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

Art Therapy’s Ethical Responsibility

A White House spotlight on art therapy generates some illuminating ethics questions for all helping professionals.

Good People, Evil Actions

By Ira Hyman Ph.D. on February 27, 2017 in Mental Mishaps
Can anyone become a monster? We like to think that only unusual and horrible people do evil things. But what if anyone, even a basically good person, will perform evil actions?

Martyrdom: Worst Idea Ever

By David Dillard-Wright Ph.D. on February 26, 2017 in Boundless
Martyrdom as an idea causes massive problems, on both the interpersonal and geopolitical levels.

The Gender Revolution Is Here

The take-down of black-and-white thinking about what it means to be a human being and liberates us all.

Why Progressive Humanist Values Will Ultimately Prevail

Increasing geopolitical instability may threaten progressive, Humanist values in the short-term. But here's why I'm optimistic that these values will ultimately prevail.

The Emotions of Social Interaction

While we are quite sensitive to negative emotional displays of those with whom we interact, we’re hardly sensitive at all to our own.

Obstacles to Practicing Professional Ethics in Real Life

Why might well-educated professionals take ethical missteps?

Can Punctuality Ruin Love?

By Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. on February 23, 2017 in In the Name of Love
There are good reasons for considering punctuality to be a virtue. Is it also a romantic virtue? There are reasons to think it is not.

Greed Is Good?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on February 22, 2017 in The Human Beast
Greed is good! Sharing is for Communists and losers! Do such maxims capture the essence of human social behavior?
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.

Have Politics Ruined 'Fifty Shades'?

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.