This tag is associated with 3 posts

Morality and filth

cleanliness is next to godlinessDisgust is an odd emotion. I can be (and am) disgusted by ketchup. I can also be (and also am) disgusted by cruelty. We use the same word – disgust – to mean both physical revulsion and strong moral disapproval, and yet it’s not terribly obvious why they might be related, at least logically speaking. In a long essay¬†published in Aeon, Katherine McAuliffe explores how triggers for physical disgust may affect or sense of morality. As with much of sociobiology, there is a lot of correlation without much certainty of causation, but the data and accompanying speculation are interesting.… Read the rest

Evolution, reason and rhetoric

Reason has long been considered one of the hallmarks of being human. It’s a tool we have developed – or so the story goes – to help us on our path towards truth, an evolutionary adaptation that allows us the better to evaluate situations and come to correct decisions. Maybe. Hugo Mercer and Dan Sperber, cognitive social scientists advocating what is being called the argumentative theory of reasoning, think otherwise. They have argued that reason developed not as a truth-finding tool, but as a social tool to help us to win arguments. For a concise account of their groundbreaking work, see this NY Times article.… Read the rest

Seeing is believing. Almost.

Of all our senses, vision is the one we tend to trust most. Ask any group of people which of the five senses (accepting for a moment the conventional categorization of our sense perception into five categories), almost none will choose to give up their sense of sight. “Seeing is believing,” as the old saying goes. In this TED talk by Beau Lotto, however, we get a slightly different idea of the reliability of visual perception. Our senses, Lotto observes, evolved for specific adaptive reasons. And truth wasn’t necessarily one of them.… Read the rest

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