Cognitive science and moral intuitions
- [required] http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~jgreene/
- [required] A. Appiah (2008). Experiments in Ethics. Harvard University Press. See the chapter "The case against intuition". [1-day reserve]
- [recommended] Machery Edouard. The Bleak Implications of Moral Psychology. See here.
- Which are the cognitive processes that underlie moral reasoning? How is it related to general reasoning?
- Is moral reasoning objective? Why should we trust our intuitions?
- Is science relevant to morality? In what ways?
Biases in moral thinking
- Cultural / religious biases vs cognitive biases
- Framing effects, e.g. gain vs loss, order effects, default choices
- Cognitive Biases
- Unconscious influence, e.g. hypnotic priming, gender biases
- Action biases due to irrelevant contextual factors ( Harman / Doris critique of virtue ethics )
@Isen and Levin (1972) - 87.5% of participants who had just found a dime in the coin in a phone booth helped a confederate (of the experimenter) who dropped a folder of papers, while only 4% who had found no coin helped.@
Also - J.M. Darley and C.D. Batson (1973). From Jerusalem to Jericho: A study of situational and dispositional variables in helping behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 27, pp. 100–119.
The trolley problem
Scientific facts and moral intuitions
How are they related?
- No connection at all - The is-ought gap
- Science improves folk morality (Appiah (2008))
- Science helps us understand what kind of person we can become and how.
- Science helps us distinguish between good and bad moral intuitions.
- Science undermines folk morality.
- Our judgments are inconsistent.
- Our judgments are biased by irrelevant / inappropriate factors.
- Our judgments are products of an unreliable process.
- Science evaluates empirical presuppositions of moral theories
- "Ought" implies "can".
- If a moral theory implies something that is empirically false or not feasible, this is problematic. ( See this )
Issues to consider
- Can we avoid intuitions? - Circularity in the philosophical arguments.
- Wide and narrow reflective equilibrium
- Are emotions bad for morality?