Spring 2015 Ethics Course Lecture Notes A
Return to Ethics
1st Day of Class Information
- Websites in the course
- Course Website: Alfino.org -- courses -- Spring 2015 Ethics -- access grading schemes, ereserves (pdfs of readings), audio files, email.
- Course Wiki: Alfino.org -- wiki -- Ethics (or from course website). All course information is linked from the course wiki page.
- Turning Point] -- Download and install Responseware ($19)
- Peerceptiv -- Register for this peer review site ($5) -- enter trial67 to register for the class.
- Assignments for your grading schemes.
- Buy Paul Bloom's Just Babies print or kindle.
- Grading approach -- friendly grading curve.
- Two rubrics: Flow/Content and Flow/Logic/Insight
The Prep Cycle
- Read for class. Get main ideas. Show reading knowledge on clicker quiz. (Content portion of class.)
- Come to class. (Method portion of class.)
- Note study questions and work to answer them during class. (We will do some short answer exercises to work on this.) Review if you don't feel you can answer the study questions after class. The Flow/Content rubric applies to this.
- This is our basic pattern, but as we learn more we will build toward larger theoretical questions which are the basis of the exam essays and paper.
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.
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?
Turning Point Set up and Testing
Tip on Responseware:
- First set up a free Turning Point account. Then buy a license from within your account page and download your software.
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- The FAQ page for Response ware is helpful. 
Cooper, Chapter 1, "Intro to Philosophical Ethics"
- p. 3: definition of ethics; in terms of value conflict
- some terminology, two points:
- values of actions often reflect their context in institutitional and social context.
- just as there are levels of justification for any action, there are levels of justification for any theory of ethics.
- Zimbardo; implications for ethics
Haidt, Chapter 1,"The Divided Self"
- opening story
- Animals in Plato's metaphor for soul; contemporary metaphors. metaphors.
- Mind vs. Body
- Left vs. Right
- New vs. Old - importance of the frontal cortex. orbitofrontal cortex in particular.
- Controlled vs. Automatic
- Failures of Self-control []
- Haidt's "disgust" studies.
- Add in sociological dimension to consider values as socially instantiated.
Haidt, The Righteous Mind, Intro and Chapter 1
- 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.
- Chapter 1
- Harmless taboo violations: eating the dog / violating a dead chicken.
- Brief background on developmental & moral psychology: p. 5
- Piaget's rationalism: kids figure things out for themselves if they have normal brains and the right experiences. "self-constructed" - alt to nature/nurture. 7: We grow into our rationality like catepillars into butterflies. (note that there are two parts to this: the "growing into" and the rationalism.
- Kohlberg's "Heinz story" - note problems, p. 9. (We'll look more at Piaget and Kohlberg in our next class.)
- Turiel: 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.
- Haidt's puzzle about Turiel: other dimensions of moral experience, like "purity" and "pollution" seem operative at young ages and deep in culture (witches). 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.)
- Note: We don't experience our cultural moral conventions as conventional (17).
- 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 culturally variable. Turiel is right about how our culture makes the harm/convention distinction, but his theory doesn't travel well.
- 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.)
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
- Note theoretical claim: hierarchy represents increasingly more developed ways of staying in equilibrium with environment. Where does this leave ethnicity and culture? p. 78.
- Application to My Lai massacre
Singer, Chapter 1, "About Ethics," from Practical Ethics
- Ethics and religion
- Mentions Plato's dialogue Euthyphro
- Ethics and relativism -- different versions of relativism:
- Ethics varies by culture: true and false, same act under different conditions may have different value. Examples?
- Marxist relativism and non-relativism
- Problems for relativists: consistency across time, polls could determine ethics
- Problems for the subjectivist: making sense of disagreement
- Singer: Ok to say the values aren't objective like physics, but not sensible to deny the meaningfulness of moral disagreement. Ethical reasoning.
- Singer's view (one of several major positions): p. 10
- The sorts of reasons that count as ethical: universalizable ones.
- "Interests" in utilitarian thought
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1
- First: What do ancient Greeks mean by "virtue" (arete).
- Politics as the master science: its end: happiness
- 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?
- def: Activity of the soul implying a rational principle, in accordance with virtue (perfective activities)
- Other characteristics needed: complete life, active life.
- Section 13: Aristotle's tripartite division of the soul:
- Appetitive (desiring) (partly rational)
- Summing up: developmentalist, naturalist, rationalist, eudaimonistic, virtue ethics.
- A note on his primary ethical insight about how to think about virtue: the Golden Mean, a mean between extremes of emotion.
1st Group Short Answer Exercise
Today we will break into groups and each group will produce a short answer to a specified study question. Then, after class you will be prompted to rate the other group's answers using the Flow and Content rubric dimensions. This will be done by Google Forms linked from the main wiki page.
Discussion of First Short Answer Exercise
Haidt, Chapter 2, "The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail"
- Philosophy's "rationalist delusion" ex. from Timaeus. but also in rationalist psych.
- 30: Plato, Hume, and Jefferson (The Head and The Heart)
- 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 (mention research - The Emotional Nineties). Controversy in E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology.
- Evolutionary Psychology in moral psychology
- Soul selling
- Harmless Taboo violations: Incest story; Cadaver nibbling; compare to Kohlberg's Heinz stories (reasoning vs. confounding) -- evidence in the transcript, also, that the elephant is talking.
- Ev. psych. research outside moral psychology
- Wasson card selection test: seeing that vs. seeing why
- 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
- Moral judgment is a cognitive process.
- Intuition and reasoning are both cognitive. (Note: don't think of intuition in Haidt simply as "gut reaction" in the sense of random subjectivity.
- Values of the rider: seeing into future, treating like cases like
- Values of the elephant: automatic, valuative, ego-maintaining, opens us to influence from others.
- Social Intuitionist Model
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"-- applies to made up language
- 2. Social and Political judgements intuitive
- flashing word pairs with dissonance: "flower - happiness" vs. "hate - sunshine" (affective priming)
- Implicit Association Test
- flashing word pairs with political terms. causes dissonance.
- 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
- 6. Affective reactions in the brain
- Josh Greene's fMRI studies of Trolley type problems. The Trolley Problem
- When does the elephant listen to reason?
- Friends... The Importance of Friends...Friends are really important.....
Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, Book II
- Virtue not possessed by nature, but potential.
- Role of habit (ethos --> ethike) compare to other things we need training for.
- Note: Moral virtue continuous with other kinds of human excellence (driven by reason).
- Section 2: Already talking about your "virtue" as something to be nurture, avoiding excess/deficiency
- Section 3: Observing our responses, pleasure and pain (note connection with the "valence" of intuition)
- Objects of choice and avoidance: the noble, advantageous, and pleasant vs. the base, injurious, painful.
- Section 4: Differences between virtue and the arts. Virture requires:
- Act chosen in knowledge
- Chosen by the agent
- For its own sake
- Proceeding from character. Not only the right thing, but done in the right way.
- Section 5: Virtue defined as state of character rather than passions or faculties (note argument)
- Virtue in the soul: passsions, faculties or states of character.
- Virtue makes its object excellent.
- Section 6:
- Virtue as "state of character concerned with choice," choosing a mean (relative to a rational principle) that is also an excellence
- Courage as the mean between fear and foolhardiness
- Generosity (liberality)
- Proper pride
- Anger (?)
- Wittiness (vs. Buffoonery and Boorishness)
- Assessing Aristotle's view
Haidt, Jonathan "Out-take from The Righteous Mind: Virtue Ethics"
- Acknowledges deep cultural origins of virtue ethics: East and West
- "cultivation of habits, character taints, and practical skills to be mastered over many years"
- training (cf. Aristotle & confuscious - metaphor of learning an instrument) (Note how this hooks ethics to culture and psychology)
- Haidt: virtue a buffet. can be secular or religious
- More on Hume (though this comes later in RM)
- virtues are social skills;
Today we get a nice contrast between Aristotle's Book III of Nichomachean Ethics, which looks into what it really means to say that reason is being exercised in a decision, and Bloom's elaboration on the way the body gets involved in moral decisions.
Aristotle, Book III, Nichomachean Ethics
- Distinguishing the "voluntary" from the "involuntary" (characteristics and cases)
- Acting from compulsion - case of tyrant holding your family. Is that voluntary action?
- Acting "in ignorance" (list on p. 3)
- Choice, more specific than the voluntary, distinguished from wish, animals move voluntarily.
- Deliberation - things in our power that can be done.
Bloom, Ch 5 "Bodies"
- Disgust as a method for getting people to do evil things to groups. Jews in Nazi period.
- Orwell on stinky breath.
- Core disgust: blood, gore, vomit, feces, urine, rotten flesh.
- Children learn disgust: analysis of potty training advice. more like unfolding of a psych adaptation that arbitrary enculturation. Interesting that disgust suppresses appetite.
- Evidence for evolutionary / adaptive theory of disgust 137-138
- More to disgust than food recognition
- pathgens and parasites
- people themselves: "Disgust is the opposite of empathy...disgust leads you to construe the other as diminished and revolting, lacking humanity"
- Disgust and morality -
- Disgust the opposite of empathy.
- repeat of studies linking disgust sensitivity to moral conservatism.
- disgust makes us mean... (And when do we need that? - mention of ebola issue)
- (introduce the idea of "triggers" for original and contemporary occasions for disgust)
- Disgust and sexuality -
- not clear (for Bloom) why we should include the sexual behavior of others in our sexual morality. (I'm a little puzzled by his puzzlement....)
- evolutionary logic of homosexuality vs. logic of sibling incest
- doesn't explain our moral concern about other's sexual or even incest behaviors. dumbfounding
- Rozin's hypothesis: transformation from physical to soul; or Nussbaum's "desire to denigrate"
- Bloom disagrees, but his own view "sex involves bodies and bodies can be disgusting" exchange of fluids triggers disgust. More cleanliness and morality studies (150-151). Sexual morality not exclusively adaptive. Part related to psychology of purity and cleanliness.
- Question at the end: Warning against disgust as a barometer. (Good meta-ethical claim)
de Waal, intro & p. 5-21
- Veneer Theory -
- Theory of Mind - (xvi)
- Clue from intro about how commentators will respond: not as veneer theorists, but to question continuity between moral emotions and "being moral".
- Homo homini lupus
- Thesis: No asocial history to humans. And note: unequal in competition for status.
- 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.
- 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
- Westermark: observation of camel's revenge.
- Chimps punish and seek revenge also. Engage in reconciliation.
- "reciprocal altruism"
- "moral emotions" p. 20
Haidt, Chapter 4, "Vote for Me (Here's Why)"
- Ring of Gyges
- 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.
- Statement, 90, on H's view of political life in light of this way of theorizing. read and discuss.
Small Group Work
- Reread Haidt's statement about political life. What does it imply about political differences? What would it mean to engage in politics in light of the research he is working from? How do you explain the puzzle that we do not experience our political beliefs quite the way the explanation portrays them.
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) -- empathy is broader "changing places in fancy" (Adam Smith) "feeling another's pain".
- 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.
- 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"
- 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.
- mirror neurons, muscle contractions
- 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.
Bloom, Paul. Just Babies Chapter 1 "The Moral Life of Babies"
- Describes puppet research. Thinks is argues for a native moral sense. Note what he means by this at 7-8.
- list of "basic" moral violations: teenagers hitting old person, list on 12. not only harm situations. we care about some "harmless" behaviors.
- helping beahviors in toddlers seem natural
- yet deep cultural level as well: observation of King Darius of Persia. Also Shweder's list 15
- Evolutionary basis of morality
- seen in kin selection theory, Haldane
- social cooperation: who are the trustworthy? practical problem of free riders.
- controversy over group selection. Darwin believed in it, then lots of doubt, now lots of interest.
- Experimental design and "construct" in baby "looking-time" studies
- Construct: no rider yet, no inhibition and control, environment rules
- Baby physics, baby math, baby sees a person, baby sees that peoples have goals, false belief test , even for 6-10 mos. (used to attribute to 4-5 year olds),
- 25-31: details of studies with helper/hinderer objects and puppets. (psych/science students note how exp design is used to factor out counterhypotheses.)
Question from traditional ethics might be: why be moral? (presumes morality is always a choice.) How would deWaal or Bloom respond to such a question?
In what ways to we come "wired" for ethics? How could this have happened?
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. Results in Greene.
- 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.)
- 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.
- The Beethoven Error
- some hints at theory...
Bloom, Chapter 2, "Empathy and Compassion"
- violent psychopaths have understanding of what they are doing to people, but don't have the associated emotions. quotes p. 35.
- by contrast, testimony of Darwin about his son, William. sympathy, then generosity, then guilt/shame.
- terms: compassion -- (like sympathy in deWaal) caring about a person. empathy -- experiencing the emotions of the other person. empathy a relatively new word.
- mirror neurons -- not really the answer, might not be sufficient for social learning, not in parts of brain governing emotion. [upshot is that the metaphor makes sense, but the mechanism is probably elsewhere, like in the face.]
- claim: evolutionary function of empathy is to motivate compassion and altruism.
- 1. Note that we choose whom to empathize with, typically. stranger shock study, p. 44.
- 2. We can experience compassion (and action) without empathy. Singer pond example.
- 3. And empathy without compassion. Nazi example.
- theoretical issue: How are empathy and compassion related to morality?
- No morality without them. (But also, pre-moral: Widely observed in nature: distress response. rat example, chimp comforting - deWaal)
- Toddler helping behavior -- hard to know the causes, but seems spontaneous. 51ff: children in helping study override request when more appropriate object is available. in other study, toddlers seem to track reciprocity (Gopnik is all about this.)
- Toddler sharing behavior -- esp, emergence of sharing with strangers.
- Toddler self-evaluation -- gradient of guilt in child toy study 55-56.
Korsgaard, "Morality and the Distinctiveness of Human Action"
- On Veneer Theory
- not coherent: views morality as contraint of self-interest maximization
- 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. 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
- 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:
- 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"
- 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)
- normative self-government 112: we choose not only means to ends but ends themselves
- 117: "not a mere matter of degree"
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
- 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 -- there is a big diff.
- 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
- 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)
- Kant - reason over 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.
- Philosophcal 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."
- Optional Mid-term. Please take the midterm in class.
Notes on Philosophical Method
- In this chapter and the next, we find Haidt theorizing outside of psychology. He's demonstrating a basic philosophical method of seeking a larger "integrative understanding" of separate areas of knowledge.
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
- 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
- claims schweder's theory predicts responses on taboo violation tests
- 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.
- Discussion questions:
- Are WEIRD moral cultures more rational and therefore "better" (embodying a most distinctively human morality, for example, following Singer & Koorsgaard?) Notice the connection between championing rationality as a defining norm of morality and being WEIRD.
- How WEIRD are you?
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"
- explaining moral diversity. argument against the reductive project of philosophical ethics
- 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.)
- Austism argument: Bentham (utlitarianism), Kant (deontology) Think about the person who can push the fat guy. Notes on utilitarianism and deontology.
- Avoiding bad evolutionary theory or evolutionary psychology: "just so stories"
- Modularity in evolutionary psychology: original vs. current triggers, 123
- See chart, p. 125
Haidt, Chapter 7
- Homo economicus vs. Homo sapiens -- column a b -- shows costs of sapiens psych. commitments "taste buds"
- Note on Innateness: "first draft" metaphor; experience revises - pre-wired not hard-wired.
- Notes on each foundation:
- Care/Harm -- ev.story of asymmetry m/f, attachment theory. current triggers.
- Fairness/Cheating -- Trivers and reciprocal altruism. "tit for tat" ; equality vs. proportionality
- Loyalty/Betrayal -- tribalism. liberals experience low emphasis here. (also Zimbardo); note claim that this is gendered 139. sports groupishness is a current trigger.
- Authority/Subversion -- hierarchy in animal and human society; liberals experience this differently also.
- Sanctity/Degradation -- Miewes-Brandes horror. Mill. 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.) neophilia and neophobia. Images of chastity in religion and public debate. understanding culture wars.
- 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). Example. Then try to explain to each other what accounts for the different places we occupy in each case.
- 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?
Haidt, Chapter 8: The Conservative Advantage
- Hadit's critique of Dems
- The MFQ: consistence across cultures; large n; tracks preferences in dogs, church, brainwaves (dissonance, "fingerprint")
- 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
- Evolutionary story about hierarchy, p. 170. original triggers: bullies and tyrants, current triggers: illegit. restraint on liberty. (Again, some people will kill for.) Example from Chimps: revolutions "reverse dominance hierarchies" are possible. Introduces strategy at the outset. (Millian liberty is based on equality.)
- note the same capacities as needed for reciprocal atruism, but applied to dominance relationships. (You need loyalty in a group, but also some people who are prepared to have a revolution if necessary. Note "population effect".) Flag of Virginia, for example.
- 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.
- Pubic Goods games.
- Without "memory" behavior approximates theoretical predictions. We're not idiots.
- 84% pay to punish, punishment supported public good.
Transition from Meta-Ethics to Normative Ethics
- Meta-ethics: what kind of thing/theory is ethics.
- Normative ethics: what principles and values (applied theory) should we advocate in particular cases?
- 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: objections to redistribution: utilitarian and rights-based.
- Argument from self-ownership (Nozick)
- Free Market philosophy
- Redistribution and self-ownership
- First four objections: taxation; importance of resources to poor; social nature of talent; implied consent. Study replies as well. (Method note: putting a theory "in play" through objections, replies, modifications.)
- 5. Jordan is Lucky.
- "Hard cases" (note on method) -- Markets in kidneys, assisted suicide, consensual canabalism (again!)
- 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. Later Mill would provide the "equal happiness" principle.
- Workhouse for poor
- (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. (develop argument on board)
- Case of torture under extreme conditions (Trolley Problem on steroids.). New condition: torturing terrorist's daughter. Harder.
- 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.
- Whose problem is it? The cost-benefit may not only be part of the theory, it may be part of our moral life: generate examples: when is it ok to be "calculative" in social and moral life?
- 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.
- 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.)
- Small Group assessment: Is liberty just another cultural ideology? What should our attitude be toward socio-centric societies that regard it as a threat to their culture?
- 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.
Sandel, Chapter 5: Immanuel Kant
- Contrast with Utility. Kant bases moral value on idea of "rational being" (challenge is to give this content from further study of his theory).
- Analysis of Freedom
- real freedom can't just be choosing preferences external to me (heteronomous).
- neg/positive freedom
- choosing best means to end vs. choosing end (but what would that mean?)
- Thinking about Motives
- Caculating Shopkeeper; incentive for good behavior.
- Can we have a duty to preserve our lives? (compare to libertarian or Millian society) Class discussion
- How do motives become more visible? moral misanthrope, spelling bee hero
- Contrast so far:
- duty / inclination
- autonomy / heteronomy - brings in strong notion of free will (p. 117)
- 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 - p. 120 - Universalizability (recall Singer's similar point)
- 2 - p. 121 - Treating rational being as ends in themselves. Discussion: What does that entail?
- Standard Criticism: Kant's moral theory beautifully captures our intuitions about what's morally important about persons, but undertheorizes moral choice. Kant's theory is compatible with everything from libertarianism to the paternalistic state. (develop argument).
Singer, "Rich and Poor"
- 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.
- figures on giving by country: OPEC countries most generous. U.S. and Japan least.
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.
- Showing the extrinsic character of the differences: Singer's argument strategies at this point is to show that the differences are smaller and more contingent that one might think. Point by point:
- 1. 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.
- 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.
Considers non-consequentialist justifications for not aiding (166)
- 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.
- 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 vey 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.
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
Sandel, Chapter 6: Rawls
- Problem of choosing principles of justice for a society
- thought experiment: veil of ignorance - note: important that we know human psychology.
- we would exclude both utilitarianism and libertarianism
- Two main principles
- equal basic liberties for all
- differences in social and economic equality must work to advantage of the least well off.
- 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:
- Consent and Benefits -- examples of fair/unfair contracts
- baseball card trade among diff aged siblings
- 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
- Justifying the Difference Principle
- Why not be libertarian about it?
- Concept of morally arbitrary criteria for distributing benefits of labor: birth, class, somewhat taken care of with equality of education and opportunity, but starting points are still different.
- Even if you could solve that problem, you would still have the problem of relying on the moral arbitrariness of natural talent -- a "natural lottery"
- Even if you could solve that problem, you'd have the arbitrariness of what the society values (try being a basketball player in the middle ages.
- Rawls thinks he's found a form of egalitarianism that mediates between morally arbitrary distributions and overburdening the most talented members of the society.
- diminished incentives
- rewarding effort
- In the end, Rawls view of justice does not involve rewards based on moral desert. odd result. In trying to avoid morally arbitrary features, he arrives at something like "respect for persons as fairness" as the morally relevant feature.
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)
- Increase in wealth of the rich world is dramatic (note Rawlsian difference principle from yesterday)
- (Digression on actual giving: 
- 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.
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
- what sort of groupishness: soley for self-interest or independent (parallel) mechanisms?
- Slogan for part three: morality binds and blinds.
- Darwin quote: 192. Multi-level selection.
- Why would "groupish groups" have an advantage over a group of individualists?
- Revisit the connection between concern about appearing good and being good: reputation functions in both ways.
- background: Williams, 1966, Adaptation and Natural Selection. favored lower level structures to explain selection. altrusism reduces to self-interest. Also Dawkins, 76, Selfish Gene. Williams quote on morality 198.
- Evidence for a group selection (mult-level selection) view of morality.
- Exhibit A: Major transitions in organism structure involving wholes.
- From biology: cell structure with non-competition among parts. single celled eukaryotes
- next transition: multi-cellular organisms
- example of wasp cooperation: hymenoptera divide reproduction labor from maintainance of "hive".
- "the genes that got to ride around in colony crushed the genes that "couldn't get it together" and rode around in selfish and solitary insects" (note: a groupish trait spreads among individuals)
- Eusociality -- the human story (as opposed to ants, bees, and wasps)
- Exhibit B: Shared Intentionality
- Chimps vs. Us -- shared intentionality
- two ways to hunt
- thesis: we crossed the rubicon when we achieved shared intentionality and linked reward/punishing emotions with it. (also Tomasello's)
- Exhibit C: Gene-culture co-evolution
- Learning, accumulation, (mention The Great Sea)
- Homo habilis' big brains, then 2.4 million years of them.
- Achueulean tool kit.
- Hunting with spears - Hono heidelbergensis: 600-700K "the rubicon"
- Lactose intolerance
- Exhibit D: Speed of evolution
- controversy over speed of selection: Gould vs. recent evidence of acceleration
- breeding foxes (mention dogs social cognition)
- group selected hens
- [mention Pinker's hypothesis]
- population bottlenecks.
- concluding point about competition vs. war.
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)?
- ethical argument: value of human life relative to cost. conventional nature of sovereignty.
- 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: totally nation-state model for justice.
- Is the Nation-state on the decline? (anecdotes - early versions of "buy American"; global hr competition; global outsourcing; G8 protests; attention to international trade negotiations)
- Should we be internationalists? Why is multilaterism no longer a political topic in the US?
Singer, "One Atmosphere"
- Facts and level of consensus
- Who is affected?
- 19: how are our value systems prepared/unprepared for this issue?
- Means of addressing climate change: polluter pays, cap and trade (note more recent arguments: address human impact, try to moderate change).
- 1997 Kyoto Protocol. update: 
- thinking about equitable distributions p. 26 on:
- historical:. 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 32.)
- Time slice: arguably developed nations don't have full historical liability. didn't know. leads to equal share view. Might argue as a Rawlsian for a difference principle to be applied, but does US consumption really benefit others?
- How would utilitarians approach the problem 41 on: 1, 2, 3.
Haidt, Ch 10, "The Hive Switch"
- Humans are "conditional" hive creatures; satify 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 "collective effervescence"; sacred / profane; for evalution. Did we go wrong here?
- Awe in nature: Emerson's transparent eyeball experience. (suppression of ego, even in solitude -- beautiful and the sublime)
- Entheogens - in history of religion; contemporary versions. Maslow studies in 60s. bonding in adolescent social groups.
- Oxytocin - note studies: effect on bonding, but not with outgroups. Mixed evidence with Dutch men. generally about bonding rather than exclusion, but can stimulate some out group behaviors. (text ambiguous.)(Paul Zac, The love molecule.)
- Mirror Neurons - in humans hooked more into emotional systems. (good for short research paper. some skepticism about theorizing from mirror neurons.)
- Leadership studies - transactional vs. transformational. (How do you want too live and work? Does belonging matter?) notes from working at a mission-centered non-profit. the magic of 150.
- Political Hives: not all calls for "binding" (fascia, fascist) involve the hive. Social capital.
- Evaluating the Hive Switch
- examples in your experience.
- anthropological value of the hive.
- dangers of the hive.
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 misunderstanding religions by focusing on assessing the truth of their beliefs.
- New Atheists: Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens
- "Trying to understand religion .... " 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...) more religion friendly account: religions make cohesive groups. but this implies that religions evolve as well !
- 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.
- one 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.
- 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 (Mention adoption thought experiment.)
- interestingly: beliefs and dogmas didn't correlation with generous behavior, only community experience.
- 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.)
Haidt, Ch 12, "Can't We All Disagree More Constructively?"
- evidence of polarization in American politics (cf. to Italy)
- theory of ideologies, which might be thought to drive political identity formation
- "right" and "left", historical origins, basis in heritable traits
- One more time through the modern genetic/epigenetic/phenotype explanation pattern:
- 1: Genes make brains - Australian study: diff responses to threat and fear (and related to liberal neophilia). (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)
- 3: Life narratives; McAdams study using Moral Foundations Theory to analyze narratives, found MFs in stories people tell about religious experience.
- 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.
- 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.
- Moral and Social Capital -- moral capital: resources that sustain a moral community. moral capital not always straightforward good (293), also, less trusting places, like cities, can be more interesting.
- Liberal blindspots (valuing moral capital) and wisdom: 1) regulating super-organisms; 2)solving soluble problems.
- Libertarian wisdom: 1) markets are powerful
- Social Conservative wisdom: understanding threats to social capital (can't help bees if you destroy the hive)
- Small Group Discussion: Is moral and social capital important to a community? Does it help to see conservatives as concerned about these dimensions of communal well-being? Does it help to see liberal neophilia as a driver of changes, some of which do come to be seen as improvements? How do you promote the moral and social capital of a community?
Eco, "When the Other Appears on the Scene"
- Context for Eco essay: "The following letter is Eco’s reply to a question the cardinal had asked him: “What is the basis of the certainty and necessity for moral action of those who, in order to establish the absolute nature of an ethic, do not intend to appeal to metaphysical principles or transcendental values, or even to universally valid categorical imperatives?”
- Eco's "lay religiosity" 20. what is binding in such an ethic?
- We have a "natural" orientation on the world and find some things naturally odious. universal preferences: the right to talk and think. (He's building up the features of a phenomenology of the encounter with the other.)
- The ethical dimension begins when the other appears on the scence. details, 23: read.
- Is this recognition of the other (which is the basis of a natural ethic) a strong enough basis for ethics?
- Reply to his own question: Believers in "absolute foundations" (religionists) have the same challenges: to love others and face death with equanimity. read 25
- More detailed answer, 28, why can't non-religious find inspiration in Jesus and other religious figures?, even if there is no God, a creature that could imagine all this would be admirable; 29, "even if Christ were only the subject of a great story..." it would be as good a basis for charity and prudence as we have in the encounter of one religion with another.
- concludes that a natural ethic can find common ground with the principles of an ethic founded on faith and transcendence.