The Moral of the Story: The Heart Broke In

If you are selected to be exposed, you will receive a call from the Moral Foundation and be assigned a revelation date. If you can provide some juicy gossip about a friend or family member, you will receive 20 years immunity from the website’s moral and public condemnation. The tagline on the back of the book reads, “Would you betray someone you love to give them [The Moral Foundation] what they want?” Read more about The Moral of the Story: The Heart Broke In

Do Infants Have a Sense of Fairness?

How early in our development do we start to develop an understanding of how people should behave towards each other? Do even infants have such an understanding? One such behavioural norm is to act fairly to people. Do infants have an understanding of what is fair and what is not fair, and an expectation that people will behave fairly? Read more about Do Infants Have a Sense of Fairness?

Moral of the Story: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Since the movie has just been released, I am sure others like me have dug up their high school copy, brushed it off, and delved right back in. F. Scott’s masterpiece is quite a tragic story about the futility of hope and the superficiality of materialism: beautifully grim. The characters are selfish, cruel, and difficult to like, but the symbolism (the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, the green light across the lake) and the social commentary are what bring this story to life. Read more about Moral of the Story: The Great Gatsby

DSM Birds

The other day I wrote a post on my personal blog about "operationalisation". The post ends rather abruptly, because I was writing it in a gap between participants arriving at the lab for data collection, and suddenly they showed up and I had to relinquish the computer. Read more about DSM Birds

Does every wrongdoing harm someone?

Indelible Victims (DeScioli, Gilbert, & Kurzban, 2012)

This week, we discussed an article that posed the question: Are actions morally wrong if those actions have no victim?

The authors argue that perhaps a moral dyad (an agent and a patient/an actor and a victim) is necessary for understanding morality. If there are no patients or victims, then there is no wrongdoing. This is known as a victim requirement (Gray, Young, & Waytz, 2012). Further, victim completion is when we perceive a victim of a moral offense even when the victim is absent or unclear. Read more about Does every wrongdoing harm someone?

Paying it Forward

Taken together, these findings suggest that people do pay forward behaviour in anonymous interactions, and that generosity is paid forward less than both greed and equality. Although we may like to think that being generous to someone else will subsequently increase their prosocial behaviour towards others, these findings sadly suggest that generosity does not automatically create a ripple effect of goodwill. As the article concludes, “to create chains of positive behaviour, people should focus less on performing random acts of generosity and more on treating others equally – while refraining from random acts of greed.” Read more about Paying it Forward

Moral of the Story: Morality in Literature - Gone Girl

This novel had me asking the question: Do the immoral believe that listening to your conscience or adhering to a sense of morality are signs of weakness? Amy accuses women who don’t retaliate when injured as “…spineless women confusing their weakness for morality”. So, when we commit an immoral act in vengeance, do we celebrate the fact that we have overcome some kind of weakness? Do we lament the lost opportunity when we decide to do the morally right thing? Read more about Moral of the Story: Morality in Literature - Gone Girl

Do people practice what they preach? What about what they teach?

By Elise Margetts

This week in the MMPL journal discussion group we talked about ethicists' ethics. Schwitzgebel and Rust (2013) conducted a series of studies to investigate whether philosophy professors who specialise in ethics behave morally better than other professors, or whether they at least behave more consistently with their expressed values. They surveyed 198 ethicists, 208 non-ethicist philosophers and 167 non-philosophy professors from five US universities. It was predicted that, because ethicists spend more time engaging in philosophical moral reflection, they would behave more ethically, and show greater attitude-behaviour consistency. Read more about Do people practice what they preach? What about what they teach?

Morality and Obesity

In The Monthly, I read an article about obesity from a doctor's point of view. One line in particular caught my attention:

"Today when we look at those who are thin, part of what we see is a triumph of will over gluttony, so the beauty is a moral beauty; it has little to do with health."
Mel Campbell, author of upcoming book Out of Shape, responded to this article, saying Read more about Morality and Obesity

Satisfaction and Revenge for Victims

By Ain Simpson

Is it enough to simply see the wrongdoer suffer roughly to an equal degree? Or does real satisfaction come only when perpetrators suffer as a result of their past transgressions? Imagine, for example, three housemates, Fred, Bill, and Jane. Suppose that Fred selfishly ate a cake that Bill had baked for an upcoming party. Now further suppose that, on a later date, Fred had baked a cake of his own, but opened the fridge to find it eaten. Under what circumstance would Bill feel most satisfied: If Jane had selfishly eaten Fred’s cake, unaware of Fred’s earlier transgression against Bill; or if Bill had eaten Fred’s cake as a form of revenge, making sure Fred knew exactly why his cake had been eaten? In a nutshell, is it enough to see your wrongdoer suffer, or do we need to know that the wrongdoer knows he or she is suffering because of a previous transgression? Read more about Satisfaction and Revenge for Victims