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 practically 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

Paying it Forward

Imagine someone does something nice for you. You then see someone else that needs help. Are you more likely to help that person? What if you were mistreated by someone, are you more likely to then mistreat a person unrelated to the situation?

Humanism: To Think Is to Act

Humanism: Moving towards pre-frontal cortex functioning and moving away from reptilian brain functioning

Commitments the APA Should Make Today

By Roy Eidelson Ph.D. on June 30, 2015 in Dangerous Ideas
It is reasonable to expect that the soon-to-be-released Hoffman Report will provide further evidence of grave collusion between the American Psychological Association and government agencies involved in the torture and abuse of war-on-terror detainees. This is an opportune time for the APA’s leadership to commit to specific actions if this indeed proves to be the case.

The Truth Behind Your Rainbow Profile Picture

By Andrea Bonior Ph.D. on June 29, 2015 in Friendship 2.0
In a spontaneous and beautiful display of support, many people rainbow-tinted their profile pics to celebrate marriage equality. What many did not know was how much cold, hard data analysis goes on about their decision to do so.

Do You Forgive and When Should You?

From our partner not doing their share of the chores to infidelity, brutal mass murder and everything in between, there are many times in life when we are called on to forgive (or not). Consider these psychological facts before making your personal decision about forgiveness.

#Love Wins . . . Marriage Equality Is for Real

It's about love and equality. That's about as simple as it can get.

Same-Sex Marriage Needed to Be Decided by the Supreme Court

Today the Supreme Court decided that marriage is a right for all, same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike. Some would rather this has been decided by popular vote, but it's more appropriate and just that the courts should decide. But why?

How Do You Feel About Giving Human Rights to Corporations?

By Ruth Lee Johnson J.D. on June 26, 2015 in So Sue Me
People do not realize this, but the United States Supreme Court has been treating corporations increasingly like human beings — by giving them fundamental rights. Is this crazy? Is this dangerous?

Memory Doesn't Always Deceive

Psychology has some horrible experiments on its conscience - or ought to have.

The Psychology of Competition

Competitions are fun, let’s be honest. At one point or another, you probably have enjoyed being part of some kind of competition. Of course, competitions are more fun if you actually “win” (but for you to win, someone else must lose). Given this basic inequality: can competitions promote pro-social behavior? Or will we end up doing the right thing but for the wrong reason?

Conceptual Chicks & Experiential Eggs: Teaching Philosophies

Last spring I helped design a training program for aspiring college teachers. I had great fun being on the small planning committee; our disagreements were especially enlightening. My favorite disagreement was about whether we should have our students develop and write their teaching philosophy.

Bringing Down the Confederate Flag

Morality and its requirements explain how people are now thinking about the Confederate flag.

When to Sue Your Psychiatrist for Malpractice

By Ruth Lee Johnson J.D. on June 24, 2015 in So Sue Me
Many cases of psychiatric malpractice are never reported because the victims are already emotionally unstable. What exactly does it mean for a psychiatrist to commit malpractice?

Can Changing a Symbol Change People's Attitudes?

By Karl Albrecht Ph.D. on June 23, 2015 in BrainSnacks
Maybe the attachment that some Southern people feel toward the Confederate flag is less an expression of overt racism (which it certainly seems to be, in part), and more an expression of a lingering cultural/historical sense of loss and defeat they feel for the disastrous outcome of the Civil War. Could abolishing the flag lead to a new sense of Southern identity?

We Are All Emanuel A.M.E. Church!

Proclaim "We Are All Emanuel A.M.E. Church!" in solidarity with the massive, needed struggle against racism

Dylann Roof—Evil or Ill?

How to think about the Charleston killings and Dylann Roof

Pope Francis' Environmental Message

Pope Francis' encyclical on the ecological crisis strikes a blow to climate science deniers everywhere. He tells the truth about global warming and environmental decline using the combined powers of ecclesial authority, the scientific consensus, and a well-established communication network. Let's hope world leaders meeting in Paris in December follow his lead.

Love for a Killer: "A Very Evil Kid”

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on June 22, 2015 in Moral Landscapes
When Adam Lanza massacred school children, people asked about his genes. But that was the wrong question. Genes are inert without experience. Families of victims of Dylann Roof’s gun rampage forgave him. It’s a show of love that he probably needed much earlier in his life.

Tikkun Olam

By Robert J Landy Ph.D. on June 22, 2015 in Couch and Stage
In response to a previous blog of a very troubling dream about my attempt to sew together the head and body of two decapitated figures, my friend describes a transformational journey to Vienna where he is transfixed by the Rubens painting of Mary removing a thorn from the head of Jesus and discovers the meaning of Tikkun Olam, repairing of the world.

A Curious Case of Welfare Considerations in Morality

By Jesse Marczyk on June 21, 2015 in Pop Psych
Some thoughts on the inconsistency of moral arguments

Strange Bedfellows: Love and War

By E E Smith on June 21, 2015 in Not Born Yesterday
The month of June is traditionally the time for weddings. Newspapers, magazines, and all forms of social media are teeming with photos of beaming grooms and blushing brides. Wait a minute. Do brides still blush? Somehow, I doubt it.

The Psychology of Ethics Committees

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on June 21, 2015 in A Sideways View
To what extent should somebody on an ethics committee have some training in ethics? Would it not be wiser to have a lawyer and a trained ethicist actually replace slow and problematic committees? How different are juries from ethical committees?

A St. Louis Cardinal Sin?

By Michael W Austin on June 20, 2015 in Ethics for Everyone
All parties in sport should seek to exemplify sportsmanship, whether on the field or via the internet.

No, Self-Centeredness Is Killing America

By Ravi Chandra M.D. on June 20, 2015 in The Pacific Heart
David Niose argues that "America's social and political dysfunction is rooted in dangerous pathology: anti-intellectualism." But my view is it's not anti-intellectualism, but self-centeredness which is at the heart of social and political problems, including the racist hatred that motivated the Charleston massacre. The good news: We can do something about it.

What "My Child Won't Cooperate!" Really Means

We often hear parents say, "My child won't do what I ask! He just won't cooperate!" Maybe it's because we are lying to ourselves about what we really want.

Francis Underwood: Classic Sociopath?

An analysis of Francis Underwood from House of Cards.

Parenting Without Punishment: A Humanist Perspective, Part 1

However exasperating a child’s behavior may be, it’s still—in most instances—age-appropriate. So when kids misbehave (according, that is, to grown-up standards), they’re prompted to do so primarily because of powerful forces in them they lack the cognitive development to control.

Cinderella and the Wrongdoing Schema for Moral Thinking

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on June 19, 2015 in Hot Thought
The Cinderella story illustrates a common pattern in which a victim experiences harm because of bad actions performed by a bad agent with bad intentions. I call this pattern the wrongdoing schema, and outline how it explains important aspects of moral cognition.

Hacking Hatred — What Drives People to Hate and Kill

Hacking hatred and what drives someone to hate and then to kill