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Lecture 18

PSYCH 309 - Lecture 18 (Moral Reasoning) - Nov 12.docx
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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 309
Professor
Todd Handy
Semester
Fall

Description
Lecture 18 - November 12, 2013 • Moral reasoning – how do we feel about how we treat other people? Things that we do that might impact others o Personally o Cultural values – what’s appropriate or not • Socio-cultural influences on our sense of right/wrong [from Office Space] • Moral dilemma – two guys trying to convince third guy to infect company software with virus; rip off company, only a fraction of a cent every transaction into their own bank account • Peter and friends devise plan to steal from company • Girlfriend – is it morally right? o “not at liberty to talk about it”, then explains it’s only fractions of a penny, adds up over time, “how is that not stealing”, “it’s not wrong” • Denial, moral justification for immoral act Moral Reasoning – Greene (2001) • fMRI – where in the brain things are being activated as we think and do stuff o confirmed things we know, fill in some details o few instances given new insight => moral reasoning o up until this time, moral reasoning analogous to rational thinking • A side to moral reasoning – driven by gut emotional responses The long-standing rationalist tradition in moral psychology emphasizes the role of reason in moral judgment. A more recent trend places increased emphasis on emotion. Although both reason and emotion are likely to play important roles in moral judgment, relatively little is known about their neural correlates, the nature of their interaction, and the factors that modulate their respective behavioral influences in the context of moral judgment. We show that moral dilemmas vary systematically in the extent to which they engage emotional processing and that these variations in emotional engagement influence moral judgment. • Suspect emotion and logical reasoning behind moral judgement – sense of when does emotion get in place The Trolley Dilemma The present study was inspired by a family of ethical dilemmas familiar to contemporary moral philosophers. One such dilemma is the trolley dilemma: A runaway trolley is headed for five people who will be killed if it proceeds on its present course. The only way to save them is to hit a switch that will turn the trolley onto an alternate set of tracks where it will kill one person instead of five. Ought you to turn the trolley in order to save five people at the expense of one? Most people say yes. The Footbridge Dilemma Now consider a similar problem, the footbridge dilemma. As before, a trolley threatens to kill five people. You are standing next to a large stranger on a footbridge that spans the tracks, in between the oncoming trolley and the five people. In this scenario, the only way to save the five people is to push this stranger off the bridge, onto the tracks below. He will die if you do this, but his body will stop the trolley from reaching the others. Ought you to save the five others by pushing this stranger to his death? Most people say no. The Difference in Dilemmas We maintain that the crucial difference is in the emotional response to the dilemma. The thought of pushing someone to his death is, we propose, more emotionally salient than the thought of hitting a switch that will cause a trolley to produce similar consequences, and it is this emotional response that accounts for people’s tendency to treat these cases differently. • Footbridge - Someone not involved in situation, innocent; high emotional conflict • Hit switch = low conflict, no emotion • Difference in emotionality – conflict of emotion • Immediacy in footbridge, not so much in trolley; distancing • Pink = yes you would do it (endorse); green = no • Biggest difference in time was for footbridge: for people saying yes I would do it  takes them a while o Quickest, for those saying no in footbridge dilemma o Others are about equal (trolley and non-moral) • Is emotionality impacting what you would do? • EXAM: Mirroring free effect – is decision driven by emotionality? o Don’t make decision right away  wait o Let emotionality run its course, then make decision, effect goes away • Would I push fat guy off bridge? YES  have to overcome emotional response against action, reason through it o Think about it for a bit, alternative decision with delay in time, less emotionality o Explain why we see footbridge dilemma and trolley difference in time Emotion and Moral Reasoning • Regions of brain more active during emotional situations (left) • Black = amount of activation in footbridge; of emotional areas • Rational regions of brain – more active in trolley dilemma, non-moral dilemma Koenigs (2007) • Research in moral reasoning – is there difference in emotionality? • Now: evidence to supplement this, fMRI to study impairments in ability to use emotional information in moral reasoning, decision making [similar part 2 – psyc
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