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The moral behavior of ethics professors (talk recording available)
Dr. Eric Schwitzgebel
Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 01:00pm - 02:00pm
UC Riverside, Department of Philosophy
Do professional ethicists behave any morally better than do non-ethicists of similar social background? If not, do they at least show greater consistency between their normative attitudes and their outward behavior? Despite a long philosophical tradition associating philosophical moral cognition with improved moral behavior, these questions have never been empirically examined. I present convergent evidence from studies of about a dozen different types of moral behavior. The results suggest that ethicists behave no morally better on average or any more consistently with their espoused values. Using a combination of direct observation and self-report measures, I examine: the misappropriation of library books, voting in public elections, courtesy at professional meetings, responsiveness to student emails, charitable donation, organ and blood donation, staying in touch with one's mother, vegetarianism, honesty in responses to surveys, nonpayment of conference registration fees, Nazi party membership in the 1930s, and peer evaluation of overall moral behavior. I discuss implications for several models of moral cognition, including a “booster” model, a “rationalization” model, an “inert discovery” model, and an “epiphenomenal” model.