The nature of moral action versus moral judgment has been extensively debated in numerous disciplines. We introduce Virtual Reality moral paradigms examining the action individuals take in a high emotionally arousing, direct action-focused, moral scenario. In two studies involving qualitatively different populations, we found a greater endorsement of utilitarian responses–killing one in order to save many others–when action was required in moral virtual dilemmas compared to their judgment counterparts. Heart rate in virtual moral dilemmas was significantly increased when compared to (...) both judgment counterparts and control virtual tasks. Our research suggests that moral action may be viewed as an independent construct to moral judgment, with VR methods delivering new prospects for investigating and assessing moral behaviour. (shrink)
The 2006 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, traced to bagged spinach from California, illustrates a number of contradictions. The solutions sought by many politicians and popular food analysts have been to create a centralized federal agency and a uniform set of production standards modeled after those of the animal industry. Such an approach would disproportionately harm smaller-scale producers, whose operations were not responsible for the epidemic, as well as reduce the agroecological diversity that is essential for maintaining healthy human beings (...) and ecosystems. Why should responses that only reinforce the problem be proffered? We use the framework of accumulation and legitimation to suggest corporate and government motives for concealing underlying problems and reinforcing powerful ideologies of individualism, scientism, and centralizing authority. Food safety (or the illusion of safety) is being positioned to secure capital rather than public welfare. We propose implementing the principle of subsidiarity as a more democratic and decentralized alternative. Because full implementation of this principle will be resisted by powerful interests, some promising intermediate steps include peer production or mass collaboration as currently applied to disease prevention and surveillance, as well as studying nascent movements resisting current food safety regulations. (shrink)
Recent advances in virtual technologies have allowed the investigation of simulated moral actions in aversive moral dilemmas. Previous studies have employed diverse populations in order to explore these actions, with little research considering the significance of occupation on moral decision-making. For the first time, in this study we have investigated simulated moral actions in Virtual Reality made by professionally trained paramedics and fire service incident commanders who are frequently faced with and must respond to moral dilemmas. We found that specially (...) trained individuals showed distinct empathic and related personality trait scores and that these declined with years of experience working in the profession. Supporting the theory that these professionals develop resilience in moral conflict, reduced emotional arousal was observed during virtual simulations of a distressing dilemma. Furthermore, trained professionals demonstrated less regret following the execution of a moral action in virtual reality when compared to untrained control populations. We showed that, contrary to previous research, trained individuals made the same moral judgments and moral actions as untrained individuals, though showing less arousal and regret. In the face of increasing concerns regarding empathy decline in healthcare professionals, we suggest that the nature of this decline is complex and likely reflects the development of a necessary emotional resilience to distressing events. (shrink)
This is my review of Howard B. Radest's book on Felix Adler and Ethical Culture. The book involves interesting comparisons of Adler to Emerson and to the pragmatists, and Radest is well qualified to tell the history of Adler's work and its influence.