Moral Psychology: The New Science of Morality

Categories: Articles, Talks
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Published on: August 6, 2010

Interesting discussions and pointers to various discussions on the new science of morality (from

Contains videos and (downloadable) audio recordings of the talks from: Jonathan Haidt, Joshua Greene, Marc D Hauser, Sam Harris, Roy Baumeister, Paul Bloom, David Pizzaro, Elizabeth Phelps  and Joshua Knobe.

Couple of interesting papers which is a must read in these issues, especially for putting results of psychology studies in context.

  • Henrich, Joe, Heine, Steven J. and Norenzayan, Ara, “The Weirdest People in the World?” (May 7, 2010). RatSWD Working Paper No. 139.
    • How representative are experimental findings from American university students? What do we really know about human psychology?
    • Abstract: Broad claims about human psychology and behavior based on narrow samples from Western societies are regularly published. Are such species‐generalizing claims justified? This review suggests not only substantial variability in experimental results across populations in basic domains, but that standard subjects are unusual compared with the rest of the species—outliers. The domains reviewed include visual perception, fairness, spatial reasoning, moral reasoning, thinking‐styles, and self‐concepts. This suggests (1) caution in addressing questions of human nature from this slice of humanity, and (2) that understanding human psychology will require broader subject pools. We close by proposing ways to address these challenges.
    • [Link to Paper]
  • Mercier, H., Sperber, D.  “Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory” Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
    • Abstract: Reasoning is generally seen as a mean to improve knowledge and make better decisions. Much evidence, however, shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests rethinking the function of reasoning. Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade. Reasoning so conceived is adaptive given human exceptional dependence on communication and vulnerability to misinformation. A wide range of evidence in the psychology or reasoning and decision making can be reinterpreted and better explained in the light of this hypothesis.
    • [Link to Paper]

Web-crawling computers will soon be calling the shots in science

Categories: Articles, SciTech
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Published on: August 3, 2010

Here is an interesting article from Gaurdian about a research from a group in Univ of Chicago. Basically the claim is that the research is on to a method to analyze various published theories and stack them against experimental data to verify those theories, and more importantly, suggest new theories/hypothesis. This is certainly an interesting are of research I wish to keep an eye on. This also relates back to an earlier article that I found [Earlier Article from] about a similar principle. Here is an excerpt from the article

“Computer programs increasingly are able to integrate published knowledge with experimental data, search for patterns and logical relations, and enable new hypotheses to emerge with little human intervention,” they write. “We predict that within a decade, even more powerful tools will enable automated, high-volume hypothesis generation to guide high-throughput experiments in biomedicine, chemistry, physics, and even the social sciences.”..

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