Bad Dog: Morals, Pavlov, and Two Lists
Okay, this is reprehensible. I know pretty much BAGEL about actual science, and what I have read about morality has mostly confused me.
But, continuing on my list mania (it's like crack, I tell you!)....Five books at the intersection of "morality" and science (note that the use of quotes reveals some bias, almost certainly, the nature of which you are welcome to speculate about). And five books that tell a very different story of morals. Not that there is much agreement among books WITHIN categories.
The question comes down to this: When I say, "Bad dog! BAD dog!" because the dog got in the garbage, the dog cowers and runs to the other run. The dog gives every indication of feeling bad. Now, is that the way morals work in humans? Or do we have something else, a developed sense of the moral status of actions, separate from our fear of punishment, or avoidance of shame and shunning?
Note that believing that humans have an innate moral sense is a claim of human exceptionalism in evolution. (Creation would solve the problem, of course, since then humans ARE exceptional, since G*d created them to be exceptional, and to have souls, and a moral sense).
Science and Morals
Alexander, The Biology of Moral Systems
Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation*
Dugatkin, Cheating Monkeys and Citizen Bees
Ridley, The Origins of Virtue
Skyrms, The Stage Hunt and the Evolution of Social Structure
*Though I do buy Binmore's counterclaims about TFT specifically. Still, you get credit for failing in a cool and clever way.
Morals and Reason
Frank, Passions within Reason
Gauthier, Morals by Agreement
Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals
Nozick, Philosophical Explanations
Rawls, Theory of Justice
Are the distinctions between those perspectives as clear as I am making them? And do these readings simply reflect an idiosyncratic random sample, leaving out the important works everyone ELSE takes for granted? I restricted myself to books I have actually READ, so that list may not be representative....
I have to admit: I have trouble with the human exceptionalism idea, EXCEPT that reason and living in groups may have endowed us with quantitatively different capacities for cooperation. But we are clearly NOT like eusocial species such as honeybees or ants. In fact, emotions may well exist precisely because we do NOT expect others to be morals, and norms have to be enforced. A flush of adrenaline when I see someone violate rules means I provide the public good of enforcement even when it is individually irrational to do so.
Anyway, I rambled. I really wanted to know about more and better books.