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Psychology of moral behavior 
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Post Psychology of moral behavior
The To what extent is moral behavior situational? thread is focusing on philosophical issues, which is fine. In this thread, let's discuss the psychological issues, which interest me more and which I found most thought-provoking when reading the book.

First, let me clarify what I mean by situational moral behavior. Most people would have different answers to the questions "Is it acceptable to attack someone who's minding their own business?" and "Is it acceptable to attack someone who's trying to kill you?" That's not what I'm talking about here. Instead, consider cases, such as the Stanford Prison Experiment and Abu Ghraib, in which participants did stuff that they would previously have considered immoral, even when told the context.

What does it say about moral behavior when, over the course of a few days, actions like those performed by the SPE guards can emerge?



Sat Nov 17, 2007 2:33 am
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JTA wrote:

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What does it say about moral behavior when, over the course of a few days, actions like those performed by the SPE guards can emerge?


While I no longer ascribe to the "blank slate" paradigm, this book certainly dramatizes the power of our institutions and their resultant situations in eliciting extreme behavior. It would appear that aggression is just beneath the surface of civilized behavior, waiting for anonymity, or permission of authority, or even submersion in a group, to emerge. While I don't find this intuitively obvious, the evidence seems compelling. Is our culture's preoccupation with heroes and villains blinding us to the communal sources and solutions to social ills?



Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:47 pm
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seeker wrote:
..would appear that aggression is just beneath the surface of civilized behavior, waiting for anonymity, or permission of authority, or even submersion in a group, to emerge. While I don't find this intuitively obvious, the evidence seems compelling. Is our culture's preoccupation with heroes and villains blinding us to the communal sources and solutions to social ills?


Man...I find this intuitively obvious!! We are all capable of bad and good. Good wins mostly (and not consistantly throughout our history) because of a system/situation...that is civilization/moral codes we have developed!

Mr. P.


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Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:05 pm
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