domingo, 10 de abril de 2016

Absolute morality garners trust, say new study

Absolute morality garners trust, say new study

Absolute morality garners trust, says new study

In an innovative empirical study, researchers from Oxford and Cornell universities have found that people who hold to moral absolutes in certain ethical dilemmas are more trusted among their peers than those who engage in situational analyses.

Jim A.C. Everett, Oxford PhD student and Fulbright Scholar at Harvard University, worked with Molly Crockett from Oxford and David Pizarro from Cornell University to test whether our default reliance on moral rules has an evolutionary basis.

The researchers asked participants to consider several variations of moral dilemmas where one must decide whether or not to sacrifice an innocent person in order to save the lives of many others.

They then asked each participant a question about the others who took place in the study: did they prefer as social partners those who took a rule-based approach, or those who made cost/benefit moral judgements.

“Across 9 experiments, with more than 2,400 participants, we found that people who took an absolute approach to the dilemmas (refusing to kill an innocent person, even when this maximized the greater good) were seen as more trustworthy than those who advocated a more flexible, consequentialist approach”, said senior author Dr. Molly Crockett.

When asked to entrust another person with a sum of money, participants handed over more money, and were more confident of getting it back, when dealing with someone who refused to sacrifice one to save many, the researchers found.

However, simply deciding whether or not to sacrifice an innocent person was not the only thing that mattered: how the choice was made was crucial. Someone who had decided to sacrifice one life to save five but had found that decision difficult was more trusted than someone who had found the decision easy.

The scenarios used by the researchers included the famous Trolley Problem, as well as a thought experiment known as ‘the soldier’s dilemma’.
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In events which seem copied from the script of a B-grade potboiler, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has, at the age of 60, just discovered that he is not who he thought he was. After taking a DNA test to disprove rumours that he was not his father's son, he learned that the rumours were true. His real father was the last private secretary of Wnston Churchill, Sir Anthony Montague Browne. 
Despite his deep religious faith, the Archbishop seems quite shaken by the news. He surmounted a difficult childhood with alcoholic parents to become a successful oil executive and then an Anglican priest. He had no idea that the ne'er-do-well whom he regarded as his estranged father was not. In an interview with The Telegraph [London] he said:
“My own experience is typical of many people. To find that one’s father is other than imagined is fairly frequent. To be the child of families with great difficulties in relationships, with substance abuse or other matters, is far too normal.
“Although there are elements of sadness, and even tragedy in my father’s case, this is a story of redemption and hope from a place of tumultuous difficulty and near despair in several lives ... I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes.” 
Although this is just an anecdote, it confirms what I've always regarded as one of the most important principles in contemporary bioethics: that every child deserves to know his or her biological parents. Archbishop Welby is better prepared than most to survive a personal earthquake like this, but it is an earthquake. To know who we are, to have a secure personal identity, is an important dimension of our autonomy. 
Michael Cook

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