Cognition 112 (2):281-299 (2009)
Evolutionary theories of morality, beginning with Darwin, have focused on explanations for altruism. More generally, these accounts have concentrated on conscience to the neglect of condemnation. As a result, few theoretical tools are available for understanding the rapidly accumulating data surrounding third-party judgment and punishment. Here we consider the strategic interactions among actors, victims, and third-parties to help illuminate condemnation. We argue that basic differences between the adaptive problems faced by actors and third-parties indicate that actor conscience and third-party condemnation are likely performed by different cognitive mechanisms. Further, we argue that current theories of conscience do not easily explain its experimentally demonstrated insensitivity to consequences. However, these results might be explicable if conscience functions, in part, as a defense system for avoiding third-party punishment. If conscience serves defensive functions, then its computational structure should be closely tailored to the details of condemnation mechanisms. This possibility underscores the need for a better understanding of condemnation, which is important not only in itself but also for explaining the nature of conscience. We outline three evolutionary mysteries of condemnation that require further attention: third-party judgment, moralistic punishment, and moral impartiality.
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References found in this work BETA
The Role of Conscious Reasoning and Intuition in Moral Judgment.Fiery Cushman, Liane Young & Marc Hauser - 2006 - Psychological Science 17 (12):1082-1089.
Universal Moral Grammar: Theory, Evidence, and the Future.John Mikhail - 2007 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11 (4):143 –152.
Citations of this work BETA
Culture–Gene Coevolution, Norm-Psychology and the Emergence of Human Prosociality.Maciej Chudek & Joseph Henrich - 2011 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (5):218-226.
When Ignorance is No Excuse: Different Roles for Intent Across Moral Domains.Liane Young & Rebecca Saxe - 2011 - Cognition 120 (2):202-214.
Are Moral Judgments Unified?Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Thalia Wheatley - 2014 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (4):451-474.
Coalitional Psychology on the Playground: Reasoning About Indirect Social Consequences in Preschoolers and Adults.David Pietraszewski & Tamsin C. German - 2013 - Cognition 126 (3):352-363.
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