This Week in Science and Morality – 4/6/15

This Week in Science and Morality – 4/6/15

Why Do People Do Bad (and Good) Things? That’s the fall focus of the Sinai and Synapses Discussion Forum. Each week, we’ll gather some of the most interesting articles on the topic from across the online world. We hope they make you think—and share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Bigotry, the Bible and the Lessons of Indiana

Homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere. That many Christians regard them as incompatible is understandable, an example not so much of hatred’s pull as of tradition’s sway. Beliefs ossified over centuries aren’t easily shaken. But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since—as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing. (Frank Bruni, The New York Times)

Should Mom-and-Pops That Forgo Gay Weddings Be Destroyed?

What do white evangelicals, Muslims, Mormons, blacks, conservative Republicans, and immigrants from Africa, South America, and Central America all have in common? They’re less likely to support gay marriage than the average Californian. Should their businesses be boycotted? (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic)

 Gender Differences in Moral Reasoning Rooted in Emotion

When faced with a moral dilemma—for example, is it OK for a police officer to torture an alleged bomber to find hidden explosives that could kill many people—men are typically more willing to say yes for the sake of the greater good, according to a new study. The researchers found that women were less likely to support the torturing of the suspect, even if it would save more lives. According to the study’s findings, this gender difference in moral decisions is caused by a stronger emotional aversion to harmful action among women. (Janice Wood, PsychCentral)

 UBC Prof Wins $12 Million From Sweden to Explore Global Moral Problems

Paul Russell is starting to feel extremely responsible after receiving a huge grant to research moral responsibility. The Canadian philosopher will spend about half of each year in Scandinavia building a team of scholars to investigate the nature of human responsibility as it’s exercised in areas such as climate change, war crimes, gender equity, crime, surveillance and censorship, and connections to religion and political correctness. (Douglas Todd, The Vancouver Sun)

Millennials Are the ‘Don’t Judge Generation’ on Sexual Morality: Survey

The reasoning behind millennial beliefs might surprise older adults who are more rooted in religious doctrines. Most young adults hold views on moral issues that are a long way from what some major religions preach. For most millennials—including one in three who don’t identify with any particular religion—it’s all about personal circumstances, said Robert Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. (Cathy Lynn Grossman, The Washington Post)

Morality Report: Precrime Comes to the Office

Researchers have found that employees with certain personality traits, such as a propensity to feel guilt, and older employees are less likely to, say, slack off, abuse sick days, or steal company property. But the arrival of Big Data in the workplace opens up the possibility of going beyond these sorts of general associations to individualized predictions. (Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic)

Guardian Live Event: Video Games, the Military and Morality

Guardian Live—in association with UCL—is holding a special event on April 9, inviting game developers and academics to discuss the issues of violence, the military and morality in gaming. The idea is not just to look at military simulations, but to analyze the appeal and meaning of first-person shooters. They’re often beautifully designed and thrilling, but what responsibilities do developers have? And what do even outlandish, sci-fi shooters like Halo tell us about the core appeal of the genre? (Keith Stuart. The Guardian)



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