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03/29/2013

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Eddy Nahmias

Great video! My 8-year-old Sam just watched it with me. He was totally agreeing that one person was wrong about thinking Dylan's action (stabbing) was permissible in the first two cases, but after seeing the Pentars, he said he changed his mind--whether it was morally permissible "is just an opinion." I tried to get him to change his mind back! It didn't work. So, it looks like the way to make people relativists is to get them to think about alien cultures! (As I've told Hagop and Josh, I think these studies suggest that people recognize that right and wrong can be relative to the psychology of the agents, so Pentars' radically different psychology makes it correct for them to say Dylan's act is permissible, even if it is not correct for any human to say that--test by presenting aliens with similar psychology?)

While I'm at it, my 11-year-old Lucas and I listened to Josh's Philosophy Bites talk, and Lucas said the CEO did not act intentionally in both cases (he heard the harm one first). When I probed him a bit about it, it turned out his answer was likely primed by having just watched a contrast case: "The Lorax" in which the bad guy intentionally harms the environment in order to harm it.

We need to do more developmental x-phi!

Paul Torek

I wonder what folk intuitions say if we problematize translation - as I think we should. E.g., say the Pentars have a word, "pentality", that the researcher has translated as "morality". Ask respondents about that translation.

hagop sarkissian

Eddy--Glad to hear you son liked it, and that he seems to be tracking the contrast we were trying to tease out. I'm not sure how exactly to describe what feature your son (and others) are tracking. On the one hand, a person's 'psychology' seems right, but what is meant by 'psychology'? Does that include the values, desires, goals, and preferences of the person? If so, then 'culture' or 'system of values' seems equally plausible, insofar as these affect one's psychology. I think you're right that we have to do more to uncover the precise mechanisms.

Paul--Could you say more? What do you suppose will happen if we modify the case like that?

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3QD Prize 2012: Wesley Buckwalter