What Is Morality?

For a topic as subjective as morality, people sure have strong beliefs about what's right and wrong. Yet even though morals can vary from person to person and culture to culture, many are universal, as they result from basic human emotions. We may think of moralizing as an intellectual exercise, but more frequently it's an attempt to make sense of our gut instincts.

Recent posts on Ethics and Morality

Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

If You Have a “Big Stick” Speaking Softly Is Natural

By Steven Berglas Ph.D. on February 21, 2017 in Executive Ego
Ever wonder why rabble rousers act as they do? Here's why...
Svend Brinkmann

How to Stand Firm in a Runaway World

By Svend Brinkmann Ph.D. on February 21, 2017 in Stand Firm
Are you buying one self-help book after another without really becoming happy? If so you are likely addicted to personal development and in need of anti-self-help.

What's Ailing Fifty Shades of Grey?

By Stephen Snyder M.D. on February 20, 2017 in SexualityToday
Christian Grey’s dominant tendencies worked as erotica during the Obama years. But many women may soon find egalitarianism and restraint looking better and better.

In Defense of Duty

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on February 19, 2017 in How To Do Life
Duty and responsibility have lost stature to autonomy and creativity--Alas.
'Green Whistle', Steven Depolo, CC 2.0

Whistleblowing, Civil Disobedience, and Democracy

Was it okay for government officials to blow the whistle on National Security Advisor Michael Flynn? This blog looks at three key concepts.

Why Not Circumcise Your Boy? Risk for Autism

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on February 19, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
New research raises new questions.

52 Ways to Show I Love You: No Stealing

By Roni Beth Tower Ph.D., ABPP on February 19, 2017 in Life, Refracted
Taking over a loved one's time, attention, property, space or decisions without explicit permission from him or her is stealing. Boundary violations can threaten a relationship.
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The Behavioral Side of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance

The tendency to engage in "mental accounting" can help government to target assistance where it is intended.

Self-Deification!

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on February 17, 2017 in Ambigamy
Self-deification is all the rage these days! Climb on the bandwagon! There's room for you and you don't need to know anything to do it!

Panpsychism and the Vale of Arve

By David Dillard-Wright Ph.D. on February 17, 2017 in Boundless
Panpsychism upends traditional assumptions in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and ethics. The human person and the human mind are communal all the way down.

The President and the Vice of Pride

By Michael W. Austin Ph.D. on February 17, 2017 in Ethics for Everyone
A medieval monk assesses the president.
Lori Russell-Chapin

How Do We Learn to Appreciate Each Other's Differences?

By Lori Russell-Chapin Ph.D. on February 16, 2017 in Brain Waves
Appreciating rather than tolerating diversity makes life richer and more effective.

System Justification: Why People Buy Into Social Inequality

By Gordon Hodson Ph.D. on February 16, 2017 in Without Prejudice
We do not always act in the best interests of our self or our groups.

The Abuse of Language by Groups Seeking Social Change

By Hank Davis on February 16, 2017 in Caveman Logic
You're driving me crazy with your over-the-top language

Why Is Immorality "Disgusting"?

By Tom Kupfer on February 16, 2017 in Repulsed
Disgust may not be just a feeling, but also a social signal.
Teddy Hugo Walker/Nuzzle

Finding Empathy and Ethics When the Odds Feel Overwhelming

How an hour spent with a dog can align us with our values.

Christian Ethics and Refugees

By Michael W. Austin Ph.D. on February 15, 2017 in Ethics for Everyone
To simply dismiss all of the world’s refugees because of some misguided ideas about heaven, or the false gods of safety or Christian nationalism, is simply unacceptable.

It’s on: Science & Religion Throw Down; Part 2

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on February 15, 2017 in Excellent Beauty
A prominent argument that evolution cannot explain why humans are religious is examined and found wanting.

What Do We Do When Our Reasons Seem Weak?

By Gregory R. Maio Ph.D. on February 15, 2017 in Attitude Check
Why is the gap between political viewpoints growing larger? Mechanisms for reducing attitude uncertainty may be part of the answer.

Fake News & "Alternative Facts": The Decline of Rationality

By Ray Williams on February 14, 2017 in Wired for Success
We are inundated with waves of anti-expert, and anti-science information, where opinions in the form of “alternative facts” and fake news are being promoted as the truth.

What Adults Did to Me at Birth: A Baby’s Point of View

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on February 12, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
You civilized people don't know what you are doing to babies. Here's my story.
'Reality & Realities,' Face Thinking, CC 2.0

Plato’s Prognosis of “Alternative Facts”

The idea of a fact is one upon which virtually every aspect of human existence depends.

The Social Psychology of Democracy

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on February 11, 2017 in Rabble Rouser
Why and how do democracies fail and become autocracies? What are the social and psychological phenomena leading people to lose faith in democracy and support tyrannies?

Mindfulness and Activism

By David Dillard-Wright Ph.D. on February 11, 2017 in Boundless
The connection between mindfulness and activism.
Gage Skidmore

The Science of Solving Alternative Facts

By Gleb Tsipursky Ph.D. on February 10, 2017 in Intentional Insights
Worried about the dominance of "alternative facts" in politics? This article has some tips for solving this problem!

Valentine’s Day Alarm: Violence Against Women by Budget Cuts

By Paula J. Caplan Ph.D. on February 10, 2017 in Science Isn't Golden
The elimination of funding for the Violence Against Women Act must be prevented.

A Simple Solution to the Bed Shortage? Unfortunately, Jail.

By Dinah Miller M.D. on February 10, 2017 in Committed
A new solution to a shortage of psychiatric beds: Send the patients directly to jail. (No criminal behavior needed.)

Everything You Need to Know About Conflicts of Interest

Are there conflicts of interest in science and medicine that don't involve money? Emotional conflicts of interest are less often considered but just as influential.

Nudges: Social Engineering or Sensible Policy?

Nudges are a powerful policy tool, but effectiveness and ethics don’t always go hand in hand.
Leszek Glasner/Shutterstock

In Praise of Healthy Revenge

By Jeanne Safer Ph.D. on February 08, 2017 in The Last Taboos
Getting even can be good for you.