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Gert-Jan Munneke: Evolutionary mismatch in moral judgment

  • MF-J173 V.d.Boechorststraat 7-9 Amsterdam Netherlands (map)

In this presentation, I will present my PhD. research on moral cognition. How do people judge moral dilemmas? Two specific moral dilemmas are addressed: 1) How do people judge stealing, especially in the situation of physical theft versus digital theft (e.g. copyright infringement). 2) How do people judge killing; especially when killing one life can save multiple others (aka the Trolley problem). I will argue that the peculiar patterns of moral judgment that these problems elicit are best explained by the evolutionary Mismatch hypothesis. In defense of this thesis, I will showcase four dissertation chapters: 1) an EEG study on how (fast) people judge instances of theft vs. copyright infringement. 2) Behavioral studies, digging deeper into the actual determinants of the moral dissociation between physical and digital theft, 3) Similar behavioral studies on the Trolley problem. 4) Propose a symbolic logical framework as a language to formalize evolutionary aspects of moral cognition; and contemplate on potential ramifications this logical language could have for ethical philosophy: what can this research say (if anything) about what actually distinguishes right from wrong.