Or at least, that was my theory before my wife shared some of her psychology reading.
Robert Hare studies psychopaths. His study of pscychopathy (can anyone pronounce that? I'm going with a homeopathy-style syllable-accented short-o) is rather extensive, and he notes a number of things that I hadn't previously known about psychopaths. While most folks who look into psychopathy know that psychopaths have very little/no conscience, there appears to be an additional piece of information that most of us didn't know. Apparently psychopaths also don't feel (much) fear.
If one takes and applies the modular-brain theory, and Occam's razor...one might be inclined, as I am, to believe that the lack of ability to feel fear causes a lack of conscience. Following the train of thought...
Conscience is created through fear. Particularly fear of social disapproval.
To remind folks of some other ethical theories...Dr. Haidt's 5 moral dimensions are:
- authority (obedience)
- Trader ethics
- Protector ethics
I thus conclude that ethics are inculcated in kids rather young, mostly by means of fear (some disgust), in order to permit proper functioning in society. And thus all our moral intuitions are suspect, and I should pursue instead a rationalist approach to both meta-ethics and ethics, even though rationalist approaches fail a lot more than traditionalist approaches, as per my "how-to-know" post. David Schmidtz gives the rationalist meta-ethics a solid foundation. And I am uncertain as to how much farther one can productively go ethically in general. What kind of social environment does one face is probably the next question.