Feed on

We can debate to the cows come home whether there IS an absolutely definitive objective truth. I get it. But the desire to know more, to be better, is a bit different. I content that many of our ills today emanate from our unwillingness to suggest that there are things that are more right than others. Sounds quaint, I know. Here is the latest from my alumni magazine:

It’s Hard to Speak Out. Yet We Must.

Why do good people stay silent in the face of bad behavior? Psychology professor Catherine Sanderson explains the science of bystander inaction—and how we can move forward with courage.

A moral rebel is someone who feels comfortable, or at least willing, to call out bad behavior, even when that means defying or standing up to people around them who may not be acting. Moral rebels are more able to buck social norms and speak out in the face of bad behavior, whether it’s sexual misconduct, or a racist slur, or corporate fraud.

It’s a super important topic, and beyond interesting. But it’s a bit of question begging. We would first all need to agree on what are deep moral truths, otherwise it’s not speaking out, no? And if the point of speaking out is to raise concerns about a moral wrong or injustice, we have to have conviction that we are right. We may in fact take this line of research to suggest that there is more epistemic humility out there than we thought?

I think it’s way too easy to see this work and assume we are talking about a failure to call out slurs and similar sorts of obvious problematic behavior. But are we thinking of policing “our own side” for lack of good faith actions or worse? Why are “we” not speaking up about violence and looting in our cities? Why are “we” not speaking up about mock guillotines being paraded in front of people’s homes? And so it goes.

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