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

So You’d Like to Make Big Money in Sales

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on December 06, 2016 in How To Do Life
An edited transcript of an exchange with a caller to my radio program.

Delusional or Dissident?

By Joni E Johnston Psy.D. on December 05, 2016 in The Human Equation
Can hate crimes be fueled by mental illness? Here's what the evidence says.

The Ethics of Libido Manipulation

By David J Ley Ph.D. on December 03, 2016 in Women Who Stray
New technology and research suggests that we may one day soon be able to effectively and non-invasively alter sexual libido. This raises tremendous ethical challenges.
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When Robots Reign: Getting Along with Robo Sapiens

Since power can be used not only to serve yourself, but to silence those who object to how you use it, self-aggrandizement and corruption are endemic.

Post-Election Vertigo

By Christopher Lane Ph.D. on December 03, 2016 in Side Effects
What the feeling of dislocation can teach us about these unsettling times.

Speaking Truth to Power: An Interview With Peter Buffett

By Mark Matousek on December 03, 2016 in Ethical Wisdom
The son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett talks about the enigma of Trump and the antidote to greed.

Quick Takes

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on December 02, 2016 in How To Do Life
My tweets that might most interest you.

What Would You Do, Really?

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on December 01, 2016 in How To Do Life
12 dilemmas that may give you clarity about who you really are

Cheat to Keep or Cheat to Reap?

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on November 29, 2016 in Consumed
Are people more likely to behave unethically to avoid falling behind or to get ahead? New research has the answer.

Where Does Our Moral Sense Come From?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on November 29, 2016 in Talking Apes
Our intuitive morality may have been shaped not by the day-to-day dilemmas we face but rather by the opinions of others.

The Dangerous “Reveries” of HBO's Westworld Series

By Amy Fries on November 28, 2016 in The Power of Daydreaming
What do Stephen Hawking and HBO's new series Westworld have in common? Dire warnings of ways in which artificial intelligence can learn to out-maneuver us.

Morally Decent Trump Supporters

By Michael W. Austin Ph.D. on November 28, 2016 in Ethics for Everyone
I don’t believe that Donald Trump is the answer to what ails us, but neither do I believe that the way forward is to demonize all of his supporters.

To Punish or to Teach?

How we handle mistakes can make a difference.

Darwin’s Parenting Tips

For many of us, parenting is our #1 priority and challenge. Here is some guidance on the process brought to you by good old evolutionary psychology.

4 Questions to Ask Before Wearing a Safety Pin

By Gleb Tsipursky Ph.D. on November 28, 2016 in Intentional Insights
Considering wearing a safety pin? Make sure to ask these 4 questions to avoid the hidden dangers of wearing the pin!

Should Assisted Suicide Be Available to Everyone?

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on November 27, 2016 in How To Do Life
Suicide tourism to Switzerland has doubled. Understandably.

Writing the Truth With Empathy and Ethics

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on November 26, 2016 in Trouble in Mind
Rebecca Skloot’s masterpiece on Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa story is also a study in the difficult art of sticking to the facts.
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When Robots Reign: Getting Along with Robo Sapiens

Immortality lies not in identifying with any one model of Homo or Robo Sapiens, but in participating in the progression.

Instead of “Job Creation,” How About Less Work?

By Peter Gray Ph.D. on November 26, 2016 in Freedom to Learn
If we could solve the distribution problem, we could create a world in which we all worked much less and played much more. Is that a world to be desired? Yes!!

Changing Minds on Meat Eating

Effective animal advocacy is turning to empirical research for guidance.

Fear and Voting

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on November 23, 2016 in Excellent Beauty
We all live in groups defined by shared fears, and shared ways of allaying those fears. Our fears therefore function as shibboleths. And thus my fears are invisible to you.

A Holiday Game For Talking Politics

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 23, 2016 in Ambigamy
Here's the first draft of a game designed to be challenging, honest, respectful, and fair that anyone serious about their moral principles should be happy to play.

The Truth About Lying

By Stuart Shanker DPhil on November 22, 2016 in Self-Reg
Lying is the quintessential example of misbehaviour, but confabulating is a stress behaviour.

Angry About the Election?

Headlines call for intolerance toward Trump voters. Families are stressed, and friendships are frayed. Tolerance is a paradigm that has outlived its purpose.

Love and Sports

By Michael W. Austin Ph.D. on November 21, 2016 in Ethics for Everyone
If it is intentionally cultivated, the virtue of love can flourish in athletic contexts.

Universal Children’s Day Compels Us to Look Into a Mirror

By Rita Watson MPH on November 20, 2016 in With Love and Gratitude
If we look at reports from the American Psychological Association and the Children’s Defense Fund, it appears we are failing our children.

3 Suggestions for Responding Wisely to the Election Results

By Toni Bernhard J.D. on November 19, 2016 in Turning Straw Into Gold
On November 17th, the New York Times had a front page story on the turmoil many families in the U.S. are facing this holiday season in light of the Presidential election.

Listen, Carefully

By Josephine Ensign DrPH on November 18, 2016 in Catching Homelessness
What does it mean for health care providers to label patients as "difficult"? How do we listen more carefully to illness narratives?

The Emotional Coherence of Donald Trump

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on November 18, 2016 in Hot Thought
Voting decisions are based more on emotional coherence with values than on rational choice. Value maps of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters display their appeal.

Why Are We So Divided?

By Katherine Hawley Ph.D. on November 18, 2016 in Trust
Sometimes we prefer not to know about the problems faced by other people.