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Lecture 16

PHIL 2550 Lecture 16: Character II
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3 Pages
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Winter 2017

Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 2550
Professor
Jason Millar
Lecture
16

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Character II
-Application of character as an analytic tool to help us frame questions about the ethics of
artificial intelligence
Recall:
-The virtue ethics position maintains a central focus on practical reason being central to the
virtuous person
Ex. taking a nausea inducing medicine in different situations you would or would not
take it based on your practical reasoning
-Empirical evidence suggests that insignificant situational factors can significantly alter our
moral actions
A virtuous person can cut through these small factors to not be swayed
-How can it be the case that insignificant factors can throw our practical moral reasoning off
to such as degree? Is this a failure of practical reason?
Moral Disassociation
-Evidence suggests we suffer from moral disassociation
-Moral disassociation: when a person’s actions contravene moral norms that they would
otherwise endorse
Ex. the Milgram experiment
The things they would endorse are their character traits
-We need an explanation for this….
1. Rationalizing Explanations: an approach to explaining moral dissociation that attempt to
describe how the problematic behaviour made sense to the agent
Ex. Fear of embarrassment in the Milgram or Prison experiments
Successful rationalization makes the actions seem reasonable
Though they don’t act maximally, they do act rationally, so there is a hope for a fix in
character
Fear of embarrassment don’t work for the dime or lawnmower experiments
More of an in the moment explanation
2. Sanitizing Explanations: a version of rationalization that treats the action in a way that is
consistent with the overall psychological economy of a virtuous agent
Don’t involve the same level of practical reasoning like rationalization; looking at other
factors that could have affected the virtuous person
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Description
Character II - Application of character as an analytic tool to help us frame questions about the ethics of artificial intelligence Recall: - The virtue ethics position maintains a central focus on practical reason being central to the virtuous person  Ex. taking a nausea inducing medicine in different situations you would or would not take it based on your practical reasoning - Empirical evidence suggests that insignificant situational factors can significantly alter our moral actions  A virtuous person can cut through these small factors to not be swayed - How can it be the case that insignificant factors can throw our practical moral reasoning off to such as degree? Is this a failure of practical reason? Moral Disassociation - Evidence suggests we suffer from moral disassociation - Moral disassociation: when a person’s actions contravene moral norms that they would otherwise endorse  Ex. the Milgram experiment  The things they would endorse are their character traits - We need an explanation for this…. 1. Rationalizing Explanations: an approach to explaining moral dissociation that attempt to describe how the problematic behaviour made sense to the agent  Ex. Fear of embarrassment in the Milgram or Prison experiments  Successful rationalization makes the actions seem reasonable  Though they don’t act maximally, they do act rationally, so there is a hope for a fix in character  Fear of embarrassment don’t work for the dime or lawnmower experiments  More of an in the moment explanation 2. Sanitizing Explanations: a version of rationalization that treats the action in a way that is consistent with the overall psychological economy of a virtuous agent  Don’t involve the same level of practical reasoning like r
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