Debriefing Socrates: Why Do We Do the Right Thing?
Our recent Socratic conversation brought up many interesting observations, chief among them:
- The sheer entanglement of factors: conscience, reason, science, emotions, religion, tradition, upbringing, education, law, honor, fear, biology.
- We can’t always explain the motivations for doing the right thing.
- There are differences between a civic society and a moral one.
- We need to listen to our inner voice.
- Maturation of ethical judgment may be affected by intermingling of genes and environment; decisions made in a social context; problem solving and the scientific point of view; and how parents interact with kids.
- Ethical behavior is often the major topic in the arts (novels, theater, movies).
- We can apply these themes to the scandal at Penn State (see At Penn State, a Bitter Reckoning, by Michael Berube.)
Resources for further exploration include:
- The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, by Sam Harris
- The Good, the Bad, and the Difference: How to Tell Right from Wrong in Everyday Situations, by Randy Cohen
- Reclaiming Virtue: How We Can Develop the Moral Intelligence to Do the Right Thing at the Right Time for the Right Reason, by John Bradshaw
- Common Values, by Sisella Bok
Referencing Why Do We Do the Right Thing? A Socratic Conversation, Thursday, 11/17