Difference between revisions of "Spring 2019 Ethics Class Notes and Reading Schedule"

From Alfino
Jump to: navigation, search
m (Singer, One World Now, Ch 3, "One Economy")
m (Some background on "fair contracts")
Line 1,298: Line 1,298:
:*Nature of a contract
:*Nature of a contract
::*fairness of contract may dep. on circumstances of execution
::*fairness of contract may dep. on circumstances of execution. "consent" alone doesn't make a contract fair.
::*expectations change with timeline and events (ex of lobsters)
::*expectations change with timeline and events (ex of lobsters) "benefits alone" don't determine an obligation
::*Two main concepts underlying contracts:
::*Two main concepts underlying contracts:
Line 1,306: Line 1,306:
:*Consent and Benefits -- examples of fair/unfair contracts
:*Consent and Benefits -- examples of fair/unfair contracts
::*baseball card trade among diff aged siblings
::*baseball card trade among diff aged siblings
::*contractor fraud in the leaky toilet case
::*contractor fraud in the leaky toilet case.  Charging an older person $50,000 to replace a toilet.
::*Hume's home repairs -- no consent but still obligation
::*Hume's home repairs -- no consent but still obligation.  Variation: emergency measures to stop damage
::*repair guy -- what if he fixed the car?  would benefit alone confer obligation.
::*Car repair guy story -- what if he fixed the car?  would benefit alone confer obligation.
::*squeegee men  -- potential for benefit to be imposed coercively
::*squeegee men  -- potential for benefit to be imposed coercively
:*Point: Rawls veil of ignorance establishes theoretical equality of participants to contract.  Contract could be fundamentally fair and guarantee autonomy and reciprocity
:*Point of connection with Rawls: Rawls veil of ignorance establishes theoretical equality of participants to contract.  Contract could be fundamentally fair and guarantee autonomy and reciprocity
===Singer, One World Now, Ch 3, "One Economy"===
===Singer, One World Now, Ch 3, "One Economy"===

Revision as of 11:28, 15 April 2019


Return to Ethics


1: JAN 16

  • Introduction to the Course
  • Welcome
  • About the Course
  • Course Websites (handout)
  • Approaching Ethics through contemporary research. Fields involved: Psychology, Moral Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, Behavioral Economics, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, History, Global Studies
  • Major Applied Topics: Obligations to Assist, Globalization Ethics (climate, human rights, trade), Immigration
  • Succeeding in the Course
  • Prep Cycle - view old notes, read, note, quiz, evaluate preparation.
  • Keep in Mind Course Research Questions
  • Course Management
  • Transparency in Pedagogy
  • Some Course Dates:
Writing Workshop 2/20
SW1 due 3/4
SW2 due 3/27
Finish optional journals by 4/15
SW3 due 4/29
Critical Analysis Paper due 4/22
Final Essay due at Final Exam time.
  • Required Assignments and Weight Ranges
  • Critical Analysis Paper 20-30% .3
  • Final Essays 20-30% .3
  • Q&W 25-40 .4

2: JAN 23


  • Ariely, Why We Lie (6)
  • Singer, Chapter 1, "About Ethics," from Practical Ethics
  • Zimbardo Experiment -- view one of the youtube videos about the experiment. read the wiki page.

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 immediate result?
  • what was the significance or inference to be made from the results?

Ariely, Why We Lie

  • Assumptions: we think honesty is an all or nothing trait.
  • Research on honesty with the "matrix task"
  • Shredder condition
  • Payment condition
  • Probability of getting caught condition
  • Distance of payment condition
  • Presence of a cheater condition
  • Priming with 10 commandments or signature on top of form
  • Implications: for current and possible new approaches to limit cheating.
  • Philosophical Implications: What, if anything, does this tell us about the nature of ethics?

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), but the prohibition on casual sex might change. note: how you state the principle matters alot!
  • 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" or "my society disapproves"): but we do choose between societal values, how? Is the non-conformist just making a mistake?, 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".

3: JAN 28


  • Haidt, The Righteous Mind, Intro and Chapter 1

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" mind is at once moral and judgemental. It makes possible group cooperation, tribes, nations, and societies.
  • Majors claims of each section:
  • Intuitions come first, reasoning second. The mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider's job is to serve the elephant.
  • There's more to morality than harm and fairness
  • Morality binds and blinds -- We are 90 percent chimp, 10% bee.
  • Keep notes that help you tie content back to these claims.
  • Method Note: This is explanatory writing. Not philosophy directly. Digression on difference between explanatory and justifactory writing.
  • Moral reasoning as a means of finding truth vs. furthering social agendas. Paradox of Moral Experience: We experience our morality the first way, but when we look objectively at groups, it's more like the second way.
  • Chapter 1
  • Harmless taboo violations: eating the dog / violating a dead chicken.
  • Brief background on developmental & moral psychology: p. 5
  • nativists -- nature gives us capacities to distinguish right from wrong, possibly using moral emotions.
  • empiricists -- we learn the difference between right and wrong from experience. tabula rasa.
  • rationalists -- circa '87 Piaget's alternative to nature/nurture -- there is both a natural developmental requirement and empirical requirement for understanding the world in the way we consider "rational" (folk physics, folk psychology).
  • Piaget's rationalism: kids figure things out for themselves if they have normal brains and the right experiences. stages: example of conservation of volume of water (6) "self-constructed" - alt to nature/nurture. 7: We grow into our rationality like caterpillars into butterflies.
  • Kohlberg's "Heinz story" - pre-conventional, conventional, post-conventional. [1]
  • note problems, p. 9. seems to support a liberal secular world view. Egalitarianism, role playing, disinterestedness.... Is it obvious or suspicious that that's what rationalism leads to? Haidt suspects something's been left out.
  • Additional criticisms of Kohlberg (also at Haidt 9): seemed to diminish the importance of loyalty, authority, and tradition as less developed levels of moral response.
  • Turiel: note different method. Probing to find contingencies in kids' thinking about rules. kids don't treat all moral rules the same: very young kids distinguish "harms" from "social conventions". Harm is "first on the scene" in the dev. of our moral foundations. (Note: Still following the idea that moral development is a universal, culturally neutral process.) (Note on method: we have, in Turiel's research, a discovery of an unsupported assumption.)
  • Haidt's puzzle about Turiel: other dimensions of moral experience, like "purity" and "pollution" seem operative at young ages and deep in culture (witches -- how do human minds create witches in similar ways in different places?). 11-13 examples. Found answers in Schweder's work.
  • In what ways is the concept of the self culturally variable?
  • Schweder: sociocentric vs. individualistic cultures. Interview subjects in sociocentric societies don't make the moral/conventional distinction the same way we (westerns) do. (Schweder is "saying" to Kohlberg and Turiel: your model is culturally specific.) For example in the comparison of moral violations between Indians from Orissa and Americans from Chicago, it is important that these groups don't make the convention/harm distinction Turiel's theory would predict. That's a distinction individualist cultures make.
  • Haidt's research: Wrote vignettes to ask test subjects, including Turiel's uniform / swing pushing incident. focus on vignettes is "harmless taboo violation" (no victim /no harm), which pits intuitions about norms and conventions against intuitions about the morality of harm. Study in three cities with two socio-economic groups. Showed that Schweder was right. The morality/convention distinction was itself culturally variable.
  • Americans make big dist. between morality and convention. upper-class Brazilians like Americans. lower class groups tended to see smaller morality/convention difference. All morality.

Turiel is right about how our culture makes the harm/convention distinction, but his theory doesn't travel well. Roughly, more sociocentric cultures put the morality(wrong even if no rule)/convention (wrong because there is a rule) marker more to the morality side. almost no trace of social conventionalism in Orissa.

  • Identify, if possible, some practices and beliefs from either your personal views, your family, or your ethnic or cultural background which show a particular way of making the moral/conventional distinction. (Example: For some families removing shoes at the door is right thing to do, whereas for others it is just experienced as a convention. Would you eat a burrito in a public bathroom? Tell story of dinner out with a vegan friend.)

Small Group Problem: Relativisms

  • Alot of what Haidt is talking about in Chapter 1 suggests that morality is radically relative, but alot of what Singer was talking about in Chapter 1 of Practical Ethics suggested that relativism looks deeper than it is. How can they both be right? Can they?

4: JAN 30


  • Lecture on Consequentialisms
  • Robert Sapolsky, from Behave, Chapter 13, "Morality and doing the Right Thing, Once You've Figured Out What that Is." pp. 478-483.

Sapolsky, Robert. Behave. C 13, "Morality and Doing the Right Thing"

  • Is moral decision making mostly reasoning or intuition?
  • Lots of examples of reason based rules in law and social institutions. This kind of reasoning activates the dlPFC and TPJ (temporoparietal junction) - theory of mind tasks.
  • Moral reasoning is skewed in some predictable ways: doing harm worse than allowing it. commission vs. omission. tend to look for malevolent causes more than benevolent.
  • Problem with moral reasoning view: lots of evidence for intuition and emotion.
  • Reviews Haidt's Social Intuitionism: "moral thinking is for social doing".
  • moral decisions activate the vmPFC, orbitalfrontal cortex, insular cortex, and anterior cingulate. pity and indignation activate different structures. sexual transgressions activate the insula. Important: you can predict moral decision making more from activation of these structures than the cognitively oriented dlPFC. moral quandaries activate emotional centers of the brain prior to waking up the dlPFC.
  • people with damage to the vmPFC will sacrifice one relative to save five strangers, something control subjects just don't do!

Consequentialisms -- Utlitarianism

  • A Framework for thinking about moral theories.
  • Where should we look for "moral goodness"?
  • Intentions (Kantian), Act (Aristotle), Consequences (Mill, Singer - utilitarian)
  • How should we expect morality to connect with other goals?
  • Eudaimonistic or Hedonic (Well-being or Happiness oriented) vs. Non-Eudaimonistic (Duty)
  • Two views: 1) Morality is fundamentally eudaimonistic "in the longrun" even if it in particular proximate circumstances in does not always involve positive emotions. 2) Morality and moral responses realize disinterested values like reason and justice, that are not related to promoting happy outcomes (Kant).
  • Fundamental consequentialist intuition. Most of what's important about morality can be seen in outcomes of our actions, for people especially, but also for what they value (animals, the environment, etc.). Virtue will show up in the measuredness of the outcome. Good intentions are especially valuable when they lead to actions that realize them.
  • Hard to imagine a non-eudaimonistic consequentialism, but medieval christian europe or a contemporary theocracy might work.
  • Basic principles of utilitarian thought:
  • One way to universalize is to recognize "equal weight" to interests.
  • Equal Happiness Principle: Everyone's happiness matters to them as much as mine does to me.
  • Ethics is about figuring out when we need to take a moral concern about something and, if we do, then we take on constrainst (conversational): universalizability, equality of interests.
  • Principle of Utility: Act always so that you promote the greatest good for the greatest number.
  • Hedonic version: Act to promote the greatest pleasure ...
  • Preference utilitarian version: Act to maximally fulfill the interests (preferences) of others.
  • But what is utility? What is a preference?
  • Utility: pleasure, what is useful, happiness, well-being.
  • Is the utilitarian committed to maximizing happiness of individuals directly? (Preferences are one alternative.) A utilitarian focused on promoting utility, might still acknowledge that promoting human happiness is mostly about protecting conditions for an individual's autonomous pursuit of happiness.
  • Conditions for the pursuit of happiness: Order, stability, opportunity, education, health, rights, liberty.
  • Issue of protection of rights in utilitarian thought.
  • Preferences: Thought experiment: Returning a gun to an angry person. Is the angry person's preference one that has to count?
  • Cultural contradictions in our preferences: we prefer health, but we also "prefer" to eat the western diet. Which preference should the utilitarian focus on? Some preferences are based on bias or prejudice.
  • Need some standard of rational or considered preference.

Small Group: Assessing Utilitarianism

  • Consider applying utilitarianism to different kinds of moral problems (from interpersonal ethics to public policy questions). Identify three situations in which you would want to use utilitarianism and three situations in which you would not.

5: FEB 4


  • Haidt, Chapter 2, "The Intuitive Dog and It's Rational Tail"
  • Haidt, Chapter 3, "Elephants Rule"

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. -- 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)
  • The troubled history of applying evolution to social processes
  • 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 (used to be in the course. See links.); Damasio -- 33 -- seems to be a very different picture than Plato's;
  • Some examples of evolutionary psychology
  • 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. could watch gruesome images without feeling. trouble planning. (Phineas Gage) reasoning (about some practical matters) requires feeling.
  • 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.

Small Group Discussion

  • Go back to roach juice and soul selling. How would you react to this experiment now that you know it's a pschological trigger we have? What else works like this?
  • Is Feeling epistemic? Do we process information with emotions?

  • Bring up Repligate issue. [2]

Haidt, Chapter 3, "Elephants Rule"

  • Personal Anecdote from Haidt's married life: 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 positive 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...

6: FEB 6


  • Lecture on Non-Consequentialisms
  • Robert Sapolsky, C 13, "Morality" pp. 483-493
  • The Trolley Problem

Sapolsky. Behave. C 13, 483-493

Rough topics:

  • Origins of Social/Moral Intuitions in Babies and Monkeys and Chimps
  • infants show signs of moral reasoning -- baby helper studies, baby sweets study - rewards helper, baby secondary friends study
  • capuchin monkey study (deWaal) - monkey fairness. (demonstrated also with macaques monkeys, crows, ravens, and dogs), details on 485.
  • Chimp version of Ultimatum Game - in the deWaal version, chimps tend toward equity unless they can give the token directly to the grape dispensers.
  • also studies for fairness without loss of self-interest and "other regarding preferences".
  • in one inequity study the advantaged monkey (the one who gets grapes) stops working as well. solidarity?
  • Interesting comment: human morality transcends species boundary. starts before us.
  • Exemptions for testifying against relatives and vmPFC patients who will trade relatives in Trolley situations
  • vmPFC damaged patient will sacrifice a relative to save four non-relatives.
  • Interesting note about criminal law exemptions.
  • Neuroscience of the Trolley Problem and "Intuition discounting"
  • dlPFC in level condition and vmPFC in bridge condition.
  • Greene's hyposthesis: in level condition the killing of the one is a side-effect. In bridge condition, its because of the killing. Different forms of intentionality.
  • Loop condition -- you know you have to kill the person on the side track, should be like bridge condition, but test subjects match level condition.
  • Hyposthesis: Intuitions are local; heavily discounted for time and space. (Think of other examples of this.)
  • related point about proximity - leave money around vs. cokes. Singer's pool scenario vs. sending money for absolute poverty relief.
  • priming study on cheating involving bankers. a little puzzling.
  • Neuroscience of the Fundamental Attribution Error
  • p. 492: "but this circumstance is different" - neuro-evidence for the Fundamental Attribution Error [5]
  • we judge ourselves by internal motives and others by external actions. Our failings/successes elicit shame/pride others elicit anger or indignation and emulation (envy?).
  • Ariely: cheating not limited by risk but rationalization.


  • Major intuitions behind Non-Consequentialism:
  • Being good and doing well (satisfying interests) are not the same thing.
  • Moral goodness is about being true to something (maybe no matter the consequences). (your nature as a creation of God, Reason, Moral Agency (being responsible, autonomous), enjoying rights)
  • Doing your duty is one thing, becoming happy is another.
  • Types
  • Divine Command
  • Natural Law
  • Rights Theory (version exist with conseq.)
  • Kantianism
  • Virtue Ethics (can be also conseq. or mixed)
  • Rawlsian thought on political morality (mixed)

Small Group Discussion

  • Thinking about the relationship between consequentialist and non-consequentialist thought. It looks like a choice about the nature of moral goodness, but wait, is that the only option? Try to think about what would be missing in our moral experience if we made a simple choice between them.

7: FEB 11


  • Haidt, Chapter 4, "Vote for Me (Here's Why)"
  • Haidt, Chapter 5, "Beyond WEIRD Morality"

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

  • Ring of Gyges
  • Functionalism in psychology
  • Reminder of big theoretical choice about ethics. (74) Is function of ethics truth discovery or pursuit of socially strategic goals?
  • 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
  • Section 3: We're really good at finding rationalizations for things.
  • more examples of people behaving as Glaucon would have predicted. Members of parliament, Ariely, Predictably Irrational,
  • Section 4: Can I believe it vs. Must I believe it
  • 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: Partisan Brains
  • 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. introduce term "social epistemology"

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 behaviors 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 behaviors of people who do the opposite. What are some verbal or other behaviors 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?

Haidt, Chapter 5, "Beyond WEIRD Morality"

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.

A 3 channel moral matrix

  • 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.)

Making Sense of Moral Difference

  • 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?

Primate family tree.gif

8: FEB 13


  • Lecture: Another approach to Kant.
  • Hibbing, John R., Kevin Smith, and John R. Alford, Predisposed: Liberals, conservatives, and the biology of political difference, Chapter 1.
  • Robert Sapolsky, C 13, "Morality..." pp. 493-500.

Lecture: Non-consequentialism

  • Another Approach to Kant
  • Some moral theories are not focused on happiness or happy consequences, but being true to an ultimate moral value or vision of the world. For Kant, an Enlightenment thinker, that is the idea of ourselves as rational beings.
  • What does it mean to be a rational being for Kant?
  • Rational Beings: free, autonomous (self-regulating), purposive, having a life. Persons, no just bodies.
  • Kant's view of reason and nature: When we look at our nature we see both reason and passion. Our reason is a source of freedom from interests and gives us the possibility of autonomy (to be self-legislating). Passsions and interests bind us to the world and can only be a source of hypothetical imperatives (or conditional duties). If you want X, do Y.
  • My duty is fundamentally to be true to the possibility of my freedom and autonomy, to my rational nature. This is a categorical imperative because our freedom is not a conditional choice for me, but a recognition that the conditions of autonomy and reason are the same.
  • How do I figure out if my motives are consistent with the idea of myself as a rational being?
  • Motives expressed as "maxims". Try to imagine the maxim of your action as if if were a universal law (what if everyone followed it?). Kant thinks that when you universalize your maxim you can discover contradictions in it from a rational perspective.
  • Two Examples of Kantian thinking: Lying and Indifference to Others These examples illustrate two types of contradictions that we might discover when we try to universalize our maxim. (The following is exerpted from the site I referenced last class.)
  • The maxim for the false promise: “When I believe myself to be in need to money I shall borrow money and promise to repay it, even though I know that this will never happen.”
  • Reasoning: A person proposes to make a promise he doesn’t intend to keep to pay back money in order to meet a need of his own. He must consider whether he could will a world in which everyone is motivated in precisely the same way. Kant claims that he cannot since it is only possible for people to promise in the first place if there is sufficient trust for others to believe that the person promising intends to keep his promise. But a world (otherwise like our own) in which everyone acted on this maxim would be a world in which such trust will not exist. Therefore it is impossible even to conceive of a world in which everyone acts on this maxim as though by a law of nature; therefore it is wrong to act on this maxim oneself. Kant says it creates a "contradiction in nature"
  • The maxim for not helping others: “let each be as happy as heaven wills or as he can make himself; I shall take nothing from him nor even envy him; only I do not care to contribute anything to his welfare or to his assistance in need!”
  • Reasoning: A person proposes not to help others because it is not in his own interest to do so. He then asks whether he could will a world in which everyone is similarly motivated. Clearly he can imagine such a world, so this kind of case is different from the first. But can he rationally will that everyone act on this maxim as though by a law of nature? It seems he cannot, because in willing that he act on the maxim, he is willing that his own interest be promoted, but in willing that everyone act on the maxim, he is willing that his own interest not be promoted. Thus his will is in conflict with itself.
  • “Since many a situation might arise in which the man needed love and sympathy from others, and in which, by such a law of nature sprung from his own will, he would rob himself of all hope of the help he wants for himself.” (Kant hisself, Groundwork,423)
  • Conclusion: a bad act is one that creates a contradiction in nature or will.
  • Back to Alfino's notes:
  • Respect & treating others as "ends in themselves"
  • Note: Kant believes his theories explains lying and generosity as formal duties, not expressions of a desire to promote happy outcomes for others.
  • You can think of rights this way as well, but not everyone does. Can you have formal rights without a right to material conditions?

Hibbing, et. al. Predisposed Chapter 1

  • Some opening examples of the persistence of partisanship
  • opening example: William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal -- meant as example of highly educated partisans who would be able to debate in a civilized way. 60's era political divisions often violent.
  • also historical examples of highly partisan politics -- Hamilton & Adams, Hamilton & Burr (duelled). Jefferson's dirty tricks.
  • Goal of the Book: to explain why people experience and interpret the political world so very differently. (6): list of difference that track political difference. READ
  • A methodological concern
  • Does it makes sense to reduce political difference to "liberal" vs. "conservative". They are in fact measuring lots of differences, but claim there is a tradition of recognizing this difference. 11: some terminological issues. Ultimately, labels for clusters of real personality and behavioral differences.
  • Think Probabalistically: not biological determinists, rather real persistent differences shape and mold our ideology. Example: relation between conscientiousness and ideology 14. A number of studies replicate a positive correlation bt conscientiousness and conservatism. Lesson on 15: difference between representing data in categories vs. scatterplot. Wilson-Patterson index of conservatism. Brief lesson on correlation, 17. Correlation for conscientiousness and conservatism small r = .2
  • What are predispositions?
  • Predispositions - some stimuli, like a pencil, are emotionally neutral. Others not. Leibniz speculated about "appetitions" Neurscientist Eagleman: brain running alot of its own programs. Ad hoc defenses (also in Haidt) called "baloney generator" by Pinker. We may have an illusion of rationality and control. examples of self-deception like this, p. 21, also top of 22 read.
  • Responses to Political stimuli emotionally salient and not always conscious: Lodge: "hot cognition" or "automaticity"
  • 23: clarifying argument: not nature / nurture. predispositions are difficult to change. research on long term stability of pol. orientation. 180 degree turn is very unusual. Technical def: "Predispositions, then, can be thought of as biologically and psychologically instantiated defaults that, absent new information or conscious overriding, govern response to given stimuli."
  • Our actual predispositions vary, but also the degree to which we have predispositions is variable across a group. (This is one reason researchers in the field sometimes focus on highly partisan test subjects.)
  • 25: some background on theorizing about political dispositions. what is new today is better research, but also research connecting political variation with bio/cog variation.
  • 27: resistance to this kind of theory in political science. Philip Converse. also, idea that politics is best understood in terms of history and culture

Sapolsky, Behave, C 13, 493-500

  • Context, Culture, and Moral Universals
  • given all of the ways our moral judgements can be altered by context and culture, are there universals? Some forms of murder, theft, and sexual misbehavior. The Golden Rule is nearly universal.
  • Schweder. autonomy,community, divinity
  • Public goods game research
  • Simple version, pay to punish deadbeats version.
  • Robust results: 1) Everyone is prosocial. In no culture do people just not contribute. 2) In all cutlures, people punish low contributors. (Prosocial or altruistic Punishment)
  • Interesting recent result: Anti-social punishment is also universal, though it's strength varies. Interestingly, the lower the social capital in a country, the higher th erates of antisocial punishment.
  • research by Joseph Henrich, U BC, subjects from wide range of cultures play three simluation games: The Dictator and two versions of the Ultimatum Game. Variables that predict prosocial patterns of play: market integration, community size, religion.
  • World Religions and Moralizing Gods
  • What is the connection between participation in world religion and prosocial play? 499: When groups get large enough to interact with strangers, they invent moralizing gods. The large global religions all have moralizing gods who engage in third party punishment.
  • Bottom of 499: Two hypotheses: 1) Our sense of fairness is an extension of a deep past in which sociality was based on kin and near kin. (don't forget monkey fairness) or, 2) Fairness is a cultural artifact (product of culture) that comes from reasoning about the implications of larger groups size.
  • Note theoretical puzzle on p. 500

9: FEB 18

  • President's Day Holiday

10: FEB 20


  • Haidt, Chapter 6, "Taste Buds of the Righteous Mind"
  • Haidt, Chapter 7, "The Moral Foundations of Politics"
  • Short Writing Assignment #1

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. against moral monism
  • like cuisines, there is variation, but within a range.
  • mentions 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
  • Quick group exchange: Random bumper sticker on a truck in downtown Spokane: Annoy a Liberal. Work. Succeed. Be happy. Note how you can read into this bumper sticker to find the "triggers". This person likely thinks that liberals are not committed to a work ethics (or don't appreciate how hard real work is), may be envious of success, and is always focused on what's wrong with society instead of being happy... For 2-3 minutes, visit the Cafepress website [6] and see if you can read bumper stickers for triggers this way.

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.
  • Old Group Discussion topic: 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 [7].)
  • 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?

Short Writing Assignment #1: 600 words

  • Stage 1: Please write an 600 word maximum answer to the following question by Friday, March 1, 11:59pm.
  • Topic: What is Jonathan Haidt's critique of traditional philosophical approaches to ethics? How do Haidt and other social and natural scientists we have read look at morality instead?
  • Advice about collaboration: I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes. Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. It's a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • 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. Put a word count in the file.
  2. In Word, check "File" and "Options" to make sure your name does not appear as author. You may want to change this to "anon" for this document.
  3. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font, using normal margins.
  4. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "SW1".
  5. Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the Q&W dropbox.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. We will be using the Flow, Content, and Insight areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by Thursday, March 7, 2019, 11:59pm.
  • Use this Google Form to evaluate four peer papers. The papers will be in our shared folder, but please do not edit or add comments to the papers directly. This will compromise your anonymity.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, I will send you a key with animal names in alphabetically order, along with saint names. You will find your animal name and review the next four (4) animals' work.
  • Some papers may arrive late. If you are in line to review a missing paper, allow a day or two for it to show up. If it does not show up, go ahead and review enough papers to get to four reviews. This assures that you will get enough "back evaluations" of your work to get a good average for your peer review credit. (You will also have an opportunity to challenge a back evaluation score of your reviewing that is out of line with the others.)
  • Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, I will give you the higher of the two grades. Up to 14 points in Q&W.
  • Stage 4: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and my evaluation, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [8]. Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. Up to 10 points, in Q&W.
  • Back evaluations are due Friday, March 22nd, 2019, 11:59pm.

11: FEB 25


  • Hibbing, John R., Kevin Smith, and John R. Alford, Predisposed, Chapter 2, "Getting Into Bedrock with Politics".

Group Discussion of SW1

  • We will set aside 10-15 minutes for you to get into groups and share suggestions for writing good answers for SW1. Please observe the collaboration guidelines on the assignment.

Hibbing, et. al. Predisposed Chapter 2

  • Begins with allegations that universities are left-biased. Points out counterexample in Russell. students can be more radical than even lefty faculty. City college story. 34ff: ironically its most lasting intellectual movement was neoconservatism.
  • Point of story: 1) colleges political orientations have little predictable effect on their students. 2) Politics and political beliefs are fungible, change dep on time and place. No discussions these days of Stalin-Trotskyism
  • Note: Hibbing et al disagree with the second point. their thesis is that human nature is variable but politics is, at its core, dealing with a constant problem, invariable. found in "bedrock dilemmas"
  • Back to Aristotle: [M]an is by nature political. -- politics deep in our nature. GWAS studies suggest more influence from gene difference on political orientation than economic prefs. political orientation is one of the top correlate predicting mate selection. (39). considers two objections: mates become similar over time or the correlation is an effect of the selection pool "social homogamy" --politics is connected to willingness to punish difference. 40-41.
  • "Differences Galore?" -- issues are what we agree/disagree on, labels distinguish groups contesting issues. Both are contingent are variable over time. (Later, "waves on the surface".)
  • Label "liberal" - today means mildly libertarian, but liberal economic policy isn't libertarian at all (involves income transfer). mentions historical origin of Left/Right.
  • Conclusion they are resisting: (43): political beliefs are so multidimensional and variable that left and right don't have any stable meaning.
  • "Commonality Reigns! Political Universals
  • Bedrock social dilemmas: "core preferences about the organization, structure, and conduct of mass social life" 44
  • Predispositions defined: political orientations that are biologically instantiated. these differences are more stable than labels and issues.
  • Example of conceptual framework at work: attitudes toward military intervention. tells the story of changing conservative views of intervention, Lindbergh and the AFC. These changes make sense in relation to the bedrock challenge of dealing with external threats.
  • Example 2: conservatives softening after electoral defeats in 2012. conservatives still consistently more suspicious of out groups. (heightened threat detection)
  • Key point in the theory is that these "bedrock dilemmas" occur once cities become too large for people to know each other.
  • "Society works best when..."
  • history of research on connection between core preferences on leadership, defense, punishment of norm violators, devotion to traditional behavioral standards, distribution of resources. Laponce. Haidt's MFT.
  • some of their research from 2007: "Society works best Index" "predicted issue attitudes, ideological self-placement, and party identification with astonishing accuracy"

12: FEB 27


  • Haidt, Chapter 8: The Conservative Advantage
  • Haidt, Chapter 9, "Why Are We so Groupish?"

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: consistency 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. Bad explanations for being conservative. Liberals don't get the Durkheimian vision. But note range of responses excerpted. An Update
  • 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.
  • 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 (again). 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.

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. Elephant intentionality
  • 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
  • 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 -- Richerson and Boyd: heightened attention to social instincts, allows us to expand 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 occurring 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. Select individually for egg production and you get aggresssive hens. Select by groups and you get more eggs..
  • 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

Brain size.png

13: MAR 4


  • Hibbing, John R., Kevin Smith, and John R. Alford, Predisposed, Chapter 4, "Drunk Flies and Salad Greens".
  • Robert Sapolsky, from Behave, Chapter 14, "Feeling Someone's Pain, Understanding Soemone's Pain, Alleviating Someone's Pain." 521-535.

Sapolsky, Behave, C 14, 521-535

  • starts with "exposure to an aversive state" -- we call it empathy, but what is that?
q1: When does empathy lead us to actually do something helpful?
q2: When we do act, whose benefit is it for?
  • sympathy -- feeling sorry for someone's pain.
  • empathy -- includes a cognitive step of understanding the cause of someone's pain and "taking perspective"
  • compassion -- S. suggests this involves empathy plus taking action.
  • basic account of empathy research:
  • we are 'overimitative' - chimp / kids study524
  • mouse studies -- alterations of sensitivity to pain on seeing pain; fear association seeing another mouse exp fear conditioning
  • lots of species engage in consolation, chimps show third party consolation behavior, no consolation behavior in monkeys -- prairie voles!
  • 526: rats, amazing rats -- US/them behaviors, some flexibility
  • 527: describes mechanism of empathy: early emo contagion in kids may not be linked to cognitive judgement as later, when Theory of Mind emerges
  • Some neurobiology: the ACC - anterior cingulate cortex - processes ineroceptive info, conflict monitoring, (presumably cog. dissonance). susceptible to placebo effect. Importantly, ACC activates on social exclusion, anxiety, disgust, embarrassment, but also pleasure, mutual pleasure.
  • ACC also involved in action circuits. Oxytocin, hormone related to bonding. Block it in voles and they don't console. Awwww!
  • How does self-interested "alarm" system of the ACC get involved in empathy? Sapolsky's hypothesis 530: Feeling someone's pain can be more effective for learning than just knowing that they're in pain. Empathy may also be a self-interested learning system, separately from helping action.
  • Cognitive side of things: How do we bring judgements about desert and character to bear on empathic responses?
  • Cognition comes in with less physical pain, judgement abstractly represented pain (a sign), unfamiliar pain.
  • socioeconomics of empathy 533: wealth predicts lower empathy. the wealthy take more candy!
  • especially hard, cognitively, to empathize with people we don't like, because their pain actually stimulates a dopamine response!

Hibbing, et. al. Predisposed Chapter 4

  • Point about fruit flies: taste for glycerol has biological basis, manipulable, yet we'd say the fly "likes" beer. Variation in human preferences yet also biologically instantiated. Focus on this chapter: taste/pref diffs of conservatives/liberals, their basis, connection to politics. Later, cars, stocks,
  • Obama's arugula faux pas. Hunch.com studies (note problems): supports stereotype. Neuropolitics.org: similar findings
  • Hibbing et al research 93: expanded preference research to humour, fiction, art, prefs in poetry, living spaces,
  • Market research in politics: mentions RNC, but consider Ethics News! since this came out. BIG issue here.
  • History of research on finding personality traits that predict politcs: Nazi research - Erich Jaensch J and S type personalities; background of trying to understand WW2 atrocities; hypothesis of authoritarian personality Theordor Adorno, note quote at p. 100. F-scale for Fascism. Han Eysenck's work on "tenderminded/toughminded"; 1960's Glenn Wilson. conservatism as resistance to change and adherence to tradition.
  • 70's and 80s research on RWA - right wing authoritarianism. measure of submission to authority.
  • Hibbing et al assessment: criticisms persist in effort to find an "authoritarian personality". But claim, "there is a deep psychology underlying politics"
  • Personality research: Big Five model: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Two of these are relevant to political orientation. conscientiousness connected to research on "cognitive closure"
  • 105ff: review of Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory
  • 108ff: Values theory of Shalom Schwartz. diagram at 109. 10 core values on axis of individual vs. collective welfare and group loyalty versus ind. pleasure. Diagram also looks like an ideological spectrum.
  • PTC polymorphism linked to conservatism.
  • "Conservatives and liberals experience and process different worlds"

14: MAR 6


  • Robert Sapolsky, C 13, "Morality..." pp. 501-517.

Reflections on the Naturalists' Picture of Morality and Politics

  • If we really experience and process different worlds based on enduring and biologically instantiated traits, then:
  • 1. We have different differences than I thought. Earlier picture: in principle there is no rational disagreement.
  • 2. Moral and politic truths not like other epistemic contexts (ordinary factual contexts, scientific, etc.)
  • greater uncertainty. know retrospectively. no experimental conditions (can't do over).
  • Sapolsky adds research reports on behaviors and psychology that seem to adapted to our social/cultural lives (as Haidt and Hibbing)
  • Comforting: Makes sense of my experience. Why reciprocity, trust, and good reputations matter.
  • Discomforting: Same processes that enable us to do cool and great things (pick your example - Oppy, cure aids, etc) also enable groupishness that supports wars and conspiracies.

Sapolsky, Behave, C 13, 479-517

  • (these are the notes from the first half of the chapter, which we have already discussed. See below for today's notes.)
  • Context, Culture, and Moral Universals
  • given all of the ways our moral judgements can be altered by context and culture, are there universals? Some forms of murder, theft, and sexual misbehavior. The Golden Rule is nearly universal.
  • Schweder. autonomy,community, divinity
  • Public goods game research
  • Simple version, pay to punish deadbeats version.
  • Robust results: 1) Everyone is prosocial. In no culture do people just not contribute. 2) In all cutlures, people punish low contributors. (Prosocial or altruistic Punishment)
  • Interesting recent result: Anti-social punishment is also universal, though it's strength varies. Interestingly, the lower the social capital in a country, the higher the rates of antisocial punishment.
  • research by Joseph Henrich, U BC, subjects from wide range of cultures play three simluation games: The Dictator and two versions of the Ultimatum Game. Variables that predict prosocial patterns of play: market integration, community size, religion.
  • World Religions and Moralizing Gods
  • What is the connection between participation in world religion and prosocial play? 499: When groups get large enough to interact with strangers, they invent moralizing gods. The large global religions all have moralizing gods who engage in third party punishment.
  • Bottom of 499: Two hypotheses: 1) Our sense of fairness is an extension of a deep past in which sociality was based on kin and near kin. (don't forget monkey fairness) or, 2) Fairness is a cultural artifact (product of culture) that comes from reasoning about the implications of larger groups size.
  • Note theoretical puzzle on p. 500
  • (today's notes start here)
  • the chapter's survey and quest for cultural moral universals continues.....
  • Honor and Revenge - (mention Mediterranean hyposthesis - Italian honor culture & research on southerners....)
  • Collectivists -- diffs from Individualists
  • more likely to sacrifice welfare of one for group. use as means to end. focus of moral imperatives on social roles and duties vs. rights.
  • uses shames vs. guilt. read 502. shame cultures viewed as primitive, but contemporary advocates of shaming. thoughts?....examples p. 503.
  • gossip as tool of shaming -- as much as 2/3 of conversation and mostly negative.
  • Fools Rush In -- Reason and Intuition
  • How do we use insights from research to improve behavior?
  • Which moral theory is best? (trick question).
  • Virtue theory looks outdated, but maybe more relevant than we think.
  • reviews the point from trolley research about the utilitarian answer from the dlPFC and the nonutilitariain from the vmPFC. Why would we be automatically non-utilitarian? One answer: nature isn't trying to make us happy, it's try to get our genes into the next generation.
  • Moral heterogeneity - new data: 30% deontologist and 30% utilitarian in both conditions. 40% swing vote, context sensitive. theorize about that.
  • Major criticism of utilitarian - most rational, but not practical unless you don't have a vmPFC. "I kinda like my liver". Triggers concerns that you might be sacrificed for the greater happiness.
  • Sapolsky claims that optimal decisions involve integration of reason and intuition. 508:"Our moral intuitions are neither primordial nor reflexively primitive....[but] cognitive conclusions from experience. morality is a dual process, partitioned between structures for reasoning and intuition.
  • More Josh Greene research. Old problem: tragedy of the commons -- how do you jumpstart cooperation. It's a "me vs us" problem. But there's an "us versus them" version when there are two groups (cultures) with competing models for thriving.
  • Dog meat. -- used as example of how you could induce us vs. them response. Samuel Bowles example of switching people's mind set in the case of the school responding to late parents.
  • Veracity and Mendacity interesting book [9]
  • note range of questions 512. Truth telling not a simple policy matter.
  • primate duplicity -- capuchin monkeys will distract a higher ranking member to take food, but not a lower one.
  • male gelada baboons know when to hold off on the "copulation call"
  • differences with humans: we feel bad or morally soiled about lying and we can believe our own lies.
  • human resources for lying -- poker face, finesse, dlPFC comes in with both struggle to resist lying and execution of strategic lie.
  • 517: Swiss research (Baumgartner et al) -- playing a trust game allowing for deception, a pattern of brain activation predicted promise breaking.
  • also cheating on a coin toss study -- again, lots of cheating
  • Subjects who don't cheat. will vs. grace. grace wins. "I don't know; I just don't cheat."

15: MAR 18

  • Robert Sapolsky, from Behave, Chapter 14, "Feeling Someone's Pain, Understanding Soemone's Pain, Alleviating Someone's Pain." 535--552.

Sapolsky, Behave, C 14, 535-552

  • A Mythic Leap forward - covering mirror neurons and what they do and don't show about moral life.
  • 1990s U of Parma, rhesus monkeys under study, PMC - premotor cortex, PFC communicates with PMC during decision making, "about 10% of neurons for movement X also activated when observing someon else doing movement X. so called mirror neurons --mirroring can be abstract, involve gestalts, fill in missing pieces, seem to mirror intentional states.
  • 537: S is sceptical of theory that mirror neurons are there to enhance learning. Still, there are mirror neuron critics who endorse a version of the social learning theory.
  • 538: Do mirror neurons help you understand what someone is thinking, aid to Theory of Mind? are these neurons focused on social interactions? (stronger effect at close distances) -- but Hickok (2014 The Myth of Mirror Neurons) criticizes this as correlation, no evidence that it helps learning. and not clear that intentionality requires this kind of aid. We can understand lots of intentions we can't perform.
  • 540: Very skeptical of idea that mirror neurons explain empathy. Specifically of Gallese and Ramachandran -- cites evidence of overhype.
  • The Core Issue (in Empathy): Actually doing something.
  • S resumes the topic of the 1st half of the chapter. Empathy can be a substitute for action. "If feel your pain, but that's enough." In adolescents (chapter 6) empathy can lead to self-absorption. It hurts to feel others pain when "you" is new.
  • research predicting prosocial action from exposure to someone's pain: depends upon heart rate rise, which indicates need for self-protection. 543: "The prosocial ones are those whose heart rates decrease; they can hear the sound of someone else's need instead of the distressed pounding in their own chests." (Echoes research showing less prosocial behavior to strangers under cognitive load, hunger condition, social exclusion, stress. Block glucocorticoids and empathy goes up.)
  • research on Buddhist monks, famously Mathieu Ricard. without Buddhist approach, same brain activation as others. with it, quieter amygdala, mesolimbic dopamine activitation - compassion as positive state. (Mention hospice.)
  • empathy disorders and misfires: "Pathological altruism"; empathic pain can inhibit effective action.
  • Is there altruism?
  • 2008 Science study: we predict spending on ourselves will increase happiness, but only altruistic uses of the money did so in the study.
  • S suggests that given the design of the ACC, and the abundant ways the social creatures get rewards from prosocial reputations, maybe we shouldn't be looking for "pure" altruism. (recalls that belief in moralizing gods increases prosocial behavior toward strangers.)
  • returning to that Science study, important to note that the positive effect from altruism only occurred when observer was present!
  • Final study of the chapter. 2007 Science, test subjects in scanners, given money, sometimes taxed, sometimes opp to donate. Follow results 549:
  • more dopamine (pleasure response) to the money, hard to part with it.
  • more dopamine when taxed, more likely to give voluntarily.
  • more dopamine when giving voluntarily.

  • Lessons from Sapolsky in this chapter:
  • 1. Our brains and emotions don't make us good, but make it possible for us to respond in ways that we identify as moral life.
  • 2. Altruism probably needs self-interest.

16: MAR 20


  • Singer, "Rich and Poor"

Philosophical Method in Applied Ethics

  • Start by locating your moral matrix.
  • Identifying extremes, boundary conditions, etc.
  • Try fitting your moral intuitions to principles and arguments for those principles
  • Bring your view into perspective with other well-justified concerns from other moral matrices.

Theorizing the Problem

  • Small Group exercise on "justified partiality"
  • Imagine your future life earnings and the possibility that you would be responsible for raising one or more humans. Under what scenarios (of income, wealth, and life goals) would "justified partiality" not exhaust your resources? What principles would you use to decide that you had resources that you were not obligated to spend on your loved ones.
  • Possibility 1: There are no scenarios like that.
  • Possibility 2: Only scenarios involving extraordinary wealth. (Bezo, Gates, Buffett...)
  • Possibility 3, 4, 5...
  • What, if any obligations to we have to people in absolute poverty?
  • Might be an instance of, "How should I think about unequal outcomes within groups of humans and among groups of humans?
  • Resources:
  • Mixed strategies:
  • Assuming that there is some obligation to aid, use the concept of "justified partiality" to find the right mix between self-interest and altruism.
  • Consider the problem of aid to absolutely poor as an instance of other distributive justice problems. Locate principles of justice that help justify a position.
  • Pure strategies: Thinking about a single principle coming out of a traditional ethical theory that might govern (completely or partially) the case of absolute poverty.
  • Libertarian - Self-ownership might limit aid to volutary contributions. Note implication is this is your only principle.
  • Utilitarian - Comparable moral significance principle - Singer
  • Kantian (example of duty to offer/accept aid)
  • Virtue ethics

Rawls' Theory of Justice

  • Original Social Contract tradition
  • Original Position in Rawls' thought: Choosing principles of justice under a "veil of ignorance"
  • Track what we are ignorance of and what we still know under the veil
  • Note how this realizes a basic condition of moral thought: neutrality, universalization.
  • What are you're ignorant of under the "veil"
  • You still know: human psychology, human history, economic knowledge, the general types of possible situations in which humans can find themselves
  • You don't know: your sex, race, physical handicaps, generation, social class of our parents, etc
  • So, what would it be rational to choose?
  • Rawls claims we would choose the following two principles
  • 1) Principle of Equal Liberty: Each person has an equal right to the most extensive liberties compatible with similar liberties for all. (Egalitarian.)
  • 2) Difference Principle: Social and economic inequalities should be arranged so that they are both (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged persons, and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of equality of opportunity.
  • Note other possible principles. Small Group assessment

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 [10]
  • 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:
  • Singer's thought experiment: "On my way to give a lecture, I pass a shallow pond...."
  • Main Principle (Principle of Comparable Moral Significance): 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?

17: MAR 25


  • Sachs, Jeffrey, "Can the Rich Afford to Help the Poor?" (2006)
  • Jeffrey Sachs, "The Case for Aid" p. 850

Finish point about using Rawls as part of a mixed strategy

  • helping as a "rate" phenomena. justice of differences found partly in the relative rate of change across quintiles.
  • avoids trying to compare value of a college education to an absolutely rich person vs. malaria meds to an absolutely poor person.

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.) Were they a success? and [11]
  • 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: [12]

Jeffrey Sachs, "The Case for Aid"

  • audience for piece: Foreign Policy.
  • Aid works. Caveats: not the driver of economic dev., not always effective, can't condone bad gov't.
  • Discusses Easterly's work throughout.
  • Best examples of effectiveness of aid are in public health.
  • Case of malaria interventions. (One of Easterly's strongest cases at the time.) note concept of "spill over effect", like herd immunity.
  • Argument for combo of bed nets and meds. Improvements in nets in early 2000s. Points out that average poor African country has maybe $15 per capita to spend on public health when a real system would cost $60.
  • Claims Easterly erroneously attacked bed net programs. After Easterly's book in 2006, Kenya tried scaling up malaria intervention. Sharp drop in malaria. Then through UN across sub-saharan Africa. Other health gains.
  • p. 853: note description of standards for programs. (Background on program design and accountability.)

Putting Aid in Context

  • Think about connection between foreign aid and immigration. Perhaps not pure altruism, but is there such a thing?
  • Aid in context of other forces:
  • economic development is a stronger lifter, but not as comprehensive in its concerns. (not nec. sentive to social dev. goals).
  • public health successes of aid are also an example of value of coordinated effort (intentional cooperation) needed to solve this problem, as opposed to distributed effort that works in a free market (unintentional cooperation). When is centralized vs. decentralized decisionmaking more effective to solve a problem.

18: MAR 27


  • Singer, One World Now, Chapter 1, "A Changing World," (1-16)

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.

19: APR 1


  • Singer, One World Now, Chapter 2, "One Atmosphere," (16-69)
  • SW2

Singer, "One Atmosphere"

  • Some local and recent data points:
  • Background on the Problem
  • Example of Ozone depletion in 70s, resolved with Montreal Protocol in 87.
  • Facts and level of consensus. born after 85 and you've never experienced a month in which global temps were below the 20th century average for that month.
  • Who is affected? 22: rich vs. poor.
  • Holocene (12,000 yrs) -- "Anthropocene" (also a food story)
  • 25: how are our value systems prepared/unprepared for this issue? individual vs. communal problem. externality.
  • Means of addressing climate change: polluter pays, cap and trade (note more recent arguments: address human impact, try to moderate change).
  • 1997 Kyoto Protocol. US withdrawl under 2nd Bush admin, Cophenhagen Accord, then Paris update: [13]; Now Paris Accords of 2015, which are still not legally binding, but have some "name and shame" transparency. President Trump withdrew the US from the Paris agreement
  • Equitable Distributions p. 32 on:
  • Historical vs. time slice principles (give examples from race/ethnicity).
  • A way of thinking about historical principles of equitable distribution: giant sink: as long as it keeps working, we are leaving "enough and as good" for others. Locke give us a way of showing how property can be legitimately acquired. More examples: intellectual labor.
  • sink stops working = tragedy of the commons (over grazed land; over used "sink") models the transition from thinking of atmosphere as unaffected by our behavior.
  • Lockean justifications of property and unequal acquisition "enough and as good"; Smith's "invisible hand"; calls Smith out on consumption of rich: in environmental terms there's a huge difference. Thesis here: Neither Locke nor Smith can justify property acquisition if the model is a zero-sum, which S. claims it is after the sink plugs up.
  • Neither Locke nor Smith envisioned assessing the justice of the rich having unfair access to the "global sink"
  • Data on Am carbon footprint 36. Point is that you might, ala Rawls, recognize that the poor or those affected by industrial nations' pollution are somehow better off. Might try to apply this to climate change, but it's hard to see benefits to poor.
  • Analysis by Teng Fei. p. 39 - carbon budget for the planet. 1850-2050. We've spent our share. part of "you broke it, you fix it" 1: Polluter pays
  • Time slice: arguably developed nations don't have full historical liability. didn't know. leads to equal share view. p. 40
  • not much diff from historical view. US would have to reduce by 80%.
  • problems with population based approaches: reduces motivation to avoid consumption in large societies that currently don't have large carbon footprints.
  • 3: Aiding the Worst Off
  • How would a Rawlsian look at the "difference" between wealthy and poor on climate change abatement?
  • Fairness as aiding the worst off. Yet, you could also argue that rich nations shouldn't have to bear all the costs if it diminished their ability to help the worst off.
  • Difference principle: p. 47: "When we distribute goods, we can justify giving more to those who are already well off only if this will bring about "the greatest benefit of the least advantaged"". Note this is not strict egalitarianism.
  • How would utilitarians approach the problem? 50ff. 4: Greatest Happiness principle
  • greatest happiness or preference utilitarians come out about the same.
  • Bjorn Lomborg analysis: because of "discounting" of future harms/benefits utilitarians might rather help the poor now rather than address future harms. But Singer claims this ignores the difference between discounting an asset and discounting the suffering of future humans or species.
  • 1. utilitarian would endorse "polluter pays" as a "rule" that produces good results
  • 2. "equal shares" principle is not the only option for a utilitarian, but makes better sense than other criteria. if it motivated progress...
  • 3. because of "diminishing marginal utility", utilitarians can support additional aid to the worst off.
  • Emissions Trading
  • Singer endorses the "equal future shares" principle on pragmatic grounds.

Short Writing Assignment #2: Obligations to aid those in absolute poverty. (800 words)

  • Stage 1: Please write an 800 word maximum answer to the following question by Sunday, April 7, 11:59pm.
  • Topic: What, if any, obligations do we have to people in absolute poverty? What is the basis of the obligation or of the claim that we have none? If we do have obligations, what kinds are they: individual, collective, or both? Is the US meeting, exceeding, or falling short of its collective obligation to aid those in absolute poverty? In articulating your view, be sure to identify constraints and limits on our ability to render aid, such as justified partiality and the probable effectiveness of the aid in question, as well as the limits of our actual obligation.
  • You may bring outside research into your answer. Citations do not count in the word count. Be sure to respond to the specific points of the prompt, but do so in an integrated and well organized piece of writing, not by answering the questions directly. Your "content" score is partly based on topicality, how well you address the prompt.
  • Advice about collaboration: I encourage you to collaborate with other students, but only up to the point of sharing ideas, references to class notes, and your own notes. Collaboration is part of the academic process and the intellectual world that college courses are based on, so it is important to me that you have the possibility to collaborate. It's a great way to make sure that a high average level of learning and development occurs. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to NOT share text of draft answers or outlines of your answer. Keep it verbal. Generate your own examples.
  • 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. Put a word count in the file. Do not include citations in your word count.
  2. In Word, check "File" and "Options" to make sure your name does not appear as author. You may want to change this to "anon" for this document.
  3. Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font, using normal margins.
  4. Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "SW2".
  5. Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the Q&W dropbox.
  • Stage 2: Please evaluate four student answers and provide brief comments and a score. Review the Assignment Rubric for this exercise. We will be using the Flow, Content, and Insight areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by Sunday, April 14, 2019, 11:59pm.
  • Use this Google Form to evaluate four peer papers. The papers will be in our shared folder, but please do not edit or add comments to the papers directly. This will compromise your anonymity.
  • To determine the papers you need to peer review, I will send you a key with animal names in alphabetically order, along with saint names. You will find your animal name and review the next four (4) animals' work.
  • Some papers may arrive late. If you are in line to review a missing paper, allow a day or two for it to show up. If it does not show up, go ahead and review enough papers to get to four reviews. This assures that you will get enough "back evaluations" of your work to get a good average for your peer review credit. (You will also have an opportunity to challenge a back evaluation score of your reviewing that is out of line with the others.)
  • Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, I will give you the higher of the two grades. Up to 28 points in Q&W.
  • Stage 4: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments and my evaluation, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: [14]. Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. Up to 10 points, in Q&W.
  • Back evaluations are due TBD, 2019, 11:59pm.

20: APR 3


Some facts and figures on immigration

Pew summary data

Figure 1: Size and share of Foreign born population

Crime in countries of the Americas

More on crime

Frum, David, "How Much Immigration is too much?"

  • Factual claims about US immigration levels
  • more in 90s than previous 7 decades.
  • global south to global (richer) north: 1990-2015 44 million people (mention desertification video from food 50 million)
  • US on track to reach peak non-us born at 14.8% by 2027
  • US on track to reach 400 million by 2050
  • Immigrants include nobel prize winners and entrepreneurs
  • Effects of high immigration rate on European politics (more at 9)
  • Frum suggests that left/right politics has shifted. Old left position was labor protective and accused right of wanting immigrants for cheap labor New left position is that immigrants need our protection and new right that control of immigration is an existential concern.
  • Building a critique
  • Explanatory thesis for part of Northern Triangle immigration is that economic conditions are improving, allowing more people to afford to escape.
  • Critiques current system -- patchwork -- entry by family, lottery, ...
  • Points out that we are are inviting immigrants into our carbon footprint.
  • Stenner study on authoritarian personality responses (about 1/3), triggered by many things, but immigration is one. (9)
  • Immigration attutudes don't change by age group.
  • Example of complexity of economic analysis of immigrations' effect (11)
  • Estimates by advocates of positive effect (37 billion), but small % of 13 trillion GDP.
  • Short term costs to local governments are not insignificant.
  • Other concerns: Non citizens are vulnerable to exploitation. (Later, he points out that they are not invested in Social Security.)
  • Solutions
  • Acknowledges value of some immigration for population stability.
  • Wants to reverse the decline of F-1 Visas and accept fewer unskilled and children.
  • "Asylum" category needs to be rethought in light of history. (17)
  • Wants to move away from family re-unification.

21: APR 8


  • Singer, One World Now, Chapter 4 "One Law," (122-149)

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: violence ubiquitous among humans prior to last 100 years. religious genocide common. being attracted to a different religion no okay! familiar pattern.
  • 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. "live and let live" system in WW1.
  • Conclusion he draws: You need a bigger authority to create fear of punishment.
  • Rise of Inter'l Criminal Law
  • Nuremberg, 1984 Types of crimes 130. Conventional Against Torture,
  • Universal jurisdiction: right of any country to try a person who has committed a crime against humanity, regardless of presence or absence of treaties.
  • 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 created in Rome. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Handled Milosevic case in the Hague, which is where ICC is. 60 nations signed up., by 2016 -- 126. 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 sovereignty of another country): "shock to the conscience" problems of subjectivity in both directions: false positives/negatives (interracial sex, atheism, mixed bathing/ Rwanda). 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, developed doctrine of "responsibility to protect" 2001accepted 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. 154
  • 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. Basically, it doesn't make sense to include permission to commit genocide as part of notion of sovreignty since it is a cause of action elsewhere in the charter.
  • Does democracy prevent genocide?
  • Rwanda moving toward democracy, but most cases not democratic states. 157
  • Democracy not enough to prevent genocide, but it contributes by enforcing accountability
  • Does Military intervention cause more harm than good?
  • Can't rescue a village and start WW3.
  • 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.

22: APR 10


  • Singer, One World Now, Chapter 4 "One Law," (149-173)
  • Macedeo, Stephen, "The Moral Dilemma of U.S. Immigration Policy Revisited: Open Borders vs. Social Justice?" (768-780) (recommended)

23: APR 15


  • Singer, One World Now, Chapter 3, "One Economy," (69-105)

Some background on "fair contracts"

  • from: Sandel, Chapter 6: Rawls (not a reading for this term)
  • What is a contract? What moral rules govern contracts?
  • Nature of a contract
  • fairness of contract may dep. on circumstances of execution. "consent" alone doesn't make a contract fair.
  • expectations change with timeline and events (ex of lobsters) "benefits alone" don't determine an obligation
  • Two main concepts underlying contracts:
  • autonomy
  • reciprocity
  • Consent and Benefits -- examples of fair/unfair contracts
  • baseball card trade among diff aged siblings
  • contractor fraud in the leaky toilet case. Charging an older person $50,000 to replace a toilet.
  • Hume's home repairs -- no consent but still obligation. Variation: emergency measures to stop damage
  • Car repair guy story -- what if he fixed the car? would benefit alone confer obligation.
  • squeegee men -- potential for benefit to be imposed coercively
  • Point of connection with Rawls: Rawls veil of ignorance establishes theoretical equality of participants to contract. Contract could be fundamentally fair and guarantee autonomy and reciprocity

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.

24: APR 17

  • Singer, One World Now, Chapter 3, "One Economy," (105-122)

25: APR 22

  • Haidt, Chapter 10, "The Hive Switch" (221-246)

26: APR 24

  • Critical Analysis Paper due
  • Haidt, Chapter 11, "Religion is a Team Sport" (189-221)

27: APR 29

  • Haidt, Chapter 12, "Can't We all Disagree More Constructively?" (189-221)

28: MAY 1

  • Course Conclusion