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Friday, November 23, 2018

The Moral Law Within: The Scientific Case For Self-Governance

Carsten Tams
Originally posted September 26, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

The behavioral ethics literature, and its reception in the ethics and compliance field, is following a similar trend. Behavioral ethics is often defined as the discipline that helps to explain why good people do bad things. It frequently focuses on how various biases, cognitive heuristics, blind spots, ethical fading, bounded ethicality, or rationalizations compromise people’s ethical intentions.

To avoid misunderstandings, I am a fan and avid consumer of behavioral science literature. Understanding unethical biases is fascinating and raising awareness about them is useful. But it is only half the story. There is more to behavioral science than biases and fallacies. A lopsided focus on biases may lead us to view people’s morality as hopelessly flawed. Standing amidst a forest crowded by biases and fallacies, we may forget that people often judge and act morally.

Such an anthropological bias has programmatic consequences. If we frame organizational ethics simply as a problem of people’s ethical biases, we will focus on keeping these negative biases in check. This framing, however, does not provide a rationale for supporting people’s capacity for self-governed ethical behavior. For such a rationale, we would need evidence that such a capacity exists. The human capacity for morality has been a subject of rigorous inquiry across diverse behavioral disciplines. In the following, this article will highlight a selection of major contributions to this inquiry.

The info is here.