Morality and Gun Violence [...]

We tend to think that gun violence is committed primarily by people acting immorally for selfish reasons. But what if that had the problem backwards? Tage Rai of MIT’s Sloan School of Management went through records of violence trying to find new patterns in why people choose to maim and kill.

The result?

The commonality was that the primary motivations were moral. This means that the perpetrators of violence felt like what they are doing was morally right. In fact, when they were committing the act, they perceived that not acting would be morally wrong. It wasn’t about a breakdown in moral sensibilities, but more that their sense of morality was different. They viewed violence as the fundamentally right thing to do even if no one else could see any possible justification for it. [http://qz.com/566579/most-violence-in-the-world-is-motivated-by-personal-morality/ source]

(He could have just watched a couple seasons of The Wire to figure this out, but we appreciate the methodology).

He continues:

So how does this knowledge that violence is morally motivated help in our efforts to reduce it? It shows that we need to carefully reconsider our strategies. For example, we’ve been trying to decrease gun violence for years with increased mental health checks. While that is a good thing, it will not significantly decrease gun violence because most gun violence is not committed by people with mental health problems. Rather, it is committed by people who feel they are morally right in committing that act. [http://qz.com/566579/most-violence-in-the-world-is-motivated-by-personal-morality/ source]


Philippa Foot was one of the 20th century’s premier moral philosophers.

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