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The role of implicit attitudes in ethics - IUSS Philosophy Seminars

02 novembre


The role of implicit attitudes in ethics.

How in-group favoritism impacts empathy, sympathy and trust

Sarah Songhorian 

Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele

8 novembre 2017, ore 14

Aula 1-14 Palazzo del Broletto - Pavia

The literature on what implicit biases are and on how they can predict prejudicial behavior towards certain groups has been growing extremely fast in the last decades. Human beings seem to have a preference towards members of their own group – however construed. Such positive attitude towards in-group members seems to be mostly implicit and early in development. Thus, the focus of this paper is on implicit biases;however, since I am interested in their relationship to explicit moral judgments and moral behavior, it is important to see how and to what extent they can predict or influence explicit biases.
My goal is to investigate if and to what extent such preferences – either implicit or explicit – influence the way in which we judge and act morally. To this aim, I will firstly provide some relevant conceptual distinctions concerning empathy and trust, based on the assumption that empathic and trusting attitudes are relevant for morality. Secondly, I will discuss the effects of in-group favoritism. I will then focus on the minimal groups’ paradigm to show how malleable group identity can be. Finally, I will consider to what extent the empirical findings discussed bear significance for a normative account of moral judgment and of moral action.


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