Thursday, 13 October 2011

Moral Dilemmas and PDs

I've written before about a typical and famous moral dilemma (click here).  There has been a recent paper published called "The mismeasure of morals: Antisocial personality traits predict utilitarian responses to moral dilemmas".  In this paper, the authors argue that instead of wondering why 90% of people make illogical decisions in moral dilemmas (choosing to let 5 people die instead of killing 1), we should be wondering why that 10% of people don't get drawn into an emotional decision.

They gave personality tests to a group of people and then gave them dilemmas and correlated their answers with their personalities.
The conclusion was stark; to quote the paper: "those individuals who are least prone to moral errors also possess a set of psychological characteristics that many would consider prototypically immoral".

This should not really surprise anyone, and I'm dumbfounded as to why the paper has become as well known as it has.

The addendum to the paper that they should have written is the further correlation between people who take logical decisions, and people in positions of power in politics and the military.  If an airplane over the ocean, heading towards a city, cuts communications and ignores emergency protocols then I hope the person who decides whether or not to shoot it down before it reaches land has 'immoral' psychological characteristics.