Human Nature and Common-Sense Morality

Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu

in Unfit for the Future

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199653645
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742033 | DOI:
Human Nature and Common-Sense Morality

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This chapter reviews relevant aspects of human psychology and common-sense morality. The fact that it is easier for us to harm than to benefit is reflected in so-called loss aversion; that our aversion of losing something is greater than our desire to acquire something similar. It is also reflected in that common-sense morality imposes strict duties not to commit harmful acts of killing etc. — and thereby gives us corresponding negative rights to life etc. — but provides only weaker reasons to benefit. Together with a conception of responsibility as based on causation this makes up the act-omission doctrine. Relevant aspects of our psychology are a bias towards the near future and an altruism that is limited to individuals who are near to us and that is not proportionate to larger numbers. We have a sense of justice or fairness, which primarily manifests in acts of reciprocity, tit-for-tat.

Keywords: act-omission; altruism; common-sense morality; fairness; justice; loss aversion; moral psychology; negative rights; reciprocity; responsibility

Chapter.  13810 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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