Spring 2021 Ethics Class Notes and Reading Schedule
From AlfinoJump to navigationJump to search
Return to Ethics
1: JAN 19. Course Introduction
First Day of Class Information
- Welcome - personal introduction and welcome. (Some student introductions.)
- About the Course (Overview of course focus. Detail to follow.)
- Course Websites: SharePoint, Wiki & Courses.alfino.org (Some student introductions.)
- Overview of Teaching Approach.
- Succeeding in the Course:
- Keep in mind course research questions Major_Ethics_Course_Questions (Some student introductions.)
- Required Assignments and Default Grade Weights for your Grading Scheme
- Points 35-65% default = 55%
- Position Paper 1 15-25% default = 20%
- Position Paper 2 20-30% default = 25%
- More About the Course (Orientation, Content, major research questions)
- First six weeks:
- Next nine weeks: Major Applied Topics:
- The nature of political and moral difference, and implications
- Justified Partiality
- Moral Responsibility Skepticism and Alternatives
- Video on/off
- Synchronous attendance. Send excuses for absence prior to class, if possible.
- If you miss class, please try to view the recorded class within 24 hours.
- First Day TO DO list
- Browse some links on the course wiki page
- Find reading for next class on wiki and pdfs from courses.alfino.org
- Buy Jonathan Haidt, "The Righteous Mind"
- Keep an eye out for Ethics News!
2: JAN 21. Unit One: Primers and Background
- Ariely, Why We Lie (6)
- Haidt, The Righteous Mind, Intro and Chapter 1 (24)
- Zimbardo Experiment -- view one of the youtube videos about the experiment. read the wiki page.
- Brief glance at Philosophical Methods
- 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.
- Some key elements to distinguish in reporting research:
- observational, survey, experimental
- 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?
Debrief on Zimbardo - Stanford Prison Experiment
- Let's practice our protocol for reporting research here.
- What are the principle insights from this experiment? How might they relate to recent events?
Everyday Ethics: Thinking about Gossip
- Defining gossip is difficult, but it typically involves sharing information about someone in a way that you would not want that person to discover.
- Is gossip always bad or does it sometimes serve a legitimate purpose? Imagine a continuum of positions on gossip, each justified by a particular principle. Where are you on that continuum? What principle would you use to justify your position.
- In small groups, share your general view of gossip. Feel free to share old gossip stories, such when you discovered people gossiping about you, or were discovered gossiping. Can you recall benefitting from someone sharing gossip with you, perhaps about someone?
- Over the weekend, ask 2-3 people about their views on gossip. Try some of our questions or just engage the conversation on its own terms. Try to figure out how people are thinking about gossip.
Haidt, The Righteous Mind, Intro and Chapter 1
- 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:
- 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
- empiricists -- we learn the difference between right and wrong from experience. tabula rasa.
- Kohlberg's "Heinz story" - pre-conventional, conventional, post-conventional. 
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.)
3: JAN 26
- Hibbing, John R., Kevin Smith, and John R. Alford, Predisposed: Liberals, conservatives, and the biology of political difference, Chapter 1, "Living with the Enemy". (32)
- PBS Aristotle and Virtue Theory: Crash Course Philosophy #38
- Everyday Ethics Discussion and Short Writing Prompt #1. Due at midnight tonight!
- Lecture Segment: Philosophical Theories: Virtue Ethics
- Lecture Segment: Some Preliminaries about Ethical theory and objectivity
- Today's quiz is for practice. Here is the link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1xm_br61JZ8eFmHo_rDubppWURU7G_NpSBG97aPrEcG8/edit
Some Preliminaries about Ethical theory and objectivity
- A Framework for thinking about moral theories.
- Where should we look for "moral goodness"?
- Intentions (Kantian), Act/Person nexus (Aristotle), Consequences (Mill, Singer - utilitarian)
- For Aristotle, whose Virtue theory we will discuss today.
- The following is pretty standard, but was drawn from Peter Singer's classic, Practical Ethics:
- Singer's arguments against cultural relativism:
- The Position: "Wrong" means "I disapprove" or "my society disapproves")
- The Problems:
- If this sort of relativism is true, polls could determine ethics. But they don't.
- Deep subjectivism can't making sense of disagreement. Ethics is a kind of conversation.
- There is just too much research suggesting that "I approve" isn't philosophical "rock bottom".
- 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.
- Are there minimum conditions for ethical theories?
Philosophical Moral Theories: Virtue Ethics
- concepts from video...
- A bit of Aristotle’s theory of virtue and human nature: fixed nature, species eternal, proper function (telos), distinctive aspect of function: being rational and political. (Note that modern virtue theorists aren't committed to some of A's false ideas.)
- Additional points:
- centrality of virtues and practical wisdom. Is practical wisdom real?
- From Aristotle to Evolutionary theory. Eternality of the species. What if you drop this false belief? Human excellence may have to do with meeting or exceeding the challenges posed by our environment. Then the idea that virtues change by time and culture makes more sense. The pursuit of the good life is the objective and constant part of morality, and the everything that changes is part of the challenge of knowing the human good.
EE1: Everyday Ethics Discussion and Short Writing Prompt #1 (300 words)
- Prompt: Is it morally acceptable to gossip? If not, why not. If so, under what circumstances and conditions?Present your theory about the ethics of gossip. A good theory of gossip would establish an understanding of gossip, take a position on the value or acceptability of gossip and provide a principle or rationale for that position. This ungraded assignment will count for 10 points.
- Follow this link when you are ready to write. Due midnight tonight!
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
4: JAN 28
- Sapolsky, Chapter 10: The Evolution of Human Behavior 328-387 (59). For this class read only pages 328-354. Use notes below also for part two of this chapter.
- Philosophical Method: Ethics as a kind of language game, or conversational constraints on moral discourse. Today, before turning to Sapolsky, we'll do a short workshop on how ethical conversations work.
- Preliminary discussion of writing on gossip.
Ethics as a "language game"
- Well, not really a game. The term comes from a famous philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was interested in how language is similar to a games. For example, there are lots of rules to using language, not just grammar, etc., but social rules. Like the rules for conversations. You can know a language and still not be very sophisticated in having a conversation!
- So what are some of the unwritten, but widely acknowledged rules for having an ethical conversation? What are the legitimate "moves" you can make in an ethical conversation? What moves would earn you a yellow or red card.
- illegitimate moves:
- appealing to only one person's interests,
- denying the standing (need for consideration) of a person or group arbitrarily.
- most illicit appeals in informal logic (fallacies)
- legitimate moves:
- appealing to broadly held values about human life and human dignity.
- appealing to cultural and local norms that may be considered well justified
- constraints we might recommend to improve moral or political discourse
- observe norms of civil discourse:
- avoid calling people liars,
- present others' views in ways that show empathetic understanding,
- recognize common ground,
- recognize that cultural and local norms may themselves be called into question.
- We will be developing this idea later in the term. For example, there are implication for the ethics language game if we conclude that political orientation is an enduring personality trait.
EE1: Gossip Writing - Debrief and Discuss
- We'll look at some pieces together. I will start to show how you should look for rubric values in the writing you will eventually review. Then I will ask you to briefly practice this in small groups.
Sapolsky, Chapter 10: The Evolution of Human Behavior
- Evolution 101 — 3 steps
- not so much about survival as reproduction. Antagonistic pleiotropy — sperm early, cancer later.
- other misconceptions — living better adapted than the extinct, not just a “theory”
- Individual Selection — 334: competitive infanticide: why langur monkeys kill babies. How females develop a false estrus to fight back. (Working against mountain gorillas these days.)
- Kin Selection — 336: Basic idea: your nearest kin has most of your genes. Haldane, “I’d gladly lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins.” Allomothering. Grooming behaviors reflect closeness. 337: vervet monkey study. Playback studies. These studies show in various ways how warning behaviors track kinship relationships in social primates.
- How do animal recognize kin? Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gives many animals olfactory recognition of kin. Other mechanisms: songs, vaginal fluid smell, milk.
- How do we do kin selection? Pseudo-kin selection or “green beard” effects. We are not limited to actual kin, any conspicuous feature (like a green beard). Humans show green beard effects. Related to parochialism and xenophobia.
- Reciprocal Altruism.
- cheating and freeriding can create a "Red Queen" situation.
- Two big questions: when is cooperation optimal, how can altruism start?
- What strategy for cooperating is optimal?
- Black Hamlet fish
- Stickleback fish
- But skeptical that tit for tat has been found outside humans.
- How can cooperation ever start? 353
- Note: Reading assignment part 1 ends here.
- Standing on Three legs -- Some examples of different ways that these three forces (ind. selection, kind selection, and reciprocal altruism) can work together in animals.
- vampire bat
- Multilevel Selection Theory
- AND US? How do humans fit into these four modes of selection?
- Second challenge, Is evolution gradual? [This is optional reading.]
- Is everything adaptive? [THis is optional reading.]
5: FEB 2
- Haidt, Chapter 2, "The Intuitive Dog and It's Rational Tail" (25)
- Everyday Ethics Discussion - a bit more on gossip writing.
- Rubric Training
Here is the link for Quiz 2, Section B:
- Among many successful entries, I chose 4. See "Selected Gossip" on the SharePoint site.
- Some suggestions:
- 4. Content issue: If you define gossip as bad, you make your job very easy. This generalizes.
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 - Reason ought to be the master of emotions. (Timaeus myth of the body - 2nd soul(emotional)), Hume (Reason is slave of passions), and Jefferson (The Head and The Heart model. Nature has made a "division of labor" - Haidt thinks Jefferson got it right.)
- The "ultimate rationalist fantasy" is to believe that passions only serve reason, which controls them.
- The troubled history of applying evolution to social processes
- Wilson's Prophecy
- Moralists (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.
- The emotional nineties de Waal, primatologist who studied moral behavior in primates. monkey fairness. (used to be in the course. See links to he Tanner lectures.); Damasio and Wilson -- 33 -- seems to be a very different picture than Plato's;
- Some examples of evolutionary psychology
- Evolutionary Psychology in moral psychology
- Soul selling
- Harmless Taboo violations: Incest story; note how interviewer pushes toward dumbfounding.
- How to explain dumbfounding.
- Rider and Elephant
- 45: Elephant and Rider defined
- Emotions are a kind of information processing, part of the cognitive process.
- Moral judgment is a cognitive process.
- Values of the elephant: automatic, valuative, ego-maintaining, opens us to influence from others.
- Note Carnegie's advice -- fits with Haidt's model. If you want to persuade people, talk to the elephant. (Note: If the elephant is very afraid and powerless, this can lead to bad outcomes.)
- Social Intuitionist Model: attempt to imagine how our elephants respond to other elephants and riders.
- Bring up Repligate issue. 
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?
- We will look at some writing by my Fall 2020 Ethics students. In this case, they were writing about a Sapolsky Chapter 10. Here's the prompt for this 600 word writing exercise:
- "Topic: In "The Evolution of Social Behavior," Robert Sapolsky reviews the resources in evolutionary theory for explaining social behaviors like cooperation and group behavior. In a 600 word essay, answer this question: "Drawing on resources from this chapter, how does an evolutionist explain how cooperation and other moral behaviors start and are sustained in a human community?" Give examples of processes which promote or impede moral behaviors. Be sure to consider how humans both fit and do not fit evolutionary patterns which apply to other animals. How does Sapolsky explain this?"
- Browse the Assignment Rubric - Note the importance of sensitivity to the prompt.
- Explain the structure of a peer assessed assignment. Note your SW1 coming soon on Waller. Review that. Writing (possible 21 points), peer review and assessment, my evaluation, back evaluation of your evaluator (additional 10 points).
- Look at some peer reviews and scoring of Whale (10), Egret (12), Macaw (15). Then the writing.
- Take 4 minutes to "audit" one to two pieces from this assignment. Note helpful and unhelpful peer comments. See if you agree with the assessments.
6: FEB 4
- Sapolsky, Chapter 10: The Evolution of Human Behavior 328-387 (59). For this class read only pages 354-387. Use notes above also for part two of this chapter.
Some lecture notes on Sapolsky, Chapter 10: The Evolution of Human Behavior 354-374
- See previous class for reading notes on this chapter
- How can cooperation get started and become stable? 353-
- Effects of ind. selection, kin selection, and reciprocal altruism:
- Tournament vs. Pair bonding - lots of traits and behavoirs follow from sexual dimorphism.
- Paternal "imprinted genes" promote fetal growth at expense of mom.
- Multilevel Selection MLS
- Genotypic and Phenotypic levels of explanation - unibrows.
- Two levels and counting.
- Remember "Green Beard" effects from p. 341 -- a thought experiment in extending/recognizing kin. With neo-group, we go further, and hypothesize that we can form groups around almost anything (sport teams in an imaginary baseball league). Human mind does not limit partiality or commitment to kin or even social group.
- Where do we fit in? AND US?
- Not quite pair-bonding, not quite tournament
Group Discussion on Group Selection
- Let's try to deepen our understanding of the relationship between cultural or group selection pressures and our "fitness". How does kin selection still operate and affect our fitness? What are some of the non-kin based cultural and group selection pressures in our society? In addition to selection pressures, how do kin and culture offer resources for increasing our fitness? Where does morality come into this?
- Weak vs. strong - pressures and resources for fitness
- Kin vs. non-kin pressures and resources for fitness
- Group selection structures specifically related to morality.
7: FEB 9. Unit Two: More moral psychology, politics, biology and philosophical moral theories!
- Robert Sapolsky, from Behave, Chapter 13, "Morality and doing the Right Thing, Once You've Figured Out What that Is." pp. 478-483.
- Haidt, Chapter 3, "Elephants Rule" (52-72)
- The Trolley Problem
- Youtube intro to utilitarianism. Apologies for the very rough political speculations at the end!
- Consequentialism - Utilitarianism
Philosophical Moral Theories: Consequentialism -- Utilitarianism
- Brief historical intro to utilitarians: Early industrial society, "social static" (early efforts to measure social conditions). Utilitarians were seen as reformers.
- Eudaimonistic or Hedonic (Well-being or Happiness oriented) vs. Non-Eudaimonistic (Duty)
- 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.
- Basic principles of utilitarian thought:
- Principle of Utility: Act always so that you promote the greatest good for the greatest number.
- Hedonic version: Act to promote the greatest pleasure ...
- But what is utility? What is a preference?
- Utility: pleasure, what is useful, happiness, well-being.
- Issue of protection of rights in utilitarian thought.
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.
- Link 1:50 section:
- Link 3:10 section: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1JF8bGNqzFlzQ9KV4tBNG8-AYs00n8jpt5W7BUOSpVVA/edit
Sapolsky, Robert. Behave. C 13, "Morality and Doing the Right Thing" (479-483)
- Is moral decision making mostly reasoning or intuition?
- The case for primacy of cognition:
- The case for primacy of intuition:
- In moral quandries, activation of amygdala, vmPFC, and insula typically precede dlPfc activation.
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
- 2. Social and Political judgements are especially intuitive
- Affective Priming - flashing word pairs with dissonance: "flower - happiness" vs. "hate - sunshine"
- Implicit Association Test Project Implicit
- Judgements of competence. note speed of judgement .1 of a second.(59)
- 3. Bodies guide judgements
- Fart Spray exaggerates moral judgements (!)
- Zhong: hand washing before and after moral judgements.
- Helzer and Pizarro: standing near a sanitizer strengthens conservatism.
- 4. Psychopaths: reason but don't feel
- Transcript from Robert Hare research
- 5. Babies: feel but don't reason
- Theory behind startle response studies in infants
- reaching for helper puppets "parsing their social world"
- 6. Affective reactions in the brain Belief Change
- 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...
SW1 Intuitions Come First (600 words)
- Stage 1: Please write an 600 word maximum answer to the following question by February 11, 2020 11:59pm.
- Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
- Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font, using normal margins.
- Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "IntuitionsFirst".
- Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the Points 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 and Content areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by February 17, 11:59pm.
- Use this Google Form to evaluate four peer papers.
- Stage 3: I will grade and briefly comment on your writing using the peer scores as an initial ranking. Assuming the process works normally, my scores will be close to the peer scores. Up to 14 points.
- 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: . Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. Up to 10 points, in Points.
- Back evaluations are due February 25, 11:59pm.
8: FEB 11
- Hibbing, Chapter 4: Drunk Flies and Salad Greens (89-96) (7)
- Hibbing, Chapter 5: Do You See What I See? (30)
- Beginner's Guide to Kant's Moral Philosophy
- Philosophical Moral Theories: Duty
More thoughts on helpful peer commenting
- You are only asked to write two or three sentences of comments, so choose wisely!
- "gentle criticism"
- "I'm having trouble understanding this sentence" vs. "This sentence makes no sense!"
- Wrap a criticism with an affirmation or positive comment
- General and specific -- Ok to identify general problem with the writing, but giving examples of the problem or potential solutions.
Once more on how to turn in your SW1 Writing
- New information on how to assure your anonymity in Word. (See SharePoint, "How to remove...")
- How you will know who to review.
- How we handle late arriving work.
Hibbing, Chapter 4: Drunk Flies and Salad Greens (89-96)
- From Fall2020 Philosophy of food, Food News!:
- Are there Trump and Biden fridges? 
- Point about fruit flies: taste for glycerol has biological basis, manipulable, yet we'd say the fly "likes" beer. POINT: Variation in human preferences yet also biologically instantiated. They are still your preferences even if (especially if?) biologically instantiated. Focus on this chapter: taste/prefs 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 93-4: expanded preference research to: new experiences, humour, fiction, art, prefs in poetry, living spaces,
- Market research in politics: mentions RNC
Hibbing, Chapter 5: Do You See What I See?
- Attention Studies research on Political difference:
- Rorschach tests. seem to trigger different attentional and other biases.
- Claim in this chapter: Differences in political temperament are tied to differences in a variety of perception and procession patterns prompted by stimuli. Liberals and conservatives see the world differently.
- The Eyes Have it
- Eye movement research - gaze cuing: gaze cuing test reveal sensitivity to social cues, but tend to be cited as averages. lots of variation.
- research question: Are liberals more susceptible to gaze cuing than conservatives? Yes. liberals slow down under miscuing, but not conservatives. liberal are more sensitive to social context, conservatives to rules. 121: not necessarily one better than the other. But, interestingly (122) conservatives and liberals prefer their own attentional biases (at least weakly)! (Speculate here.)
- Fitting Round Pigs into Square Holes 122
- Categorization as Cognitive Temperament: tests allow us to see variations in cognitive temperament. hard categorizers vs. soft. Conservatives / liberals. 124: conservatives more likely to lock onto a task and complete it in a fashion that is both definitive and consistent with instructions.
- Cognitive Processing of + and - content. Italian researcher Luciana Carraro, why do some people tend to pay attention to negative words over positive words? Used a Stroop Task measuring delay in reporting font color of negative words. Strong correlation with political orientation. "conservatives have a strong vigilence toward negative stimuli." Wasn't so much the valuation placed on negative words, but that negative stimuli triggered more attentional resources. [Alfino - I tend to associate this with other research suggesting conservatives have better awareness of "threat detection".]
- Same researchers did a Dot Probe Test (measuring speed in identifying a gray dot on a positive or negative image. Assumption that speed equates with attentional disposition toward the stimuli). Liberals a bit quicker with positive images, conservatives with negative.
- Hibbing et. al. wanted to replicate the Italian research. Used a Flanker Task. (measuring speed in reporting a feature of an image when flanked by two images congruent or incongruent to the main image. Assumption is that the less you are slowed down by incongruence, the more attentional resources you had for the image.) Replicated typical results: we are all faster with angry faces, for example. Conservative less impacted by the angry faces. Both groups reacted the same to happy faces.
- What Are You Looking At? 129
- Eye tracking attentional studies - dwell time. Their research measured "dwell time" - time spent looking at an image. in a study, subjects are shown a group of images. General bias toward negative images. Theorized as having survival value. Conservatives spend a lot more time on negative images and quick to fix on negative images. Some weak evidence that liberals focus more on positive images, but sig. results concerned differentials.
- Perception is Reality -- But is it real?
- Since liberals and conservatives value positive and negative images in the same way, you might conclude that they see the same world but pay attention to parts of it with different degrees of interest or attention. But Hibbing et. al. are not so sure. In a study, they asked libs and cons to evaluate pos/negly their view of the status quo on six policy dimensions (134). They seem to assess the reality differently, they see different policies at work in the same society, not just attending more to some stimuli. Political difference might not be difference in preference, but in perception.
- They also did some research on ranking degree of negativity of images and, unlike the Italian research, conservatives did rank negative images more negatively. In another study (135-6), researchers found that conservatives ranked faces as more dominant and threatening than liberals. [Interesting that in both the 1918 pandemic and today's, conservatives resisted mask wearing.]
- You're full of Beans
- Cognitive style in exploration - BeanFest -- a research game in which test subjects try to earn points by deciding whether to accept or reject a bean with an unknown point value. Based on personality, some subjects are more exploratory (accept more beans and get more information), while others are conservative. Political orientation also predicts strategy. Shook and Fazio see the result as indicative of differences in data acquisition strategies and learning styles. Interesting follow-up analysis based on giving test subjects a "final exam" on the bean values. Similar scores, but different patterns of classification.
- 139: good summary paragraph: "New bean? What the hell, say the liberals, let's give it a whirl" Roughly equal scores on the game and exam.
- exploratory behavior and related differences in valuing everyday ethical situations, like forgetting to return a CD. Can you think of a time you attached a judgement to a friend's behavior and then realized it was part of a larger pattern connected to their identity? Being late, tidy, calling back......
- Differing attitudes toward science and religion. No surprise that science denial comes from the right. Partial effect of our cognitive styles. note p. 140.
Philosophical Moral Theories: Duty Ethics
- Basic intuition behind non-consequential duty ethics: At a very basic level, moral behavior comes to us as a kind of "command". This can be felt as an external command (Divine Law) or an internal command (internalization of Divine law, or autonomous act. Duty in the modern sense is felt as a command to be true to some ideal or conception of ourselves. (mention Joe Henrich, The Weirdest People on Earth
- Typical formulation of "modern" duty ethics comes from Kant.
- Video: Beginner’s Guide to Kant’s Moral Philosophy
- What does it mean to be good? To have a good will. The will to do the right thing. Not for rewards.
- Bartender example. Self-interested motivations don’t count (fear of getting caught, losing customers, harming customers).
- What is it that Kant wants you to love and swear absolute duty to? A little background on Kant. Enlightenment figure. (Mill comes later, but also expresses Enlightenment ideas.) Morality originates in my free will. The ability to make rules for ourselves. Being rational. Being bad is a failure of duty to revere reason in each other!
- Categorical Imperative: “I ought never to act except in such a way that I could also will that my maxim should become universal law.” ...if it makes sense for you to will that everyone act from your maxim. This is a kind of test.
- Lying. Fails the test. Contradiction between maxim of truth telling and maxim of lying. You want people to believe you after all.
- Formulation #2: Act in such a way that you treat humanity... always as an end and never simply as a means. Requires respect of others as source of rational planning.
- Are we using people only as an end when we get services from others? Not necessarily.
- Formulation #3: Act as though through your actions you could become a legislator of universal morals. We are examples, contributing to a rational order or not.
9: FEB 16
- Robert Sapolsky, C 13, "Morality" pp. 483-493
- Haidt, Chapter 4, "Vote for Me (Here's Why)" (23)
- Peer reviews due tomorrow, Feb 17 at midnight.
Haidt, Chapter 4, "Vote for Me (Here's Why)"
- Ring of Gyges - Glaucon got it right.
- Key principle for ethical society: "make sure that everyone's reputation is on the line all the time" (even the babies in the room are keeping track!)
- Functionalism in psychology applied to morality - What does morality do? (vs. ...)
- Tetlock: accountability research
- Exploratory vs. Confirmatory thought
- Conditions promoting exploratory thought (def: evenhanded consideration of alt POVs)
- 1) knowing ahead of time that you'll be called to account; [so, transparency!]
- 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 (def: tendency to seek and interp. evidence to confirm our view)
- Wasson again -- number series
- Deann Kuhn -- 80: We are horrible at theorizing (requiring exploratory thought)....
- Section 3: We're really good at finding rationalizations for things.
- more examples of people behaving as Glaucon would have predicted. Members of parliament, :*Plausible deniability - Ariely, matrix-cheating research - Predictably Irrational
- Section 4: Can I believe it? vs. Must I believe it?
- When we want to believe something we ask the first question, when we don't want to believe something, we ask the second question.
- "Motivated reasoning" - 84ff.
- Section 5: Application to political beliefs: Partisan Brains
- Research suggests that ethicists are not more ethical than others. (89 Schwitzgebel)
- Mercier and Sperber. Why Do Humans Reason?
Small Group discussion
A more general list
Some ways to improve moral / political-moral discussion
- 3. Try to notice and work against biases, in general, but don't expect to be completely successful.
- 4. Try to notice "cognitive dissonance" on viewpoint. Try to engage it rather than extinguish it.
- 7. (From Hibbing) Don't expect people with different political orientations
- 8. Highly partisan brains may require "special handling".
Sapolsky. Behave. C 13, 483-493
- Origins of Social/Moral Intuitions in Babies and Monkeys and Chimps
- More infant morality:
- weigh commission more than ommision - infants track commission better than ommission, as in adults.
- prosociality - helper puppet studies,
- punishment - sweets go to helper puppets
- 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.
- "But this circumstance is different..."
- Under stress subjects make more egoistic, rationalizing judgments regarding emoitonal moral dilemmas.
- [this is not mentioned in the text, but it is what he is talking about: the Fundamental Attribution Error - neuro-evidence for the Fundamental Attribution Error 
10: FEB 18
- Libertarianism as a moral and political theory
Hibbing, Ch 6, Different Slates
- Introductory stuff
- Story of Phineas Gage -- 1848 -- early example of biology and personality change.
- Oliver Sachs work.
- 149: lobotomies.
- 150: Some Parkinson's drugs can trigger behavioral changes like addictions and gambling.
- Could some brain diffs correlate with political orientation?
- I Feel it in my Gut -- psychophysiology - based on idea that we experience the world partly through our physiology. -- emotions as "action dispositions" -- we also trigger each other (story about ac and brother in law).
- 151: physiology of anger, stress (digress on cortisol), polygraph.
- 151: how emotional states are instantiated in neural and physiological activity.
- Politics on and in the Brain (two studies)
- Note connection to BeanFest.
- Politics Makes Me Sweat
- EDA disgust studies line up with fartspray studies. Morality and smell are connected.
- Hibbing EDA study 163: disaggregate data and its the sex-issues driving the SNS response.
- Practical issue: studies showing unconscious response to group affiliation. SNS activates in presence of politically relevant out-groups.
- French study on response to out-groups. 165 Verbal reports non-racist, but EDA showed activation for non-white image. (Our bodies can betray us.) (Unconscious racism? At least unconscious activation of potential threat.)
- Emory study 165 - application bias study. Test subjects with higher SNS activation show greater pref for white applicants.
- In Your Face Politics
- Study involving the facial muscle corrugator supercilii" (the eybrow furrowing muscle). Females of all pol. orientations more expressive than males. Liberal males about as expressive as females. (Apologies to macho liberal guys!) Conservative males were distinctive for lack of emotional expressivity.
Small Group Discussion on Physio-politics
- Are you surprised by this research? (both Hibbing C5 and C6) Do you think people generally believe they can conceal their political group affiliation? If you do, does that make you skeptical about this research?
- If "physio-politics" is real, then we're all having somewhat different physiological reactions to news, issues, and each other.
Libertarianism as a moral and political theory
- Some of these notes based on Sandel.
- Libertarianism in Six Minutes (notes)
- Problems identified in Thought Monkey youtube:
- No libertarian candidates on the national stage in two party state.
- No successful libertarian states. No one's tried.
- Monopolies, poverty. Bleeding out in the street.
- Environmental regulation seems necessary.
- Ethics not realized in the market perfectly. Lack of information transparency.
- A puzzle for philosophers on a Thursday afternoon.
11: FEB 23 (Heavy reading day)
- Haidt, Chapter 5, "Beyond WEIRD Morality" (17)
- Henrich, Joe. Prelude and Chapter 1, "WEIRD Psychology" from The WEIRDEST People in the World (37)
- Method in the course
- (finally) The Revised Paradox of Moral Experience!
- Link 1:50 section:
- Link 3:10 section: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1JF8bGNqzFlzQ9KV4tBNG8-AYs00n8jpt5W7BUOSpVVA/edit
Haidt, Chapter 5, "Beyond WEIRD Morality"
- WEIRD morality is the morality of Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic cultures
- only group with majority allowing chicken story violation.
- survey data on East/West differences in sentence completion: "I am..." (also in Henrich C1)
- 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. (Hmm. So now we discover that some of our "tools" are culturally specific. Is this a problem? Should we take a page from Mother Meera? Mention Happiness and Wisdom classes.)
- A 3 channel moral matrix - or, How should we theorize (locate) our view in the larger world of human moralities?
- Schweder's anthropology: ethics of autonomy, community, divinity 99-100 - gloss each...
- claims Schweder's theory predicts responses on taboo violation tests, is descriptively accurate.
- Making Sense of Moral/Cultural 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) - most societies see a vertical dimension in social space. man who robs a bank vs. child sex traffickers
- 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 cultural moral values 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 Schweder's view. Social conservatives made more sense to him after studying in India.
Small Group Discussion
- Discussion questions:
Henrich, "WEIRD Psychology," from The Weirdest People on Earth"
- Prelude: Your Brain has been modified
- Literacy in Western Europe - Protestantism requires literacy. "sola scriptura"
- Chapter 1: WEIRD Psychology
- WEIRD: individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. Tends to look for universal categories, analytic. patient, takes plesure in hard work, sticks to imparial rules or principles, guilt vs. shame
- Major Claim: WEIRD psychology is a product of 600-1000 years of the Catholic Church's modification of our psychology through its "Marriage and Family Plan".
- "Who Am I? task by culture 25
- Mapping the Individualism Complex.
- Note Caveats to this research on p. 31.
- Cultivating the WEIRD self
- Guilt vs. Shame
- "Discounting" as a measure of patience
- Impersonal Honesty -- UN Diplomats research, Impersonal Honesty Game (results at p. 44)
- Universalism and Non-relationalism -- Passengers Dilemma
- Trusting Strangers - GTQ instrument. impersonal trust vs. trust in relationship based networks.
Point on Method in the Course
- A way of framing the research we are reviewing: Three Frames:
- Now that we are piling on the more research results, we should make sure our research strategy in the course makes sense: So far:
Paradox of Moral Experience
12: FEB 25
- Hibbing, Chapter 4: Drunken Flies and Salad Greens (96-117) (21)
- Sandel, C6 "The Case for Equality" Justice (141-151) (10)
- Assigned today: SW2: Fair Contract Discussion and Writing Exercise
- Philosophical Moral Theories: Justice
- Fair Contract Case.
Philosophical Moral Theories: Justice as Fairness
- We already have an political / ethical theory, Libertarianism, that has a view of Justice. Now we add a contrasting theory, Rawls' theory of "justice as fairness". We'll briefly review the account in Sandel, 140-141, but I will also asking you to watch a couple of videos on Rawls for next class.
- Today we will focus on fairness in private contracts (Rawls' gives us a "social contract" view.)
Sandel, M C6 "The Case for Equality"
- Note: We are only covering up to p. 151 today.
- Problem of choosing principles of justice for a society
- thought experiment: veil of ignorance - note: important that we know human psychology.
- we would exclude both utilitarianism and libertarianism
- Nature of a contract
- fairness of contract may dep. on circumstances of execution
- Two main concepts underlying contracts:
- autonomy (respecting the rationality of the parties to the contract)
- reciprocity (of benefits/obligations)
- Consent and Benefits -- examples of fair/unfair contracts
- Hume's home repairs -- no consent but still obligation. (Imagine a local example.)
- Squeegee men -- potential for benefit to be imposed coercively
- Point: Contract should be fundamentally fair and guarantee autonomy and reciprocity.
- p. 151:
- Two main principles
- equal basic liberties for all
- differences in social and economic equality must work to advantage of the least well off.
- Justifying the Difference Principle
- Why not be libertarian about it?
- diminished incentives
- rewarding effort
- In the end, Rawls view of justice does not involve rewards based on moral desert. odd result. In trying to avoid morally arbitrary features, he arrives at something like "respect for persons as fairness" as the morally relevant feature.
Fairness in Contracts
- from: Sandel, Chapter 6: Rawls (not a reading for this term)
- What is a contract? What moral rules govern contracts? We tend to focus on consent. "Liberty of contract". In employment, many jobs in the US are "at will"; either party may end the contract without giving reasons. Example of simple liberty of contract. (Note how this plays out in professional contexts.)
- We also focus on the "quid pro quo" (benefits exchanged). Lobster case challenges this.
- Lobster case: You contract for 100 lobsters at $10 a piece.
- Condition 1: You take delivery, enjoy the lobsters.
- Condition 2: You refuse delivery.
- Condition 3: You eat the lobsters and get sick and die.
- Contracts often carry implied expectations and implied commitments. Often wording in formal legal contracts is designed to anticipate these contingencies.
- Nature of a contract
- Fairness of contract may dep. on circumstances of execution. "consent" alone doesn't make a contract fair.
- Case of the $50,000 toilet repair fraud.
- Expectations change with timeline and events "benefits alone" don't determine an obligation
- Still, autonomy and reciprocity are key concepts. (Toilet case violates autonomy.)
- Consent and Benefits -- examples of fair/unfair contracts
- Baseball card trade among diff aged siblings
- Hume's home repairs (story) -- no consent but still obligation.
- Variation on Hume case: emergency measures to stop damage in your apartment. You bash in a wall to access a shutoff valve. Landlord sends you a bill.
- 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. Both the Social Contract and the specific contracts we execute every day, should be fundamentally fair and guarantee autonomy and reciprocity
Hibbing, Chapter 4: Drunken Flies and Salad Greens
- History of research on finding personality traits that predict politcs: First, are authoritarian orientations identifiable as personality traits?
- 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. No validity, but interesting for using non-political questions. Han Eysenck's work on "tenderminded/toughminded"; 1960's Glenn Wilson. conservatism as resistance to change and adherence to tradition. "C-scale"
- 103: Personality Theory research: Big Five model:
- openness to experience, ** p. 104
- conscientiousness, ** p. 105
- Spoiler Alert!"What Foundation is Your Morality Built?" 105ff: review of Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory (We will get to this next week from Haidt)
- 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.
- Why are political orientations connected to so many other preferences? Hibbing et. al. sceptical of theories that politics drive other prefs. Second possibility, broad orientations drive politics and prefs. Third (their pref), difference come from diffs on bedrock social dilemma and mesh with other choices.
- PTC polymorphism (sensitivity to bitterness) linked to conservatism. Preliminary research from them suggesting that sensitivity to "androstenone" is correlated with acceptance of social hierarchies.
SW2 Stage 1: Resolving a Contract Dispute. (600 words)
- Stage 1: Please write an 600 word maximum answer to the following prompt by March 4, 2021 11:59pm.
- Prompt: Read about the Fair_Contract_Case_2
- Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
- Put a word count in the file.
- Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font, using normal margins.
- Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the Points 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 all four areas of the rubric for this assignment. Complete your evaluations and scoring by TBD, 11:59pm.
- Use this Google Form to evaluate four peer papers.
- 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: . Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. Up to 10 points.
- Back evaluations are due TBD, 11:59pm.
13: MAR 2
- Sapolsky, Chapter 13, "Culture, context, public goods games, religion" (493-520) (27)
- Sandel, "The Case for Equality" p. 151-166
- Rawls Theory of Justice
Rawls' Theory of Justice
- Original Social Contract tradition. Another Enlightenment philosophical product! See Social Contract wiki.
- Rawls' basic method: Principles of justice should be chosen by following a kind of thought experiment in which you imagine yourself not knowing specific things about your identity and social circumstances. Adopting this special stance is what Rawls calls the "original position" (parallel in Social Contract tradition)
- Original Position in Rawls' thought: Choosing principles of justice under a "veil of ignorance" (simple intuition about fairness: How do you divide the last piece of cake?
- Note how this realizes a basic condition of moral thought: neutrality, universalization, fairness.
- In the original position:
- You don't know: your sex, race, physical handicaps, generation, social class of our parents, etc
- So, what principles would it be rational to choose?
- Rawls claims we would choose the following two principles
- Note other possible principles.
- Questions for understanding Difference Principle "a": Are the least advantaged better off in a society with economic inequality? Do improvements in the society's wealth improve the situation of the least advantaged? Do decreases in wealth unfairly worsen the condition of the least advantaged?
- Rawl's theory is mostly a way of justifying two principles of justice, but you can also think of these principles as guiding policy. Example of policy implications of the Difference Principle. Changes at the margins should satisfy the Diff Principle. (Mention California covid reopening mandate to mitigate effects on least advantaged. Related evidence of disproportionate effects of Covid by SES (Social and Economic Standing).
- Consider your intuitions about disaster relief in a Rawlsian context.
Lecture Note on Philosophical Method: "Hitting Rock Bottom"
- Direction of philosophical inquiry: toward "first principles". Where we are in our investigation (Like opening paragraph of Sapolsky today.)
- Rock bottom means: Hitting a limit to the inquiry, getting to a basic level of explanation that seems satisfactory (give example of diffs of opinion about this), in ethics finding something universal behind all of the variation.
- Comparing historical "rock bottom" answers: 1.Christian medieval (natural law); 2. Enlightenment (reason and Newtonian science); 3. Contemporary naturalism (contemp. sciences/social sciences, contemporary evolutionary theory - with MLS)
- What comes after "rock bottom"? The way up! Using the point of view we have developed to look at our experience in new ways.
Review of concepts and principles for fair contract writing
- conditions for entering contracts: non-coercion, equal standing (understanding and knowledge)
- values in contract interpretation: fairness, respect for autonomy, consent, reciprocity, transparency.
- challenges of settling contract disputes: all of these values can be both prioritized differently and applied differently. Vary by culture: tell old furniture story. How I would handle it now.
- Breakout rooms
- Questions on assignment
Sapolsky, Chapter 13,"Culture, context, public goods games, religion" (493-520)
- 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
- Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory (coming to you Thursday)
- Cooperation and Competition
- Simple version, pay to punish deadbeats version.
- Henrich's research on fairness: Testing 1. fairness without consequence, 2. fairness as measured by strength of 2nd party punishment (Ultimatum game), and 3. fairness as measured by 3rd party punishment.
- Social Capital (early draft of Henrich book I think): 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 (research from Chapter 9). The large global religions all have moralizing gods who engage in third party punishment. So we do. Still. Think about that.
- 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: Read. Problem for thesis 1 that hunter gathers don't show strong senses of fairness. Are modern research methods tapping into an "artificial form of fairness"? Sapolsky thinks maybe so.
- the chapter's survey and quest for cultural moral universals continues.....
- Honor and Revenge - (mention Mediterranean hypothesis - Italian honor culture & research on southerners....)
- Collectivists -- diffs from Individualists. note 501.
- gossip as tool of shaming -- as much as 2/3 of conversation and mostly negative.
- Fools Rush In -- Reason and Intuition p. 504
- How do we use insights from research to improve behavior?
- Which moral theory is best? (trick question). In this section, he's
- 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. (Note that both processes are cognitive. Intuition sometimes called "automatic inference" in both how they emerge and are applied. Saying "thank you".)
- Slow vs. Fast
- 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.
- Tragedy of Commonsense Morality (a group version of what I call The Paradox of Moral Experience). It's really hard not to conclude that your way of doing something isn't just culturally contingent, but really true.
- Example of Tragedy of commonsense morality using Dog meat. -- used as example of how you could induce us vs. them response.
- Example of framing: Samuel Bowles example of switching people's mind set in the case of the school responding to late parents.
- Veracity and Mendacity
- interesting book 
- note range of questions 512. Truth telling not a simple policy matter.
- 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.
- 516: neurplasticity in white and gray matter in habitual liars.
- Subjects who don't cheat. will vs. grace. grace wins. "I don't know; I just don't cheat."
14: MAR 4. Unit Three: Two Theories of Moral and Political Difference
- Haidt, Chapter 6, "Taste Buds of the Righteous Mind" (27)
Comments on giving and receiving evaluation
- from professional life
- keep expectations modest - normal disagreement, variation in skill and sensitivity in giving comments
- try to be helpful and understanding, even cheerful.
- It's part of the course.
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:
- 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.
- Autism argument: Bentham (utlitarianism), Kant (deontology). Think about the person who can push the fat guy.
- discusses how he speculates from mechanisms to common virtues discussed in global literature.
- 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?
- 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.
- See chart, p. 125: C F L A S: Care/Harm, Fairness/Cheating, Loyalty/Betrayal, Authority/Subversion, Sanctity/Degradation
- original vs. current triggers, 123 Reason/Intuition
- Small group discussion with reporting: Try to find examples from everyday life of events do or would trigger each of these foundations. Consider either real cases of people you know and the things they say or examples from general knowledge, or even hypothetical examples. For example:
- Focus on both ways that we are all triggered and ways that we are differentially triggered.
- Send your items as you develop them, through the chat window to Everyone. Try to get 1-2 per foundation.
- Giving a "CFLAS" analysis:
15: MAR 9
- Haidt, Chapter 7, "The Moral Foundations of Politics" (34)
Note on "Sympathetic Interpretation"
- What is it? Focus on understanding how someone might have come to a view, especially one that you disagree with. How it might be reasonable to them.
- Why would you want to practice it? Various research we have been looking at suggests that we have psychological tendencies that might lead us to discount the reasonableness of someone's view, especially if.... So, you might see sympathetic interpretation as a practice to avoid following automatic inferences (intuitions) that would otherwise color your view (and activate your inner lawyer to supply arguments).
- Shift in question focus in response to a view you disagree with:
- Examples of engaging from sympathetic understanding.
- Not to deny that truth (the best course of action) is still a goal.
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. (Note this is the same anti-determinism disclaimer we got from Hibbing & Co.)
- Notes on each foundation:
- Implicit theory about "re-triggering" note red flag. unexplained. Consider plausibility.
- Two part group activity:
- Please identify one person in your group to report 1-2 examples from your discussion.
- 2. Bumper Sticker / Slogan reading
16: MAR 11 (Reading Day)
- Hibbing, John R., Kevin Smith, and John R. Alford, Predisposed, Chapter 2, "Getting Into Bedrock with Politics". (26)
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.
- Back to Aristotle
- Differences Galore?
- Need to separate issues, labels, and bedrock principles.
- Issues are what we agree/disagree on,
- Commonality Reigns! Political Universals
- "Society works best when..."
- left and right have deep associations. left handed suspect.
17: MAR 16
- Haidt, Chapter 8: The Conservative Advantage (34)
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. Dems should appeal to loyalty and authority more. Neglect may be ommission and underrepresent Dems (recall discussion of labels and issues. We could add "values".)
- Republicans seemed to Haidt to understand moral psych better, not bec. they were fear mongering, but triggering all of the moral moral foundations. Equalizer metaphor.
- 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 8.1 self-identified liberals split emphasis 8.2 convergence of equal weight as you move toward conservative.
- 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.)
- 162: Correlations of pol orientation with dog breeds, training, sermon styles. You can catch liberal and conservative "surprise" in the EEG and fMRI.
- 164: Haidt's argument for replacing "old story" of political difference: read p. 164. Note reactions to his essay: some libs/conserv found it hard to establish a positive view of their "opponents". Haidt has implicit critique of Libs by saying that organic society can't just be about 2 foundations. Experience with his essay. follow.
- 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. Many liberals and conservatives have a hard time forming a positive image of each other, but when you think about this, it sounds like something to work on. In light of this research and theorizing, one could see that as a character flaw or unsupported bias.
Note on "Social Epistemology"
- Method point: The follow line of thought is also example of philosophical speculation. We are venturing a bit beyond the research itself to extract significance and insight.
- "Social Epistemology" means a variety of things in philosophy. Here, the idea that some traits relevant to group problem solving are distributed in a population (call this a "demographic epistemic trait" AND that this variation might play a role in optimizing group decision-making.
- Think about evidence from Haidt and Hibbing about divergences in cognitive style and problem solving (BeanFest!) and perception from pol. orientatio. They might be "epistemic demographic traits". EDTs
- Speculative questions about such traits (I am not aware of a theory about this yet): Are there are EDTs? Maybe just DTs. Would human populations with some optimal variation in EDTs do better than ones with more or less than an optimal range? Think workgroups for examples, also.
18: MAR 18
- Haidt, Chapter 12, "Can't We all Disagree More Constructively?" (189-221) (32)
- Start group writing on Political Difference
Haidt, Ch 12, "Can't We All Disagree More Constructively?"
- evidence of polarization in American politics; changes in political culture. compromise less valued.
- looking for a theory of ideologies, which might be thought to drive political identity formation. [Two senses: 1. fixing orientation (all of the "big" theories we've studied have posted disclaimers about determinism while focusing on evidence of persistent traits, especially in adults. 2. Fixing the specific fusion of issue-position and label acceptance.]
- "right" and "left", simplifications, but basis of study and comparative to Europe in some ways, historical origins in French Assembly of 1789, basis in heritable traits - twins studies. L/R don't map wealth exclusively.
- Old answers: people choose ideologies based on interests. blank-state theories.
- One more time through the modern genetic/epigenetic/phenotype explanation pattern (note what's at stake: if you misunderstand the determinism here, you'll misunderstand the whole theory):
- So, an ideology can be thought of as the political version of a narrative that fits with a personal narrative you tell about your experience.
- Political narratives of Republicans and Democrats.
- Muller on difference bt conservative and orthodox. Post-enlightenment conservatives: want to critique liberalism from Enlightenment premise of promoting human well being. follow conservative description of human nature. 290. - humans imperfect, need accountability, reasoning has flaws so we might do well to give weight to past experience, institutions are social facts that need to be respected, even sacralized. (Consider countries in which judges are abducted or blown up.)
- Moral and Social Capital -- moral capital: resources that sustain a moral community (including those that promote accountability and authority.). moral capital not always straightforward good (293), also, less trusting places, like cities, can be more interesting. Social capital more about the ties we have through our social networks which maintain trust and cooperation relationships.
- Libertarians. Today's political libertarian started out as a "classic liberal" prioritizing limited gov/church influence.
- Note research suggesting how libertarians diverge from liberals and conservatives on the MFs.
- Social Conservatives
- wisdom: understanding threats to social capital (can't help bees if you destroy the hive)
- Putnam's research on diversity and social capital : bridging and bonding capital both decline with diversity. sometimes well intentioned efforts to promote ethnic identity and respect can exacerbate this.
"What is Ideology?" and "Is a Post-Ideological politics possible?"
- Some philosophizing from our research study. This might be an late semester essay topic.
- What is ideology (in terms of the theories we have discussed) and is it possible to imagine a post-ideological politics?
- Maybe ideology includes:
- 1) the specific fusion of issues and labels you accept;
- 3) your deep moral/political orientation (how you inhabit the MFs or BSDs)
- Note that only 3 is relatively fixed in adult life.
- Is a Post-Ideological politics possible?
- Cannot mean: 3 is no longer true.
- Examples of current discussion: 
- Great optional research topic!
19: MAR 23
- 1. Groups and research on promotion of civil discourse.
- Lots of groups focused on specific issues, like bias, civics curriculum, campaign finance reform, bipartisan think tanks and issue based efforts.
- A couple that focus specifically polarization and civil discourse
- Bring it to the Table — looks very interesting. A Documentary associated with it.
- Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter? This journal, published by Facing History and Ourselves, was very fascinating in regards to the authors opinions on how individuals can foster civil discourse and be equipped for these types of conversations. I thought that the idea mentioned in this article that these types of conversations are not difficult and society labels them but are just unpracticed. Lastly, I enjoyed that this journal talked about the importance of first examining our own beliefs and understanding that we do not have a neutral lens and must take ownership of our beliefs and ideas. https://www.facinghistory.org/sites/default/files/publications/Fostering_Civil_Discourse_2020_0.pdf
- The Enemy's Gaze We talked a little bit earlier in the course about how trying to put yourself in someone else's shoes can be very helpful in understanding and humanizes people with opposing views. This article discusses a study that proves this. Using virtual reality that put participants in the environment/situation of a person with opposing political beliefs, softened their hostility toward that opposing group even months after the VR experiment was over. I found it interesting because it shows that even something as simple as VR technology can improve the heated political climate we're in now. https://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=14&sid=953e1de9-8629-4052-a6af-cfa6a9331f6c%40sdc-v-sessmgr02&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=138560269&db=a9h
- 2. Politics and voting - Lots of good research articles on how and why the US is polarized.
- What are the Solutions to Political Polarization? This article did a great job of first identifying what causes political polarization and how to solve the problems it creates. While describing what drives political polarization, the article points out that the moral values involved in policies is a key reason, while stating that the free-will vs determinism argument is one of the values that is debated. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_are_the_solutions_to_political_polarization
- A Case for Proportional Voting This article is written from the perspective of a conservative that believes the Republican Party doesn't adequately represent conservative values anymore. He's calling for proportional or preferential voting, in which voters can either rank candidates in order of preference or create nonpartisan primaries in which the top two finishers are nominated for the general election, irregardless of their party. It's his belief that this would create a more representative government. https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-case-for-proportional-voting
- Why Are There Political Parties? This article breakdown where political parties came from and why we have them. I enjoy that this article addresses ways that the democratic and republican party are similar. The article also talks about how people also will vote based on their views of particular issues rather than their political party affiliation. https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-are-there-political-parties
- Eight Ways Ranked Choice Voting Can Improve Voting and Elections This article contained a list of reasons as to why ranked choice voting would improve our political process and decrease political polarization. I personally am an advocate for ranked choice voting and this contained some ideas that I had never encountered before that help to support the position. https://campaignlegal.org/update/eight-ways-ranked-choice-voting-can-improve-voting-and-elections
- 3. Communications theory and approaches to conflict
- How to Deal With 'Values Conflict' by Russ Harris This resource provides ways to with value conflicts. First part of this article is discussing the difference between values, life domains and goals which often get confused with values. I especially like how part two and three give steps to dictating what the value conflicts are and ways to deal with the dilemma at hand. https://www.actmindfully.com.au/upimages/How_to_deal_with_values_conflicts_-_Russ_Harris.pdf
- How Should Leaders Address Workplace Values Conflicts? This article talks about different conflicts that could occur in the workplace and how leaders should resolve these issues. One major issue that is common among the workplace is the use of new technology vs traditional ways. The article finishes off by saying "doing nothing is not an option" then talks about how leaders need to deal with conflicts with values. https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/05/09/leaders-address-workplace-values-conflicts/
- Embodied conflict: The neural basis of conflict and communication. This source explains the concepts of conflict and communication in terms of neural structures and reactions in the brain. This is interesting because it takes on a scientific view rather than a social one https://gonzaga.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=psyh&AN=2017-42563-000&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Conflict Management: Difficult Conversations with Difficult People This research shows conflict management strategies that have been proven to reduce conflict in the workplace, classes, etc. Training in conflict management increases teamwork, productivity and efficiency. A list of steps are given... for example, step 1 is to determine whether the conflict is even worth addressing. Most often, it is not. Step 2, analyze your own position. Gather all the information you can about your position and understand arguments against it before you engage in an argument. Steps go on and on, but I think workplaces should consider training their employees in this area. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3835442/
- Active Non-violence as Conflict Resolution This article covers two non-violent ways of conflict resolution, one being individual nonviolent communication and the other being passive resistance. It then relates the two in an attempt to find a solution to successfully resolving conflict. I like that the article is making a point of nonviolence and is analyzing past events rather than just theories. https://gonzaga.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=phl&AN=PHL2166571&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Miscellaneous / Unclassified
- The partisan brain: cognitive study suggests people on the left and right are more similar than they think This resource discusses cognitive rigidity and whether or not it is possible to combat this in a partisan brain. I liked this article because it addressed the idea of mental flexibility and its potential to help people switch between different styles of thinking. It's interesting to think that psychological exercises could help to prevent such an extremist society and change the partisan attitude that have become so socially acceptable. https://theconversation.com/the-partisan-brain-cognitive-study-suggests-people-on-the-left-and-right-are-more-similar-than-they-think-123578
20: MAR 25 Unit Four: Justice and Justified Partiality
Introduction to Justified Partiality Unit
- A typical question for thinking about social justice is, "What do I owe strangers?". You can think of our approach in this unit as a sneaky way of addressing that question by asking, "What, if any, are the limits of partiality to non-strangers (family, intimates, friends...)?"
- Today's class is focused on "personal partiality," the kind that shows up in our interpersonal social relationships. The next class is focused on "public partiality", the kind that shows up in our commitments, if any, to benefit strangers (roughly, people with whom we do not seek reciprocal relationship).
- Let's define a couple of views to get started:
- Major questions for our work:
Hidden Brain, "Playing Favorites"
- How does Partiality fit with a desire for justice as equal treatment?
- Discrimination research: IAT - Implicit association test - Mahzarin Banaji one of the researchers on IAT.
- "Helping those with whom you have a group identity"
- Favoritism doesn't get as much attention as discrimination.
- Can you avoid favoritism?
- Could be based on "green beard effect" same school, etc.
- The Trolley Problem again, this time from Joshua Greene himself!! Watch "The Good Place".
- Naturalness of preference. Evolutionary background
- Preference promotes cooperation. Suite of capacities. A package. Don't lie, cheat, steal...
- Moral concentric circles. How big is my "Us"? What is the range of humans I care about?
- Lack of Tribal identify might tilt us toward rule based ethics. Equal treatment.
- How do you decide the limits of your partiality. How big is my "US"?
- Donations matter even if you don't give your kidney. This can save lives.
Small Group Discussion: Ethical problems in showing personal partiality
- Tell anecdote about having "best friends".
- Within your small groups, try to address these two topics.
- In the second part of your discussion, consider how our social rules and systems for showing preferential treatment may or may not have ethically problematic consequences. Many theorists will confirm our common sense intuition that "partiality networks" serving good ends. They define groups for trust and cooperation, giving us people to spend positive emotional time with and get help from when needed. At the heart of many "partiality networks" are family and intimate partners, from whom we often hope for great partiality! Moreover, many of the networks Gonzaga community members travel in are quite privileged and highly resourced. While having a good partiality network makes many problems easier to solve, could they also be sources of systemic bias and unfairness? Consider partiality networks you hope to benefit from, like GU alumni who might hire you, as well as friends that might tip you off to a job prospect.
- You may want to argue for one or more of the following positions:
- Feel free to add your own positions here.
21: MAR 30
- We will continue discussing results of our work and exercise on justified partiality.
- Writing: Position Paper on Justified Partiality
Justified Partiality: Theorizing the Public Problem
- Forms of Public Partiality (Beneficence)
- Voluntary donations of time and money to causes - here's some info on charitable giving
- Bequests and inheritances (some info on trends in estate taxes)
- Resources for answering the question, "What do I owe to strangers?"
- Motivational resources: self-interest and altruism.
- Theoretical resources:
- Rawls' difference principle (review)
- Virtue Ethics --
- Additional considerations:
- Small Group exercise on the limits of "justified partiality"
- Possibility 5:?
PP1 Stage 1: Justified Partiality Position Paper: 700 words
- Stage 1: Please write an 700 word maximum answer to the following question by November 10, 2020 11:59pm.
- Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
- Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font, using normal margins.
- Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "JustifiedPartiality".
- 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 November 17th, 2020, 11:59pm.
- 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: . Fill out the form for each reviewer, but not Alfino. Up to 10 points, in Q&W.
- Back evaluations are due December 3, 2020, 11:59pm.
22: APR 6. Unit Five: Empathy
- Robert Sapolsky, from Behave, Chapter 14, "Feeling Someone's Pain, Understanding Someone's Pain, Alleviating Someone's Pain." 521-535.
- Hidden Brain, "You 2.0: Empathy gym" listen to at least 1/2 of the podcast for today and the other half for Thursday.
Hidden Brain, Empathy
- Segment 1: Artist's performance art installation. Internet connected paint ball gun. Iraqi artist, lost his brother in air strike. Thinking about drone warfare, thinking about consequences of actions... ends at 5:22.
- Jamil Zaki, The War for Kindness. Early 70s program for faculty, mom from Peru to WSU, married/divorced while Jamil was young, felt difference in parents' rules/values. Credits that to empathy. Parent's divorce was an "empathy gym".
- Benefits of empathy -- benefits both parties. empathic doctor-patient relationships, empathic partners. Giving empathy less depression, less stress, adolescents with emotional skill better adjusted in middle school.
- clip from Sesame street -- phone call from friend. Three components:
- 1. emotional empathy
- 2. cognitive empathy
- 3. empathy concern and compassion. 13:00
- autism spectrum disorders. often still have 1 but not 2
- psychopathy often have 2 but not 1
- Segment 2: Cultural instantiation of empathy. Sarah Conrath - survey research using validated instrument. Trend toward less empathy. Alot since 2000.
- We'll stop here for today's class. The rest on Thursday.
- Segment 3: Costs and benefits of Empathy
- But 911 was also unifying, eliciting empathy.
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. But could also convey distance or power diff. pity.
- 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.
- Emotionally contagious, compassionate animals.
- we are 'overimitative' - chimp / kids study524
- 526: rats, amazing rats -- US/them behaviors, some flexibility. review the details.
- Emotionally contagious, compassionate children
- socioeconomics of empathy 534: wealth predicts lower empathy. the wealthy take more candy!
23: APR 6
- Robert Sapolsky, from Behave, Chapter 14, "Feeling Someone's Pain, Understanding Someone's Pain, Alleviating Someone's Pain." 535-552.
- Writing assignment. We will have a short points based assignment on your view of empathy. Google form to follow.
Sapolsky, Behave, C 14, 535-552
- A Mythic Leap forward - covering mirror neurons and what they do and don't show about moral life.
- The Core Issue (in Empathy): Actually doing something.
- empathy disorders and misfires: "Pathological altruism"; empathic pain can inhibit effective action.
- Is there altruism?
- c. more dopamine when giving voluntarily than taxed.
- In the end, Sapolsky thinks empathy is still a puzzling product of evolution. Altruism and reciprocity are linked however, so maybe we should stop scratching our heads about "pure altruism". [Made healthy altruism is, indeed, when they are linked!]
- Seems to endorse the idea that altruism (compassionate empathy) is trainable -- like potty training, riding a bike, telling the truth!
Small Group Exercise
- Briefly assess the research we have been reviewing on empathy this week. Then discuss some of the following questions:
- Are you persuaded that empathy is trainable? (Zak)
- Are you persuaded that we have biological capacities for empathy without necessarily a universal motivation toward compassion?
- After this reading are you more or less concerned about ways that empathy can be problematic (pathological or blocking action)?
- After this reading are you more or less likely to want to cultivate empathy?
24: APR 8. Unit Six: Criminal Justice and Moral Responsibility Skepticism
- Sapolsky, Chapter 16: Biology, the Criminal Justice System, and (Oh, Why Not?) Free Will (580-613) (Part One 580-600)
- Article abstract, "Klüver–Bucy syndrome, hypersexuality, and the law"
Introduction to philosophical problems with Moral Responsibility and the Law
- Basic Questions:
- Some concepts:
- More questions:
- Background -- guest editing assignment. brother.
- A couple of interesting philosophical arguments:
- From Peter Strawson, summarized here in Waller, Against Responsibility:
- Mele’s Intentional Self-Modification Argument
- How far can "self-modification" go to make up for doubts about praise and blame?
Sapolsky, Chapter 16: Biology, the Criminal Justice System, and (Oh, Why Not?) Free Will
- Discusses professional interaction between biologists and legal scholars that may have started “neurolaw”.
- Radical claim: Current criminal justice system needs to be replaced. (Not talking about policing, right?)
- Things outside his focus: science in courtroom, min IQ for death sentence, cognitive bias in jurors, cognitive privacy.
- 583: historic example of scientific evidence disrupting criteria for guilt in witches trials, mid-16th century. Older women might not be able to cry.
- Three Perspectives
- Drawing Lines in the Sand 586
- Age, Maturity of Groups, Maturity of Indidividuals
- 2010 and 2012 cases on rehab for juvies. age related bounds on free will (in the justice system).
- ”grossly impaired rationality”.
- Causation and Compulsion -- not everything that causes us to act is a compulsion, but for some, it is.
- Starting a behavior vs. halting it. ("free won't")
- ”You must be smart” vs. “You must have worked so hard”
- research of Carol Dweck, 90s, saying that a kid worked hard to get a result increases motivation.
- some evidence that pedophilia is not freely chosen or easily resisted.
- chart showing how we divide things between biology and “homoncular grit”. — Long list of ways out biology influence the items on the right.
- Conclusions: “worked hard/must be smart” are equally grounded in our physical nature.
- We'll break here for today
- But does anything useful actually come of this?
- Grounds for skepticism about using neuroscience in the courtroom: Stephen Morse. Neurolaw sceptic, ok with M’naugton, but thinks cases are rare. Reviews valid criticisms he makes: 1. Juries might overvalue neuroscience images, 2. Descriptive vs. Normative.
- Morse supports a strong distinction between causation and compulsion. Causation is not itself an excuse. But Sapolsky argues that this still involves walling off a “homonculus” and that’s not plausible.
- Acknowledges an apparent problem. Neuroscience typically can’t predict individual behavior very much. Fictional exchange with prosecutor. 600
- Explaining lots and Predicting Little
- But is the lack of predictive power a problem in the argument? S. works through some cases in which probability of prediction decreases, but no less likely that it could be a case of compulsion. 601
- 602: Important methodological point: There's no less biology in the leg fracture vs. the other disorders, but level of biological explanation is different. Leg fractures are less connected to culture. Behavior is multifactorial and heavily cultural. (Oh god, another Henrich digression. Free will has a history.) Example: how much does biology predict depression? Factors are diverse biological mechanisms, including cultural factors. (But, point is, someone can be disable by depression, just like the leg fracture.)
- Marvin Minsky, “Free will: internal forces I do not understand”. Sapolsky adds “yet”.
- Neat charts showing historic trend to connect social behavior and biology in research journals. 604-605.
- If you still believe in mitigated free will:
- case of Dramer and Springer and the spiritual explanation for epilepsy. Biblical version with Jesus.
- 608: practical outcomes. Not about letting violent criminals free. On the biological view, punishment can’t be an end in itself (restoring balance). Retributive punishment is an end in itself.
- Brain imaging suggests culpability judgements activate the cool and cognitive dlPFC, but punishment judements activate more emotional vmPFC. “A frothy limbic state”. Makes sense that punishment is costly. But we need to overcome our attachment to punishment. It is involved in a lot of unjustified suffering.
- Recaps the transition we've made with epilepsy 610.
- Car free will. A kind of reductio argument.
25: APR 13
- Sapolsky, Chapter 16: Biology, the Criminal Justice System, and (Oh, Why Not?) Free Will (580-613) (Part Two 600-613)
Some additional considerations from the free will discussion
- As positions in the free will discussion, these terms have special meanings, only somewhat related to their normal usage.
- Determinism - The view that determinism renders free will meaningless.
- Basic intuition: If everything is determined, we can't make choices.
- Biggest liability: Sets the bar for free will very high.
- Compatibilism - The view that determinism is compatible with free will.
- Libertarianism - The view that under some circumstances we are the original cause of our actions.
- Biggest liability: Hard to find evidence for this view.
- Free will as a cultural concept. (Henrich digression)
- Try some "ordinary language analysis". Evaluate some sentences:
- I cannot choose to become a concert violinists at this point in my life.
- I may choose to take up painting as a hobby.
- I can choose whether or not I get read for class.
- I can't choose not to love you, but I can't see you any more.
- I've decided I don't love you any more. (aw...)
- Relating this to Sapolsky's terminology. "Mitigated free will" is ultimately committed to a homonculus to which we can refer some part of our will that we somehow don't think is biological. Hence, the derisive term "homoncular grit".
Sapolsky, Chapter 16: Biology, the Criminal Justice System, and (Oh, Why Not?) Free Will (Part Two)
- See notes for part two above.
26: APR 15
- Radio Lab Episode on Blame and Moral Responsibility
- Henrich, Joseph, "Hell, Free Will, and Moral Universalism" from The WEIRDEST People on Earth p. 146-148, (2)
End of Term Work
- Time to get your grading schemes finalized and equal to 100% (1.0). Please! Plenty of time for optional assignments, especially if you get going on them over the break. Journals are now limited to 5% (3 journals), but welcome. Please check with me on your topic choices for optional papers.
- Time to take lessons from structured writing exercises. Justified Partiality papers will receive letter grades. How. Final Essay receives letter grade.
- Final Work
Radio Lab Episode on Blame and Moral Responsibility
- Segment 1: Story of Kevin and his wife, Janet. Kevin is arrested for child pornography.
- Orin Devinsky: neurologist testified in court that it wasn't Kevin's fault.
- 4 minute discussion questions: Do you agree with prosecutor's Vartan's point? Why or why not? What would your sentence have been?
- Segment 2: Blame - person or brain.
- Frahany - Blame might serve social function of articulating norms.
- 4 minute discussion questions: Frahany thinks there are lots of cases of the criminal justice system punishing unfairly. Are you persuaded? If so, does a utilitarian approach (with or without the point system) make sense?
- Segment 3: Dear Hector
- 4 minute discussion questions: Does Ivan's story change your view of the kind of threat he poses -- one from choosing evil/failing a responsiblity vs. compulsion?
Henrich, Joseph, "Hell, Free Will, and Moral Universalism"
- This excerpt from The WEIRDEST People in the World comes in the context of a section on "universal moralizing gods" which characterize the major world religions (though Buddhism requires some discussion). H's theory is that this cultural innovation in religions allows societies to grow, solving the problems associated with living with so many strangers, something our evolved psychology did not really prepare us for.
- The three innovations of moralizing religions are:
- contingent afterlife:
- moral universalism:
- The rest of the excerpt goes into evidence of the effects of each feature on social life. The research related to free will is at top of p. 148.
- What consequences, if any, does this research have for our thinking about the modern problems of free will and moral responsibility?
- Do these lines of thought strengthen or weaken (or leave unchanged) our commitment to moral responsibility as retribution?
27: APR 20
Review of Moral Responsiblity issue and discussion of topic prompt
- One more time on free will
- Dennett, on Free will in Freedom Evolves:
- You could also think of free will as the specific cultural form that we use to think about agency
- One more time on praise and blame "talk" vs. realities needed to back it up. The social utility of talk and the everyday cruelties it can cause. (Digression on the happiness question lurking here.)
28: APR 22
Add reading on retribution in US CJ system
PP2 Stage 1: Final Essay: Moral Responsibility, blame, and punishment Position Paper (with Rough Draft Peer Review)
- Stage 1: Please write an 1000 word maximum answer to the following question by TBD, midnight.
- Advice about collaboration: For this assignment, we need to modify our collaboration advice. You will have access to all of the rough drafts (with all new animal pseudonyms) and you will have read and commented on three of them before finishing your own. You are welcome to cite any ideas from any of the papers. If you borrow ideas from another author, give credit to the author by citing the animal name in your text. This again is what we do in an academic research community.
- Prepare your answer and submit it in the following way:
- Format your answer in double spaced text in a 12 point font, using normal margins.
- Save the file in the ".docx" file format using the file name "MoralResponsibility".
- Log in to courses.alfino.org. Upload your file to the "'Final Essay' dropbox.
- Stage 2: Rough Draft Review. Please review three student answers and provide brief comments and a score. We will use our regular assignment rubric, but rather than producing a score for the paper I will ask you to evaluate three specific items in the prompt as you find them in the rough drafts you review. Complete your evaluations by TBD, 11:59pm.
- Use this Google Form to review three peer papers.
- Your final paper is due on TBD, by midnight. Please upload it to the "Final Essay" dropbox, the same as for the rough draft.
- Stage 3: Back-evaluation: After you receive your peer comments, take a few minutes to fill out this quick "back evaluation" rating form: . Fill out the form for each rough draft reviewer. Up to 10 points, in Points.
- Back evaluations are due TBD, 11:59pm.
29: APR 27
30: APR 29
- A couple of miscellaneous comments on praise and blame:
- Core Ethics Course goals -- Let's make sure we fulfilled the learning goals for this Core class! (My glosses and additions in parentheses.)
- Where we've been
- Course Research Questions and Course Summary
- Going Forward
- Personal Reflective Challenges
- Appreciate what lies beneath the surface.
- See culture in terms of tools and constraints.
- Demonstrate an understanding of political difference in my interactions with others.
- Practice Empathy as a critical emotional competence.
- Two lessons about moral difference and ideology
- Pose empirical challenges to your ideologies.
- A last look at "cultural value packages" and existential challenges
- Never forget about Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
- The natural experiment of COVID responses.
- The natural experiment in ethical leadership from the virus.