Amongst many, though certainly not all, political theorists and economists there is a tendency to believe that in the absence of government, mutually beneficial voluntary economic interactions- and hence property rights- cannot exist, or, if they can, do so only infrequently (see, for instance, Murphy and Nagel (2002); Buchanan (1975); Glaeser et al. (2001); Rand (1967) pp. 329 – 337; Friedman (2002); Epstein (1985) chapter 1; Macpherson (1962)). This view has as its philosophical progenitor Thomas Hobbes, who famously concludes in his masterpiece, Leviathan, that in order to allow for mutually beneficial economic interactions- and thus property rights- a civil authority with the power to create and enforce laws is first necessary. What Hobbes (and by implication most modern political theorists and economists) fails to address adequately is that agents can establish property holdings and facilitate economic transactions in the absence of a government via self-enforcing contracts, particularly given his starting assumptions.
Archive for the ‘Moral Psychology’ Category
Posted in Action Theory, Epistemology, Logic, Moral Psychology, Naturalism, Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Psychology, Philosophy of Science, tagged Bayesianism, Colin Howson, eliminative materialism, Patricia Churchland, rational choice and decision theory on May 20, 2011 | 5 Comments »
You’re sitting under pale, fluorescent lights in a cinder-brick room. Sitting across from you is an old, gaunt Charles Manson. Those little rat eyes dancing around, they finally settle on you, and you begin to read off the question on the pad in front of you.
“Mr. Manson, did you feel that having those people killed was wrong?”
Manson: “What do you mean, Wrong? What does it mean to be wrong? Who’s wrong, what’s wrong? Everyone ask me if I think I did somethin wrong—but nobody tells me what it is. I’m not wrong. I’m just me.”
Morality is a problem. The concept of morality now creates greater harm than good. Whereas it was once a useful transparent drive—something we are not aware of—now it has become harmfully deceptive. It masquerades as something that is real aside from our instincts and gives the appearance of fact that is not there. It forcibly asserts its own truth and commands its realness apart from the person—when in fact it is nothing more than the person’s constitution moving the person and that person’s feelings.
Morality requires free-will. If you don’t require free-will, then what you call morality is simply a mistake of action no different from turning on the wrong road. For instance, If I kill my neighbor because he was standing in the road and I didn’t see him, I haven’t done anything immoral. However, if I walk into his front door and kill him by shooting him after planning the assault for days, most people would say I have done something immoral.
Have you ever Stepped on a nail and not felt it–then: Pain Strikes you. You’ve been standing on the nail for a minute, but because you had your mind focused on the hottie walking by, you didn’t notice it. This is revealing. It reveals that pain (the phenomenological pain) is a process of higher order functions. The “I” becomes aware of the of the pain and then it becomes “I-pain”. In psychology, there is a distinction between aversive reactions and physiological response to a stimuli and the phenomenological pain response to a stimuli. Aversive reactions can take place without pain, but are many times accompanied by pain—emotional or physical, which are processed in the same area of the brain (see last months Scientific American). Now, humans and higher order animals can feel pain, but lower order animals may not feel phenomenological pain because they don’t have the “I” concept or the ability the higher order brain functions to process suffering as anything more than a stimuli and response. When we talk about ethics with animals, we should consider degrees of suffering.
I hope this engenders an open discussion about meta-ethics in general.
I’ve been perusing the psychological prescriptions of Martin Hoffman lately, and his suggestions and research raise some interesting ethical questions. Essentially, Hoffman presents some research that suggests that we can, if the proper technique is used, make an individual behave ethically. Before delving into those questions, however, let’s get a grasp on some of the suggestions Hoffman has put forth in his book Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring and Justice. (more…)
In a New York Times Op-Ed piece, Julie Zhuo discusses how the anonymity of many comment features brings about “Ring of Gyges” like actions.
Psychological research has proven again and again that anonymity increases unethical behavior. Road rage bubbles up in the relative anonymity of one’s car. And in the online world, which can offer total anonymity, the effect is even more pronounced. People — even ordinary, good people — often change their behavior in radical ways. There’s even a term for it: the online disinhibition effect.
Altruism is possible and altruism is real, although in healthy people it intertwines subtly with the well-being of the agent who does good. And this is crucial for seeing how to increase the amount of altruism in the world. Aristotle had it right in his “Nicomachean Ethics”: we have to raise people from their “very youth” and educate them “so as both to delight in and to be pained by the things that we ought.”
Scientists have found a surprising link between magnets and morality. A person’s moral judgments can be changed almost instantly by delivering a magnetic pulse to an area of the brain near the right ear, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The bad news — for those interested in intelligent and civilized philosophical discussions on the Internet – is that about a month ago, the Garden of Forking Paths (GFP) ended its excellent run.
The good news is that yesterday a number of the contributors for GFP launched a similar blog: Flickers of Freedom. I encourage you to check it out … regularly.
For those in and around Jacksonville, the next philosophy slam will take place Tuesday, March 9th. JU alumnus and FSU doctoral candidate, Ben Miller will lead the discussion on “The Illusion of Character.” The action will begin at 7:30 P.M. at London Bridge Pub — 100 E Adams St., corner of Adams and Ocean downtown.
Philosophical theorizing is often, either tacitly or explicitly, guided by intuitions about cases. However, recent empirical work has suggested that philosophically significant intuitions are variable and unstable in a number of ways. This variability of intuitions has led naturalistically inclined philosophers to disparage the practice of relying on intuitions for doing philosophy in general and for doing moral philosophy in particular. In this paper, we introduce into the debate some neglected naturalistic reasons to be optimistic about intuitions, focusing especially on ethical intuitions. Philosophers of science have long celebrated the importance of diversity for scientific progress. Similarly, we argue, we should celebrate the diversity in ethical intuitions. In science, diversity leads to greater recognition of errors and background assumptions; something similar is likely true for ethical theory. In addition, we argue that there is a natural psychological explanation for why diversity would lead to improved reasoning in individual scientists – disequilibrium and motivated reasoning stimulate sharper criticism and evaluation. The cognitive virtues afforded by disequilibrium and motivated reasoning would also extend to reasoning in the ethical domain. Thus, there are good reasons for moral theorists to welcome the variations in ethical intuitions.
Posted in Bioethics, Buddhism, CFPs, Christianity, Conferences, Ethics, General Interest, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Moral Psychology, News & Notes, Philosophy of Psychology, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science on June 28, 2009 | 1 Comment »