Intuitions of Punishment
Recent work reveals, contrary to widespread assumptions, remarkably high levels of agreement about how to rank order, by blameworthiness, three kinds of wrongs: (1) physical harms; (2) takings of property; and (3) deception in exchanges. We refer to these collectively as the “core” wrongs.
In The Origins of Shared Intuitions of Justice we built off of prior work3 to propose explanations for the high levels of agreement. We raised two possibilities: (1) such agreement traces to general (not particular) social learning mechanisms; and (2) it traces to effects of evolutionary processes on species-typical brains, which predispose humans to develop intuitions about core wrongs. We concluded that, although present evidence does not exclude the former explanation, the latter is more likely.
In their article published elsewhere in this issue, Professors Donald Braman, Dan Kahan, and David Hoffman (“BKH”) critique an assemblage of articles by ourselves and others (to much of which we respond separately). Their critique includes a vehement disagreement with our preferred hypothesis, to which we respond here.