Donnerstag, 14. Februar 2013

Are moral virtues attractive?

Sexual selection for moral virtues
Geoffrey F. Miller, 2007

A few points of the paper:

"Research shows that many particular moral virtues are sexually attractive and relationship-stabilizing; these include: [kindness, empathy, niceness, honesty, heroism]; Most of these moral virtue preferences are stronger when seeking a serious long-term partner than a short-term lover."

"All else being equal, virtues should be favored in mate choice. They should be highly valued aspects of potential mates that individuals are motivated not just to judge passively by observation, but to probe actively..."

"One might object that intelligence is not really a moral virtue; it just happens to predict a wide range of specific moral behaviors. Yet, what is a moral virtue if not an individual differences dimension that predicts a wide range of specific moral behaviors? Moral virtues are socially attributed traits that carry predictive information about morally relevant behaviors. If kindness is a moral virtue because it predicts specific prosocial behaviors, and is valued as such, then intelligence must also be a moral virtue, along with being an academic, economic, and epistemological virtue. Another reason for accepting the quasi-moral status of intelligence is the recent convergence between virtue ethics and “virtue epistemology,” the study of cognitive and intellectual virtues (Axtell 2000; Brady and Pritchard 2003; DePaul and Zagzebski 2003). Traditional epistemology tried to evaluate the truth of particular conceptual systems through consistency and coherence criteria. By contrast, for the virtue epistemologist, true beliefs arise from acts of intellectual virtue, those typical of intelligent, rational, cognitively complex agents (Zagzebski 1996) who show impartiality, epistemic responsibility, and intellectual courage (Code 1987; Kvanvig 1992; Montmarquet 1993). For example, Aristotle named intuition, wisdom, prudence, and science as intellectual virtues. In virtue epistemology as in virtue ethics, the favored level of description is the whole individual as a cognitive/moral agent, not the isolated belief or moral act. This naturally leads to an emphasis on individual differences in epistemological virtue, differences that intelligence researchers have already succeeded in measuring with unparalleled reliability and validity for over a century ( Jensen 1998). Thus, intelligence is a sexually attractive, quasimoral trait at the intersection of virtue epistemology and virtue ethics."

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