Why Investigate Moral Psychology?
We consider three reasons (and one non-reason) for studying investigating moral psychology. This is not supposed to be an exhaustive list.
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Background: ‘intuitive ethics’
- fairness (including reciprocity)
- in-group loyalty
- respect for authorty
- purity, sanctity
Moral Psychology matters for understanding human sociality
‘Humans are [...] adapted [...] to live in morally structured communities’ thanks in part to ‘the capacity to operate systems of moralistic punishment’ and susceptibility ‘to moral suasion’ (Richerson & Boyd, 1999, p. 257).
Further, ‘humans (both individually and as a species) develop morality because it is required for cooperative systems to flourish’ (Hamlin, 2015, p. 108)}
Moral Psychology matters for understanding political conflict
‘The moral framing of climate change has typically focused on only the first two values: harm to present and future generations and the unfairness of the distribution of burdens caused by climate change. As a result, the justification for action on climate change holds less moral priority for conservatives than liberals’ (Markowitz & Shariff, 2012, p. 244).
Will moral Psychology change how philospohers do ethics?
Several claims in the literature imply that it will:
Humans lack direct insight into moral properties (Sinnott-Armstrong, Young, & Cushman, 2010).
Intuitions cannot be used to argue against theories (Sinnott-Armstrong et al., 2010).
Philosophers, including Kant, do not use reason to figure out what is right or wrong, but ‘primarily to justify and organize their preexising intuitive conclusions’ (Greene, 2014, p. 718).
A key issue on this course is whether discoveries about moral psychology justify any such claims.