Great minds – and wits – have considered the difficulties of moral choice. Influential activist and thinker Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” (Bon vivant Mae West, who took a more pragmatic view, purportedly said, “Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.”)
Moment by moment, life presents us with difficult choices and questions to confront. What are we to do in the face of moral dilemma? As moral actors, how do we decide? What guides us? What are the sources of moral values? Religion? Law? Or are they coded into our DNA? How do we apply moral values? Are moral principles universally held, transcending culture? Or are they shifting social constructs, dependent upon the vagaries of time and place?
Inside all of us is the philosopher who delights in wrestling with questions concerning moral decision making – and the devil’s advocate who likes to pose them. The internet holds much to stimulate us, particularly these outstanding resources on morality, moral psychology, and moral decision making:
- Jon Haidt’s Home Page. A Professor in Social Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia, Haidt studies morality and emotion across cultures. Of particular interest to Haidt are “the moral foundations of politics, and on ways to transcend the ‘culture wars’ by using recent discoveries in moral psychology to foster more civil forms of politics.”
- Joshua Greene’s Home Page. This is the web site of Joshua Greene, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, who studies moral judgment and decision-making. You’ll find discussion of the famous “Trolley Problem“, along with PDF downloads of articles on moral judgment. Best of all is a link that takes you to the…
- Greene Moral Cognition Lab. The Moral Cognition Lab studies moral judgment and decision-making using behavioral methods and functional neuroimaging (fMRI). Contribute to scientific advancement by participating in any or all of the fascinating online studies underway.
- Justice with Michael Sandel. Harvard University has opened the doors to one of its most popular classes, allowing the general public to audit “Justice”, a course designed “to help viewers become more critically minded thinkers about the moral decisions we all face in our everyday lives.” (With a hat tip to Thinking Ethics.)