Recent work in the cognitive and neurobiological sciences indicates an important relationship between emotion and moral judgment. Based on this evidence, several researchers have argued that emotions are the source of our intuitive moral judgments. However, despite the richness of the correlational data between emotion and morality, we argue that the current neurological, behavioral, developmental and evolutionary evidence is insufﬁcient to demonstrate that emotion is necessary for making moral judgments. We suggest instead, that the source of moral judgments lies in (...) our causal-intentional psychology; emotion often follows from these judgments, serving a primary role in motivating morally relevant action. (shrink)
Critics of functionalism about the mind often rely on the intuition that collectivities cannot be conscious in motivating their positions. In this paper, we consider the merits of appealing to the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity. We demonstrate that collective mentality is not an affront to commonsense, and we report evidence that demonstrates that the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity is, to some extent, culturally specific rather (...) than universally held. This being the case, we argue that mere appeal to the intuitive implausibility of collective consciousness does not offer any genuine insight into the nature of mentality in general, nor the nature of consciousness in particular. (shrink)
It is received wisdom in philosophy and the cognitive sciences that individuals can be in emotional states but groups cannot. But why should we accept this view? In this paper, I argue that there is substantial philosophical and empirical support for the existence of collective emotions. Thus, while there is good reason to be skeptical about many ascriptions of collective emotion, I argue that some groups exhibit the computational complexity and informational integration required for being in genuinely emotional states.
It would be a mistake to deny commonsense intuitions a role in developing a theory of consciousness. However, philosophers have traditionally failed to probe commonsense in a way that allows these commonsense intuitions to make a robust contribution to a theory of consciousness. In this paper, I report the results of two experiments on purportedly phenomenal states and I argue that many disputes over the philosophical notion of ‘phenomenal consciousness’ are misguided—they fail to capture the interesting connection between commonsense ascriptions (...) of pain and emotion. With this data in hand, I argue that our capacity to distinguish between ‘mere things’ and ‘subjects of moral concern’ rests, to a significant extent, on the sorts of mental states that we take a system to have. (shrink)
Inspired by the success of generative linguistics and transformational grammar, proponents of the linguistic analogy (LA) in moral psychology hypothesize that careful attention to folk-moral judgments is likely to reveal a small set of implicit rules and structures responsible for the ubiquitous and apparently unbounded capacity for making moral judgments. As a theoretical hypothesis, LA thus requires a rich description of the computational structures that underlie mature moral judgments, an account of the acquisition and development of these structures, and an (...) analysis of those components of the moral system that are uniquely human and uniquely moral. In this paper we present the theoretical motivations for adopting LA in the study of moral cognition: (a) the distinction between competence and performance, (b) poverty of stimulus considerations, and (c) adopting the computational level as the proper level of analysis for the empirical study of moral judgment. With these motivations in hand, we review recent empirical findings that have been inspired by LA and which provide evidence for at least two predictions of LA: (a) the computational processes responsible for folk-moral judgment operate over structured representations of actions and events, as well as coding for features of agency and outcomes; and (b) folk-moral judgments are the output of a dedicated moral faculty and are largely immune to the effects of context. In addition, we highlight the complexity of the interfaces between the moral faculty and other cognitive systems external to it (e.g., number systems). We conclude by reviewing the potential utility of the theoretical and empirical tools of LA for future research in moral psychology. (shrink)
Some people succeed in adopting feminist ideals in spite of the prevalence of asymmetric power relations. However, those who adopt such ideals face a number of psychological difficulties in inhibiting stereotype-based judgments. I argue that a Spinozan theory of belief fixation offers a more complete understanding of the mechanisms that underwrite our intuitive stereotype-based judgments. I also argue that a Spinozan theory of belief fixation offers resources for avoiding stereotype-based judgments where they are antecedently recognized to be pernicious and insidious. (...) Key Words: Spinozan theory of mind • stereotypes • feminism • dual-process theory. (shrink)
Recent behavioral experiments, along with imaging experiments and neuropsychological studies appear to support the hypothesis that emotions play a causal or constitutive role in moral judgment. Those who resist this hypothesis tend to suggest that affective mechanisms are better suited to play a modulatory role in moral cognition. But I argue that claims about the role of emotion in moral cognition frame the debate in ways that divert attention away from other plausible hypotheses. I suggest that the available data may (...) be more plausibly explained by appeal to predictive and evaluative mechanisms, which are neither wholly affective nor straightforwardly cognitive. By recognizing this fact, we can begin to see why questions about the role of emotion in moral psychology are likely to be empirically misguided. (shrink)
This book develops a novel approach to distributed cognition and collective intentionality. It is argued that collective mentality should be only be posited where specialized subroutines are integrated in a way that yields skillful, goal-directed behavior that is sensitive to concerns that are relevant to a group as such.
In this paper, I argue that recent research on episodic memory supports a limited defense of the phenomena that Daniel Wegner has termed transactive memory. Building on psychological and neurological research, targeting both individual and shared memory, I argue that individuals can collaboratively work to construct shared episodic memories. In some cases, this yields memories that are distributed across multiple individuals instead of being housed in individual brains.
Means-based harms are frequently seen as forbidden, even when they lead to a greater good. But, are there mitigating factors? Results from five experiments show that judgments about means-based harms are modulated by: 1) Pareto considerations (was the harmed person made worse off?), 2) the directness of physical contact, and 3) the source of the threat (e.g. mechanical, human, or natural). Pareto harms are more permissible than non-Pareto harms, Pareto harms requiring direct physical contact are less permissible than those that (...) do not, and harming someone who faces a mechanical threat is less permissible than harming someone who faces a non-mechanical threat. These results provide insight into the rich representational structure underlying folk-moral computations, including both the independent and interacting roles of the inevitability, directness and source of harm. (shrink)
This paper discusses a crisis of accountability that arises when scientific collaborations are massively epistemically distributed. We argue that social models of epistemic collaboration, which are social analogs to what Patrick Suppes called a “model of the experiment,” must play a role in creating accountability in these contexts. We also argue that these social models must accommodate the fact that the various agents in a collaborative project often have ineliminable, messy, and conflicting interests and values; any story about accountability in (...) a massively distributed collaboration must therefore involve models of such interests and values and their methodological and epistemic effects. (shrink)
Thought experimental methods play a central role in empirical moral psychology. Against the increasingly common interpretation of recent experimental data, I argue that such methods cannot demonstrate that moral intuitions are produced by reflexive computations that are implicit, fast, and largely automatic. I demonstrate, in contrast, that evaluating thought experiments occurs at a near-glacial pace relative to the speed at which reflexive information processing occurs in a human brain. So, these methods allow for more reflective and deliberative processing than has (...) commonly been assumed. However, these methods may still provide insight into some human strategies for navigating unfamiliar moral dilemmas. (shrink)
Developmental psychologists have long argued that the capacity to distinguish moral and conventional transgressions develops across cultures and emerges early in life. Children reliably treat moral transgressions as more wrong, more punishable, independent of structures of authority, and universally applicable. However, previous studies have not yet examined the role of these features in mature moral cognition. Using a battery of adult-appropriate cases (including vehicular and sexual assault, reckless behavior, and violations of etiquette and social contracts) we demonstrate that these features (...) also distinguish moral from conventional transgressions in mature moral cognition. Each hypothesized moral transgressions was treated as strongly and clearly immoral. However, our data suggest that although the majority of hypothesized conventional transgressions also form an obvious cluster, social conventions seem to lie along a continuum that stretches from mere matters of personal preference (e.g., getting tattoos or wearing black shoes with a brown belt) to transgressions that are treated as matters for legitimate social sanction (e.g., violating traﬃc laws or not paying your taxes). We use these ﬁndings to discuss issues of universality, domain-speciﬁcity, and the importance of using a well-studied set of moral scenarios to examine clinical populations and the underlying neural architecture of moral cognition. (shrink)
Collectivities (states, club, unions, teams, etc.) are often fruitfully spoken of as though they possessed representational capacities. Despite this fact, many philosophers reject the possibility that collectivities might be thought of as genuinely representational. This paper addresses the most promising objection to the possibility of collective representation, the claim that there is no explanatory value to positing collective representations above and beyond the representational states of the individuals that compose a particular collectivity. I claim that this argument either proves too (...) much, also giving us reason to abandon person-level representations, or it proves too little, demonstrating precisely the sort of continuity between individual and collective representations that would warrant the positing of genuine collective representations. I conclude with a brief sketch of two promising cases of collective representation that lend credence to my claim that individual representations and collective representations are analogous in a way that warrants the study of collective mentality from within the cognitive sciences. (shrink)
There are many ways to advance our understanding of the human mind by studying different kinds of sociality. Our aim in this introduction is to situate claims about extended cognition within a broader framework of research on human sociality. We briefly discuss the existing landscape, focusing on ways of defending socially extended cognition. We then draw on resources from the recent literature on the socially extended mind, as well as the literature on collective intentionality, to provide a framework for thinking (...) about the social dimension of individual minds. We then turn to a brief overview of the individualistic approaches advanced by Ludwig and Spaulding in this volume. And we close with a discussion of the transformative role of the social mind in individual life presented by Kern and Moll, as well as the distributed approach to interacting systems defended by Goldstone and Theiner. (shrink)
Papers in experimental philosophy rarely offer an account of what it would take to reveal a philosophically significant effect. In part, this is because experimental philosophers tend to pay insufficient attention to the hierarchy of models that would be required to justify interpretations of their data; as a result, some of their most exciting claims fail as explanations. But this does not impugn experimental philosophy. My aim is to show that experimental philosophy could be made more successful by developing, articulating, (...) and advancing plausible models of the data that are collected and the analyses that are employed. (shrink)
Altruistic self-sacrifice is rare, supererogatory, and not to be expected of any rational agent; but, the possibility of giving up one's life for the common good has played an important role in moral theorizing. For example, Judith Jarvis Thomson (2008) has argued in a recent paper that intuitions about altruistic self-sacrifice suggest that something has gone wrong in philosophical debates over the trolley problem. We begin by showing that her arguments face a series of significant philosophical objections; however, our project (...) is as much constructive as critical. Building on Thomson's philosophical argument, we report the results of a study that was designed to examine commonsense intuitions about altruistic self-sacrifice. We find that a surprisingly high proportion of people judge that they should give up their lives to save a small number of unknown strangers. We also find that the willingness to engage in such altruistic self-sacrifice is predicted by a person's religious commitments. Finally, we show that folk-moral judgments are sensitive to agent-relative reasons in a way that diverges in important ways from Thomson's proposed intuitions about the trolley problem. With this in mind, we close with a discussion of the relative merits of folk intuitions and philosophical intuitions in constructing a viable moral theory. (shrink)
In this review, I offer an overview of of the questions that caught my attention while reading Neuroexistentialism. I aim to make it clear why the issues that are raised in this volume are worth exploring in more detail. I also hope to clarify the limitations that are imposed by neural and social constraints, and to recommend ways of anchoring a third wave of existentialism in our understanding of neuroscience, our expanding sense of cultural variation, and our emerging recognition of (...) the contingency of even our most deeply sedimented ways of perceiving and acting in the world. (shrink)
Carruthers offers a promising model for how know the propositional contents of own minds. Unfortunately, in retaining talk of first-person access to mental states, his suggestions assume that a higher-order self is already We invite Carruthers to eliminate the first-person from his model and to develop a more thoroughly third-person model of metacognition.
Vaesen disregards a plausible alternative to his position, and so fails to offer a compelling argument for unique cognitive mechanisms. We suggest an ecological alternative, according to which divergent relationships between organism and environment, not exotic neuroanatomy, are responsible for unique cognitive capacities. This approach is pertinent to claims about primate cognition; and on this basis, we argue that Vaesen's inference from unique skills to unique mechanisms is unwarranted.
Robert H. Blank has set his sights high in Intervention in the Brain. He presents a carefully researched and readable account of the ethical and political issues that arise as a result of our increased ability to intervene on the brain; and with this, he hopes to provide a foundation for future debates about a wide variety of important issues. I applaud his project, and agree wholeheartedly that we should be thinking more carefully about the political implications of research in (...) neuroscience and neuropsychology. But I am skeptical of Blank’s approach, and believe he has bitten off more than he can effectively chew in this book.The first three chapters are designed to get non-experts up to speed on current issues .. (shrink)
In this chapter, we explore three social functions of emotion, which parallel three interpretations of Herman Melville's Bartleby. We argue that emotions can serve as commitment devices, which nudge individuals toward social conformity and thereby increase the likelihood of ongoing cooperation. We argue that emotions can play a role in Machiavellian strategies, which help us get away with norm violations. And we argue that emotions can motivate social recalibration, by alerting us to systemic social failures. In the second half of (...) the chapter, we then argue that emotions guide behavior by attuning us to our social environment through a process of error-driven learning. We suggest that their most basic social function is to reveal tensions between individuals and social norms; and we contend that because emotions are socially scaffolded, they leave open multiple strategies for resolving such tensions. Specifically, we argue that differences in conceptualization, as well as differences in circumstance, can generate emotions that nudge us toward cooperation, lead us to adopt Machiavellian strategies, or motivate us to engage in forms of social recalibration. Bartleby’s despair signaled a mismatch between his expectations and the expectations of Wall Street, and each of these three strategies could have moderated his misery. (shrink)
The Philosophy of Daniel Dennett explores the intellectual significance of Daniel C. Dennett's 45 years of philosophical research, while providing a critical and constructive overview of Dennett's stance-based methodology and his claims about metal representation, consciousness, cultural evolution, and religion.
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