Samir’s Selection 02/01/2015 (p.m.)

  • The technical name for this psychological link between judgments of immorality and perceptions of harm is “dyadic completion.” Whether liberal or conservative, people understand immorality though a universal template — a dyad of perpetrator and victim. Most immoral acts have a “complete” dyad, such as murder (murderer and murdered), theft (thief and thieved) and abuse (abuser and abused). But with many morally controversial acts, such as those involving adult pornography, prostitution, drugs or homosexuality, the victims seem less obvious or absent altogether.

    When we encounter such an “incomplete” dyad, we tend to slot in a victim. Such victims can be friends, family, future generations or the soul of the perpetrator. Very often they are children, because of their vulnerability and sensitivity to suffering. It is no accident that moralists of all kinds beseech others to “think of the children.”

    tags: harm crime sin psychology philosophy perception theoryofharm morality immortality

  • tags: parenting anthropology book to-read children culture

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