Modeling Rationality, Morality, and Evolution

By Peter A. Danielson | Go to book overview

15
Why We Need a Moral Equilibrium Theory

William J. Talbott


1. Introduction

If Kant's derivation of the Categorical Imperative had been successful, he would have completed two overlapping projects in moral philosophy: (1) the deduction project (moral deductionism): the project of deriving the fundamental principle or principles of morality from the most general constraints on rationality agency, in order to show that, whatever ends or goals one may have, it cannot be rational to act immorally in pursuing them; (2) the reduction project (moral reductionism): the project of formulating principles that would determine the moral permissibility or impermissibility of an act purely as a function of its non-moral features. 1

It is generally agreed that Kant did not succeed at either project. But he has very many intellectual heirs, including many of the participants at the conference on "Modeling Rational and Moral Agents," who use tools and examples -- most prominently the Prisoner's Dilemma -- from formal theories of rational choice to construct models of rational and moral agents. Anyone who attempts to model rational and moral agents very quickly becomes aware of a tension between the two projects of deduction and of reduction. Kant's discussion of his Categorical Imperative nicely illustrates the tension.

When his focus was on the deduction project, Kant treated his principle as merely formal, with minimal content ( 1785, pp. 38-39). How else could he expect to show that it was a constraint on all rational action? But when his focus was on the reduction project -- that is, when he was intent on showing that his principle correctly distinguished morally right from morally wrong acts -- then Kant interpreted his principle in a way that provided it with much more substantial content ( 1785, pp. 40-41). This tension in Kant's account is mirrored in current attempts to model rational and moral agents. If the attempt is motivated by a preoccupation with the deduction project, the agents and rules that are called "moral" seem to be but pale shadows of agents or rules that one would ordinarily or pre-theoretically think of as moral.

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Modeling Rationality, Morality, and Evolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Series Editors ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Contributors ix
  • 1: Introduction 3
  • References 9
  • Rationality 11
  • 2: Rationality and Rules 13
  • Notes 34
  • 3: Intention and Deliberation 41
  • References 54
  • 4: Following Through with One's Plans: Reply to David Gauthier 55
  • Notes 64
  • Notes 65
  • 5: How Braess' Paradox Solves Newcomb's Problem 67
  • Notes 86
  • 6: Economics of the Prisoner's Dilemma: A Background 92
  • Notes 111
  • Notes 115
  • 7: Modeling Rationality: A Normative or Descriptive Task? 119
  • References 132
  • Modeling Social Interaction 135
  • 8: Theorem 1 137
  • References 158
  • 9: The Failure of Success: Intrafamilial Exploitation in the Prisoner's Dilemma 161
  • References 184
  • 10: Transforming Social Dilemmas: Group Identity and Co-Operation 185
  • Conclusion 206
  • Acknowledgments 207
  • Notes 207
  • Notes 208
  • 11: Beliefs and Co-Operation 210
  • References 234
  • 12: The Neural Representation of the Social World 236
  • References 253
  • Morality 255
  • 13: Moral Dualism 257
  • Notes 278
  • Notes 281
  • 14: Categorically Rational Preferences and the Structure of Morality 282
  • Notes 301
  • References 301
  • 15: Why We Need a Moral Equilibrium Theory 302
  • Notes 330
  • Notes 338
  • 16: Morality's Last Chance 340
  • Notes 371
  • Notes 374
  • Evolution 377
  • 17: Mutual Aid: Darwin Meets the Logic of Decision 379
  • Notes 403
  • Notes 404
  • 18: Three Differences Between Deliberation and Evolution 408
  • Notes 420
  • Notes 421
  • 19: Evolutionary Models of Co-Operative Mechanisms: Artificial Morality and Genetic Programming 423
  • Acknowledgments 439
  • Notes 439
  • Notes 441
  • 20: Norms as Emergent Properties of Adaptive Learning: The Case of Economic Routines 442
  • Notes 459
  • Notes 461
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