How We Make Moral Decisions

Imagine you are hiding from enemy soldiers in a basement, with several other people — friends, family, neighbours. You can hear the soldiers walking overhead, and any sound will alert them to your presence, leading to everyone’s death. In your arms is your infant child, who is about to cry. Do you hold your hand over his mouth, smothering him but saving everyone you are with, or do you let him cry, knowing that doing so will result in the death of not only the baby, but everyone in the basement?

Dilemmas like this, beloved of philosophers and psychologists who work on moral decision-making, may be far-fetched, but they illustrate important discrepancies between our immediate reactions and logical reasoning that we often find difficult, if not impossible, to resolve. While ethics has a long history in philosophy, recent research in psychology has brought a new perspective to issues of moral behaviour and decision-making.

One of the most intriguing models of moral judgments, the Social Intuitionist Model (SIM) proposed by Jonathan Haidt, has its roots in the philosophy of Hume. Hume observed that moral judgments were not derived from reason, but from moral sentiments. In a similar line, SIM proposes that —> Read More Here

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