The Game of Wrong, and Moral Psychology

John Holbo, Compiler, Mar 28, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Some interesting post-MOOC reflections on learning and moral psychology from Crooked Timber, another example I think of how a MOOC well done results in the creation of new knowledge, as opposed to the mere transmission of the old (this may not be so much true for the students of a Coursera course as it is for the instructor). Anyhow, the reflections cause in me some thoughts about the apparent contradition between two principles I have long held, the first of which is a form of utilitarianism, and the second of which is a version of Kant's principle that each person is inherently valuable. Silly problems like the Trolley Problem are designed not merely to test these principles but to drive a wedge between them. But in fact, the two principles are different aspects of the same principle of ethics, to my mind.

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