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.

8 comments:

J8888 said...

Would love to see some research on this topic! Supporting your blog bro!

CheesyDoug said...

I'd shoot the fucker down. I'd probably cry like a girl afterward, but I'd shoot it down.

ResCogitans said...

lol; though honestly i don't understand your reaction (but i do understand it is normal). if you know you made the right decision and would do the same thing again then why would you feel bad?

Doug Stephens said...

Because there exists the possibility, however remote, that the people in that plane are innocent.

And empathy is a bitch.

ResCogitans said...

of course they are innocent (except for a couple of hijackers). the point is that the choice is:
1. kill those on the plane
2. do nothing and accept the high probability of the plane crashing into a city causing the deaths of all those on the plane plus many others, and also a logistical expensive nightmare to clear up, and also a victory for the terrorists.

kill a few or let many die. easy decision.

notme said...

where in the name of bejeezus have you been Res? Come back to SW! :)

ResCogitans said...

lol i've simply been very busy. bought a house which has needed some work done. starting to look good now and i've taken a couple of weeks off at xmas so i'll be back then at the latest.
have read SW now and then - it got pretty boring and tedious for a while... forum any good or you just leaving comments?

notme said...

yay he's aliveeee! I don't do the forum, I don't get it, it's just full of randoms talking about random shit. Anyway, i look forward to your return Resy poo! :P

Oh and i got a new place too! The novelty kinda wore off but i have a lovely roomate who helps with the bills. Yay! But apart from that, nothing else new. :)