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John Mikhail [15]John M. Mikhail [2]
  1. John Mikhail, A Case for the Moral Organ?
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  2. John Mikhail, Plucking the Mask of Mystery From its Face: Jurisprudence and H.L.A. Hart.
    Until recently, little was known of H.L.A. Hart’s private life. That has now changed with the publication of Nicola Lacey’s A Life of H.L.A. Hart: The Nightmare and the Noble Dream. Drawing on Hart’s notebooks and correspondence, Lacey paints an illuminating portrait of Hart, which reveals that despite his public success he struggled with internal perplexities, including his sexual orientation, Jewish identity, intellectual insecurity, and unconventional marriage. Yet, as critics have noted, the connection between these revelations and the development of (...)
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  3. John Mikhail, Scottish Common Sense and Nineteenth-Century American Law: A Critical Appraisal.
    In her insightful and stimulating article, The Mind of a Moral Agent, Professor Susanna Blumenthal traces the influence of Scottish Common Sense philosophy on early American law. Among other things, Blumenthal argues that the basic model of moral agency upon which early American jurists relied, which drew heavily from Common Sense philosophers like Thomas Reid, generated certain paradoxical conclusions about legal responsibility that later generations were forced to confront. "Having cast their lot with the Common Sense philosophers in the "formative (...)
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  4. John Mikhail (forthcoming). Any Animal Whatever? Harmful Battery and Its Elements as Building Blocks of Moral Cognition. .
    This article argues that the key elements of the prima facie case of harmful battery may form critical building blocks of moral cognition in both humans and nonhuman animals. By contrast, at least some of the rules and representations presupposed by familiar justifications to battery appear to be uniquely human. The article also argues that many famous thought experiments in ethics and many influential experiments in moral psychology rely on harmful battery scenarios without acknowledging this fact or considering its theoretical (...)
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  5. David Kirkby, Wolfram Hinzen & John Mikhail (2013). Your Theory of the Evolution of Morality Depends Upon Your Theory of Morality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (1):94-95.
    Baumard et al. attribute to humans a sense of fairness. However, the properties of this sense are so underspecified that the evolutionary account offered is not well-motivated. We contrast this with the framework of Universal Moral Grammar, which has sought a descriptively adequate account of the structure of the moral domain as a precondition for understanding the evolution of morality.
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  6. John Mikhail (2013). Churchland , Patricia S . Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011. Pp. 273. $24.95 (Cloth). [REVIEW] Ethics 123 (2):354-356.
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  7. John Mikhail (2012). Moral Grammar and Human Rights. In Ryan Goodman, Derek Jinks & Andrew K. Woods (eds.), Understanding Social Action, Promoting Human Rights. Oup Usa. 160.
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  8. John Mikhail (2011). Emotion, Neuroscience, and Law: A Comment on Darwin and Greene. Emotion Review 3 (3):293-295.
    Darwin’s (1871/1981) observation that evolution has produced in us certain emotions responding to right and wrong conduct that lack any obvious basis in individual utility is a useful springboard from which to clarify the role of emotion in moral judgment. The problem is whether a certain class of moral judgment is “constituted” or “driven by” emotion (Greene, 2008, p. 108) or merely correlated with emotion while being generated by unconscious computations (e.g., Huebner, Dwyer, & Hauser, 2008). With one exception, all (...)
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  9. John M. Mikhail (2011). Elements of Moral Cognition: Rawls' Linguistic Analogy and the Cognitive Science of Moral and Legal Judgment. Cambridge University Press.
    Is the science of moral cognition usefully modeled on aspects of Universal Grammar? Are human beings born with an innate "moral grammar" that causes them to analyze human action in terms of its moral structure, with just as little awareness as they analyze human speech in terms of its grammatical structure? Questions like these have been at the forefront of moral psychology ever since John Mikhail revived them in his influential work on the linguistic analogy and its implications for jurisprudence (...)
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  10. John Mikhail (2009). Moral Grammar and Intuitive Jurisprudence: A Formal Model of Unconscious Moral and Legal Knowledge. In B. H. Ross, D. M. Bartels, C. W. Bauman, L. J. Skitka & D. L. Medin (eds.), Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Vol. 50: Moral Judgment and Decision Making. Academic Press.
    Could a computer be programmed to make moral judgments about cases of intentional harm and unreasonable risk that match those judgments people already make intuitively? If the human moral sense is an unconscious computational mechanism of some sort, as many cognitive scientists have suggested, then the answer should be yes. So too if the search for reflective equilibrium is a sound enterprise, since achieving this state of affairs requires demarcating a set of considered judgments, stating them as explanandum sentences, and (...)
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  11. John Mikhail (2008). Moral Cognition and Computational Theory. In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology Volume 3. MIT Press.
    In this comment on Joshua Greene's essay, The Secret Joke of Kant's Soul, I argue that a notable weakness of Greene's approach to moral psychology is its neglect of computational theory. A central problem moral cognition must solve is to recognize (i.e., compute representations of) the deontic status of human acts and omissions. How do people actually do this? What is the theory which explains their practice?
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  12. John Mikhail (2008). The Poverty of the Moral Stimulus. In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology Volume 1. MIT Press.
    One of the most influential arguments in contemporary philosophy and cognitive science is Chomsky's argument from the poverty of the stimulus. In this response to an essay by Chandra Sripada, I defend an analogous argument from the poverty of the moral stimulus. I argue that Sripada's criticism of moral nativism appears to rest on the mistaken assumption that the learning target in moral cognition consists of a series of simple imperatives, such as "share your toys" or "don't hit other children." (...)
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  13. Marc Hauser, Fiery Cushman, Liane Young, J. I. N. Kang-Xing & John Mikhail (2007). A Dissociation Between Moral Judgments and Justifications. Mind and Language 22 (1):1–21.
    To what extent do moral judgments depend on conscious reasoning from explicitly understood principles? We address this question by investigating one particular moral principle, the principle of the double effect. Using web-based technology, we collected a large data set on individuals' responses to a series of moral dilemmas, asking when harm to innocent others is permissible. Each moral dilemma presented a choice between action and inaction, both resulting in lives saved and lives lost. Results showed that: (1) patterns of moral (...)
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  14. Marc Hauser, Fiery Cushman, Liane Young, R. Kang‐Xing Jin & John Mikhail (2007). A Dissociation Between Moral Judgments and Justifications. Mind and Language 22 (1):1-21.
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  15. John Mikhail (2007). Universal Moral Grammar: Theory, Evidence, and the Future. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11 (4):143 –152.
    Scientists from various disciplines have begun to focus attention on the psychology and biology of human morality. One research program that has recently gained attention is universal moral grammar (UMG). UMG seeks to describe the nature and origin of moral knowledge by using concepts and models similar to those used in Chomsky's program in linguistics. This approach is thought to provide a fruitful perspective from which to investigate moral competence from computational, ontogenetic, behavioral, physiological and phylogenetic perspectives. In this article, (...)
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  16. John Mikhail (2005). Moral Heuristics or Moral Competence? Reflections on Sunstein. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (4):557-558.
    By focusing on mistaken judgments, Sunstein provides a theory of performance errors without a theory of moral competence. Additionally, Sunstein's objections to thought experiments like the footbridge and trolley problems are unsound. Exotic and unfamiliar stimuli are used in theory construction throughout the cognitive sciences, and these problems enable us to uncover the implicit structure of our moral intuitions.
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  17. John M. Mikhail (2000). Rawls' Linguistic Analogy. Dissertation, Cornell University