Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’


How do you know whether the study of moral philosophy actually leads to changed, better behaviour? It would seem reasonable to expect that it would. You’d certainly hope it did. But can you measure it?

Three philosophers – Eric Schwitzgebel, Bradford Cokelet, and Peter Singer – conducted a large-scale randomised evaluation of moral philosophy instruction to determine whether it can alter student’s moral decision-making.

Described as “the first controlled experiment testing the real-world behavioural consequences of university-level philosophy instruction”, they looked at a very concrete outcome and asked ‘Do students eat less meat after learning about philosophical arguments against factory farming?’

via Vox, 11 August 2020

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moral reasoning

In the past two decades, social science has painted a pretty dour picture of the power of moral reasoning. To explain why people disagree so profoundly about ethical and political questions, pundits and scientists have claimed that humans systematically disregard evidence from experts, and that we rely on gut feelings instead of reason.

According to this pessimistic view, most of our moral judgments spring from automatic, unconscious and affective reactions. When we feel disgust toward someone, our disgust is what leads us to condemn their actions. Conversely, according to this theory, moral reasoning rarely shapes our moral judgments, but rather serves to justify our emotion-based judgments after the fact.

But is this pessimistic perspective the right one?

Psyche, 16 September 2020

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