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Monday, May 1, 2017

Are Moral Judgments Good or Bad Things?

Robb Willer & Brent Simpson
Scientific American
Originally published April 10, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

Beyond the harms, there is also hypocrisy. It is not uncommon to discover that those who make moral judgments—public evaluations of the rightness or wrongness of others’ behavior—do not themselves conform to the moral norms they eagerly enforce. Think, for instance, of politicians or religious leaders who oppose gay rights but are later discovered soliciting sex from other men. These examples and others seem to make it clear: moral judgments are antisocial, a bug in the code of society.

But recent research challenges this view, suggesting that moral judgments are a critical part of the social fabric, a force that encourages people to consider the welfare of others. Our work, and that of others, implies that—while sometimes disadvantageous—moral judgments have important, positive effects for individuals and the groups they inhabit.


To summarize, we find that moral judgments of unethical behavior are generally viewed as a legitimate means for maintaining group-beneficial norms of conduct. Those who use them are generally seen as moral and trustworthy, and individuals typically act more morally after communicating judgments of others.

The article is here.