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Does thinking about science make us more moral?

August 28, 2013

A new study from researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara (available here) has found that if you are in a scientific frame of mind, your behaviour is more likely to be morally sound. The experiments used priming techniques to study responses of subjects to moral issues. In the words of the scientists:

Taken together, the present results provide support for the idea that the study of science itself–independent of the specific conclusions reached by scientific inquiries–holds normative implications and leads to moral outcomes.

The paper itself is concise and not difficult to understand, but if you’d like a more digestible summary, there’s an article at Scientific American.

From → Science

  1. I’m not surprised by this in the slightest… religious groups like to claim the high moral ground (even though they historically supported slavery and stood against women’s rights, etc), but the reality is, honest, rational thinking removes emotion and irrational agendas, so it should lead to a more balanced moral perspective.

    I guess some would argue that “sterile thinking” doesn’t consider morals, and in some regards that may be true, but objectivity is self-regulating, and provides sound reasoning behind moral positions.

    • Nicely put, Peter. I agree. The scientific process encourages everyone to abandon dubious modes of thinking and to steer clear of those traps and fallacies into which we so easily fall.

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