[ExI] META: Overposting (psychology of morals)

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Tue Mar 1 18:57:06 UTC 2011

On 28 February 2011 00:27, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:
> Of course, as you know in
> order to actually be a real moral reaction and not just a knee-jerk reaction
> based on surface characteristics (which of course underlie a lot of the
> "moral intuitions" of people), you should react to the real content of
> Haidt's thesis and not just my thumbnail sketch.

Granted, it is only that my reflexes are in that sense more Pavlovian
than knee-jerk. When the bells ring, the dog starts salivating on the
basis of prior experience... :-)

> It is actually not too hard to give an evolutionary psychology explanation
> for them (is it *ever* hard to do that? ;-) )

No, and I suspect in this sense evolutionary psychology to be as
non-falsifiable as Marxism - something which does not detract in the
least from the insight one can get from it.

Speaking however of very rough sketches, I am in (some) good company
believing that Darwinian constraints do limit the number of ethical
systems actually possible (that is, which are practically viable) in
comparison with the number of those theoretically possible (that is,
which are simply consistent). But have little to say with regard to
the choice amongst them or the solution of their internal

Moreover, I suspect what really determines the content of an ethical
system is what distinguishes it practically from other. In other
words, "Thou shalt not kill" takes its meaning from the differences in
the historically and culturally varying definitions of what thou shalt
not kill, who shall not, why, what killing means, which circumstances
may make it instead allowed or even compulsory, etc.

Stefano Vaj

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