Why Moral People Tolerate Immoral Behavior - Liane Young


Video from Big Think


"The problem with having a compass as the symbolic representation of morality is that due north is not a fixed point. Liane Young, Boston College associate professor and director of the Morality Lab, explains how context, bias, and tribal affiliation influence us enormously when we pass moral judgments. Moral instinct is tainted by cognitive bias. Humans evolved to be more lenient to their in-groups—for example excusing a beloved politician who lines their pockets while lambasting a colleague for the exact same transgression—and to care more about harm done close to them than harm done farther away, for example, to people in another country. The challenge for humans in a globalized and polarized world is to become aware of our moral biases and learn to apply morality more objectively. How can we be more rational and less hypocritical about our morals? "I think that clarifying the value that you are consulting for a particular problem is really critical," says Young. --- LIANE YOUNG: Liane Young is an associate professor of psychology at Boston College, where she is the director of the Morality Lab, which specializes in moral psychology. Dr. Young’s current research focuses on the role of theory of mind and emotions in moral judgment and moral behavior. To explore these topics, she uses the methods of social psychology and cognitive neuroscience, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and examination of patient populations with specific cognitive deficits. Dr. Young’s insight and findings have appeared in The New York Times, National Public Radio, MSNBC, U.S. News & World Report, CNN, ABC News, and CBS." from video introduction

This video was produced in partnership with John Templeton Foundation.


Right now morality is in the news and on our minds. We think we have a specific view on morality in general and ours in particular. yet it is not so simple. Watch this video from Big Think to get a better understanding.


"Some historians have written of the importance of presidential values and virtues. FDR biographer James MacGregor Burns maintains that “hierarchies of values . . . undergird the dynamics of [presidential] leadership,” and “considerations of purpose or value . . .lie beyond calculations of personal advancement.” Focusing on Presidents Lincoln, the two Roosevelts, and Lyndon Johnson, Doris Kearns Goodwin writes that the four presidents were “at their formidable best, when guided by a sense of moral purpose, they were able to channel their ambitions and summon their talents to enlarge the opportunities and lives of others.” Ronald Feinman has stated that “the most significant factor” in rating presidents’ greatness “is when they demonstrate moral courage on major issues that affect the long term future.” But he, as well as presidential historians Robert Dallek and Michael Beschloss, have commented on Trump’s lack of positive values and unfitness for office."

From the article "Here's the startling truth about Donald Trump’s profound moral abnormality" from History News Network

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