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    Sacrificial utilitarian judgments do reflect concern for the greater good: Clarification via process dissociation and the judgments of philosophers



    Summary: Intense research work and literature review have indicated that people’s sacrificial utilitarian judgments usually reflect moral concerns about minimizing harm.

    Source: Science Direct.

    We have all heard stories of events where smaller sacrifices are made to avoid a bigger catastrophe, while this appears to be a relatively simple phenomena. There are at times situations, when one human has to be sacrificed for saving many others. The decision of this sacrifice is often on a third party individual, who has to take up this decision and has to face an immense dilemma. This in terms of psychology is known as trolley type dilemmas.

    Researchers from the Harvard University have employed sacrificial trolley-type dilemmas (where harmful actions promote the greater good) to model the influences that are competing a moral judgment: affective reactions to causing harm that motivate characteristically deontological judgments (the morality of an action depends on the intrinsic nature of an action, as per example, it is wrong to cause harm to others regardless of the consequences) and deliberate cost-benefit reasoning in turn motivates characteristically utilitarian judgments (better to save more lives).

    Recently, Kahane, Everett, Earp, Farias, and Savulescu (2015) argued that sacrificial judgments according to their research only reflect antisociality rather than genuine utilitarianism, but further research indicated this work employs a different definition of utilitarian judgment.

    The psychologists of Harvard introduced a concept of a five-level taxonomy of “utilitarian judgment” and explained its longstanding usage. Which implicitly indicated that judgments are utilitarian simply because they favor the greater good, and is independent of judges’ motivations or philosophical commitments. Process dissociation has also shown antisociality predicts, reduced deontological inclinations and not increased utilitarian inclinations. Critically, it was produced that the evidence which makes people’s sacrificial utilitarian judgments also reflect moral concerns about minimizing harm.

    Published: Science Direct.

    Contact: Paul Conway, Florida State university.

    Details: Image source Unsplash


    Hi, I’m Aarti, My Psychoanalytical approach towards my clients is to empower them to better their lives through improving their relationship with themselves. I believe shame and guilt is a common barrier to change. I aim to guide my clients through re authoring their narratives where shame, guilt, and other problems have less power and take up less space.

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