Does Situationism Threaten Free Will and Moral Responsibility?

MICHAEL MCKENNA & BRANDON WARMKE

JOURNAL OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY

Abstract: The situationist movement in social psychology has caused a considerable stir in philosophy. Much of this was prompted by the work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. Both contended that familiar philosophical assumptions about the role of character in the explanation of action were not supported by experimental results. Most of the ensuing philosophical controversy has focused upon issues related to moral psychology and ethical theory. More recently, the influence of situationism has also given rise to questions regarding free will and moral responsibility. There is cause for concern that a range of situationist findings are in tension with the reasons-responsiveness putatively required for free will and moral responsibility. We develop and defend a response to the alleged situationist threat to free will and moral responsibility that we call pessimistic realism. We conclude on an optimistic note, exploring the possibility of strengthening our agency in the face of situational influences.

How Power Affects People: Activating, Wanting, and Goal Seeking

ANA GUINOTE

ANNUAL REVIEW OF PSYCHOLOGY, Volume 68

Abstract: Sociocognitive research has demonstrated that power affects how people feel, think, and act. In this article, I review literature from social psychology, neuroscience, management, and animal research and propose an integrated framework of power as an intensifier of goal-related approach motivation. A growing literature shows that power energizes thought, speech, and action and orients individuals toward salient goals linked to power roles, predispositions, tasks, and opportunities. Power magnifies self-expression linked to active parts of the self (the active self), enhancing confidence, self-regulation, and prioritization of efforts toward advancing focal goals. The effects of power on cognitive processes, goal preferences, performance, and corruption are discussed, and its potentially detrimental effects on social attention, perspective taking, and objectification of subordinates are examined. Several inconsistencies in the literature are explained by viewing power holders as more flexible and dynamic than is usually assumed.

Privacy, Neuroscience, and Neuro-Surveillance

ADAM D. MOORE

RES PUBLICA, pp 1-19

Abstract: The beliefs, feelings, and thoughts that make up our streams of consciousness would seem to be inherently private. Nevertheless, modern neuroscience is offering to open up the sanctity of this domain to outside viewing. A common retort often voiced to this worry is something like, ‘Privacy is difficult to define and has no inherent moral value. What’s so great about privacy?’ In this article I will argue against these sentiments. A definition of privacy is offered along with an account of why privacy is morally valuable. In the remaining sections, several privacy protecting principles are defended that would limit various sorts of neuro-surveillance promised by advancements in neuroscience.

Decision Sciences and the New Case For Paternalism: Three Welfare-related Justificatory Challenges

ROBERTO FUNAGALLI
SOCIAL CHOICE AND WELFARE (2016). ADVANCED ONLINE PUBLICATION. DOI 10.1007/s00355-016-0972-1

Abstract: Several authors have recently advocated a so-called new case for paternalism, according to which empirical findings from distinct decision sciences provide compelling reasons in favour of paternalistic interference. In their view, the available behavioural and neuro-psychological findings enable paternalists to address traditional anti-paternalistic objections and reliably enhance the well-being of their target agents. In this paper, I combine insights from decision-making research, moral philosophy and evidence-based policy evaluation to assess the merits of this case. In particular, I articulate and defend three complementary arguments that, I claim, challenge even the best available calls for such case. In doing so, I identify the main justificatory challenges faced by the new paternalists and explicate the implications of these challenges for the ongoing philosophical debate about the justifiability of paternalistic interference.

Inference of Trustworthiness from Intuitive Moral Judgments

EVERETT, JIM A. C.; PIZARRO, DAVID A.; CROCKETT, M. J.
JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: GENERAL,  145.6 (2016):  772-787.

Abstract: Moral judgments play a critical role in motivating and enforcing human cooperation, and research on the proximate mechanisms of moral judgments highlights the importance of intuitive, automatic processes in forming such judgments. Intuitive moral judgments often share characteristics with deontological theories in normative ethics, which argue that certain acts (such as killing) are absolutely wrong, regardless of their consequences. Why do moral intuitions typically follow deontological prescriptions, as opposed to those of other ethical theories? Here, we test a functional explanation for this phenomenon by investigating whether agents who express deontological moral judgments are more valued as social partners. Continue reading