Understanding morality

Psychologists do not understand human moral behavior, because it seldom makes any logical sense.

Using moral philosophy and psychology, biology, economics, mathematics, and computer science, scientists are trying to study how morality operates in the real world.

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Through a series of experiments, it was discovered that despite the temptation to be selfish, most people show selflessness.

This is particularly true when subjects were forced to make their decision under time pressure; people are prone to cooperation when they rely more on intuition.

Creating quantitative models

Most of the psychological theories are verbal, but words can be imprecise. If "cooperation is intuitive", it needs to state when. And what does "intuitive" mean?

In order to solve this, computer simulations of society were developed.

These models represent collections of individual people described by computer algorithms that capture a specific set of traits, such as a tendency to cooperate or not.

  • You can give them new personalities to see how they would behave.
  • You can observe social processes in action.
  • You can observe time scales, from seconds to generations.
  • You can watch the spread of certain behaviors throughout a population and you can see how certain behaviors influence other behaviors.

The patterns that emerge can tell you things about large-scale social interaction that lab experiments and real people never could.

There seems to be evolutionary logic to the human ability to cooperate but adjust if necessary. To trust, but verify. 

We generally collaborate with other people because it benefits us. Our rational minds let us work out when we might occasionally gain by acting selfishly instead.

Our intuitions are not fixed at birth. We develop social rules of thumb for interpersonal behavior based on the interactions we have. 

Change those interactions, and you change behavior.

In many situations, people are rewarded for backstabbing and ladder climbing.

In order to encourage cooperation where cooperation isn't the norm, companies might offer bonuses and recognition for cooperative behavior. Encouraging people to make decisions quickly can also bring out their better behavior.

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  • Re-express your target’s position so fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way".
  • List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  • Mention anything you have learned from your target.
  • Only after, you can say so much as a word of criticism.

How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently

brainpickings.org

Fake Smile Vs Genuine Smile

People think of a smiling person as likable, trustworthy, cooperative, and believable. But smiling is so easy anyone can fake it and exploit the other person.

Genuine smiles involve a few wrinkles around the eyes and are also called Duchenne smiles. The problem is people can also crank out a seemingly genuine smile on demand.

If smiles are so easy to fake, why do we trust them? | Psyche Ideas

psyche.co

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“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”

Daniel Dennett's Most Useful Critical Thinking Tools

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