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:

Referencing Why Do We Do the Right Thing? A Socratic Conversation, Thursday, 11/17