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The Definition of Morality

Debates about the definition of ‘moral judgment’ and ‘moral rule’ have a venerable history in philosophy. In addition to debating the merits of various proposed definitions, philosophers have also disagreed about what the definition is supposed to do: What counts as getting the definition right? One proposal is that moral rules or moral judgments are a psychological natural kind, and that the correct definition should specify the essential features of this kind. Recently, a number of philosophers and psychologists have suggested that research using the moral / conventional task, first introduced by Elliot Turiel, has uncovered some of the essential ...
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le (58m32s)

The Persistence of Moral Disagreement

Moral disagreement is widespread. But would that disagreement persist even under hypothetical idealized conditions in which all parties to a moral debate are rational, impartial and fully informed about the relevant non-moral facts? The answer is important for many moral theories. On some versions of theories in the “ideal observer” tradition, a positive answer entails either moral relativism or moral skepticism, and many contemporary moral realists hold that a negative answer would show that moral realism is false. A number of recent empirical studies of moral judgments in different cultural groups suggest that moral disagreement would indeed persist under idealized ...
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le (57m11s)

Egoism vs. Altruism: Deconstructing the Debate

Psychological egoism maintains that all human motivation is ultimately selfish. Though people often desire to help others, egoists maintain that these desires are always instrumental, caused or sustained by the belief that helping will lead to the satisfaction of some self-interested desire. By contrast, psychological altruism maintains that some of our ultimate or non-instrumental desires are not self-interested; their object is the well-being of others. Philosophers from Hobbes to the present have worried that if egoism is true, moral behavior may be threatened, and drastic steps have been proposed to counter this threat. Recently both psychologists and evolutionary biologists lavished ...
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le (1h53m59s)

Debunking Morality A Hodgepodge of Multipurpose Kludges

A venerable view, still very much alive in contemporary debates, urges that our spontaneous moral judgments reflect a deep wisdom, except when the processes underlying those judgments are interfered with by morally problematic forces. However, much recent work suggests that we should have a very different view of our spontaneous moral judgments. This work indicates that there is no one psychological system underlying moral judgments. Rather, there is a hodgepodge of different systems that pull in different directions. Moreover, some of these systems were designed to perform cognitive functions that have little to do with morality. When they are co-opted ...
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