By Scott Kimbrough

Presidential Address of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Florida Philosophical Association, 2013

Scott Kimbrough, Jacksonville University

Thank you. It is a privilege to address you all this evening, despite what I will go on to say. Thanks to Piers for putting together an excellent program. As your reward Piers, you have to stand up and do this next year. Thanks also to Ron Hall and Josh Rust for serving as site coordinators and hosts. It is a lot of work and we are all in their debt. We are lucky as Florida philosophers to have this organization, and I trust you all will continue to support it so it remains a place for colleagues from all kinds of schools to come together and share their ideas. It is important for oddballs like us to have a community.

If you doubt we are oddballs, there is an easy way to settle the question empirically. Whenever you go to a philosophy conference, just watch the non-philosophers at the conference hotel. They know something weird is going down. I watch them looking about wondering what the hell kind of convention this is. “Who are these people?” their quizzical expressions seem to say. We are, in the public’s estimation, an odd bunch. Of course, part of the fun of seeing this dynamic is realizing that I contribute to the overall scene, doing my own part to establish the eccentric atmosphere. I’m one of the odd ones, too. Not that I need a convention to be aware of it: I’m reminded of it every day when I teach introduction to philosophy and find that the whole cognitive style of us philosophers is somewhere between irritating and terrifying to the average student.

Not that this is anything new. Our discipline’s patron saint, Socrates, was so annoying that his fellow citizens voted to put him to death. We are the cultural descendants of a man whose idea of marketing the discipline was to compare himself to a blood-sucking parasite. Think about that for a minute. In casting himself as a gadfly, Socrates put himself a step below the mosquito. At least mosquitos are relatively gentle: it hurts like hell to be bit by a gadfly. Moreover, to add insult to lack of appeal, the analogy casts non-philosophers in the role of lazy horses, who allegedly stand in need of a painful bite from a blood-sucking parasite. So boiling it down, Socrates’ image of the gadfly provides a stirring marketing slogan: Philosophy – The stinging pestilence you need to stop being so lazy and stupid. No wonder they killed him!

The unenthusiastic reception of Socrates remains sadly familiar to us philosophers. Only now, it seems people do not care enough about philosophy to kill us for it. However, they very well might take away our jobs. Indeed, the humanities as a whole have been struggling here in the United States. Some recent studies have suggested that the humanities generally are in a death spiral. For example, on the heels of a report by Harvard University on the state of the humanities, a June 6th Wall Street Journal article entitled “Humanities Fall from Favor” reports that only 7% of college graduates majored in the humanities in 2010, down from 14% in 1966. 1 If you do the math, you will see that the humanities will be extinct in just 44 years! While I’m as doubtful as any good philosopher about linear projections like that, extinction is not an idle worry. UNLV almost lost its philosophy department a couple of years ago. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania announced this September that they are axing their philosophy department due to low enrollment numbers. You may not be surprised to learn that the Wall Street Journal credits the decline of the humanities to the job prospects of graduates. It is indeed sobering to read that 9.5% of recently graduated philosophy and religious studies majors are unemployed, as compared to 5.8% of chemistry majors. The article also included the following endearing quote from North Carolina Governor Patrick McCrory: “If you want to take gender studies, that’s fine, go to private school, but I don’t want to subsidize that if it’s not going to get someone a job.” Clearly, we face some cultural challenges.

But never fear: the Wall Street Journal article elicited a stirring rejoinder in The Chronicle of Higher Education. In an article entitled “The Humanities in Dubious Battle: What the Harvard Report Doesn’t Tell Us,” the authors reject the death spiral analysis by noting that interest in the humanities enjoyed an anomalous bubble in the late 1960’s. 2 If you go further back in time, you find that only about 7% of students majored in the humanities in the 1940s and 1950s, much like today. The authors of the Chroniclearticle reassure us with the following quote: “What we have, then, is not a story of decline, in the humanities as a whole and at Harvard, but one of a large scale fluctuation with a bubble in the middle.” Therefore, it is not that the humanities are in a death spiral. It is that we were artificially popular for a short period and have now returned to historically normal levels of indifference. What a relief! At first, I was worried!

And I still am. The situation for us philosophers is even worse than the numbers I have quoted suggest, because philosophy is only one of the humanities, and I’m sorry to say it is not the most popular. At Jacksonville University where I teach, philosophy majors do not even approach 1% of the student body. More like half a percent. In addition, we even have the advantage that all students are required to take introduction to philosophy as part of the core curriculum. If philosophy is ever removed from the core curriculum, my colleagues and I will be done for. Why is philosophy so unpopular? Harvard’s Dean of Arts and Letters cites anti-intellectualism. 3 He has a point, but then again that is just re-labeling the problem, not explaining it. Moreover, science is an intellectual pursuit, and not exactly entertaining or easy for most people. Yet science commands a lot of respect in the public. You do not hear the governor of North Carolina suggesting that the state should not subsidize science majors. Our own governor has, in fact, suggested that science majors should pay less tuition than humanities majors. 4

Of course, we are all horrified by Governor Rick Scott’s uncomprehending antagonism. We feel confident that our discipline is worthwhile and, indeed, far superior to the sloppy, willful ignorance of the public at large and the governor they elected. We are, in short, prone both to self- congratulation and to incredulity that our insights and methods are not more broadly appreciated. But tonight I don’t want to engage in the kind of venting that we do as teachers, when we inform each other about the sad cognitive malfeasance we observe on a daily basis, like the student who confused making an objection with stating an objective, or the 70% of the class who inexplicably believe that you can turn a bald assertion into an argument by prefacing it with the words “I deeply believe” (I said I wasn’t going to vent, but sometimes you just can’t resist the urge. I deeply believe that. But enough venting). Even though I am speaking at a banquet, I am not going to congratulate us for what makes us a special and essential community. Like all communities, ours does not need any help in fostering the conviction that we are especially smart and wise compared to the benighted members of other communities. Rather, I would like to remind us that we are in many ways an average human community, and to use that insight to call for a greater self-awareness about how we define our community and present it to the public.

Of course, it is not easy to think of ourselves as typical human beings. Just look at us! Nevertheless, to get things rolling, consider a sobering statistic that our Florida State colleague Alfred Mele used to open his book Self Deception Unmasked. 5 94% of college professors think they are better at their job than their average colleague. 94%! Of course, for Al that was two dozen books and a couple million in grant money ago, so he can be forgiven for putting himself in that category. However, I have found it instructive to think of myself and my colleagues in philosophy as average – both as individuals and as a community.

We are, after all, human beings. Most of us anyway. So whatever our views about human nature and human communities, they really ought to apply to our community and ourselves as much as anyone else. Of course, there is no unanimity among us philosophers about what human nature is, or even whether there is such a thing. However, my plan tonight is to turn to what is, for better or worse, one of the dominant cultural norms of our philosophical community these days: scientific naturalism. Nowadays you cannot even appeal to common sense without having some annoying experimental philosopher ask if you have conducted the surveys to back up your assertion. It is no longer fashionable to pretend that we can know anything about ourselves, or the nature of thought, without trotting out a few scientists and talking about their work. This is a cultural observation on my part about the current character of our odd little community. I am sure I could do a rigorous study of journal citations before making such a broad factual assertion. But, hey, it is dinnertime and you will see in what follows that I have taken that as an excuse to sidestep that kind of rigor.

In place of rigor, I will go in for over-generalization, cherry-picking, and name-dropping. I’m glad we all had a few cocktails before dinner so hopefully you will let me get away with it. I am focusing on naturalism because I am a naturalist myself. Maybe not a purist, but still a naturalist. I hope that what I go on to say will be of some interest even to the non-naturalists among you, if only as ammunition. However, in keeping with naturalist cultural tropes, I am going to talk about a couple of scientists now. These two scientists have been very influential in naturalist circles generally and with me personally: psychologist Jonathan Haidt and primatologist Frans de Waal.

Take de Waal first. I am a fan of his principle of evolutionary parsimony. According to this principle, any behavior of ours that appears in our primate relatives should be explained by appeal to similar mechanisms. Therefore, for example, if we find that non-human primates react to inequities in resource distribution with emotional tantrums, and we doubt that these tantrums are mediated by any Kantian reasoning about universalizable maxims of justice, then the default assumption about human beings should be that our objections to inequities are also emotionally mediated. Any additional reasoning we may do as human beings neither generates nor explains the more basic response, but is instead layered over the top of it. De Waal compares our psychology to a Russian doll: with each outer layer, a new evolutionary addition to mechanisms shared with our primate and mammalian cousins.

This is where Haidt comes in. According to Haidt, moral judgment derives from emotional reactions trained up by the uptake of social norms. 6 The norms we have absorbed from our culture become embodied, so that we feel the violations of them viscerally. Communities are tied together by these emotionally embodied commitments, as populations of reactively coordinated individuals. Moral reasoning comes in only when this coordination breaks down, and is not so much a source of discovery as a tool for social cajoling and coalition building. Haidt says moral reasoning is more like a lawyer than an impartial judge: emotional reactions are the client, and reason seeks to vindicate them. Reasoning stops when inter-personal reactive coordination is restored, not when justification in some epistemically virtuous sense has been achieved. Indeed, a lot of the justifications we offer for ourselves are post hoc rationalizations, not factually accurate accounts of why we have the commitments that we do. When reasoning does not achieve the desired reactive coordination, our tendency is to resort to shunning, name-calling, and worse.

The upshot I’m taking from Haidt and de Waal is that human beings are emotionally driven, social animals who simultaneously vie for status within their own groups and compete ruthlessly between groups. We are, in short, tribal animals.

Of course, we philosophers stand ready to see the tribal nature of the public at large. Haidt and de Waal actually provide a ready explanation as to why we philosophers are so unpopular with the public: we threaten people. We challenge their emotionally held commitments. We cause confusion when we ask them to direct their reason towards impartial evaluation of arguments rather than the merely political goal of achieving social coordination. We reveal how shoddy their justifications really are when looked at objectively. We cause confusion and cognitive dissonance, which is unpleasant to the average person. However, all these observations about the tribal tendencies of other people conveniently place us philosophers on a separate plane from the rest of humanity. That maneuver made sense for Plato and other rationalists: philosophy, as the bastion of reason, represents the exercise of human nature’s highest capacities, and the public is different because they allow themselves to be led by their lower faculties. The philosopher’s oddity was thus a badge of honor and superiority. Nevertheless, evolutionary parsimony denies us the luxury of rationalistic explanations of our admittedly peculiar way of life. It requires us to apply our discoveries about human nature to ourselves, not just to the public whose intellectual sloppiness we hold in contempt. If human beings are emotional and tribal, then philosophers are members of a tribe with its own emotional motivations and commitments.

I’m reminded of Nietzsche’s famously hilarious effort in The Genealogy of Morality to psychologize the English psychologists. 7 Abridging the passage a little, he says:

These English psychologists – what do they actually want? One finds them, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, always at the same task, namely of pushing the shameful part of our inner world into the foreground and of seeking that which is actually effective, leading, decisive for our development, precisely where the pride of man would least of all wish to find it (for example in the vis inertiae of habit or in…anything purely passive…and fundamentally mindless) — what is it actually that always drives these psychologists in precisely this direction? Is it…a little meanness, a little gloominess, a little anti-Christianity, a little tickle and need for pepper?

(By the way, I have always enjoyed the fact that Nietzsche was primarily using the term “English psychologist” to make fun of a German friend who was a fan of Hume, a Scottish philosopher. Germans and Scots just love it when you call them English.) Nietzsche sees the efforts of the English psychologists to distinguish themselves as a political act. To his credit, he ultimately explained the activities of the English psychologists by appeal to the same force that he understood as driving his own philosophical activity: the will to power. However, as a psychological theory, the will to power proved less robust than the broadly Humean approach of the so-called English psychologists. Haidt and de Waal place themselves squarely in the Humean tradition, differing from Hume only in their accounts of the specific emotional mechanisms that drive us.

If contemporary naturalists are to be consistent, then, we must follow Nietzsche’s lead and apply our own theories to ourselves. That is why Nietzsche’s remarks about the English psychologists have begun to strike me less as a funny bit of rhetoric and more as an existential crisis. In the remainder of my remarks, I am going to play with the idea that naturalist philosophers are an emotionally driven tribe vying for political position. My goal is to encourage us not to set ourselves apart so much, and to realize that we have some choices about how we present ourselves to the larger community within which we form an anomalous sub-culture, and to whose tolerance and goodwill we owe our paychecks.

Start by considering how sub-cultures generally tend to segregate themselves from the majority. They develop recognizable displays of group identity, often choosing markers that require rejection of majority norms as a ticket of membership in the sub-culture. For example, take ear gauges – those grommet-like rings that expand the size of the earlobes. I do not even know what to call the community that is united by its affinity for ear gauges. It is not goth, and I do not think it is emo. Does anyone know? I do know ear gauges are somewhat disgusting to many people, myself included. Why would anyone mutilate themselves like that, the uncomprehending majority asks? Moreover, what if they want to get a job later? As if the display were supposed to be consistent with conventional goals like climbing the corporate ladder. The ear gauge is a device to signal rejection of majority norms like working your way up at a corporation and going to church on Sundays. The ear gauge crowd wants nothing to do with those things. But thanks to the gauges they sure have an easy time recognizing who is in their tribe and who is not, even as they tell themselves that they are all expressing their individuality.

What, then, distinguishes members of the naturalist philosophical community? Our markers are overall more intellectual than physical. Rather than ear gauges, naturalists wear error theories. In place of neck tattoos or body piercings, we have the flamboyant atheism of philosophers like Daniel Dennett. I’m a fan of Dennett myself. He is in my tribe. I enjoy his comically vitriolic attacks on religion. I assume most of you have heard his comparison of religion to a species of fluke that invades the brain of an ant, making it climb to the tip of a blade of grass in order to be more readily eaten by the cows and sheep in whose gut the fluke reproduces. 8 Religion, Dennett is suggesting, is a parasitic meme that injures its host. As a former Methodist and current philosophical naturalist, I find this suggestion extraordinarily entertaining. But is it really scientific? Meme theory?! Really? It is transparent pandering to the base. I like it for the same reason I like the political memes that circulate on Facebook – you know, the ones that support my side, like the one I saw a few years ago that said God kills a kitten every time someone votes for a Republican.

For a second example of a naturalistic oppositional display, consider skepticism about morality. There are plenty of naturalists I could mention at this point, but I will take Steven Stich, who argues that moral judgment is the unreliable product of multi-purpose kludges. 9 A kludge is a cobbled together cluster of mechanisms that is not well-designed for any single purpose. The emotion of disgust, for instance, evolved for purposes such as parasite and poison avoidance, but has been recruited by evolution to serve social functions such as group identification and cohesion. (Remember those “disgusting” ear gauges? Well the ear gauge crowd is just as disgusted by my tweed jacket.) Stich concludes that moral intuitions rooted in disgust and other similarly kludgy emotions are the products of unreliable mechanisms, and that we consequently should be skeptical of all moral judgment. Now I am a fan of Stich, because he is in my tribe. I can tell because he has the decidedly counter-cultural willingness to look people in the face and declare that their whole morality is horseshit. It is a very effective oppositional display. We naturalist philosophers love that kind of stuff, and Stich has ridden his anti-social audacity to a prominent place in our little tribe. He is almost as famous as Dennett, whose willingness to be serially derisive of everything the public holds dear has put him at the top of our profession.

Since I am being offensive already, I would like to pursue an unflattering analogy to the Tea Party. Within the tribe of naturalists, philosophers like Dennett and Stich stand out as the ideological purists. Dennett is the Ted Cruz of the party. I feel bad about saying that, and feel I owe an apology: so before pursuing my analogy further, I would like to apologize to Ted Cruz for comparing him to a long-time establishment figure like Dennett. How about Stich? I will cast him as Rand Paul – the smoother but no less radical leader of the party’s right flank. Like the Tea Party extremists, the radical naturalists get most of the press because they are the ones throwing rhetorical bombs. They also do not have a snow-ball’s chance in hell of winning over the mainstream. At least I hope that is the case with Cruz and Paul! The reason for this is largely psychological and tonal: most people think they are mean-spirited and negative, and too focused on narrow hobby-horse issues. If you were not sure whether I was talking about Ted Cruz or Dan Dennett just then, you are getting the point of my analogy. The problem with the Tea Party is that they have no realistically viable strategy for governing. They want to cut and cut and cut, but do not have a plan to solve the problems that government spending was designed to address. That is why they will always be a minority party. Most people need to feel that there is a positive guiding vision behind a philosophy before they are willing to accept it. Here, again, my ambiguity between Cruz and Dennett is intentional.

My point about radical naturalism echoes a concern raised by William James over a century ago. The philosophy people actually live by is more than an abstract theory, James insisted, but is “our more or less dumb sense of what life honestly and deeply means.” 10  James struggled with the emerging naturalism of his day and worried that it did not fulfill human needs for meaning and purpose. He inferred that pure, tough-minded naturalism that dismisses our emotional needs as illusions was unlikely to prevail. Instead, James pointed out that “The finally victorious way of looking at things will be the most completely impressive way to the normal run of minds.” 11 James, for his part, thought that the missing element was religion. I’m not as tender-minded as all that, but James is onto something here that we naturalist philosophers would do well to take into account. I think naturalism is capable of being the “finally victorious” way of looking at things. But not if philosophical naturalists continue to present it in a way that makes us unable to acknowledge the importance of what we care about, or to characterize our concerns as illusions or errors or projections. To be victorious in the end, naturalism needs to be more than a wrecking ball. Thus the title of my talk – “Humanizing Naturalism.” By the way, I did not think it appropriate to put the sub-title on the program. It is “Why the Psychologists are Kicking our Asses.”

My sub-title reflects my concern that the scientists are outcompeting us philosophers at speaking to people’s need for a positive vision they can use to orient their lives. Naturalists like de Waal and Haidt are taking their scientific insights about human nature and applying them to the question of how to live. De Waal’s book The Age of Empathy is both a description of the mechanisms of empathy and an invitation to cultivate them. De Waal would not dispute Stich’s claim that empathy is a kludge: his Russian doll metaphor is another way of making the same point. However, whether empathy is a kludge or not, de Waal shows how cultivating its expression is tied to achieving our well-being as individuals and communities. Haidt is a prominent figure in the positive psychology movement, which seeks to use contemporary empirical scientific method to help people live a better, more satisfying life. Philosophers could learn a thing or two from these guys. The last time we made prominent use of the word ‘positive’ was for logical positivism, the theory that our most important human concerns are literally nonsense. James is right: naturalism will never catch on if that is the central message. But the public is eating up positive psychology with a spoon. I did an Amazon books search for happiness, and most of the top 40 selections either were by positive psychologists or based on their findings. Haidt’s book The Happiness Hypothesis – which I highly recommend – was right there in the top ten. There were no books by philosophers on the list, unless you would like to count the Dalai Lama. Positive psychology is very explicit in its goal to address the questions that have historically been the province of philosophy. For example, in his A Primer in Positive Psychology, Christopher Peterson says that the questions of his discipline are the same ones that animated the ancient Greeks (Peterson 2006): “What is the good life? What does it mean to be happy? Is it possible to pursue happiness directly, or is fulfillment a by-product of other pursuits?” Why have we let the psychologists take our questions?

Here I think a large part of the answer can be understood in terms of our intra-tribal politics. Human beings, as we have seen, strive to compete within their communities for status. As a tribe, we value argumentative rigor and proof. We do not want to admit that we believe anything without good evidence, and would rather not acknowledge that emotion plays any role in our psychology at all, or if it does that, it is utterly arbitrary from a justificational point of view. That is why clever error theorists can always expect a successful career in academic philosophy: their tough-minded reliance on objective argument makes them shining exemplars of the epistemic virtues we admire as members of the philosophical community. As a trained philosopher, I feel these commitments, too. I have to admit that I respect Stich more than the whole lot of positive psychologists. There is something almost embarrassing about them. I was reading A Primer in Positive Psychology on an airplane, and was ashamed lest anyone see some of the subject headings – things like “Have a Good Day” and “Positive Emotions.” We philosophers are trained to be contemptuous of such things. It is one of the shared emotional responses that ties our tribe together, and sets us apart from the broader culture. However, my point tonight is that we need to recognize these facts about ourselves, and to recognize the emotional basis of our drive to define ourselves oppositionally all the time. De Waal and Haidt show that being a naturalist does not require us to be so tough-minded that we reject the impulses that we share with the rest of humanity as meaningless or arbitrary or unreliable.

Take moral skepticism, for example. Is there really such a deep objective difference between saying moral judgments reflect widely shared human concerns and saying they are illusory projections of emotional reactions? The upshot is the same. The main appeal of the skeptical option, I have suggested, is its effectiveness in promoting intra-tribal advancement. But it does so at the cost of alienating our community from the public at large, and, I’ve been urging, our own humanity. Whether they have an objective basis or not, our moral concerns matter to us as human beings and, like other human beings, we ultimately want to build a community united by shared concerns that we work towards together. Indeed, one of the empirical discoveries of positive psychology is that people are happier when they see themselves as part of something larger. 12 This explains the appeal of religion, but also explains what secular forms of community must do if they hope to displace religion from that role.

Haidt’s moral psychology exemplifies the community-building kind of naturalism I’m recommending. His recent book The Righteous Mind is at once an effort to describe the psychological mechanisms that divide people into political factions, and an effort to use those findings to promote the kind of mutual understanding and common ground that can lead to political progress. 13 He is, in a word, constructive, not just destructive. When I think about my favorite philosophers from history, they are the same way. David Hume is an excellent illustration of what I’m calling for this evening. He moved seamlessly between arguing that an emotional approval of utility is the basis of morality, and arguing that justice is morally valuable precisely because of its utility. He expected the moral argument to be effective because he believed the psychological theory was correct, and he made the moral argument because he shared the emotional commitment to utility that he postulated in others. He railed against the negative effects of superstition, but provided a positive vision of the good life and the good society that was consistent with his claims about the psychological mechanisms that are responsible for creating that vision. He viewed his philosophy as providing a better path to the things we all care about – things like peace, prosperity, and mutual respect. And when he noticed that it was impossible to prove that caring for these things was a commandment of reason, rather than an expression of sentiment, he had the humility but also the intellectual consistency to note that such rational proof is neither to be expected nor, by his own principles, motivationally necessary. “Nature,” as he memorably says, “will always maintain her rights, and prevail in the end over any abstract reasoning whatsoever.” 14

So if we follow the example of Hume, and become less abrasive and more constructive, will we philosophers finally be popular with the public? Of course not. We should not kid ourselves. We will never be popular. Face it: John Stuart Mill was wrong. Most people, even those who have been exposed to both the higher and lower pleasures, will choose the lower most of the time. TED talks may draw millions of hits on the internet, but not nearly as many as the porn sites. Bad Grandpa recently became the top grossing film in America – out-earning all currently available documentaries combined. Thinking is hard, and most people do not like it. However, popularity is not really my hope for philosophy. I will settle for continued survival. I am fully prepared to limp along with our minority share of the 7% of humanities majors nationally. Despite what I have said earlier, I even acknowledge that the fire-breathers like Dennett and Stich play a role in recruiting our odd little sliver of the population. Every healthy party has its ideologues to whip up the base. And just as most Republicans approve of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, I approve of Dennett and Stich.

But if I were a Republican, I wouldn’t put either of them on the presidential ticket or let them pretend to represent the party as a whole. And when they try to bully their more moderate colleagues into a fool’s errand, like not funding the government or refusing to make moral judgments, the moderates among us should stand up and say that we still have to govern. Doing so opens up the moderates to intra-party charges of ideological impurity and softness. I suppose I have opened myself up to the charge of being a NINO – naturalist in name only. However, even Mitch McConnell recently decided to position himself for the general election rather than worry about his Tea Party primary challenger. I never thought I would hear myself saying this, but my advice is to follow Mitch McConnell’s lead, and stake out a position that acknowledges the pragmatic necessity of keeping the government open and functioning. As philosophers – even as naturalist philosophers – we need to have the courage to reclaim wisdom and human flourishing as our goal: by all means we need to understand ourselves and the world objectively, but we need to live in that world in the meantime and acknowledge that the whole purpose of objective understanding is to live better. If the positive psychologists are not getting it right, we need to do better, not reject the whole enterprise as merely subjective and arbitrary. I will close with advice from my favorite naturalist, David Hume, who always had the humanity and humility to apply his principles about human nature to his own life and practice:

Indulge your passion for science, says [nature], but let your science be human, and such as may have a direct reference to action and society. Abstruse thought and profound researches I prohibit, and will severely punish, by the pensive melancholy which they introduce, by the endless uncertainty in which they involve you, and by the cold reception which your pretended discoveries shall meet with, when communicated. Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a [hu]man. 15


Alvarez, Lizette. “Florida may reduce tuition for select majors.” New York Times. Posted: December 9th, 2012.

De Waal, Frans. The age of empathy: Nature’s lessons for a kinder society. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2010.

_______. Primates and philosophers: How morality evolved. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Dennett, Daniel. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a natural phenomenon. New York: Penguin Books, 2007.

Grafton, Anthony and Grossman, James. “Humanities in dubious decline: What a new Harvard report doesn’t tell us.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. Posted: July 1st, 2013.

Haidt, Jonathan. “The Emotional Dog and its Rational Tail: A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgment.” Psychological Review 108.4 (2001): 814-834.

_______. The happiness hypothesis. New York, New York: Basic Books, 2006.
_______. The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. New York: Pantheon,

Hume, David. An enquiry concerning human understanding. Ed. Steinberg. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1977.

James, William. Pragmatism. Ed. Kuklick, Bruce. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1981. Levitz, Jennifer. and Belkin, Douglas. “Humanities fall from favor: Far fewer Harvard students

express interest in field with weak job prospects.”Wall Street Journal. Posted: June 6th, 2013.

Mele, Alfred. Self-deception unmasked. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. On the genealogy of morality. Clark, Maudemarie and Swensen, Alan (tr.). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 1998.

Peterson, Christopher. A primer in positive psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Stich, Stephen. “Is morality an elegant machine or a kludge?” Journal of Cognition and Culture. 6.1&2 (2006): 181-189.









  1. Levitz and Belkin 2013, web.
  2. Grafton, and Grossman 2013, web.
  3. Grafton, and Grossman 2013, web.
  4. Alvarez 2012, web.
  5. Mele 2001, 3.
  6. See Haidt 2001 and Haidt 2012.
  7. Nietzsche 1998, 9.
  8. Dennett 2007, 3-4.
  9. Stich 2006, 184.
  10. James 1981, 7.
  11. James 1981, 20.
  12. Haidt 2006, 211.
  13. Haidt 2012, xviii.
  14. Hume 1977, 27.
  15. Hume 1977, 3-4.

Scott Kimbrough

Scott Kimbrourgh is a professor of philosophy and chair of the Division of Humanities at

Jacksonville University. His recent philosophical interests include moral psychology, philosophy of

emotion, and the implications these topics have for the understanding of rationality, moral

reasoning, and ethics. [email protected]