Pathologies of moral cognition

The saying "Nice guys finish last" captures the thought that moral cognition makes us vulnerable to exploitation. This project aims to examine this hypothesis by investigating three aspects of moral cognition that might lead us to form false beliefs or render us vulnerable to manipulation by others: our beliefs about punishment; our tendency to identify with groups; and our willingness to trust others. The project is designed to involve empirical investigation of the circumstances in which moral behaviour can have harmful side-effects; it also entails theoretical analysis intended to improve our ability to construct robust theories of cooperative and punitive behaviour.

Australian Research Council Discovery Project

Toby Handfield, Nathan Berg
Philosophy, School of Philosophical, Historical & International Studies

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