Does the Ship of Theseus present a genuine puzzle about persistence due to conflicting intuitions based on “continuity of form” and “continuity of matter” pulling in opposite directions? Philosophers are divided. Some claim that it presents a genuine puzzle but disagree over whether there is a solution. Others claim that there is no puzzle at all since the case has an obvious solution. To assess these proposals, we conducted a cross-cultural study involving nearly 3,000 people across twenty-two countries, speaking eighteen (...) different languages. Our results speak against the proposal that there is no puzzle at all and against the proposal that there is a puzzle but one that has no solution. Our results suggest that there are two criteria—“continuity of form” and “continuity of matter”— that constitute our concept of persistence and these two criteria receive different weightings in settling matters concerning persistence. (shrink)
Los sociobiólogos han defendido una posición "calvinista" que se resume en la siguiente fórmula: si la selección natural explica las actitudes morales, no hay altruismo genuino en la moral; si la moral es altruista, entonces la selección natural no puede explicarla. En este ensayo desenmascaro los presupuestos erróneos de esta posición y defiendo que el altruismo como equidad no es incompatible con la selección natural. Rechazo una concepción hobbesiana de la moral, pero sugiero su empleo en la interpretación de la (...) psicología de los primates no humanos y en un modelo de progresión evolutiva que habría llevado a la moralidad como adaptación pasando por la razón instrumental. /// Sociobiologists have endorsed a "Calvinist" position captured in the following formula: if natural selection explains moral attitudes, morality is not genuinely altruistic; if morality is altruistic, then natural selection cannot explain it. I expose the false presuppositions behind this claim and argüe that altruism as fairness is not incompatible with natural selection. I reject a Hobbesian view of morality as an instrumental endorsement of fairness norms, but suggest its use to interpret primate psychology and to model an evolutionary progression ending in moral capacities as adaptations. (shrink)
In line with recent efforts to empirically study the folk concept of weakness of will, we examine two issues in this paper: (1) How is weakness of will attribution [WWA] influenced by an agent’s violations of best judgment and/or resolution, and by the moral valence of the agent’s action? (2) Do any of these influences depend on the cognitive dispositions of the judging individual? We implemented a factorial 2x2x2 between–subjects design with judgment violation, resolution violation, and action valence as independent (...) variables, and measured participants’ cognitive dispositions using Frederick’s Cognitive Reflection Test [CRT]. We conclude that intuitive and reflective individuals have two different concepts of weakness of will. The study supports this claim by showing that: a) the WWA of intuitive subjects is influenced by the action’s (and probably also the commitment’s) moral valence, while the WWA of reflective subjects is not; b) judgment violation plays a small role in the WWA of intuitive subjects, while reflective subjects treat resolution violation as the only relevant trait. Data were collected among students at two different universities. All subjects (N=710) answered the CRT. A three-way ANOVA was first conducted on the whole sample and then on the intuitive and reflective groups separately. This study suggests that differences in cognitive dispositions can significantly impact the folk understanding of philosophical concepts, and thus suggests that analysis of folk concepts should take cognitive dispositions into account. (shrink)
Since at least Hume and Kant, philosophers working on the nature of aesthetic judgment have generally agreed that common sense does not treat aesthetic judgments in the same way as typical expressions of subjective preferences—rather, it endows them with intersubjective validity, the property of being right or wrong regardless of disagreement. Moreover, this apparent intersubjective validity has been taken to constitute one of the main explananda for philosophical accounts of aesthetic judgment. But is it really the case that most people (...) spontaneously treat aesthetic judgments as having intersubjective validity? In this paper, we report the results of a cross‐cultural study with over 2,000 respondents spanning 19 countries. Despite significant geographical variations, these results suggest that most people do not treat their own aesthetic judgments as having intersubjective validity. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for theories of aesthetic judgment and the purpose of aesthetics in general. (shrink)
Sober and Wilson have recently claimed that evolutionary theory can do what neither philosophy nor experimental psychology have been able to, namely, "break the deadlock" in the egoism vs. altruism debate with an argument based on the reliability of altruistic motivation. I analyze both their reliability argument and the experimental evidence of social psychology in favor of altruism in terms of the folk-psychological "laws" and inference patterns underlying them, and conclude that they both rely on the same patterns. I expose (...) the confusions that have led Sober and Wilson to defend a reliability argument while rejecting the experimental evidence of social psychology. (shrink)
Altruism is a central concept in evolutionary biology. Evolutionary biologists still disagree about its meaning (E.O. Wilson 2005; Fletcher et al. 2006; D.S. Wilson 2008; Foster et al. 2006a, b; West et al. 2007a, 2008). Semantic disagreement appears to be quite robust and not easily overcome by attempts at clarification, suggesting that substantive conceptual issues lurk in the background. Briefly, group selection theorists define altruism as any trait that makes altruists losers to selfish traits within groups, and makes groups of (...) altruists fitter than groups of non-altruists. Inclusive fitness theorists reject a definition based on within- and between-group fitness. Traits are altruistic only if they cause a direct and absolute fitness loss to the donor. The latter definition is more restrictive and rejects as cases of altruism behaviors that are accepted by the former. Fletcher and Doebeli (2009) recently proposed a simple, direct and individually based fitness approach, which they claim returns to first principles: carriers of the genotype of interest “must, on average, end up with more net direct fitness benefits than average population members.” This seductively simple proposal uses the concept of assortment to explain how diverse kinds of altruists end up on average with more net fitness than their non-altruistic rivals. In this paper I shall argue that their approach implies a new concept of altruism that contrasts with and improves on the concept of the inclusive fitness approach. (shrink)
In the sacrificial moral dilemma task, participants have to morally judge an action that saves several lives at the cost of killing one person. According to the dual process corrective model of moral judgment suggested by Greene and collaborators (2001; 2004; 2008), cognitive control is necessary to override the intuitive, deontological force of the norm against killing and endorse the utilitarian perspective. However, a conflict model has been proposed more recently to account for part of the evidence in favor of (...) dual process models in moral and social decision making. In this model, conflict, moral responses and reaction times arise from the interplay between individually variable motivational factors and objective parameters intrinsic to the choices offered. To further explore this model in the moral dilemma task, we confronted three different samples with a set of dilemmas representing an objective gradient of utilitarian pull, and collected data on moral judgment and on conflict in a 4-point scale. Collapsing all cases along the gradient, participants in each sample felt less conflicted on average when they gave extreme responses (1 or 4 in the UR scale). They felt less conflicted on average when responding to either the low- or the high-pull cases. The correlation between utilitarian responses and conflict was positive in the low-pull and negative in the high-pull cases. This pattern of data suggests that moral responses to sacrificial dilemmas are driven by decision conflict, which in turn depends on the interplay between an objective gradient of utilitarian pull and the moral motivations which regulate individual responsiveness to this gradient. (shrink)
En la filosofía kantiana la explicación de los organismos, como ejemplos de diseño complejo, es un problema de difícil solución. Como entidades materiales deberían ser explicables por leyes mecánicas. Por su diseño, exigen una explicación por causas finales. Ambas explicaciones son inaceptables. Per..
In an experimental critique of the moral/conventional distinction, Kelly et al. present new experimental data about responses to transgressions involving harm, where the novelty is that transgressors are grown-ups, rather than children. Their data do not support the moral/conventional distinction. The contrast between grown-up and schoolyard transgressions does not seem, however, to explain their results: they also use two schoolyard transgressions with similar negative results for the M/C distinction.I here attempt to explain away their results by calling attention to two (...) mistakes in their experimental design. One refers to the use of questionnaire-items of the type that Turiel and collaborators have called mixed-domain situations, which extend over both a moral and a conventional domain. Participants respond to these cases differently than to prototypical moral situations, because some allow the authority rule to override the moral rule. The second mistake emerges in the grown-up transgressions labeled as Whipping/temporal, Whipping/Authority, Spanking/Authority, Prisoner abuse/Authority. These are not the typical transgressions unambiguously “involving a victim who has been harmed, whose rights have been violated, or who has been subject to an injustice”. The victims are also transgressors and harm is inflicted on them as punishment. Plausibly, rules about corporal punishment depend on authority in a way that rules about harming the innocent do not. (shrink)
Recent developments in evolutionary game theory argue the superiority of punishment over reciprocity as accounts of large-scale human cooperation. I introduce a distinction between a behavioral and a psychological perspective on reciprocity and punishment to question this view. I examine a narrow and a wide version of a psychological mechanism for reciprocity and conclude that a narrow version is clearly distinguishable from punishment, but inadequate for humans; whereas a wide version is applicable to humans but indistinguishable from punishment. The mechanism (...) for reciprocity in humans emerges as a meta-norm that governs both retaliation and punishment. I make predictions open to empirical investigation to confirm or disconfirm this view. (shrink)
Economic theory has tended to reduce all social bonds and relations to forms of contract, whereas social theory has seen contracts as opposed to, and destructive of, genuine social bonds. Bruni sees these contrapositions as ideological (‘left’ against ‘right’, p. xi). His main goal is to overcome them; to show that three forms of reciprocity, covering the ideological spectrum from left to right, are complementary and simultaneously required in a healthy society. These three forms are, in his words: ‘(1) the (...) reciprocity of contract or ‘cautious’; (2) the reciprocity of friendship or philia and (3) the ‘unconditional’ reciprocity, the one more controversial . . .’ (p. x). (shrink)
Is morality biologically altruistic? Does it imply a disadvantage in the struggle for existence? A positive answer puts morality at odds with natural selection, unless natural selection operates at the level of groups. In this case, a trait that is good for groups though bad for individuals can evolve. Sociobiologists reject group selection and have adopted one of two horns of a dilemma. Either morality is based on an egoistic calculus, compatible with natural selection; or morality continues tied to psychological (...) and biological altruism but not as a product of natural selection. The dilemma denies a third possibility—that psychological altruism evolves as a biologically selfish trait. I discuss the classical treatments of the paradox by Charles Darwin and Robert Trivers, focusing on the role they attribute to social emotions. The upshot is that both Darwin and Trivers sketch a natural-selection process relying on innate emotional mechanisms that render morality adaptive for individuals as well as for groups. I give additional reasons for viewing it as a form of natural, instead of only cultural, selection. (shrink)
Views on the evolution of altruism based upon multilevel selection on structured populations pay little attention to the difference between fortuitous and deliberate processes leading to assortative grouping. Altruism may evolve when assortative grouping is fortuitously produced by forces external to the organism. But when it is deliberately produced by the same proximate mechanism that controls altruistic responses, as in humans, exploitation of altruists by selfish individuals is unlikely and altruism evolves as an individually advantageous trait. Groups formed with altruists (...) of this sort are special, because they are not affected by subversion from within. A synergistic process where altruism is selected both at the individual and at the group level can take place. (shrink)
We propose two adjustments to the classic view of shared intentionality as based on conceptual-level cognitive skills. The first one takes into account that infants and young children display this capacity, but lack conceptual-level cognitive skills. The second one seeks to integrate cognitive and non-cognitive skills into that capacity. This second adjustment is motivated by two facts. First, there is an enormous difference between human infants and our closest living primate relatives with respect to the range and scale of goal (...) sharing and cooperation. Second, recent evidence suggests that there are hardly any differences in their mental-state attribution capacities. We argue therefore that our distinctively human capacity for shared intentionality is due to the effect on our cognitive skills of a practical attitude. Accordingly, we propose that cognitive and practical skills, working together, produce our capacity for shared intentionality, and review evidence suggesting that the practical skill in question consists in the ability to adopt an attitude of equality. (shrink)
Classical evolutionary explanations of social behavior classify behaviors from their effects, not from their underlying mechanisms. Here lies a potential objection against the view that morality can be explained by such models, e.g. Trivers’reciprocal altruism. However, evolutionary theory reveals a growing interest in the evolution of psychological mechanisms and factors them in as selective forces. This opens up perspectives for evolutionary approaches to problems that have traditionally worried moral philosophers. Once the ability to mind-read is factored-in among the relevant variables (...) in the evolution of moral abilities and counted among the selection pressures that have plausibly shaped our nature as moral agents, an evolutionary approach can contribute, so I will argue, to the solution of a long-standing debate in moral philosophy and psychology concerning the basic motivation for moral behavior. (shrink)
Las explicaciones evolucionarias del altruismo y la cooperación humana, inauguradas por pioneros como Darwin, Hamilton y Trivers, sugieren que la biología podría eventualmente construir una explicación científica plausible de un núcleo de la moralidad humana. Según este proyecto, la moralidad y la ..
La filosofía se ha preocupado desde susorígenes por el sentido de la vida humana. Estapreocupación es la que subyace a la "Filosofíade la Historia", disciplina que surge en laépoca moderna con la pregunta por la existencia o inexistencia de un progreso en la historia. Autores como Kant consideran que el progreso,para poder valer como tal, ha de aconteceren el terreno de lo moral, sobre todo en sus manifestaciones sociales externas, es decir, enla realización del derecho natural en las formasconcretas de (...) convivencia humana. En su Filosofíade la historia busca Kant argumentosracionales en favor de la existencia de unprogreso de este tipo. El principal obstáculo asus argumentos es la existencia del mal o delo irracional. Kant intenta superarlo argumentandoen favor de una concepción teleológicade la historia, según la cual la humanidadprogresa del mal hacia el bien. En el presente artículo ensayo una reconstrucción de los principales pasos de su argumentación. (shrink)
In a unified theory of human reciprocity, the strong and weak forms are similar because neither is biologically altruistic and both require normative motivation to support cooperation. However, strong reciprocity is necessary to support cooperation in public goods games. It involves inflicting costs on defectors; and though the costs for punishers are recouped, recouping costs requires complex institutions that would not have emerged if weak reciprocity had been enough.
Individual and group selection are usually conceived as opposed evolutionary processes. Though cases of synergy are occasionally recognized, the evolutionary importance of synergy is largely ignored. However, synergy is the plausible explanation for the evolution of collectives as higher level individuals i.e., collectives acting as adaptive units, e.g., genomes and colonies of social insects. It rests on the suppression of the predictable tendency of evolutionary units to benefit at the expense of other units or of the wholes they contribute to (...) build. It plausibly explains human cooperation and morality: the molding of human groups into adaptive units. (shrink)
Resumen: En este ensayo abordo los intentos, relativamente recientes, de dar una explicación de la moralidad como adaptación por selección natural. Mi exposición tiene una introducción y cuatro partes: en la primera explico en qué consiste la paradoja del altruismo biológico. En la segunda expongo l..
Evolutionary explanations of altruism and human cooperation, first set forth by pioneers such as Darwin, Hamilton and Trivers, suggest that biology might be capable of offering a plausible scientific explanation of the core of human morality. According to this project, morality and human cooperation arise when resourcesare scarce; they cannot be exploited by isolated individuals; and individuals cannot maintain a long-term position of domination over others in order to advance their selfish ends. An important philosophical question that arises with respect (...) to this project has to do with the concepts of de morality and moral motivation that itpresupposes. The evolutionary project has not been clear in this respect. The article argues in favor of two theses: 1) evolutionary explanations of cooperation suggest a contractual type of morality, but they are ambiguous regarding the motivations favored by natural selection, thus reflecting, without resolving it, a traditionaldisagreement between Hobbes’s moral contractualism and that of Kant ; 2) in their current form, these explanations cannot resolve that disagreement, but a reflection on the role of the capacity to interpret the motivations and character of others in the evolution of morality could provide arguments in favor of Kantian contractualism. (shrink)
Regarding the explanation of organisms as instances of complex design, Kantian philosophy faces a difficult problem: as material entities they should be explained through mechanical laws, but because of their design, they call for an explanation through final causes. Nonetheless, both explanations are unacceptable. Does Kant offer any way out? Part of his solution is that both teleology and mechanicism must apply as regulative principles. But this implies limiting mechanicism to a regulative idea, which is inconsistent with his claim that (...) newtonian mechanics are a priori valid and constitutive of natural science and its objects. I inquire into Kant’s positive doctrine on the natural explanation of organisms, combining teleology and mechanicism, and into the way this fits in his natural philosophy. (shrink)
Se busca rastrear la imagen que Platón tiene de Heráclito y articularla con la estructura argumentativa del Cratilo, para comprender las necesidades textuales a las que responde la doctrina del flujo perpetuo, es decir, la discusión sobre la corrección (ὀρθότης) del nombre. Gracias a la inclusión del testimonio heraclíteo, resulta posible rastrear la presunta consolidación de la tesis sobre los nombres primarios y los secundarios como el eje de la separación entre dos planos de realidad (uno estable y uno móvil) (...) y de la teoría de las Ideas -es decir, como la base de la epistemología platónica presente en los diálogos de madurez-. The article seeks to trace the image Plato has of Heraclitus and connect it with the argumentative structure of the Cratylus in order to understand the textual needs that give rise to the doctrine of perpetual flux, that is, the discussion regarding the correctness (ὀρθότης) of names. The inclusion of Heraclitus's testimony makes it possible to trace the alleged consolidation of the thesis regarding primary and secondary names as the axis of separation between two levels of reality (one stable, the other, changing) and the theory of Ideas -that is, as the basis of Plato's epistemology as set forth in the late dialogues-. (shrink)
RESUMEN Diversos estudios han concluido que los pacientes con daño en la Corteza Frontal -CF- o Corteza Prefrontal Ventromedial -CPV- muestran una disposición a herir directamente a otra persona con el fin de salvar varias vidas en sus respuestas a los "dilemas morales personales", revelando una posible carencia de empatía. No obstante, cuando evalúan conductas carentes de empatía sin justificación utilitarista, sus respuestas son normales. Defendemos aquí que los pacientes sufren una deficiencia cognitiva relacionada con la hipótesis de marcador somático (...) de Damasio y con juicios de valor. Criticamos la hipótesis del "paciente utilitarista", que se ha atrincherado en la neurociencia cognitiva. ABSTRACT In their answers to questions regarding "personal moral dilemmas", patients with lesions to the Frontal Cortex -FC- or Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex -vmPFC- display a disposition to directly injure another person in order to save lives, thus revealing a possible lack of empathy. However, their answers are normal when they evaluate behaviors lacking in empathy but without a utilitarian justification. We here defend that those patients suffer from a cognitive deficiency associated with Damasio's somatic marker hypothesis and with value judgments. The article critiques the "utilitarian patient" hypothesis that has become deeply rooted in cognitive neuroscience. RESUMO Diversos estudos têm concluído que os pacientes com danos no Córtex Frontal (CF) ou Córtex Pré-frontal Ventromedial (CPV) mostram uma disposição a ferir diretamente a outra pessoa com o objetivo de salvar várias vidas em suas respostas aos "dilemas morais pessoais", o que revela uma possível carência de empatia. Contudo, quando avaliam condutas carentes de empatia sem justificativa utilitarista, suas respostas são normais. Defendemos aqui que os pacientes sofrem uma deficiência cognitiva relacionada com a hipótese de marcador somático de Damásio e com juízos de valor. Criticamos a hipótese do "paciente utilitarista", que vem se refugiando na neurociência cognitiva. (shrink)