"Living a fully ethical life involves doing the most good we can." - Peter Singer
"Common sense is not so common." - Voltaire
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

Monday, March 14, 2016

What’s the Point of Moral Outrage?

By Jillian Jordan, Paul Bloom, Moshe Hoffman and David Rand
The New York Times - Sunday Review
Originally published February 26, 2016

Human beings have an appetite for moral outrage. You see this in public life — in the condemnation of Donald J. Trump for vowing to bar Muslims from the United States, or of Hillary Clinton for her close involvement with Wall Street, to pick two ready examples — and you see this in personal life, where we criticize friends, colleagues and neighbors who behave badly.

Why do we get so mad, even when the offense in question does not concern us directly? The answer seems obvious: We denounce wrongdoers because we value fairness and justice, because we want the world to be a better place. Our indignation appears selfless in nature.

And it often is — at least on a conscious level. But in a paper published Thursday in the journal Nature, we present evidence that the roots of this outrage are, in part, self-serving. We suggest that expressing moral outrage can serve as a form of personal advertisement: People who invest time and effort in condemning those who behave badly are trusted more.

The article is here.
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