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Unfit for the FutureThe Need for Moral Enhancement$
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Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199653645

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199653645.001.0001

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Human Nature and Common-Sense Morality

Human Nature and Common-Sense Morality

Chapter:
(p.12) 2 Human Nature and Common-Sense Morality
Source:
Unfit for the Future
Author(s):

Ingmar Persson

Julian Savulescu

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199653645.003.0002

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

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