Monday, January 30, 2012

Evolution of Morality by Richard Joyce

My book group is discussing three books on morality on Feb 26th. I just finished Mackie's book. See other blog post for my notes on that. Here are my notes from Richard Joyce's book:

Page 1 (loc 37) This book attempts to accomplish two tasks. The first is to address the question "Is human morality innate?"

Page 5 (loc 87) Sociobiology focuses on innate behavior, whereas evolutionary psychology focuses on the psychological mechanisms

Page 6(loc 106) human brain is an organ designed to deal with environmental variation par excellence, and that open-ended plasticity is a human forte

Page 8 (loc 144). So I think Stephen Jay Gould was dead wrong when he said "If we are programmed to be what we are, then those traits are ineluctable ...". Unless by programmed Gould just means something that cannot be changed ...

Page 13 (loc 203) I will outline several means by which helpful, cooperative traits may evolve.

Page 14 (loc 209) [he defines altruism as he intends to use the word]

Page 15 (loc 216) Some humans doubt whether any human actions are altruistic ...

Page 15 (loc 239) to confuse a person with her genes is as silly as confusing her with her lungs

Page 18 (loc 284) I am not claiming that a person's reasons must always be apparent to her, all I am saying is that they are not all ultimately concerned with genetic replication

Page 31 (loc 479) By introducing reputation into our understanding, we move away from standard reciprocal exchanges to what has been called "indirect reciprocity"

Page 37 (loc 569) Groups containing helpers will outperform groups containing fewer or no helpers

Page 48 (loc 731) All the empirical evidence shows that humans are often motivated by genuine regard for others

Page 50 (loc 758) Kant: that actions motivated by pro social emotions cannot be morally admirable

Page 51 (loc 768) ... moral sentiments ... prosocial emotions

Page 56 (loc 853) Yet this observation doesn't undermine the claim that there is a linguistic convention according to which "slut" expresses contempt.

Page 58 (loc 886) where does the practical clout of morality come from?

Page 62 (loc 948) I must confess to having a lot of sympathy with the Kantian intuition that there is some kind of extra authority ... in which we imbue our moral claims

Page 65 (loc 999) Morality seems to be designed to serve society

Page 68 (loc 1041) moral equilibrium

Page 70 (loc1066) An incapacity to feel guilt amounts to the absence of an internal self punishment-something we think as an important internal mechanism

Page 101 (loc 1514) it is clear that self regulation is a vital feature of our moral lives

Page 111 (loc 1650) the distinctive value of imperatives imbued with practical clout is that they silence further calculation

Page 119 ( loc 1765)establishes a reputation

Page 125 (1862) it manipulated emotional centers

Page 130 (loc 1937) highly hypnotizable participants were given post-hypnotic suggestions to feel a pang of disgust whenever they read an arbitrary word .... this is evidence that a great deal of the time it is our emotions that are driving our moral judgments  ... Haidt's studies have repeatedly shown that people are frequently largely unaware of what is prompting their moral evaluations

page 139 (loc 2083) "getting it" requires a certain kind of brain

Page 144 (loc 2154) descriptive evolutionary ethics ... Prescriptive evolutionary ethics

Page 168 (loc2516) The bedrock of his argument ... the primary locus of moral evaluation is not action but rather a person's character.

Page 169 (loc 2520) we should be able to discover what it takes to be a good human being by ascertaining the human function (the ergon)

Page 170 (loc 2547) human flourishing

Page 177 (loc 2645) implausible theory that allows ... moral disputes ... to be settled by digging in African soil

Page 180 (loc 2666) no human trait is hard- wired in the sense of developing inevitably

Page 200 (loc 2976) If one person asserts that something is a non-negotiable feature of some concept and another person denies this, where should they take their dispute?

Page 205 (loc 3060) contingency should not be confused with flimsiness

Page 208 (loc 3107) Thus, a value system lacking practical clout couldnot do effectively play the social roles to which we put morality

Page 212 ( loc 3153) ... true belief has immense survival value ... Wholly false beliefs will not have survival value in the long run ... So if any innate beliefs have arisen through natural selection, we should expect them to be at least approximately true

Page 213 (loc 213) let us interpret my view as holding that moral beliefs are innate. (In fact I would not assert this without much qualification )

Page 221 (loc 3275) [cool Huxley quote]

Page 223 (loc 3300) [definition of agnostic ]

Page 227 (loc 3360) No one denies that emotions affect motivations ... Modern psychological experiments have supported his view. Smiling voluntarily really does affect one's emotions in a positive way. ... human motivation is a much more peculiar affair than we usually think ... Such thought and emotions may become habitual or even aspects of character

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