Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Heinz Dilemma Might Reveal That Morality Is Meaningless

By Esther Inglis-Arkell
Originally published April 29, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

But if this finding is true, it seems there are bigger problems with morality. What this experiment seems to say is people can take the same situation, and argue the same principles - social roles, the importance of interpersonal relationships, the likelihood of punishment, and pure humanitarian principles - and come to exactly opposite moral conclusions. And they do this for their whole lives. Sure, it's interesting to see that principles evolve over time, but it's more interesting to see that principles - at least the ones confined solely to the human mind - are irrelevant. There is no method or guiding idea that could possibly allow any group of humanity to come to a consensus. Morality, then, is basically chaos. We can start from the same place, and follow the same principles, and end at diametrically opposite ends of a problem, and there's no way to resolve that.

The entire blog post is here.

Editor's note:

I posted this piece to demonstrate that many struggle to understand morality.  First, moral psychology has moved well past Kohlberg.  Psychologists, especially those who study moral psychology, understand the theoretical and research limitations of Kohlberg.  Please listen to podcast Episode 7 to get a flavor of this.

Second, to believe "morality, then, is basically chaos" is also uninformed.  In moral decision-making, individuals can use different principles to generate different conclusions.  This does not indicate that morality is in chaos, rather, it demonstrates how people use different moral systems to judge and respond to moral dilemmas.

Third, a true moral dilemma involves competing principles.  If it is truly a moral dilemma, then there is no "correct" or "right" answer.  A true dilemma shows how an individual is in a moral or ethical bind and there are cognitive and emotional strategies to generate solutions to sometimes impossible problems. Podcasts 5 and 6 demonstrate how psychologists can knit together possible solutions to ethical dilemmas because, in part, they bring their own moral systems, values, and biases to their work.

The podcasts can be found here.