Below, we’ve posted titles and a brief quotation from some of our favorite non-Situationist situationist blogging during April. (They are listed in alphabetical order by source.)
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From Research Digest: “The price of thinking ‘It would have been worse under Saddam’“
“After news broke that US soldiers had mistreated their prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq, a common reaction among pro-war politicians was to remind the public that: “It would have been worse under Saddam”. Whatever the truth of this claim, new research suggests that comparing a current situation with an even worse atrocity comes with a price – it desensitises our judgment of future moral violations.” Read more . . .
From Research Digest: “‘It’s beneath me’: How dominant personalities are biased towards the vertical“
“People who are more dominant are quicker at processing information that appears in the vertical dimension of space, psychologists have found. The result comes from an expanding field of psychology looking at the ways that personality and culture can affect how we interact with the world.” Read more . . .
From Cognitive Daily: “Violent video games and desensitization“
“A team led by Nicholas Carnagey asked 257 volunteers to play either one of four violent video or one of four non-violent games for 20 minutes, then watch a 10-minute movie showing real, disturbing violent scenes such as prison fights, police confrontations, and shootings. Before and after playing the games, and while watching the violent scenes, the volunteers’ heart rate and galvanic skin response were measured.” Read more . . .
From Concurring Opinions: “Bainbridge on Chemerinsky on the Situation of Practicing Corporate Law“
“I noticed this last semester in my corporations class. When asked whether they would draft ethically troublesome documents, most students professed to say that they would. Why? Because by going into big firm practice in the first instance, they’d have already decided to be ethically gray. When deans (and well-meaning liberal professors) reinforce the idea that corporate practice is “corrupting and essentially random and beyond your control, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it”, students are more likely to let the situation corrupt them. If instead academics were to celebrate the pro-social, professional, aspects of corporate practice, perhaps we’d have less situationally-motivated fraud.” Read more . . .
From Concurring Opinions: “Thou shalt not commit a neuroscience“
“Yesterday evening, Harvard Law School hosted a panel on the question, “Should Criminal Law Be Reconsidered in Light of Advances in Neuroscience?” Moderated by Oliver Goodenough, the panel featured Joshua Greene, Jerome Kagan, Stephen Morse, and Amanda Pustilnik. Greene is known for his work in “experimental philosophy,” and he and Morse reprised earlier arguments about whether new research on the brain is likely to produce changes in doctrines of criminal responsibility. As I understood Greene, he’s hopeful that one day we’ll realize that retributive approaches to punishment depend on erroneous assumptions about the human brain. When we properly understand humans as mechanical agents whose actions are always externally caused, it will seem silly to punish as a way of “holding criminals responsible,” and happily, the criminal law will become purely consequentialist. Now, I’m no fan of retributivism. But I’m skeptical that more knowledge of the brain is going to unsettle retributive arguments and the associated attributions of responsibility.” Read more . . .
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