This is a linkpost for https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S136466131300123X
Moral dilemmas engender conflicts between two traditions: consequentialism, which evaluates actions based on their outcomes, and deontology, which evaluates actions themselves. These strikingly resemble two distinct decision-making architectures: a model-based system that selects actions based on inferences about their consequences; and a model-free system that selects actions based on their reinforcement history. Here, I consider how these systems, along with a Pavlovian system that responds reflexively to rewards and punishments, can illuminate puzzles in moral psychology.
I find this (short) paper appealing because it:
- Makes connections across domains
- Unifies competing explanations within an overarching framework
- Offers an elegant explanation of otherwise confusing phenomena e.g. the means/side-effect distinction
That said, it does still seem a bit speculative.
Cf Fiery Cushman:
+1 and to generalize I think a bunch of philosophical debates are basically reifications of different sorts of ways different pattern matching cognitive systems operate. We let the urge to compress for efficiency reasons get a bit out of hand and try to build perverse monisms out of everything.
This is somewhat unrelated, but I once did a little research on the problem of how DNA gets translated into proteins---I (and some others) viewed DNA as a 4 letter code (nucleotides) or 'syntax' , while proteins were words using a 26 letter (amino acids) 'word' with a 'semantics'---it meant something or had a functional use. I took what is perjoratively called a 'fact free science' approach (associated with SFI/complexity approach) , which meant the idea was to see if one could figure out if there were any patterns in the DNA code (using as little biochemical information as possible --experimentalists dealt with that detail) which could be used to predict which ones might be 'coding regions' for proteins . This is analagous to trying to figure out from some randomly selected 'text' whether its just a randomly generated set of (nonsensical) 'words' , or actually is a meaningful 'book' (maybe shakespeare).
It was assumed that the 'reinforcement history' was actually hidden in the DNA code --i.e. there were dependencies between the 'letters' (nucleotides) so they were not randomly distributed (any more than letters in a book are).