans.
  • Modularity in evolutionary psychology, centers of focus, like perceptual vs. language systems. Sperber and Hirshfield: "snake detector" - note on deception/detection in biology/nature. responses to red, Hyperactive agency detection.
  • original vs. current triggers, 123
  • See chart, p. 125: C F L A S: Care/Harm, Fairness/Cheating, Loyalty/Betrayal, Authority/Subversion, Sanctity/Degradation

NOV 13: 25

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. 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 [6].)
  • 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?

NOV 15: 26

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.

NOV 26: 27

Immigration Ethics Paper Topic

  • Immigration Ethics Paper Topic: What values and principles should we have in mind as we consider how to regulate immigration into a country's borders? The values and principles you identify should be specific to the immigration issue, but you should also provide a rational basis (answer the question, "Why these values and principles?") by reference to more fundamental moral values and considerations. To do this you may draw on traditional moral theories as well as lessons you have drawn from moral psychology. You should illustrate your view using knowledge you have about immigration, especially knowledge drawn from our research pages. Your view should be accountable to this research knowledge. It is not your task in this paper to present a plan for solving the immigration problem, whether in Europe, Italy, or the US.
  • Advice on collaboration and plagiarism: Feel free to discuss this question with classmates, including verbal discussion of particular resources (notes and references to readings) for answering it. To avoid plagiarism, choose your own examples and do not share outlines or drafts of your answer.
  • Citing material from Rough Drafts: Because we are using a rough draft process, the rough drafts could potentially influence your final draft. You may cite material from rough drafts as a source by using the animal name and title (if provided) of the paper you were influenced by. As with other citations, try to add some of your own thought to support your agreement or use of the material cited if appropriate.
  • Summary of Due Dates
  • 11/26: Assigned
  • 12/3: Due Date for Optional Peer Review
  • 12/7: Due Date for Completing Peer Reviews (Only for those who opted in.)
  • 12/10: Final Paper Due -- Begin Peer Assessment (Mandatory to assess and comment on four papers)
  • 12/15: Peer Assessments due
  • 12/19: Back Evaluations due
  • Optional Peer Review: Due 12/3: You may submit a rough draft for peer review to the "Critical Analysis 2 - Rough Draft Peer Review" dropbox. Follow the general instructions below, but save your paper as "CA2RD".
  • If you opted in on the rough draft peer review, please review 4 other rough drafts from your section using the following Google form: [7]. The papers will be in our shared folder. Do not comment directly on the document in the shared folder as this will compromise your anonymity.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, find your animal name in the email I sent you and review the next four (4) animals' work on your topic.
  • Final Paper Due and Peer Review and Assessment Process: Your final paper is due on 12/10. This is also the beginning of the peer review and assessment phase of the assignment.
  • By 12/15 please review and assess 4 papers using the following Google form: [8]. The papers will be in our shared folder. Do not comment directly on the document in the shared folder as this will compromise your anonymity.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, find your animal name in the email I sent you and review the next four (4) animals' work.
  • Back Evaluation Stage: Due 12/19:
  • After you review the peer comments and edits you received, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [9]. Fill out the form for each reviewer.
  • Continue to revise your papers for the final paper deadline. Upload your final draft to the Critical Analysis Paper 1 dropbox.
  • General Instructions for submitting papers in this assignment
  • Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
  1. Do not put your real name or saint name in the file or filename. You may put your student id number in the file.
  2. Put your word count in the file.
  3. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point normal font.
  4. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "CA2". (So, all files should be saved as "CA2.docx".)
  5. Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the Critical Analysis 2 dropbox.

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. Point: global terrorism has weakened national sov.
  • 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.

NOV 27: 28

Note: These notes cover our work for today and Thursday

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

  • Issues addressed: genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, crimes against humanity. Cites biblical source authorizing genocide against the Midianites. Pretty typical for pre-ag humans.
  • Reasons for thinking it will take more to stop these problems that national resources.
  • 1st reason: religious genocide.
  • 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. In case of the Midianites, sexual relations were enough to trigger genocidal 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. (Our evo psych may lead us to perceive out groups as a threat to our genetic survival. Genocides have a genetic dimension.)
  • 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. This was the basis of the opinion of the lone dissenter in the Princeton process. Structural problem. (Note: Universal jurisdiction by itself confers a unilateral right.)
  • 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. 60 nations signed up. US relationship to the treaty. read 136 (Note: This is a multi-lateral approach.)
  • 2006 Thomas Lubanga case, Dem. Rep. of Congo. First person arrested under ICC. child soldiers, atrocities
  • From Humanitarian 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. Critical of Walzer's defense of state sovereignty.
  • Kofi Anan: UN charter commits to standard of protection of civilians.141 - definitions of genocide and crimes against humanity (142).
  • Following the Rwanda genocide, work of ICISS commission to address this question, "responsibility to protect" accepted at 2005 UN Summit. Sec. Gen makes annual reports. Seems to be normalizing. (Note how the principles for this responsibility could be applied to migrating populations! p. 146)
  • Invoked in Cote d'Ivoire election standoff with Laurnet Gbagbo. Libyan case 148.

:*Break here.


  • State sovereignty, UN, and responsibility to protect
  • 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. Overthrow of Haitian president not really a threat to international peace.
  • 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 don't make sense anymore. Super majorities might.
  • problem with General Assembly. Represents states, not populations. 170

Small Group Discussion

  • Evaluate Singer’s views from this chapter. In particular, what forms of intervention, if any, do you favor in the case of the recent chemical attacks on civilians in Syria? Try to consider both what we should do given our current circumstances and institutions, as well as what direction the world should move in addressing these problems.

NOV 29: 29

DEC 3: 30

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.

DEC 4: 31

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" and what it means to flourish in it. 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) (note recent NYRB review article with one book devoted to this experiment)
  • group selected hens.
  • evidence from analysis of Human Genome Project: genetic change is measurable 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

DEC 6: 32

DEC 10: 33

DEC 11: 34

DEC 13: 35