Welcomes OWEN FLANAGAN
(with responses from WAYNE PROUDFOOT)
Please join us Friday (OCT 24 @ 5:30) for his lecture entitled:
"BUDDHIST ETHICS AND MORAL MODULARITY"
== ABSTRACT ==
Modularity has proved a profitable way of thinking about the perceptual system. The five senses comprise fast-acting, cognitively impenetrable, special-purpose information processing systems. In VARIETIES OF MORAL PERSONALITY: ETHICS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL REALISM (Harvard, 1991), I suggested that the modularity of morals was worth serious consideration since it seemed to me that morality as exemplified in virtue theories involves multifarious special purpose competencies, viz.: the virtues. There is now a serious empirically informed proposal that moral competence and moral performance are best explained in terms of (something like) moral modules.
Jonathan Haidt originally posited four universal intuitive domains that socio-moral life typically engages or activates: suffering/compassion, fairness/reciprocity, purity/sanctity, and hierarchy/respect. Haidt and Joseph (2007) add a fifth special purpose intuitive mechanism: ingroup/loyalty. These mechanisms underwrite intuitions that originally arose to meet specific adaptive challenges and serve still as the foundation(s) of morality, or something in the vicinity. Each module engages different emotions. Moral modularity makes an empirical prediction: we ought to see all four or five modules represented prominently in every ethical tradition (then and now, as it were).
I ask: Does Buddhist ethics bear out the prediction? I think the answer is yes for Aristotle (Plato) and Mencius (Confucius). But I am not sure whether Buddhism conforms to/and/or supports modularity. A entirely separate or so I say question is this: even if there are intuitive modules upon which morality is/can be built ought we to do so (Mencius famously says growing his four sprouts is like growing ones four limbs). I will try to have some interesting (if not fully intelligent or intelligible) things to say on the matter (mostly the first one).
== SPEAKER BIO ==
== WHEN ==
Friday - Oct 24th, 2008
== WHERE ==
Rm. 101, 80 Claremont Avenue
Department of Religion, Columbia University
== DIRECTIONS ==
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== ADMISSION ==
Admission is free, but seating is limited. We recommend
that you arrive early to ensure a place.
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