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Archive for the ‘Philosophy of Psychology’ Category

The recent philosophy club discussion dwelled some time on how evolution by natural selection might track truth. Paul Griffiths makes the case that evolution has manipulated cognitive processes  in such a way that they tend to track truth and also responds to Plantinga’s EAAN (which I have not found persuasive, though I am inclined to think that one can have warranted religious beliefs even with an evolutionary explanation for those cognitive processes influencing them).

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Morality is a collective illusion foisted upon us by our genes”—Michael Ruse

[The following was presented to the UNF Philosophy Club on December 9, 2011. By no means is it complete and it is my intention to develop a more coherent paper arguing against the Moral Error Theory. I am open to any comments and criticisms]

As we approach the 35th year anniversary of John Mackie’s, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, it has become an appropriate time to commemorate the arguments put forth along with more recent ones, as well as some criticisms of his argument. Though, to begin outright with the arguments discussed may create some confusion. Therefore, in an attempt to avoid this confusion, it is essential that a brief account of the origins of the Moral Error Theory be given.

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Patricia Churchland discusses eliminative materialism:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzT0jHJdq7Q

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Dr. Vitz has posted several post concerning the cheating, plagiarism and lack of learning that has become a serious problem in academic institutions. These issues are of vital concern for the educators, the students, the nation and even the world, especially the democratic world. In order to address a problem, we must first know the reasons for the problem and what kind of problem it is; and, then, and only then, frame a solution to that problem. The issues that I will address in this post are: roots of cheating, plagiarism and being educated without learning; and I will address if cheating, plagiarism and being educated without learning are a moral issues, are practical issues or if they are both—and how it is what it is.

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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.

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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…)

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…is an Adam Curtis documentary about the creation and use of game theory in Cold-War America and how this led to our society’s conception of freedom and of the individual. If you haven’t seen it and if you are at all interested in game theory or political philosophy, then it’s worth watching. Here is the link to the documentary, on Google video. It features interviews with John Nash, Friedrick von Hayek, John Maynard Smith, Jean-Paul Sarte, Isaiah Berlin, Madsen Pirie (founder of the Adam Smith Institute), among others. Even if you ultimately don’t agree with the politics of this documentary or it’s boarder-line polemical tone, the interviews make watching this series (3 hour long installments) worth while.

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