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Philosophy Colloquium: “Cultural Minds: Using Rules to Buttress Reasoning”

Date: 3:30pm - 5:00pm PDT October 19, 2012 Location: J.R. Howard Hall 202

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J.R. Howard Hall 202

Ron Mallon, Washington University in St. Louis

Cultural Minds: Using Rules to Buttress Reasoning

In the last decade, much work in moral psychology has contrasted “automatic” responses resulting from phylogenetically ancient, automatic, emotional, reflexive parts of the human mind with “reasoned” responses that emerge from the phylogenetically more recent parts of the human mind associated with conscious thought and reasoning. Perhaps surprisingly, much of this work has emphasized the extent to which our moral lives (and our behavior more generally) are driven by processes of the first part. In this paper I critically respond to this trend suggesting that claims of dominance are not persuasive. I consider especially what I call the “argument from finite resources” for why automatic processes must dominate reasoned ones, and I offer a series of arguments for why the human capacity for rule-following can buttress reasoning processes against the depletion of finite resources. The picture of moral life that results is both more rational, but also more socially and culturally embedded, than the recent emphasis on automatic processes would suggest.

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Claire Kodachi, Administrative Coordinator, Philosophy Department. 503-768-7480
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