A little good is good enough: Ethical consumption, cheap excuses, and moral self-licensing.
ABSTRACT: This paper explores the role of cheap excuses in product choice. If agents feel that they fulfill one ethical aspect, they may care less about other independent ethical facets within product choice. Choosing a product that fulfills one ethical aspect may then suffice for maintaining a high moral self-image in agents and render it easier to ignore other ethically relevant aspects they would otherwise care about more. The use of such cheap excuses could thus lead to a "static moral self-licensing" effect, and this would extend the logic of the well-known dynamic moral self-licensing. Our experimental study provides empirical evidence that the static counterpart of moral self-licensing exists. Furthermore, effects spill over to unrelated, ethically relevant contexts later in time. Thus, static moral self-licensing and dynamic moral self-licensing can exist next to each other. However, it is critical that agents do not feel that they fulfilled an ethical criterion out of sheer luck, that is, agents need some room so that they can attribute the ethical improvement at least partly to themselves. Outsiders, although monetarily incentivized for correct estimates, are completely oblivious to the effects of moral self-licensing, both static and dynamic.
Project description:Recent ethical decision-making models suggest that individuals' own view of their morality is malleable rather than static, responding to their (im)moral actions and reflections about the world around them. Yet no construct currently exists to represent the malleable state of a person's moral self-image (MSI). In this investigation, we define this construct, as well as develop a scale to measure it. Across five studies, we show that feedback about the moral self alters an individual's MSI as measured by our scale. We also find that the MSI is related to, but distinct from, related constructs, including moral identity, self-esteem, and moral disengagement. In Study 1, we administered the MSI scale and several other relevant scales to demonstrate convergent and discriminant validity. In Study 2, we examine the relationship between the MSI and one's ought versus ideal self. In Studies 3 and 4, we find that one's MSI is affected in the predicted directions by manipulated feedback about the moral self, including feedback related to social comparisons of moral behavior (Study 3) and feedback relative to one's own moral ideal (Study 4). Lastly, Study 5 provides evidence that the recall of one's moral or immoral behavior alters people's MSI in the predicted directions. Taken together, these studies suggest that the MSI is malleable and responds to individuals' moral and immoral actions in the outside world. As such, the MSI is an important variable to consider in the study of moral and immoral behavior.
Project description:Moral licensing, equivalently called "self-licensing", is the instrumental use of a Good Act to cover up a Bad Act. This paper's thesis is that "instrumental apology" i.e., bad-faith apology, is a case of moral licensing. A decision maker may issue an apology (Good Act) after committing a Bad Act, but if the decision maker uses the apology instrumentally, he or she is using the apology to justify the Bad Act. Hence, the apology is insincere. Sincerity is the fine line between a good-faith apology or, more generally, a Good Act, on one hand, and an instrumental apology or, more generally, moral licensing, on the other. In this light, moral licensing should be separated from genuine apology that attains moral equilibrium, which is called in the literature moral "self-regulation' and "conscience accounting." According to Kantian ethics, not just the consequences of an act matter, but also the sincerity with which the act was conducted. This pits Kant against the utilitarian view, which downplays intentions and focuses on consequences. We take Kant to the lab. Participants play a modified ultimatum game, where proposers in some treatments have the option of issuing apology messages and responders have both costly and costless options for rewarding or punishing proposers. We introduce different treatments of the apology message to allow responders to form doubts about the sincerity of the apology messages. Our results support the Kantian position: responders, once they become suspicious of the sincerity of the proposers' apology, exhibit "insincerity aversion" and punish proposers.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The debate on the ethical aspects of moral bioenhancement focuses on the desirability of using biomedical as opposed to traditional means to achieve moral betterment. The aim of this paper is to systematically review the ethical reasons presented in the literature for and against moral bioenhancement.<h4>Discussion</h4>A review was performed and resulted in the inclusion of 85 articles. We classified the arguments used in those articles in the following six clusters: (1) why we (don't) need moral bioenhancement, (2) it will (not) be possible to reach consensus on what moral bioenhancement should involve, (3) the feasibility of moral bioenhancement and the status of current scientific research, (4) means and processes of arriving at moral improvement matter ethically, (5) arguments related to the freedom, identity and autonomy of the individual, and (6) arguments related to social/group effects and dynamics. We discuss each argument separately, and assess the debate as a whole. First, there is little discussion on what distinguishes moral bioenhancement from treatment of pathological deficiencies in morality. Furthermore, remarkably little attention has been paid so far to the safety, risks and side-effects of moral enhancement, including the risk of identity changes. Finally, many authors overestimate the scientific as well as the practical feasibility of the interventions they discuss, rendering the debate too speculative.<h4>Summary</h4>Based on our discussion of the arguments used in the debate on moral enhancement, and our assessment of this debate, we advocate a shift in focus. Instead of speculating about non-realistic hypothetical scenarios such as the genetic engineering of morality, or morally enhancing 'the whole of humanity', we call for a more focused debate on realistic options of biomedical treatment of moral pathologies and the concrete moral questions these treatments raise.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Ethical challenges are common in end of life care; the uncertainty of prognosis and the ethically permissible boundaries of treatment create confusion and conflict about the balance between benefits and burdens experienced by patients.<h4>Objective</h4>We asked physician trainees in internal medicine how they reacted and responded to ethical challenges arising in the context of perceived futile treatments at the end of life and how these challenges contribute to moral distress.<h4>Design</h4>Semi-structured in-depth qualitative interviews.<h4>Participants</h4>Twenty-two internal medicine residents and fellows across three American academic medical centers.<h4>Approach</h4>This study uses systematic qualitative methods of data gathering, analysis and interpretation.<h4>Key results</h4>Physician trainees experienced significant moral distress when they felt obligated to provide treatments at or near the end of life that they believed to be futile. Some trainees developed detached and dehumanizing attitudes towards patients as a coping mechanism, which may contribute to a loss of empathy. Successful coping strategies included formal and informal conversations with colleagues and superiors about the emotional and ethical challenges of providing care at the end of life.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Moral distress amongst physician trainees may occur when they feel obligated to provide treatments at the end of life that they believe to be futile or harmful.
Project description:Based on the theory of social construction and self-consistency, this study aims to investigate the mechanism of relational leadership's role in employees' unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB) from the perspective of moral identity and ethical climate. We found that relational leadership negatively correlates with the instrumental ethical climate, positively correlates with caring ethical climate, and exerts no significant impact on the rule ethical climate. Instrumental ethical climate and caring ethical climate mediate the relationship between relational leadership and employees' unethical pro-organizational behavior. In addition, moral identity negatively moderates the relationship between instrumental ethical climate and employees' unethical pro-organizational behavior, and between caring ethical climate and employees' unethical pro-organizational behavior. Furthermore, moral identity positively moderates the relationship between a rule ethical climate and employees' unethical, pro-organizational behavior.
Project description:Drawing from multiple sources of evidence, this paper updates previous descriptions (IOM, 2002) of measurement strategies and teaching techniques to promote four theoretically derived abilities thought to be necessary conditions for the responsible conduct of research. Data from three samples (exemplary professionals, professionals disciplined by a licensing board, and graduates who completed an ethics program designed to promote the four interrelated abilities) suggest that development of a moral identity that is consistent with the norms and values of a profession is the driving force that gives rise to ethical sensitivity, ethical reasoning, and ethical implementation. Evidence from the cited studies supports the usefulness of the theoretical model to (a) deconstruct summary judgments about character and see them as abilities that can be assessed and developed; (b) guide the design assessments that are sensitive to the effects of interventions; and (c) augment previous IOM recommendations for the development of meaningful learning activities.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The COVID-19 pandemic has created ethical challenges for intensive care unit (ICU) professionals, potentially causing moral distress. This study explored the levels and causes of moral distress and the ethical climate in Dutch ICUs during COVID-19.<h4>Methods</h4>An extended version of the Measurement of Moral Distress for Healthcare Professionals (MMD-HP) and Ethical Decision Making Climate Questionnaire (EDMCQ) were online distributed among all 84 ICUs. Moral distress scores in nurses and intensivists were compared with the historical control group one year before COVID-19.<h4>Results</h4>Three hundred forty-five nurses (70.7%), 40 intensivists (8.2%), and 103 supporting staff (21.1%) completed the survey. Moral distress levels were higher for nurses than supporting staff. Moral distress levels in intensivists did not differ significantly from those of nurses and supporting staff. "Inadequate emotional support for patients and their families" was the highest-ranked cause of moral distress for all groups of professionals. Of all factors, all professions rated the ethical climate most positively regarding the culture of mutual respect, ethical awareness and support. "Culture of not avoiding end-of-life-decisions" and "Self-reflective and empowering leadership" received the lowest mean scores. Moral distress scores during COVID-19 were significantly lower for ICU nurses (p < 0.001) and intensivists (p < 0.05) compared to one year prior.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Levels and causes of moral distress vary between ICU professionals and differ from the historical control group. Targeted interventions that address moral distress during a crisis are desirable to improve the mental health and retention of ICU professionals and the quality of patient care.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>There is a heated debate about whether health professionals may refuse to provide treatments to which they object on moral grounds. It is important to understand how physicians think about their ethical rights and obligations when such conflicts emerge in clinical practice.<h4>Methods</h4>We conducted a cross-sectional survey of a stratified, random sample of 2000 practicing U.S. physicians from all specialties by mail. The primary criterion variables were physicians' judgments about their ethical rights and obligations when patients request a legal medical procedure to which the physician objects for religious or moral reasons. These procedures included administering terminal sedation in dying patients, providing abortion for failed contraception, and prescribing birth control to adolescents without parental approval.<h4>Results</h4>A total of 1144 of 1820 physicians (63%) responded to our survey. On the basis of our results, we estimate that most physicians believe that it is ethically permissible for doctors to explain their moral objections to patients (63%). Most also believe that physicians are obligated to present all options (86%) and to refer the patient to another clinician who does not object to the requested procedure (71%). Physicians who were male, those who were religious, and those who had personal objections to morally controversial clinical practices were less likely to report that doctors must disclose information about or refer patients for medical procedures to which the physician objected on moral grounds (multivariate odds ratios, 0.3 to 0.5).<h4>Conclusions</h4>Many physicians do not consider themselves obligated to disclose information about or refer patients for legal but morally controversial medical procedures. Patients who want information about and access to such procedures may need to inquire proactively to determine whether their physicians would accommodate such requests.
Project description:We often use our previous good behaviour to justify current immoral acts, and likewise perform good deeds to atone for previous immoral behaviour. These effects, known as moral self-licensing and moral cleansing (collectively, moral balancing), have yet to be observed in children. Thus, the aim in the current study was to investigate the developmental foundations of moral balancing. We examined whether children aged 4-5 years (<i>N</i> = 96) would be more likely to cheat on a task if they had previously helped a puppet at personal cost, and less likely to cheat if they had refused to help. This hypothesis was not supported, suggesting either that 4-5-year-old children do not engage in moral balancing or that the methodology used was not appropriate to capture this effect. We discuss implications and future research directions.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:The perception of transfusion-transmitted infections (TTIs) is sensitive to various concerns besides the probability and impact of infection, and some of these concerns may be ethically relevant. This paper aims to advance thinking about blood safety policies by exploring and explaining stakeholders' reasons to consider TTI risks tolerable or intolerable. MATERIALS AND METHODS:Inspired by critical empirical ethics and phenomenological hermeneutics, we held interviews and focus group discussions to explore the moral experience of policymakers, hematologists, blood donors and recipients. Respondents were invited to discuss general concerns about the blood supply, to address the tolerability of TTI risks compared with other hazards and to comment on the costs of blood safety. Arguments for tolerance or intolerance towards TTI risks were analysed qualitatively. RESULTS:Stakeholders' views could be clustered into seven categories: (1) clinical impact; (2) probability of infection; (3) avoidability of infection; (4) cost and health benefits; (5) other consequences of safety measures; (6) non-consequentialist ethical arguments; and (7) stakeholders' interests. Various arguments were offered that resonate with current ethical thinking about blood safety. Assuming that resources spent on inefficient blood safety measures could be applied more beneficially elsewhere, for example, responders typically expressed tolerance towards TTI risks. Some other arguments seem novel, for instance arguments for risk intolerance based on the low probability of infection and arguments for risk tolerance if patients have a poor prognosis. CONCLUSION:Understanding the moral experience of stakeholders enriches ethical debate about blood safety and prepares developing more widely acceptable policies.