The moral Black hole

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (3):291 - 301 (2009)
It is commonly believed that people become selfish and turn to looting, price gouging, and other immoral behaviour in emergencies. This has been the basis for an argument justifying extraordinary measures in emergencies. It states that if emergencies are not curtailed, breakdown of moral norms threaten (‘the moral black hole’). Using the example of natural disasters, we argue that the validity of this argument in non-antagonistic situations, i.e. situations other than war and armed conflict, is highly questionable. Available evidence suggests that people in such emergencies typically do not display panic reactions or exaggerated selfishness, and that phenomena such as looting and price gouging are rare. Furthermore, a version of the moral-black-hole argument based on the mere possibility of a moral black hole occurring runs into problems similar to those of Pascal’s Wager. We conclude that we should be wary against applying the moral-black-hole argument to non-antagonistic cases.
Keywords Ethics  Crisis  Emergencies  Disasters
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2307/40284293
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,658
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

27 ( #113,344 of 1,725,992 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #167,084 of 1,725,992 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.