Cognitive Science's Search for a Common Morality

There’s a super interesting article in the Boston Review about cognitive science’s search for a common morality. It discusses the moral sense test (which I blogged about in April), first, and reveals that the results show there is no way to generalize on gender, race, etc. for how someone would resolve a moral dillema. Then it talks about any genetic/cognitive factors that may teach babies "right" and "wrong" as early as age one. Finally it discusses the hot topic of brain imaging – pictures that show which part of your brain lights up when you think about things.

Overall, a very stimulating piece. Below is an example of a moral dilemma. Read the article for more.

Mike is supposed to be the best man at a friend’s wedding in Maine this afternoon. He is carrying the wedding rings with him in New Hampshire, where he has been                staying on business. One bus a day goes directly to the coast. Mike is on his way to the bus station with 15 minutes to spare when he realizes that his wallet has been stolen, and with it his bus tickets, his credit cards, and all his forms of ID.

At the bus station Mike tries to persuade the officials, and then a couple of fellow travelers, to lend him the money to buy a new ticket, but no one will do it. He’s a stranger, and it’s a significant sum. With five minutes to go before the bus’s departure, he is sitting on a bench trying desperately to think of a plan. Just then, a well-dressed man gets up for a walk, leaving his jacket, with a bus ticket to Maine in the pocket, lying unattended on the bench. In a flash, Mike realizes that the only way he will make it to the wedding on time is if he takes that ticket. The man is clearly well off and could easily buy himself another one.

Should Mike take the ticket?

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