JAN 25

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5: JAN 25


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

In-class topics

  • Second look: What does the prisoners' dilemma show about the problem of reciprocal altruism and the emergence of cooperation?
  • Rubric training -- Review and discuss four TriageEthics writings.

Second look: What does the prisoners' dilemma show us about the problem of reciprocal altruism and the emergence of cooperation?

  • Reciprocal altruism emerges in our species when we use our big brains to decide when it is rational to incur a fitness cost to help others in expectation of a fitness benefit from their future cooperation. It is rational for us to try to optimize our fitness by benefiting from cooperative relationships. The big questions here is: When and with whom should I cooperate?
  • In the Prisoner's Dilemma, there is a discrepancy between the "rational" outcome (defect, rat the other guy out) and the optimal outcome (both stay quiet). The discrepancy is caused by uncertainty about the other person's behavior. Will they cooperate? Will they make me a "sucker"?
  • Resolving this uncertainty is an ethical problem (a problem that can be addressed by values). Values like promising, sincerity, reputation, accountability, punishment (talking stink about defectors) are all means by which we try to realize the benefits of cooperation.

Looking at good writing: Debrief on your triage ethics writing

Assignment Rubric
  • I marked the first three submissions in each section to start you on your rubric learning. At this point, I just picked a few things to point out.
2. A red "/" or "//" indicates writing that isn't "flowing" or has paragraph organization issues. Paragraph organization is one way that you communicate your "strategy" for explicating your views. You can also do this "semantically" by what you say in a lead sentence. More in class.
3. Blue text is writing that flows well.
  • Some suggestions. Look for some of these issues in the writing you browse:
  • 1. Try to eliminate unnecessary references to you or the writing itself. "I think I believe..." Just believe. or, The approach I will take to this essay..." Just take it.
  • 2. Find a logical path for the writing. There are usually several starting points for explicating something, but each one poses a challenge: What needs to be said next? The "order of explication" should not appear random. Flow and Organization are still challenges for upper division college students. Just work on it.
  • 4. Content issue: How many reasons and counter-arguments do you find. One reason and one counter-argument is a bit thin for 250 words.
  • Good writing --
  • In almost all good writing of the types we are doing (explication, presentation of a viewpoint, arguments and rationales for a position) a successful writer will be able to say not only what view they came to but also how they decided to present it, and, in argumentative writing, why they find their view persuasive.
  • Usually, you find your strategy by "getting outside of your head" and thinking about what your dear reader might be going through as they both anticipate and follow your writing.
  • Small group suggestions: Start out looking at the some of the pieces in the other section than yours. Browse my mark up of writing in in the first few. After you've done the next three, we'll get into groups so you can compare your impressions. Share your ideas about what the writer did well and what you would improve.

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

  • Some complaints about philosophers
  • Philosophy's "rationalist delusion" ex. from Timaeus. but also in rationalist psych. -- Assuming reason is our perfection. Desire is a necessary evil for mortals. Desire is a slave to reason.
  • Three models for the relation of reason to desire:
  • Plato - Reason ought to be the master of emotions. (Timaeus myth of the body - 2nd soul(emotional)), but also image of human as charioteer holding the reigns on desire (the horses). The "ultimate rationalist fantasy" is to believe that passions only serve reason, which controls them.
  • Hume (Reason is slave of passions) Examples: Reason comes in to justify emotion. Inner lawyer.
  • Jefferson (The Head and The Heart model. Nature has made a "division of labor" - Haidt thinks Jefferson got it right.). Jefferson’s racy trip to Paris.
  • The troubled history of applying evolution to social processes
  • A brief history of attempts to apply Darwinian thinking to social life (and morality).
  • Darwin - a nativist - thought nature selected for moral emotions like sympathy and concern about reputation. First wave: Late 19th century: “Social Darwinism” (not Darwin’s conviction). (Note that it violates Sapolsky’s warning about evolution being prospective.)
  • Second wave 60s (hippie/boomer) ideology suggesting that we can liberate ourselves from our biology and traditional morality (as contraception appeared to). Resists idea, for example, that men and women might have different evo strategies. Resists culture and authority as oppressive.
  • Example: Resistance to E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology. Wilson advanced the claim we saw in Sapolsky: Evolution shapes behavior. But he dared to apply it to humans.
  • Wilson also suspected that our rational justifications might be confabulations to support our intuitions. Roughly, we are disgusted by torture so we believe in rights. Read at 32: “Do people believe…?
  • The emotional nineties (Third Wave)
  • Even though Wilson was shouted down and “de-platformed”, history proves him right.
  • de Waal, primatologist, who studied moral behavior in primates. Monkey fairness.
  • Damasio's research on vmPFC disabled patients. They could watch gruesome images without feeling, but had trouble planning. (Phineas Gage) Lesions shut down the "valence" (flashes of positive neg emotions) encoded in memory. (Quick examples.)
  • Point: Reasoning about practical matters requires feeling.
  • Why Atheists Won’t Sell Their Souls
  • Evolutionary Psychology in moral psychology: Dual Processing model. [1]
  • Do we make moral decisions under controlled or automatic processing? No problem making moral decisions under cognitive load. Suggests automatic processing. Note this also suggests that we shouldn't think of our "principles" as causal.
  • Can we see automatic processing when reasons are missing?
  • Roach-juice
  • Soul selling
  • Incest story (Harmless taboo violation). Note how interviewer pushes toward dumbfounding.
  • How to explain dumbfounding: Pattern matching v. Reasoning
  • Margolis: seeing that (pattern matching - automatic) vs. reasoning why (controlled thought); we have bias toward confirmation, which is seen in the mistake people make on the Wasson Card test. "Judgement and justification are separate processes." At least sometimes, it appears the justification is ex post facto. (Reason a slave to the passions.)
  • Rider and Elephant (System 2 (reason) and System 1 (passions; emotions)
  • Important to see Elephant as making judgements (Emotions are epistemic), not just "feeling" (Hard for traditional philosophers to do.) (Pause for examples of "intelligent emotions")
  • 45: Elephant and Rider defined. Emotions are a kind of information processing, part of the cognitive process. Not just “gut feeling”. Intuition and reasoning are both cognitive.
  • Values of the rider: seeing into future, treating like cases like; post hoc explanation, but "expensive" in terms of attention and time. (Like education itself!)
  • Values of the elephant: automatic, valuative, ego-maintaining, opens us to influence from others.
  • Note Carnegie's advice -- fits with Haidt's model. If you want to persuade people, talk to the elephant. (Note: If the elephant is very afraid and powerless, this can lead to bad outcomes.)
  • Social Intuitionist Model
  • How does Rider and Elephant interact socially? Examples from everyday life: Who do you take advice and criticism from? People who’s elephants you like and like you.
  • Bring up Repligate issue. [2]