moral_psychology   308

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What's Wrong With Morality? - Paperback - C. Daniel Batson - Oxford University Press
"Most works on moral psychology direct our attention to the positive role morality plays for us as individuals, as a society, even as a species. In What's Wrong with Morality?, C. Daniel Batson takes a different approach: he looks at morality as a problem. The problem is not that it is wrong to be moral, but that our morality often fails to produce these intended results. Why? Some experts believe the answer lies in lack of character. Others say we are victims of poor judgment. If we could but discern what is morally right, whether through logical analysis and discourse, through tuned intuition and a keen moral sense, or through feeling and sentiment, we would act accordingly. Implicit in these different views is the assumption that if we grow up properly, if we can think and feel as we should, and if we can keep a firm hand on the tiller through the storms of circumstance, all will be well. We can realize our moral potential.
"Many of our best writers of fiction are less optimistic. Astute observers of the human condition like Austen, Balzac, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Eliot, Tolstoy, and Twain suggest our moral psychology is more complex. These writers encourage us to look more closely at our motives, emotions, and values, at what we really care about in the moral domain. In this volume, Batson examines this issue from a social-psychological perspective. Drawing on research suggesting our moral life is fertile ground for rationalization and deception, including self-deception, Batson offers a hard-nosed analysis of morality and its limitations in this expertly written book."

--- This seems like a potentially interesting secular take on original sin, and the total depravity of the natural will.

--- ETA: NDPR discussion ( makes it sound like it's probably not worth _my_ time.
to:NB  books:noted  moral_psychology 
14 days ago by cshalizi
The Theory of Dyadic Morality: Reinventing Moral Judgment by Redefining Harm - Chelsea Schein, Kurt Gray, 2018
The nature of harm—and therefore moral judgment—may be misunderstood. Rather than an objective matter of reason, we argue that harm should be redefined as an intuitively perceived continuum. This redefinition provides a new understanding of moral content and mechanism—the constructionist Theory of Dyadic Morality (TDM). TDM suggests that acts are condemned proportional to three elements: norm violations, negative affect, and—importantly—perceived harm. This harm is dyadic, involving an intentional agent causing damage to a vulnerable patient (A→P). TDM predicts causal links both from harm to immorality (dyadic comparison) and from immorality to harm (dyadic completion). Together, these two processes make the “dyadic loop,” explaining moral acquisition and polarization. TDM argues against intuitive harmless wrongs and modular “foundations,” but embraces moral pluralism through varieties of values and the flexibility of perceived harm. Dyadic morality impacts understandings of moral character, moral emotion, and political/cultural differences, and provides research guidelines for moral psychology.

-- directly positions itself against Rozin's disgust based approach to moral judgments.
moral_psychology  judea.pearl  taboo-_trade-offs  debates 
7 weeks ago by rvenkat
The Power of the Normal by Cass R. Sunstein :: SSRN
How do judgments about law and morality shift? Why do we come to see conduct as egregiously wrong, when we had formerly seen it as merely inappropriate or even unobjectionable? Why do shifts occur in the opposite direction? A clue comes from the fact that some of our judgments are unstable, in the sense that they are an artifact of, or endogenous to, what else we see. This is true of sensory perception: Whether an object counts as blue or purple depends on what other objects surround it. It is also true for ethical judgments: Whether conduct counts as unethical depends on what other conduct is on people’s viewscreens. It follows that conduct that was formerly seen as ethical may come to seem unethical, as terrible behavior becomes less common, and also that conduct that was formerly seen as unethical may come to seem ethical, as terrible behavior becomes more common. In these circumstances, law (and enforcement practices) can have an important signaling effect, giving people a sense of what is normal and what is not. There is an important supplemental point, intensifying these effects: Once conduct comes to be seen as part of an unacceptable category – abusiveness, racism, lack of patriotism, microaggression, sexual harassment – real or apparent exemplars that are not so egregious, or perhaps not objectionable at all, might be taken as egregious, because they take on the stigma now associated with the category. Stigmatization by categorization can intensify the process by which formerly unobjectionable behavior becomes regarded as abhorrent. There is a relationship between stigmatization by categorization and “concept creep,” an idea applied in psychology to shifting understandings of such concepts as abuse, bullying, mental illness, and prejudice.

--Sunstein-ian repackaging of really old ideas from psychology of disgust (Rozin) and his & Kuran's work.
cass.sunstein  norms  dynamics  law  moral_psychology  social_movements  cultural_evolution  dmce  social_networks 
9 weeks ago by rvenkat
The joy of ruling: an experimental investigation on collective giving | SpringerLink
"We analyse team dictator games with different voting mechanisms in the laboratory. Individuals vote to select a donation for all group members. Standard Bayesian analysis makes the same prediction for all three mechanisms: participants should cast the same vote regardless of the voting mechanism used to determine the common donation level. Our experimental results show that subjects fail to choose the same vote. We show that their behaviour is consistent with a joy of ruling: individuals get an extra utility when they determine the voting outcome."
to:NB  experimental_psychology  moral_psychology 
july 2018 by cshalizi
Demonising The Other: The Criminalisation of Morality, Whitehead
"Throughout history, societies have established “others”—groups, often defined through differences of culture, race, gender, or class, that have been demonized by the majority. In this book, Philip Whitehead challenges the idea that such demonization is an inevitable fact of life. He lays out the historical criminalization of the other and looks closely at modern attempts to prevent it through changes to criminal justice systems, ultimately questioning whether such approaches can be effective at altering the conditions of existence that are responsible for the creation of the other."
to:NB  books:noted  moral_psychology  crime  history_of_morals 
june 2018 by cshalizi
McClendon, G.: Envy in Politics (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"How envy, spite, and the pursuit of admiration influence politics
"Why do governments underspend on policies that would make their constituents better off? Why do people participate in contentious politics when they could reap benefits if they were to abstain? In Envy in Politics, Gwyneth McClendon contends that if we want to understand these and other forms of puzzling political behavior, we should pay attention to envy, spite, and the pursuit of admiration--all manifestations of our desire to maintain or enhance our status within groups. Drawing together insights from political philosophy, behavioral economics, psychology, and anthropology, McClendon explores how and under what conditions status motivations influence politics.
"Through surveys, case studies, interviews, and an experiment, McClendon argues that when concerns about in-group status are unmanaged by social conventions or are explicitly primed by elites, status motivations can become drivers of public opinion and political participation. McClendon focuses on the United States and South Africa—two countries that provide tough tests for her arguments while also demonstrating that the arguments apply in different contexts.
"From debates over redistribution to the mobilization of collective action, Envy in Politics presents the first theoretical and empirical investigation of the connection between status motivations and political behavior."

--- While "Envy in Politics" is clearly a much better title than "Concerns about Inter-personal Status in Politics", it seems somewhat prejudicial...
to:NB  books:noted  moral_psychology  political_science 
april 2018 by cshalizi
Action versus Contemplation: Why an Ancient Debate Still Matters, Summit, Vermeule
"“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” Blaise Pascal wrote in 1654. But then there’s Walt Whitman, in 1856: “Whoever you are, come forth! Or man or woman come forth! / You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house.”
"It is truly an ancient debate: Is it better to be active or contemplative? To do or to think? To make an impact, or to understand the world more deeply? Aristotle argued for contemplation as the highest state of human flourishing. But it was through action that his student Alexander the Great conquered the known world. Which should we aim at? Centuries later, this argument underlies a surprising number of the questions we face in contemporary life. Should students study the humanities, or train for a job? Should adults work for money or for meaning? And in tumultuous times, should any of us sit on the sidelines, pondering great books, or throw ourselves into protests and petition drives? 
"With Action versus Contemplation, Jennifer Summit and Blakey Vermeule address the question in a refreshingly unexpected way: by refusing to take sides. Rather, they argue for a rethinking of the very opposition. The active and the contemplative can—and should—be vibrantly alive in each of us, fused rather than sundered. Writing in a personable, accessible style, Summit and Vermeule guide readers through the long history of this debate from Plato to Pixar, drawing compelling connections to the questions and problems of today. Rather than playing one against the other, they argue, we can discover how the two can nourish, invigorate, and give meaning to each other, as they have for the many writers, artists, and thinkers, past and present, whose examples give the book its rich, lively texture of interplay and reference.
"This is not a self-help book. It won’t give you instructions on how to live your life. Instead, it will do something better: it will remind you of the richness of a life that embraces action and contemplation, company and solitude, living in the moment and planning for the future. Which is better? Readers of this book will discover the answer: both."
to:NB  books:noted  moral_psychology  moral_philosophy 
april 2018 by cshalizi
[1801.04346] A Computational Model of Commonsense Moral Decision Making
We introduce a new computational model of moral decision making, drawing on a recent theory of commonsense moral learning via social dynamics. Our model describes moral dilemmas as a utility function that computes trade-offs in values over abstract moral dimensions, which provide interpretable parameter values when implemented in machine-led ethical decision-making. Moreover, characterizing the social structures of individuals and groups as a hierarchical Bayesian model, we show that a useful description of an individual's moral values - as well as a group's shared values - can be inferred from a limited amount of observed data. Finally, we apply and evaluate our approach to data from the Moral Machine, a web application that collects human judgments on moral dilemmas involving autonomous vehicles.

-- Can somebody stop this Bayesian cognition paper production factory?
moral_psychology  bayesian  cognition  joshua.tenenbaum 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Embedding Ethical Principles in Collective Decision Support Systems
The future will see autonomous machines acting in the same environment as humans, in areas as diverse as driving, assistive technology, and health care. Think of self-driving cars, companion robots, and medical diagnosis support systems. We also believe that humans and machines will often need to work together and agree on common decisions. Thus hybrid collective decision making systems will be in great need. In this scenario, both machines and collective decision making systems should follow some form of moral values and ethical principles (appropriate to where they will act but always aligned to humans'), as well as safety constraints. In fact, humans would accept and trust more machines that behave as ethically as other humans in the same environment. Also, these principles would make it easier for machines to determine their actions and explain their behavior in terms understandable by humans. Moreover, often machines and humans will need to make decisions together, either through consensus or by reaching a compromise. This would be facilitated by shared moral values and ethical principles.
moral_psychology  artificial_intelligence  expert_judgment  automation  ethics  engineering  dmce  teaching 
february 2018 by rvenkat
The social dilemma of autonomous vehicles | Science
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) should reduce traffic accidents, but they will sometimes have to choose between two evils, such as running over pedestrians or sacrificing themselves and their passenger to save the pedestrians. Defining the algorithms that will help AVs make these moral decisions is a formidable challenge. We found that participants in six Amazon Mechanical Turk studies approved of utilitarian AVs (that is, AVs that sacrifice their passengers for the greater good) and would like others to buy them, but they would themselves prefer to ride in AVs that protect their passengers at all costs. The study participants disapprove of enforcing utilitarian regulations for AVs and would be less willing to buy such an AV. Accordingly, regulating for utilitarian algorithms may paradoxically increase casualties by postponing the adoption of a safer technology.

--also add Greene's commentary (same issue)
moral_psychology  artificial_intelligence  judgment_decision-making  dmce  teaching 
february 2018 by rvenkat
Collision with Reality: What Depth Psychology Can Tell us About Victimhood Culture - Quillette
-- I would prefer avoiding Jungian psychology and rephrase it differently. Material affluence affords us *more* agency than in the past. So, to give up on the idea of having agency and attribute all agency to the environment is wrong and harmful. The debate is about whether one can definitely claim that individual affordance in present day is more that it ever was. While what if as *critical* scholars say, there was *epistemic injustice* and their oppression was not even known or acknowledged in the past or in the present.
At the end of the day, it is probably about the efficacy of using political concepts in apolitical settings but it is tough if one starts with *everything is political* approach to everything.
cultural_market  cultural_psychology  moral_psychology  social_psychology  contemporary_culture  critique  via:sommers 
december 2017 by rvenkat

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