Math 153 Lecture, December 11th 2008

The psychology of morality

by Fiery Cushman

I will discuss research currently in progress that attempts to understand the functional basis of certain classes of moral judgments: whether an action is wrong, whether it should be punished, and how bad a person the perpetrator is. I will present some psychological research showing that people rely on different factors to make judgments of each type. Then, I'll sketch a functional hypothesis that attempts to explain why these judgments differ in systematic ways. Finally, I'll present some agent-based modeling work that tests aspects of the functional hypothesis. These models incorporate recent psychological work on Bayesian learning algorithms in order to allow agents' behaviors to be reinforced by punishment and reward.

Crime and punishment
Bayesian models of cognition

Math 153 in 2008