Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Commenter TomG links to an excellent article on recent research into hypocrisy. Excellent article by John Tierney, with some uncomfortable truths. A more extended quote:
The more interesting question is how presidential candidates, and their supporters, turn into hypocrites. It has been demonstrated repeatedly in experiments that humans are remarkably sensitive to unfairness. We’ve survived as social animals because we are so good at spotting selfishness and punishing antisocial behavior.

So how we do violate our own moral code? Does our gut instinct for self-preservation override our moral reasoning? Do we use our powers of rationality to override our moral instinct?

“The question here,” Dr. DeSteno said, “is whether we’re designed at heart to be fair or selfish.”


Anonymous said...

Gets to the heart of at least two of three fundamental questions of philosophical inquiry - "what is Man", and "how ought Man to live" (the other being "what is Being", and discussions of morality and ethics swiftly venture that domain too). It's possible that selfishness and justice (the impetus for empathy and sensitivity toward fairness) are equally essential to defining a properly balanced human being - that it's all a question of the appropriate balance between these urges (the extremes manifesting as egomaniacal and spineless doormat - both equally out of kilter).
Cheers, Tom

jlbussey said...

Good comment, Tom, I think you have something in the "balance of opposing forces" idea.