Moral Psychology
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By In Moral Psychology Comments (7)

Moral Phenomenology and Normative Ethics

Below is Uriah Kriegel’s first official post for PEA Soup (cross-posted with Desert Landscapes, the University of Arizona philosophy blog).  Uriah is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona, and we’re happy to welcome him aboard.

One of the issues that loomed large in the moral phenomenology workshop at the beginning of the month was what bearing, if any, moral phenomenology – the study of the experiential aspect of moral life – may have on traditional questions in ethics.

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By In Moral Psychology, News and Events Comments Off on Moral Phenomenology Workshop

Moral Phenomenology Workshop

Over at Desert Landscapes, Uriah has posted a wrap-up from the recent Moral Phenomenology Workshop outside of Tucson.  We all had a great time, and there were some excellent presentations.  Click here for the details.

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By In Moral Psychology, Practical Rationality Comments (12)

Are akratics free?

I had to choose between two mutually exclusive courses of action, A and B.  I judged that doing A was better, all things considered, than doing B, that I had more reason to do A than to do B, yet I did B.  This is troubling.  How might we make sense of it?

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Bibliography on cognitive science and ethics

Olle Blomberg has compiled this fine bibliography on cognitive science and ethics.  It’s very thorough, with many papers available online. It seems Olle can no longer keep this bibliography current all by himself, so please e-mail him with suggestions for additional entries.

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By In Moral Psychology Comments Off on Science and morals: Three avenues of inquiry

Science and morals: Three avenues of inquiry

In this article , Rebecca Saxe reviews three areas of experimental psychological research bearing on questions of moral psychology.  The first are the various experiments, conducted by Marc Hauser and others, soliciting individuals’ responses to Foot’s trolley problem.  The results are surprisingly consistent across the various genders, cultures, etc., lending apparent support for the existence of a universal moral instinct.   Psychologists in this area have  hypothesized that the universality of this moral instinct is akin to the universal facility for natural language. Saxe:

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By In Moral Psychology, News and Events Comments (13)

On the vagaries of moral attention

If (like me) you think that it’s more important to making the world a better place that people pay attention to the right things (rather than, say, that they hold the right beliefs), then you have to be struck by the differential in media attention to two stories over the past week.  The first is the efforts to resuce seven Russian sailors trapped in a submarine in the Pacific Ocean. They were rescued this morning with the help of U.S. and British military resuce teams.

The other is the ongoing drought and widespread starvation in Niger.  Niger frequently has difficulty feeding its population, but this year inadequate rains have placed 3.6 million people in danger of starvation, including large numbers of children.

The Russian sub story was the top story on CNN and other major media outlets for the past three days.  Niger made front page appearances in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the LA Times late last week, along with stories on CNN, but quickly faded from view, being consigned to the more obscure ‘international’ pages of the newspapers

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Whims and Real Selves

In a recent article, Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen presents an argument against “real self” views of autonomy and responsibility that, on its face, seems fairly troublesome ("Identification and Responsibility," in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (2003): 349-376).  Real self views are those that maintain that one is responsible for action A just in case A flowed ultimately from one’s real self, and this is taken to mean actions depending on psychic elements with which one identifies.  L-R then advances the “Whim Argument” against this view.  Consider actions done on a whim.  These are actions depending on motives with which one neither identifies nor disidentifies (what Frankfurt would call “wanton” actions, it seems – although see below).  The possibility of such actions yields a dilemma for the real self theorist: either responsibility requires identification or it simply requires the absence of disidentification.  If the former, then whim actions are ones for which the agent is never responsible, which seems quite implausible.  If the latter, then I can be responsible for an action not flowing from my real self.  So on this more plausible horn it is not a necessary condition for responsibility that an action flow from my real self.  How might a real self theorist reply?

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