March 2013

Ten Quick Questions With: Steve Loughnan

Ten Quick Questions With is a new part of the Melbourne Moral Psychology Lab website where I'll be helping you get to know the members of the lab and other experts in the field. Today's interview is with Stephen Loughnan, a research fellow looking at how people's views of moral standing affect who or what deserve moral concern and many other interesting areas.

Check out the full interview below and be sure to leave any extra questions or thoughts you have in the comments section.

Who are you and what do you study? Read more about Ten Quick Questions With: Steve Loughnan

Worth the Weight

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed any research here, but that doesn’t mean interesting things haven’t been happening. Now there’s exciting news – fellow PhD student Elise Holland has had an article published! It’s called Worth the Weight: The Objectification of Overweight Versus Thin Targets. Read more about Worth the Weight

Moral of the Story: Morality and Literature: May We Be Forgiven

May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes

This is a book about a family that is probably more dysfunctional than your own...hopefully. It's filled with tales of infidelity, fatal car accidents, illegal arms dealers, non-traditional penal systems - and that's really just skimming the surface. But I've caught your interest right? No one can avoid looking at a train wreck. So, I encourage you to pick up this book and enjoy the disaster. Read more about Moral of the Story: Morality and Literature: May We Be Forgiven

Superman Saves the Day

This Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic made me laugh.

[I tried to embed, but you'll have to click through. It's worth it!]

And, even better, it reminded me of some actual moral psychology research that has been done! It involves trolley problems (that old chestnut), and people of "abhorrent political philosophy" - i.e. Nazis. Perhaps unsurprisingly (?), people are more willing to trade the lives of these people off against other lives, whether they are anonymous strangers, family, or friends. Read more about Superman Saves the Day

Satisfaction and Revenge for Victims

By Ain Simpson

Is it enough to simply see the wrongdoer suffer roughly to an equal degree? Or does real satisfaction come only when perpetrators suffer as a result of their past transgressions? Imagine, for example, three housemates, Fred, Bill, and Jane. Suppose that Fred selfishly ate a cake that Bill had baked for an upcoming party. Now further suppose that, on a later date, Fred had baked a cake of his own, but opened the fridge to find it eaten. Under what circumstance would Bill feel most satisfied: If Jane had selfishly eaten Fred’s cake, unaware of Fred’s earlier transgression against Bill; or if Bill had eaten Fred’s cake as a form of revenge, making sure Fred knew exactly why his cake had been eaten? In a nutshell, is it enough to see your wrongdoer suffer, or do we need to know that the wrongdoer knows he or she is suffering because of a previous transgression? Read more about Satisfaction and Revenge for Victims

Morality and Obesity

In The Monthly, I read an article about obesity from a doctor's point of view. One line in particular caught my attention:

"Today when we look at those who are thin, part of what we see is a triumph of will over gluttony, so the beauty is a moral beauty; it has little to do with health."
Mel Campbell, author of upcoming book Out of Shape, responded to this article, saying Read more about Morality and Obesity

Do people practice what they preach? What about what they teach?

By Elise Margetts

This week in the MMPL journal discussion group we talked about ethicists' ethics. Schwitzgebel and Rust (2013) conducted a series of studies to investigate whether philosophy professors who specialise in ethics behave morally better than other professors, or whether they at least behave more consistently with their expressed values. They surveyed 198 ethicists, 208 non-ethicist philosophers and 167 non-philosophy professors from five US universities. It was predicted that, because ethicists spend more time engaging in philosophical moral reflection, they would behave more ethically, and show greater attitude-behaviour consistency. Read more about Do people practice what they preach? What about what they teach?