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Ch. 5: Beyond WEIRD Morality 
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Post Ch. 5: Beyond WEIRD Morality
Ch. 5: Beyond WEIRD Morality



Fri Jun 22, 2012 12:23 am
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Post Re: Ch. 5: Beyond WEIRD Morality
I would highly recommend reading this chapter, even it's the only one you read in the book. Haidt shows us that, indeed, there is more to morality than concerns about harm and fairness for much of the world. In fact, he says that we in the U.S. are outliers on the morality scale, with our extreme form of belief in the autonomy of the individual. It's important to say that Haidt is looking at the subject descriptively; he's merely showing that for more "socio-centric" societies (that is, the majority of world societies) "ethics of community and divinity" are enveloped into morality. He conveys this in the form of an interesting personal journey of his own, from a dedicated WEIRD moralist (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) to a pluralist, one who appreciates other ways of organizing the world, which is after all what morality does. A stay in India, one in which he was not insulated from the local culture but had to experience it closely, brought about his conversion. During his stay, and even after it when he had returned to the U.S., he experienced a sense of the benefits that could come from arranging the world in a seemingly arbitrary way based on custom and ritual. He tells us about the two "incompatible identities" he brought with him to India: "on the one hand, I was a 29-year-old liberal atheist with very definite views about right and wrong. On the other hand, I wanted to be like those open-minded anthropologists I had read so much about and had studied with...My first few weeks in Bhubaneswar were therefore filled with feelings of shock and dissonance...In short, I was immersed in a sex-segregated, hierarchically stratified religious society, and I was committed to understanding it on its own terms, not on mine."

Much else of interest in the chapter, too, such as the similarity between physiological disgust (rates in a trash can, e.g.) and moral disgust. Why do we not feel moral disgust toward bank robbers but do feel that way toward child pornographers?

The most important takeaway, according to Haidt: In terms of our moral make-up, "We are multiple from the start. Our minds have the potential to become righteous about many different concerns, and only a few of these concerns are activated during childhood." It's mostly about the culture we're raised in.



Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:02 am
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Post Re: Ch. 5: Beyond WEIRD Morality
I thought his description of India was very interesting.

There seems to be a conflict (that's not really the right word) between evolutionary and cultural explanations. He's giving an evolutionary account, yet also showing how much culture matters (and that your views often change over your life). If you're saying we're wired for all those potential moralities, but only some are activated, is that just an unfalsifiable evolutionary explanation?

And as that review pointed out, even though he specifically says he is being descriptive, there is also something of a mingling between the is and ought statements.



Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:49 am
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Post Re: Ch. 5: Beyond WEIRD Morality
Quote:
Dexter:
If you're saying we're wired for all those potential moralities, but only some are activated, is that just an unfalsifiable evolutionary explanation?


What is meant by "wired" here?

I don't think that we are wired, or have a built in process that builds capitolism, communism, the caste system, or any particular cultural moral structure.

i do think we are wired to experience self preservation and extend that to others in the form of empathy. These are simple experiences which have been extrapolated upon to create a variety of social structures that codify moral conduct. I think there is an element of evolution at work, though not in the biological sense, in how these codified moral structures emerge and i don't think that the people of india were in any way pre-destined to have that particular moral structure.


_________________
In the absence of God, I found Man.
-Guillermo Del Torro

Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Are you pushing your own short comings on us and safely hating them from a distance?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?

Confidence being an expectation built on past experience, evidence and extrapolation to the future. Faith being an expectation held in defiance of past experience and evidence.


Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:17 am
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Post Re: Ch. 5: Beyond WEIRD Morality
On page 131 Haidt pulls a definition of innateness from The Birth of the Mind by G. Marcus:

Nature provides a first draft, which experience then revises.... "Built-in" does not mean unmalleable; it means "organized in advance of experience."

He goes on to explain this in much detail in Ch 12. In may make sense to wait for more participants to read this chapter before getting into it in more detail.



Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:38 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 5: Beyond WEIRD Morality
Dexter wrote:
I thought his description of India was very interesting.

There seems to be a conflict (that's not really the right word) between evolutionary and cultural explanations. He's giving an evolutionary account, yet also showing how much culture matters (and that your views often change over your life). If you're saying we're wired for all those potential moralities, but only some are activated, is that just an unfalsifiable evolutionary explanation?

And as that review pointed out, even though he specifically says he is being descriptive, there is also something of a mingling between the is and ought statements.

I thought the review said that if Haidt was being truly descriptive, he would recognize that Kant was working on the should angle of morality. That would tend to release Kant from the stigma of having his facts wrong, in Haidt's view. I thought, by the way, that the reviewer got it right when he said that Haidt is at his best when he's revealing to us aspects of human nature, and is at his worst when trying to be polemic. The polemic against the new atheists in Chap. 4 doesn't hit the mark, and the one against Bentham and Kant in Chap. 6, where he calls them autistic, doesn't either. Haidt doesn't seem to be cut out for polemics. Maybe his publisher or editor encouraged him to go for controversy to increase sales.



Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:06 pm
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