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Seminar: 5/5 - Jesse Prinz

11:00 to 12:30 PM      at:  

Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"Is Morality Innate?"

A number of arguments have been advanced in recent years to support the conjecture that human beings have an innate moral faculty.  Nativism has been defended by appeal to cross-cultural studies of moral universals, comparative research on prosocial behavior in other primates, theoretical arguments about the acquisition of morals, studies of moral intuitions in healthy adults, clinical research on criminal psychopaths, and evolutionary models.  In this talk, I critically examine the arguments for an innate moral faculty, and I conclude that they are inadequate.  Instead, I defend an alternative approach according to which morality, like religion, is a learned byproduct of faculties that evolved for other other purposes, including non-moral emotions and meta-cognition.