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\title {Moral Psychology \\ Lecture 07}
 
\maketitle
 

Lecture 07:

Moral Psychology

\def \ititle {Lecture 07}
\def \isubtitle {Moral Psychology}
\begin{center}
{\Large
\textbf{\ititle}: \isubtitle
}
 
\iemail %
\end{center}

Could scientific discoveries undermine, or support, ethical principles?

Key source
Greene (2014), Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality: Why Cognitive (Neuro)Science Matters for Ethics.

Preview

1. There is a puzzle about apparently inconsistent patterns in judgement (switch-drop).

2. We can solve the puzzle by invoking a dual-process theory ...

2.a ... where one process is faster; and

2.b the faster process is affective and

2.c less consequentialist.

3. The faster process is unlikely to be reliable in unfamiliar* situations.

4. Therefore, we should rely less on the faster (and less consequentialist) process in unfamiliar* situations.

confused?

Let me try putting it a different way.

Against Consequentialism

Many spontaneously judge that we should not Drop.

Consequentialism* implies we should Drop.

Therefore:

Consequentialism* is wrong.

Drop

\emph{Drop}

Mary [...] notices an empty boxcar rolling out of control. [...] anyone it hits will die. [...] If Mary does nothing, the boxcar will hit the five people on the track. If Mary pulls a lever it will release the bottom of the footbridge and [...] one person will fall onto the track, where the boxcar will hit the one person, slow down because of the one person, and not hit the five people farther down the track.

Pulling the lever is: [extremely morally good:::neither good nor bad:::extremely morally bad]

Against Consequentialism

Many spontaneously judge that we should not Drop.

Consequentialism* implies we should Drop.

Therefore:

Consequentialism* is wrong.

This is what Singer and Greene, by quite different arguments, aim to show is wrong.

Greene (my reconstruction)

Drop is an unfamiliar* situation.

Spontaneous judgements are dominated by fast processes.

Fast processes are not reliable in unfamiliar* situations.

Therefore:

Spontaneous judgements concerning Drop are unreliable.

Alles klar?
So we have seen Greene’s argument against this. I might get to Singer’s later.
 

Cognitive Miracles

 
\section{Cognitive Miracles}
 
\section{Cognitive Miracles}

Greene (my reconstruction)

Drop is an unfamiliar* situation.

Spontaneous judgements are dominated by fast processes.

Fast processes are not reliable in unfamiliar* situations.

Therefore:

Spontaneous judgements concerning Drop are unreliable.

We will consider this claim

unfamiliar problems (or situations): ‘ones with which we have inadequate evolutionary, cultural, or personal experience’

Question for discussion: is the principle true or false?

‘it would be a cognitive miracle if we had reliably good moral instincts about unfamiliar* moral problems’

‘The No Cognitive Miracles Principle:

When we are dealing with unfamiliar* moral problems, we ought to rely less on [...] automatic emotional responses and more on [...] conscious, controlled reasoning, lest we bank on cognitive miracles.’

Greene, 2014 p. 715

ethical vs physical Compare processes underlying representational momentum Driven by principles So correct in at least two kinds of unfamiliar* cases

Compare the physical case.

Fast processes are characterised by principles of Impetus mechanics

which yield correct predictions in some unfamiliar* cases, including

point-light displays, and

(principles still work, despite unfamiliarity*)

cartoons

(stimuli are reverse-engineered to make the processes work)
Are these really unfamiliar?

unfamiliar problems (or situations): ‘ones with which we have inadequate evolutionary, cultural, or personal experience’

Inadequate for what? If we mean, ‘inadequate’ for learning about situations of that type, then the argument works formally, but it becomes a nontrivial issue whether the situation of Drop really is unfamiliar.
Dilemma: if we think of unfamiliarity as ‘unfamiliar in some respect’ then practically every situation and problem will be unfamiliar. But if we think of unfamiliarity as

Objection

Either Drop is unfamiliar but unfamiliarity does not imply unreliability of fast processes,

or else unfamiliarity does imply unreliability of fast processes but we lack grounds for determining whether Drop is familiar.

And finding those grounds will, essentially, collapse Greene’s argument into Singer’s.

Greene (my reconstruction)

Drop is an unfamiliar* situation.

Spontaneous judgements are dominated by fast processes.

Fast processes are not reliable in unfamiliar* situations.

Therefore:

Spontaneous judgements concerning Drop are unreliable.

Having considered this claim, I’m unsure we should accept it although open to the idea that a reformulated version of it could be acceptable.

reject the No Cognitive Miracles Principle outright?

Method of Signature Limits

1. Process generates prediction which is wrong ...

2. ... and which follows from principles that describe how the process works (its computational description).

This suggests thinking in terms of up-close and personal, which brings us to Singer’s argument.
Question for discussion now: can we save the principle?

‘it would be a cognitive miracle if we had reliably good moral instincts about unfamiliar* moral problems’

‘The No Cognitive Miracles Principle:

When we are dealing with unfamiliar* moral problems, we ought to rely less on [...] automatic emotional responses and more on [...] conscious, controlled reasoning, lest we bank on cognitive miracles.’

Greene, 2014 p. 715

Objection

Either Drop is unfamiliar but unfamiliarity does not imply unreliability of fast processes,

or else unfamiliarity does imply unreliability of fast processes but we lack grounds for determining whether Drop is familiar.

And finding those grounds will, essentially, collapse Greene’s argument into Singer’s.

Greene (my reconstruction)

Drop is an unfamiliar* situation.

Spontaneous judgements are dominated by fast processes.

Fast processes are not reliable in unfamiliar* situations.

Therefore:

Spontaneous judgements concerning Drop are unreliable.

Having considered this claim, I’m unsure we should accept it although open to the idea that a reformulated version of it could be acceptable.

Could scientific discoveries undermine, or support, ethical principles?

Key source
Greene (2014), Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality: Why Cognitive (Neuro)Science Matters for Ethics.

Progress so far
First objection to Greene’s argument introduced.

 

Singer’s Version

 
\section{Singer’s Version}
 
\section{Singer’s Version}

Stragegy: Singer’s Choice

‘We can take the view that our moral intuitions and judgments are and always will be emotionally based intuitive responses, and reason can do no more than build the best possible case for a decision already made on nonrational grounds. That approach leads to a form of moral skepticism, although one still compatible with advocating our emotionally based moral values and encouraging clear thinking about them. Alternatively, we might attempt the ambitious task of separating those moral judgments that we owe to our evolutionary and cultural history, from those that have a rational basis’ \citep[p.~351]{singer:2005_ethics}.

‘We can take the view that our moral intuitions and judgments are and always will be emotionally based intuitive responses, and reason can do no more than build the best possible case for a decision already made on nonrational grounds.

‘Alternatively, we might attempt the ambitious task of separating those moral judgments that we owe to our evolutionary and cultural history, from those that have a rational basis

Singer, 2005 p. 351

What kind of rational basis could there be for moral judgements?

Background: Personal contact influences ethical judgements.

E.g. Feltz & May, 2017’s meta-analysis

Contrast situations which are as similar as possible except that:

(a) means vs side-effect

--- harm is framed as a means to doing something or as a side-effect (or ‘byproduct’);

and in some, but not all cases,

(b) personal contact vs personal distance

--- the ‘means’ situation involves the use of personal or bodily contact (e.g. pushing or bumping)

\citep{feltz:2017_means} contrast studies on means/byproduct effect which do, and which do not, involve ‘the use of personal or bodily contact (e.g. pushing or bumping) in the means condition but not in the byproduct condition’. They find that the effect is significantly larger when personal or bodily contact is also a contrasting factor.
‘A mixed-model analysis using contact/no contact as the moderator variable indicated that this moderator accounted for a significant amount of the variation in effect sizes: Qm (df = 1) = 18.04, p < 0.001. More specifically, the mean effect size was sig- nificant when contact was involved (standardized mean change = 0.71, 95% CI 0.59–0.83 z = 11.5, p < 0.001), but was sub- stantially less (about a third the size) when contact was absent (standardized mean change = 0.24, 95% CI 0.05–0.42, z = 2.53, p = 0.01).’

Singer’s version

‘If [...]

our intuitive responses are due to differences in

the emotional pull of situations that involve bringing about someone’s death in a close-up, personal way,

and bringing about the same person’s death in a way that is at a distance, and less personal,

why should we believe that there is anything that justifies these responses?’

\citep[p.~347]{singer:2005_ethics}.

Singer, 2005, p. 347

Obs 1, this depends on close-up vs distant (which doesn’t explain everything)
Obs 2, the argument here is about justification. (Contrast Greene, which is about reliability)

Could scientific discoveries undermine, or support, ethical principles?

How does Singer’s argument relate to the question?

Against Consequentialism

Many spontaneously judge that we should not Drop.

Consequentialism* implies we should Drop.

Therefore:

Consequentialism* is wrong.

Let’s see why Singer rejects this.

Singer (reconstruction)

Varying Drop to make it more or less up-close and personal varies how people spontaneously judge Drop.

Whether it’s up-close is morally irrelevant.

Therefore:

Spontaneous judgements in Drop are sensitive to morally irrelevant factors.

Therefore:

Spontaneous judgements in Drop are unreliable.

Explain. And note that Greene’s argument doesn’t depend on moral relavance.

Could scientific discoveries undermine, or support, ethical principles?

Key source
Greene (2014), Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality: Why Cognitive (Neuro)Science Matters for Ethics.

Progress so far
First objection to Greene’s argument introduced.
Singer’s argument introduced,
and contrasted with Greene’s.

oops, I didn’t do that ...

Greene (my reconstruction)

Drop is an unfamiliar* situation.

Spontaneous judgements are dominated by fast processes.

Fast processes are not reliable in unfamiliar* situations.

Therefore:

Spontaneous judgements concerning Drop are unreliable.

Singer (reconstruction)

Varying Drop to make it more or less up-close and personal varies how people spontaneously judge Drop.

Whether it’s up-close is morally irrelevant.

Therefore:

Spontaneous judgements in Drop are sensitive to morally irrelevant factors.

Therefore:

Spontaneous judgements in Drop are unreliable.

Could scientific discoveries undermine, or support, ethical principles?

Key source
Greene (2014), Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality: Why Cognitive (Neuro)Science Matters for Ethics.

Progress so far
First objection to Greene’s argument introduced.
Singer’s argument introduced,
and contrasted with Greene’s.

 

On Second Thoughts

 
\section{On Second Thoughts}
 
\section{On Second Thoughts}

1. Ethical judgements are explained by a dual-process theory ...

1.a ... where a faster process is affective, and

1.b less consequentialist than a slower process.

2. The fast process is unlikely to be reliable in unfamiliar* situations.

3. Therefore, we should rely less on the faster (and less consequentlist) process in unfamiliar* situations.

Offered an objection to this in the last lecture.
We will consider this claim
This claim is what Greene calls the Central Tension Principle ...

‘The Central Tension Principle:

Characteristically deontological judgments are preferentially supported by automatic emotional responses processes, while characteristically consequentialist judgments are preferentially supported by conscious reasoning and allied processes of cognitive control’

\citep[p.~699]{greene:2014_pointandshoot}

Greene, 2014 p. 699

content process
deontologicalfast
consequentialslow
impetusfast
Newtonianslow

evidence for fast = nonconsequentialist

Evidence for fast = nonconsequentialist

Suter & Hertwig, 2011 figure 1

caption: ‘Fig. 1. Average proportion of deontological responses separately for conditions and type of moral dilemma (high- versus low-conflict personal and impersonal dilemmas) with data combined across the fast (i.e., time- pressure and self-paced-intuition) and slow conditions (no-time-pressure and self-paced-deliberation) in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively. Error bars represent standard errors. Only responses to high-conflict dilemmas differed significantly between the conditions’

‘participants in the time-pressure condition, relative to the no-time-pressure condition, were more likely to give ‘‘no’’ responses in high-conflict dilemmas’

\citep[p.~456]{suter:2011_time}.

preliminary objection

time pressure study

Trémolière and Bonnefon, 2014 figure 4

‘The model detected a significant effect of time pressure, p = .03 (see Table 1), suggesting that the slope of utilitarian responses was steeper for participants under time pressure. As is visually clear in Figure 4, participants under time pressure gave less utilitarian responses than control par- ticipants to scenarios featuring low kill–save ratios, but reached the same rates of utilitarian responses for the highest kill–save ratios.’ \citep[p.~927]{tremoliere:2014_efficient}
\textbf{do now} [save for later, more drama: [also mention \citep{gawronski:2018_effects} p.~1006 ‘reinterpreation’ and p.~992 descriptive vs mechanistsic]] \citet[p.~669]{gawronski:2017_what} argue for an alternative interpretation: The central findings of \citet{tremoliere:2014_efficient} ‘show that outcomes did influence moral judgments, but only when participants were under cognitive load or time pressure (i.e., the white bars do not significantly differ from the gray bars within the low load and no time pressure conditions, but they do significantly differ within the high load and time pressure conditions). Thus, a more appropriate interpretation of these data is that cognitive load and time pressure increased utilitarian responding, which stands in stark contrast to the widespread assumption that utilitarian judgments are the result of effortful cognitive processes (Greene et al., 2008; Suter & Hertwig, 2011).

main objection

evidence against fast = nonconsequentialist

Stimulus: ethical dilemma [family / no-family] [moderate / extreme ratio]

E.g. a version of trolley problem.
family/no family -- more nonconsequentalist responses when no-family
moderate / extreme ratio : how many people are saved

Initial response under time pressure + cognitive load

Confidence judgement

Solve dot task [end cognitive load task]

Second response: unbounded time + no cognitive load

Confidence judgement

Bago & de Neys, 2019 table 2

First response vs second response.

Bago & de Neys, 2019 table 2

Study 1: lots of consequentialist responses (= U)
Study 2: few consequentialist responses (= U) But still reversals are few.

‘Our critical finding is that although there were some instances in which deliberate correction occurred, these were the exception rather than the rule. Across the studies, results consistently showed that in the vast majority of cases in which people opt for a utilitarian response after deliberation, the utilitarian response is already given in the initial phase’

\citep[p.~1794]{bago:2019_intuitive}.

Bago & de Neys, 2019 p. 1794

Objection: consistency effects? No!

‘a potential consistency confound in the two-response paradigm. That is, when people are asked to give two consecutive responses, they might be influenced by a desire to look consistent [...] However, in our one-response pretest we observed 85.4% (SD 􏰁 35.3%) of utilitarian responses on the conflict versions. This is virtually identical to the final utilitarian response rate of 84.5% (SD 􏰁 36.2) in our main two-response study (see main results).’

faster = less consequentialist?

Suter & Hertwig, 2011 : yes

Bago & de Neys, 2019 : no

‘even if we were to unequivocally establish that utilitarian responses take more time than deontological responses, this does not imply that utilitarian responders generated the deontological response before arriving at the utilitarian one. They might have needed more time to complete the System 2 deliberations without ever having considered the deontological response’

\citep[p.~1783]{bago:2019_intuitive}.

Bago & de Neys, 2019 p. 1783

This doesn’t make sense to me: Suter & Hertwig, 2011 show more nonconsequentialist judgements under time pressure. If they needed more time, why did they make nonconsequentialist responses?

possible resolution: preference for inaction under time pressure?

We will take this idea up when considering the CNI model
BUT : if so, why didn’t Bago & de Neys find this?
Puzzle remains IMO

‘unless you’re prepared to say “yes” to the footbridge case [i.e. Drop], your automatic settings are still running the show, and any manual adjustments that you’re willing to make are at their behest’

\citep[p.~723]{greene:2014_pointandshoot}

Greene, 2014 p. 723

But are they?

1. There is a puzzle about apparently inconsistent patterns in judgement (switch-drop).

2. We can solve the puzzle by invoking a dual-process theory ...

2.a ... where one process is faster; and

2.b the faster process is affective and

2.c less consequentialist.

3. The faster process is unlikely to be reliable in unfamiliar* situations.

4. Therefore, we should rely less on the faster (and less consequentialist) process in unfamiliar* situations.

We have been considering this claim, so far inconclusive.

conclusion

In conclusion, ...

Could scientific discoveries undermine, or support, ethical principles?

Key source
Greene (2014), Beyond Point-and-Shoot Morality: Why Cognitive (Neuro)Science Matters for Ethics.

There are at least two objections to Greene:

unfamiliar does not imply unreliable; and

insufficient evidence that fast processes are more consequentialist.

Singer offers a distinct argument.