Thursday, April 15, 2021

 509. Process philosophy

 I have long been interested in processes of change, in theories of innovation and later also in other areas. I have just published the book ‘Process philosophy; A synthesis’, that brings together ideas on change of many philosophers, among others Hegel, Kierkegaard, Bergson, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Deleuze and Derrida. The book aims to give a coherent synthesis of ideas about change and aims to see how one can take a process view of various features of humanity, such as knowledge, relations between people, language and morality, and how, vice versa, that might contribute to process philosophy. Beginning with evolution and moving on to consider knowledge in its dynamic aspect of learning, the book takes a process view of the individual and society.

 Generalised Darwinism is discussed not only in terms of biology but also in economics, organisation, language and science in terms of interactors and replicators. The key processes of variety generation, selection and transmission are fundamentally different from those in biology. Therefore, a theory of knowledge and its change is presented that in some ways is similar to evolution but also different in important ways. This theory discusses neural Darwinism. It proposes how discovery might work, in a cycle of discovery, in an interchange of stability and change, and how differences in cognition work in the combination of different sources (cognitive distance). This theory is applied to knowledge, organisations and science. The discussion explains and applies the notions of entropy and organisational focus.

 Recognising that absolute, objective truth is problematic, the book discusses the notion of warranted assertion. The notions of sense and reference are discussed in an explanation of meaning, and the notions of order and variety in terms of langue and parole, and the role of parole in poetry. The change of meaning is further developed in terms of the hermeneutic circle to deal with order and change of meaning. It uses the notion of a script and the hypothesis of an object bias, in which we conceptualise reality in terms of objects sitting or moving in time and space, which does not fit abstractions, such as meaning. identity, life, being.

 Ethics and morality are explored by how the individual constructs its identity and develops in the tension between authenticity and conformity in society. Aristotle’s multiple causality of action is employed to discuss power and sources of dependence and ways to deal with them. Networks as a source of identity and the decentralisation of governance to communities are discussed along with the notion of restorative justice.

 The concluding chapter considers the historical development and the different forms of ethics and morality, in relation to institutions, and how in evolution an instinct for benevolence has developed and is related to the intrinsic next to extrinsic value of relationships.

 Aristotelian virtue ethics sees the good life, eudaimonia, as a whole, not an accumulation of incidents, as a process in which one develops, implements and adapts virtue, i.e. more or less stable character traits, i.e. inclinations, in ‘practical wisdom’, phronesis. Kierkegaard and Heidegger also saw life as a process. Heidegger turned away from the Cartesian view of the subject as a pre-formed subject outsider looking from outside at the world, to a process view of the person developing in the world, as a participant.



Friday, April 9, 2021

 508. Thymos

The notion of ‘thymos’ goes back to the classical Greeks: Homer, Aristotle and Plato. Its root meaning is ‘fume’ or ‘vapour’ (Cairns 2019). When one is in thymos, one is in one’s vapours. For Aristoteles it is mostly anger, for Plato it was a pivot between logic and desire. It is the urge, volition, the emotion-laden drive to action. The ‘guts’ to act, one might say. Logic, rationality, becomes active through thymos. The metaphor has been used of a visceral body carrying a head of reason (Mirhady 2007: 55).

Thymos can be positive, in love, commitment, care, pity, endeavour, adventure. I used it as a characteristic of entrepreneurship. I associate it with Nietzsche’s Dionysian excitement, ebullience, transgression, high spirit, and will to power, next to Apollonian harmony and balance. It can feed virtue. It can drive environmentalists, feminists and freedom fighters. It can also be negative, in hatred, resistance, aggression, rage, seething resentment. Geranesh (2020) talks of the ‘white thymos’. of Trump’s followers, in their resentment of losing white privilige and supremacy. Loss of privilege is felt and sold as inquality, offense. Hostility is dressed up as love, love for traditional America and Christian values, defending them against immigrants and liberals, in eruptions fed by the hotbeds and nuclear fusion of social media.

I connect thymos also to David Hume’s dictum that ‘rationality is the slave of the passions’, and his claim that benevolence is natural, automatic, instinctive, not based on reason. This connects with evolutionary epistemology and sociology, which claims that empathy emerged from the evolution of humanity in its history of hunter-gatherers, from some 300-400.000 years ago, where collaboration was required for hunting big game and for defense, which demanded the ability to imagine oneself in the perspective of the other, in empathy.(Tomasello 2016, Campbell 1974). Being buried deeply in our make-up, it is instinctive and non-rational, automatic, triggered by emotion.

Much of our choice and decision making is based on routines, automatic behaviour that we have developed to free attention to more urgent and new conditions, as in having a coversation while driving a car. In that sense, lack of rational attention is rational. Not to get caught in constraining routines where they fail, as when in driving an accident is about to occur, thymos is needed to catapult us out of them, to pay attention to new conditions and reflect on appropriate action. Thymos, in the form of fear, or lure, desire, or opportunity,  sets the agenda and purpose for reasoned deliberation.

Rules and institutions appeal to utility or deontology, duty, in rational evaluation, where one falls into the hands of self-interest, in free-riding or deceit. Emotion-laden instinct overrules that for costly solidarity and benevolence that rational self-interest would refuse. However, it can overshoot in fanaticism, fundamentalism, exclusion, as in white thymos, or religious or ethnic zeal.

---------------------------------------

 Cairns, D. (2019), ‘Thymos’, The Oxford Classical Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press, https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.6180.

Tomasello, Michael (2016), A natural history of human morality, Cambride MA: Harvard University Press. 

Campbell, D. T. (1974), ‘Evolutionary epistemology’, in P. A. Schilpp (ed.), The philosophy of Karl R. Popper, Lasalle, IL: Open Court, 412– 63.

Geranesh, B.(2020), ‘Weaponising white thymos: Flows of rage in online audiences of the alt-right’, Cultural Studies, 892-924.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

 507. Meanings of authenticity

 Authenticity is ‘being true’ to something. In personal authenticity, one is ‘true to oneself’, not passively following rules and institutions, but making choices, commitments, in developing one’s life, breaking rules if necessary. Being true to oneself may suggest that the self is given, originary, but it is a process of development. Being is not a noun but a verb: work. This is the existentialism of Kierkegaard, later taken up by Heidegger and Sartre.

 There is also a connotation of ‘originality’, being true to some origin in the past, some tradition, such as black jazz music, or folk songs, or a myth, a dance, a type of art, a way of making instruments, conduct of a craft. It can be truth of origen in the form of a place, such as Champagne, or Bordeau wine. It can be truth to an origen in the present, yourself, equivalent to creativity. That is connected to personal authenticity, in a unique life, activity or appearance.

 In tourism there is an issue of the authenticity of objects of art or craft, or events such as dances, presented to tourists. There are degrees of authenticity, and what is sought depends on the tourist. Cohen (1988: 377) made a distinction between ‘diversionary’ tourists, seeking diversion from ordinary life, vs, ‘experiential’ tourists seeking experience that diverges from their industrial or materialist societies. They seek less developed countries to be inspirational. Often., authenticity is ‘staged’ for the benefit and pleasure of the tourist, deviating from its origin.

 To analyse this further, I use the multiple causality of Aristotle that in this blog I have used before. First the efficient cause of who acts. These can be autochtonic people or people coming in for the opportunity. Then there is the goal of the activity, or final cause. That can be to express and preserve a cultural practice or to make pecuniary profit from marketing it, in what is called 'commoditisation'. Deviation from the origen can lie in the material cause of the stuff the product or costumes are made of, such as plastic instead of wood or natural wool, or in the formal cause of how the product or activity is made, such as abbreviating it or translating it, or other ways of making it easier to absorb or understand. The exemplary cause, which is imitated, serves as a model, usually is the original, fully authentic thing.

 Such deviations are not necessarily bad. They may still be sufficiently authentic in the experience of the diversionary tourist. They may help to preserve at least part of traditional culture.

 Can such relativation also apply to incompletely authentic personality? One can compromise on rules and institutions by deviating from them only occasionally or in part, opportunistically, when deviation is not too costly. That is what people in fact do, some more uncompromisingly than others. One cannot fully escape institutions and still be a participant in society.

 Authenticity can be ‘emergent’: what was artificial at first becomes authentic. Authentification takes place by certification ‘in the hands of merchants, critics, and collectors’ (Peterson 2005: 1090). For an example, Cohen (1973:380) mentions the Disney World theme parks, which were first seen as highly artificial, but have come to be seen as a genuine part of American culture.

 Cohen, E. (1988), ‘Authenticity and commodification is tourism’, Annals of Tourism Research 15: 371-86.

 Peterson. R. (2005), ‘In search of authenticity’, Journal of Management Studies, 42/5: 1083-94.

 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

 506. Virtue, ethics and Kierkegaard

 Aristotelian virtue ethics calls for virtues as character traits, more or less durable dispositions to virtuous action, to build Eudaimonia, the good life, a flourishing life, taken not as an accumulation of incidental pleasures but as a path of development of personality, of becoming who one wants to be. Here I want to point out a similarity to the ethics of Kierkegaard, who treated ethics as a stage of life transcending what he called the stage of aesthetics, of pleasures of the body, in ongoing, never ending consumption, a craze of wanting ever more resources of money, status, power, reputation, renown, which strand in boredom and a sense of meaninglessness (Keij 2015).

 Negative freedom is absence of interference in one’s employment of resources, of talent and economic, social, and symbolic capital. Libertarians want activities to be left to an unrestrained market, without limitations of government interference. In earlier writings, I took positive freedom as access to resources needed to live, such a guide dog or brail writing for a blind person, or a wheelchair for a lame.person, and for others education, schooling, health care, public transport, suffrage, police protection, legal protection, and so on. Keij (2015) opened my eyes to a deeper meaning of positive freedom, professed by Kierkegaard, in using freedom of the spirit to make choices and decisions to give direction to one’s life independently, against public rules of morality, if needed. I think this view of life not as pleasure but as development is equivalent to Aristotle’s Eudaimonia.

 Keij compared the stance of Kierkegaard with that of Sartre, with his concept of ‘bad faith’, in going along with the stream as a rolling stone, and not exercising positive freedom.

 A criticism of Aristotelian eudaimonia is that it seems to be oriented exclusively at the self, and in neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics it is extended with orientation towards others. Kierkegaard’s ethics is oriented clearly at the benefit of others, and in this comes close to Kant’s injunction never to use others only instrumentally but also as a goal in themselves.

 Kierkegaard’s idea of an ongoing transformation of oneself, in making and revising choices and decisions, is reminiscent of Aristotle’s ‘phronesis’, practical wisdom, in enacting and adapting, deepening virtues as a function of the circumstances one meets on the path of life.

 Kierkegaard is seen as the father of existentialism, returning and developing in the philosophies of Heidegger and, as mentioned, Sartre. One is not an outside spectator of a film, but playing in it. in the similarity with Aristotelian eudaimonia, perhaps Aristotle can be seen as a forefather of existentialism.

With Kierkegaard, I still have a puzzle concerning his treatment of time, in particular the notion of the moment, the present, as a cut in the flow of duration, where you have the freedom to make a choice, take a decision, make a commitment, for giving direction to your life. In a book of mine about process philosophy that will appear in April 2021, I make the following of it: the moment is the derivative, the differential, of duration. With an object moving in time and space, the derivative is its speed. When that is zero, there is stagnation. Here, there is no choice, no ‘elan vital’, as Bergson called it: one lets oneself be dragged along.passively.

Jan Keij, 2015, Kierkegaard seen differently (in Dutch), Zoetermeer: Klement

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

 505. Foucault and Chomsky

 Recently, I viewed a debate on human nature between Foucault and Chomsky, on YouTube, recorded on 1-10-2002. It was presented as a disagreement, but I think the two views can be reconciled.to some extent. Foucault and Chomsky agree that thought requires some regulating mental structure, but while Chomsky ascribes this to some innate, internal, universal brain structure, which by induction creates rich knowledge from the sparse ‘data’of experience, Foucault ascribes it to external social and institutional structures While Chomsky granted that those do have influence, but the individual mind can wrest loose from their influence, and engage in civil disobedience to fight for improved human rights, Foucault claimed that in our thinking we cannot fully escape our culture and its institutions. If we manage to escape from some ideology, we are inevitably caught up in some other ideology, from the experience with some other slice of society and history.

 They can both be right, up to a point. In evolution we have developed a now innate potentiality of language and thought that enables us to construct theory from experience. It both enables and constrains our thought.I disagree with Chomsky that we can always escape from outside influence, but I do think, against Foucault, that we are not totally imprisoned in externally imposed structures of ideology. With Foucault, the authentic, autonomous individual is out of reach. We can however, I believe, escape from a dominant culture to some extent, but not from all of it. There are rebels.

 Innate structures of language and thought not only enable but also constrain thought. This limits our mental scope. For example, I have, also in this blog, proposed the hypothesis of an ‘object bias’: I claim that our linguistic and conceptual aptitudes arise from an evolution from almost 400.000 years as hunter-gatherers, where an ability to categorise things in terms of objects moving in time and place, retaining their identity in it,.was crucial for survival. That was needed to adequately assess the path of beasts preying on us, seeking a prey ourselves, of finding a lost child, a hut or cave to live in, a lost child, and to trace the trajectory of an arrow. Thankfully, survival of the group required collaboration for hunting and defense, which also created an instinct of benevolence and empathy. Subsequently, we conceptualised abstract concepts in analogy to objects moving in time and space (Lakoff and Johnson 1980). But that thinking does not apply to abstract things that are now crucial for the survival of society, such as notions of happiness, truth, democracy, meaning, justice. Those are not entities so much as processes (Nooteboom 2021). When a word is transferred from one sentence and action context to another, its meaning changes, as if when moving a chair from one room to another, it changes colour and drops a leg.

 Alternatively to seeing things as given objects moving in time in place, we can instead try to see persons and institutions as being constituted in interaction with the world and other people, in continually changing network relationships. The relations count more than the objects. This confirms Foucault’s view that our thinking is contingent upon social and political structures, without which we cannot constitute our identity.

 Ij the terms of Aristotle’s multiple causality of action, the agent (‘efficient cause’) lives with the goal (‘final cause’) of a good life, and according to Chomsky ecperience, effects of the world, called ‘facts’ by Chomsky, are the stuff the mind works with (‘material cause’), and how thought is developed (‘formal cause’) is the innate capability of thought, while for Foucault outside effects of institutions, are not just the material but also the formal cause of how thought is created.

 Lakoff , G. and M. Johnson (1980), Metaphors We Live By, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

 Bart Nooteboom, forthcoming 2021, Process philosophy, a synthesis, Cambridge UK: Anthem Press

Sunday, February 28, 2021

 

504. Virtue and causality

 Virtue ethics goes back to the ancient Greek philosophers, in particular Aristotle, was neglected for a time in favour of the alternative ethics of utilitarianism, going back to Bentham, and the ‘deontology’ or duty ethics, going back to Kant, but now enjoys a revival  since it can better deal with the intricacies of moral puzzles. It is similar to utilitarianism, in that it also looks at the consequences of actions, though not only in terms of utility, and it is similar to deontology in that it looks at duties, but not only on the basis of rationality but also emotions. Several authors have identified three strands of virtue ethics (VE): van Zyl (2013) and Swanton (2013):

 1.  Eudaimonistic: aimed at the good life, taken not as incidental but across the whole of one’s life. This has been criticised as being too self-oriented. A virtuous action is the action that a virtuous virtuoso would have performed under the circumstances.

2.      2,  Agent-directed: in terms of the agent with her character, defined as durable inclinations, and emotions, feelings, routines, impulse. This has been criticised for failing to give moral evaluation of acts. It looks only at intentions, not at results

3.     3.  Action- directed: evaluating the extent to which an action is virtuous; the extent that the action ‘hits the target’ of the virtue. But intentions do also matter. One can do the right things by accident or for the wrong reasons.

 The question is: why these different strands; can’t they be brought together in a unified account, and how this is to be done My proposal is to do this on the basis of Aristotle’s multiple causality of action, as follows:

 Efficient cause: the agent, with her character, emotions, impulses, routines, drives.

Final cause (with what purpose): the good life, the interests of others, virtuous acts

Formal cause (how): character, feelings etc., and practical wisdom (Aristotle: phronesis)

Material cause (with what means): experience, other people

Conditional cause (circumstances):to be considered by practical wisdom

Exemplary cause (role model): the virtue virtuoso.

 Practical wisdom, going back to Aristotle, is needed to consider the circumstances that impact on judgement of virtue. This operates on the ‘material’ of circumstances met in interaction of the agent with others. What is virtuous in some circumstances may not be so in others. The old notion of ‘cardinal virtues’ includes: reason , courage, temperance and justice. Other vurtues have been added, such as honesty, benevolence, friendliness, even humour. In a given situation it is not always clear what virtues are relevant. The non-virtue virtuoso seldom perfectly hits the target of all relevant virtues, and then good enough is good enough.

 The philosopher David Hume distinguished natural virtue, in the form of benevolence and empathy, as innate in being human, and ‘artificial virtue’, as developed from the need for society to function (Russell, 2013). In modern thought, there is an argument for innate, instinctive virtue from evolution, in the form of benevolence and empathy; in imagining oneself in the position of another, which was needed for collaborative action, in hunting and defense, in the 400.000 years of development of humanity as hunter-gatherers. However, a moral sense of justice may also have become needed for early development of societies, becoming innate. In the enactment of innate virtuous inclinations of benevolence, a sense of fairness and justice may also have become instinctive. Natural virtue has become part of the self, and is is accompanied by emotions. David Hume already said that ‘reason is the slave of the passions’. Yet, practical wisdom requires reason, as Hume recognised, for a judicious evaluation of circumstances. This combination of reason and emotions distinguishes VE from the deontology of Kant.

 A complication that I have not yet seen in the literature on VE is that according to social psychology, much of our decision making is subconscious and involuntary. Moral evaluation of actions then cannot all be traced to deliberate, rational decision making. David Hume did allow for such involuntary action. However, that can mostly be traced to earlier times when the relevant decisions were not yet internalised as routines. Such impulsive action has indeed become part of character, which therefore is to be seen not as a state but a process, along one’s path of life, in which one learns from experience, in developing practical wisdom. The proof of an ethical pudding lies in its eating, in the judgement of actions in various conditions. Here, discussing those would go too far. Perhaps in a later item in this blog.

 Paul Russell (2013), ‘Hume’s anatomy of virtue’, in D.C.Russell (ed.), The Cambridge companion to Virtue Ethics,92-124.

 Christine Swanton (2013), ‘The definition of virtue ethics’, in D.C.Russell (ed.), The Cambridge companion to Virtue Ethics, 315-39.

 Liezl van Zyl (2013),‘Virtue ethics and the right action’, in D.C.Russell (ed.), The Cambridge companion to Virtue Ethics, 172-97.

 

Friday, February 5, 2021

 503 Covid-19 and morality

 In their study of Japan, Qian and Yahara (2020) looked at effects of morality on the experience of Covid-!9, with the following indicators: avoiding harm to others, providing care and protection, fairness, in-group loyalty, respect for authority and purity. Avoiding harm to others was found to have a negative effect in reinforcing stress, anxiety, underestimation of the pandemic and a positive effect on preventive behaviour, material sufficiency, likelihood of infection, concerns regarding family and children, and influence on life. Fairness had a positive effect on depression and a negative effect on material sufficiency, and information sufficiency. In-group loyalty was positive on epidemic consciousness, and negative on concern for family. Respect for authority was negative on preventive behaviour and positive on medical sufficiency.

 On the basis of a sample of 1032 people, Everett et al. (2020) investigated which types of morality in messages about Covid, had more positive effect on protective actions. Those actions were: washing hands, avoiding gatherings, self-isolation, sharing health messages, positive beliefs about others’ intentions, beliefs about personal control and responsibility, cancelling travel plans. They hypothesised and confirmed that messages based on deontology and virtues would have a larger effect than utilitarian messages, counter to what most participants believed. They surmised however that ‘this may be weakened or even reversed if the message comes from a person in authority, who is supposed to act more impartially and make cost/benefit decisions for the greater good’. In other words, they expect people to have a technocratic view of officials. They studied messages from a leader or a citizen, providing either no moral justification or a moral justification (deontological or virtue-based). They measured the effect of morality over non-moral messages, taking into account moral stand. The effect of deontology was larger than that of virtues. They measured moral stand along two dimenions: it is OK to cause instrumental harm (IH) in service of the greater good, vs. impartial concern for the wellbeing of all: ’Impartial Beneficence’ (IB). Across most actions there was a positive effect of IB, not of IH. They found that mistrust in utilitarian (relative to deontological) agents is lower for people with utilitarian views themselves.They admitted that the effects found for the effects of deontology and ethics were ‘modest’, and for virtue-based messages no significant effect.except intentions to share messages and beliefs on the stand of others. The effects of demographics were larger. Older and more religious people had stronger positive intentions, and black people more than whites.They could reject the hypothesis that utilitarian messages would be more effective. Anvari (2020) objected that the effects of morality were not significant. Everett et al. concluded that messages focused on duties and responsibilities toward family, friends and fellow citizens is to be recommended.

 On the basis of 15.000 respondents across 10 South-American nations with dissimilar Covid effects, Navajas et al. (2020), studied the effect of moral preferences on moral decisions. concerning Covid-related actions, and how.this effect was influenced by contextual factors and the five personality types.The moral preferences were oriented at two utilitarian principles:

1.Permissiveness of instrumental harm: harming some people for the good of the whole.

2 Impartial benificence, with more empathetic concern.

 Instrumental harm concerns the question how many people you would sacrifice for the benefit of the whole. There were four indicators for instrumental harm: causing harm, acceptance of temporary political oppression, torture, acceptance of collateral damage and prioritising in the allocation of scarce resources, in this case ventilators. There were three indicators for impartial.benificence: sacrifice a leg tot save someone, give a kidney, orientation to wellbeing of all human beings, no favours, finding it wrong to keep money one does not really need rather than donating it.

 They conducted an analysis of effects of these dimensions of utilitarian morality and other variables on responses to five morally loaded questions: Three questions were on the tension between public health and other values of wellbeing, such as: surrendering sensitive personal data to trace the path of the virus, imposing physical distance by forbidding public gatherings and business operations, and notifying a covid protocol breach of a friend vs. protecting him/her from facing prison. Number four was whether all patients should be treated equally or if younger people should be prioritised, and assignment of ventilators in case of limited supply, whether all patients should be treated.equally or whether young people should be prioritised, and whether animal rights could be suspended to some extent to further the development of a vaccine.

 The responses were condensed by projecting them on two ‘principal components’ (PC’s).These were labeled as follows: 

1.      Concern about human life, correlating with permissiveness concerning instrumental harm

2.      Focus on public health, correlating with impersonal beneficence

The table below indicates which responses loaded positively (+) or highly so (++), and which loaded negatively (-) or highly so (--) on the PC’s

                                                           PC1                 PC2

saving younger patients                     ++                   --

vaccine development                         ++                   --

animal rights                                      --                     ++

data protection                                   --                     -

virus tracing                                       ++                   +

informing protocol breach                 +                     ++

protecting a friend                             -                      --

wanting economic activity                 -                      --

physical distance                                +                     ++

all patients equal                                --                     ++

Effects on these PC’s were studied of: the two moral stands, contextual factors , the five personality traits and demographic variables, with a total of 15 explanatory variables. The contextual factors were: per capita number of deaths, per capita number of confirmed Covid cases and.personal proximity to Covid. The demograhic variables were gender and age.

The two utilitarian stands agreed on prioritising public health over non-health concerns. Impartial beneficence had a negative effect on prioritising ventilator use and on lowering thresholds on animal rights, and instrumental harm had the opposite effect.

Per capita number of deaths, and per capita number of confirmed Covid cases had a positive effect on both principal components of responses.The effect of personal proximity had no effect on the PC’s, indicating that societal impact was considered more important,

In contrast with the rationality of institutional rules, morality is accompanied with emotions When policies and messages go against one’s morals, this can produce negative emotional reactions and polarisation, as we now observe across different countries. Their thesis was that conflicts between public health messages and moral values evoke emotions. Trevors and Duffy (2020) tested their thesis that conflicts between public health messages and moral values evoke emotions. They investigated the self-reported emotional responses of 518 people in the US to public messages with purported refutations of common Covid-19 misconceptions (e.g. that the flu is.just as bad if not worse than Covid). from 12 states The sample was not representative for the whole country, but ‘purposeful’, from communities known to be strongly opposed to social distancing identified in previous research as among the highest to favour immediate return to normal economic activity.

Respondents completed five prior knowledge items, a modified version of the ‘Moral foundations Questionnaire (MFQ)’ and read 5 short messages that refuted misconceptions, and then reported their emotional response, whether the content of the message conflicted with their personal views and/or views of their community, and the extent to which they believed the refutation and skimmed it quickly.

Factor analyses were conducted, , separately on the MFQ and the emotion response items.Three factors were found from the MFQ that elained 39% of variance:

Binding ,with eight items, indicating an ethic of group cohesion and social order

Individualising, with six items, indicating a preference for individuals. In aliberal ideology.

Libertarian, with four items, indicating a preference for autonomous exercise of liberties.

On emotion response, three factors explained 55% of variance:

Anxious, with variables anxious, scared, hopeless, and threatened

Hopeful, with variables hopeful, relieved, hapy, curious, surprised

Doubtful, with variables doubtful, bored, angry, confused.

Concerning the results, there were complicated interactions between the variables, for which I refer to the publication. Salient results were the following: Overall refutations did increase factual knowledge, and this accounted for 60% of post test score variance. Conflict of the messages with beliefs, hopefulness, doubtfulness and skimming had a negative effect on learing, and belief and prior knowledge had a posiive effect. Binding and libertarianism had a negative effect on learning when the corrections conflicted with views, and individualising had a positive effect.

Overall, the study showed that indeed the effectiveness of refutations depends on moral values. Strong moral concerns for individual well-being are more likely to let people undate their Covid beliefs, while ‘morally valued group cohesion or individual freedoms are more likely tot o affectively or cognitiovely reject corrctive informtion’, and ‘Public health actions undermined valued social ties or personal autonomy’.

The conclusion of the authors is that ‘Corrections should be adapted to connect with the morality of recipients, … link to concerns for fairness and suffering for the individualising stand, obeying authority, defending purity, and patriotism for the binding stance, and self-protection for the libertarian stand.

Everett. J,A, C. Colombatto, V. Chituc, W.J. Brady and M.J.Crockett 2020, ‘The effectiveness of moral messages on public health behavioural intentions during the Covid-19 pandemic’, preprint, Dept. of Psychology, UK: University of Kent

  Navajas, J., F.A.Heduan, G. Garbulski, E. Tagliazucchi, D. Ariely and M.Sigman 2020,’Utilitarian reasoning about moral problems of the Covid-19 crisis’, OST preprint, https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/ktv62 .

 Qian, K. and T. Yahara. 2020, ‘Mentality and behaviour in Civid-19, emerging status in

Japan: influence of personality, morality and ideology’, Plos One.17/t e0235883

Trevors, G and M.C. Duffy 2020, ‘Correcting Covid-19 misconceptions requires caution’, https://doi.org/10.3102/003189X20953825