Saturday, November 15, 2008

Against Intuition - Assumptions that block a path to a better way

Part of doing a blog based on looking for new paradigms is questioning assumptions of existing pathways as well as looking for new pathways. Chronicle Review recently looked at the assumption of intuition, in the formal, philosophical use of the word. My take on it was from the perspective of how it could relate to economics and creating a paradigm for a better world. This was bookmarked under the diigo group Psychology: the Science of Human Nature.

Quotes: Against Intuition -

Experimental Philosophy seems to have the same acceptance of the main stream discipline as Experimental Economics. Though there is the argument that MRI studies, frequently cited in both, claim more than they can actually deliver. This is related in my mind to an argument of negative and positive rights and responsibilities. If we as a society are more interested in improving the environment than the CEO is in making money then we can't simply leave it to the market to make the choice and hope that they circumstances produce the best outcome case. This does not necessarily mean punitive regulations. There is also a chicken and egg dilemma regarding the philosophical basis of morality and the empirical methodology used by the experimentalist. I do not believe the one cannot fully separate oneself from the moral assumptions of one's culture to attain pure empirical objectivity. It does give a good helping of food for thought. Below are a few relevant quotes from the article.

    • They think that by studying human minds, using empirical techniques, and drawing on the insights of modern psychological science, they can get a better sense of where intuitions come from, and whether or when they should be granted credence.
    • Experimental philosophers also draw on work by contemporary psychologists demonstrating just how malleable human cognition is, how easily redirected and reshaped it is by external cues, even as the conscious mind remains blissfully unaware. Opinions on crime and punishment, for instance, can be altered by placing people in a dirty room designed to trigger feelings of disgust: Subjects in such experiments respond more punitively when asked what should be done to certain hypothetical criminals.
    • Consider this scenario, used in numerous scholarly articles: A corporate chairman is presented by a vice president with a proposal for a new project. The VP explains that the project will increase profits but hurt the environment. The chairman replies, "I don't care at all about helping the environment. I just want to make as much profit as I can. Let's start the new program." They do, and predictably the environment is harmed.
    • Did the CEO intentionally damage the environment? In one of Knobe's most cited studies, some 82 percent of students said yes.
    • Then take this scenario: Same chairman, same VP, but this time the VP says the program will help the environment. The CEO, again, replies that he doesn't care; his only concern is money. He gives a thumbs-up and, again, as predicted, the environment is helped. This time only 23 percent of students say the CEO intentionally helped the earth, although the scenarios are logically identical. Continue the discussion on diigo »

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