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Moralization is a psychological state that can be turned on and off like a switch, and when it is on, a distinctive mind-set commandeers our thinking.

The Moral Instinct Edit

What is Moralization?Edit

Pinker defines moralization essentially as a switch that may be toggled on and off. Upon it turning on, a distinctly different mindset is exhibited, and is often accompanied by a righteous feeling and the urge to spread one's beliefs. He then goes on to discuss moral reasoning and moral rationalization, and how many start with a moral conclusion, and work backwards to justify that conclusion.

He then goes on to discuss various other closely related ideas, of which will not be listed here.


Extracted Conclusions Edit

In the two listed points above, Pinker somewhat establishes two things, that


  1. For (at least in certain situations) moralization to occur, one must deliberately think about their choice.
  2. For many cases, moral rationalization occurs. This involves one to "impulsively" come to a conclusion as to the morality of a certain action regardless of whether or not reasoning supports that conclusion.

The latter is supported by hypothetical situations, such as consuming an already dead dog, or incest that has no effect on those involved and their relatives. Many would answer that it those actions were not moral, yet when pressed as to why they thought it was not moral, they couldn't think of a thing.

Essentially, what the second conclusion is saying is that there is a form of "moral instinct" in humans, that may often vary from person to person. This moral instinct drives people, not according to their active thoughts, but impulsively and instinctively. Therefore, one must ask, what is this, and where does it come from?

First, let's look at "lower" life forms, such as bacteria. Their social interactions, if they can really be called as such, are driven by the need to multiply (and the needs arising from that need alone). Of course, they do not possess any sort of moral instinct, as they are not actively social, although many species can recognize copies of itself, if nothing else.

Then, as one progresses to the higher life forms and to the species that are not only social, but intelligent, conclusion 1 probably starts to appear. However, conclusion 2 does not seem to be applicable to much other than humans.

Moreover, the nature of "moral instinct" is not shared amongst all humans; it is specific to each individual. Therefore, we can conclude that this moral instinct is the result of social pressures and implications, and will vary from person to person and past to present.

Because of this variation, though, one would also have to consider that a morally opposite society built upon the exact opposite values would also operate under the same rules.

Despite the base nature of the moral instinct, I still consider basic human nature to be no different than most social species. However, due to the high programmability of the human brain, moral instincts operate on a slightly higher (but still very close) level to humans' basic instincts.

That means that in a pinch, many may default back to the basic instincts and throw away moral values for their own personal benefit.

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