Bill Whittle: character and virtue matters

November 27, 2011

Happy end of the Thanksgiving weekend, folks. I’m sure we’re all excited to go back to work, now. 

Since this is my first post in a few days, I thought “What better way to ease back into the blogging groove than Bill Whittle’s most recent episode of Afterburner?”

Glad you agree.

It’s an interesting discussion of virtue and discipline as components of character and their role in our founding, the assumption that private virtue and self-regulating discipline made our system of self-government possible. And that their decline (which really began after the passing of the Revolutionary generation and the growth of popular democracy in the age of Jackson) lead to the growth of the State and the efforts to impose virtue and regulate behavior from above, via legislation.

And that brings to mind a pertinent quote from Cicero:

“The more laws, the less justice.”

And, perhaps, the less virtue.

I’m not sure I agree 100-percent with Bill’s arguments and examples, but that would be more in the way of a quibble, rather than substantial disagreement.

Regardless, his points are worth thinking about.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Virtuous Greens more likely to lie, cheat, and steal

March 16, 2010

Maybe I should have written “sanctimonious” rather than “virtuous,” but… whatever. A study reported in the UK’s Guardian newspaper shows that our moral superiors in the “save the Earth” movement are also more likely to steal and then lie about it:

When Al Gore was caught running up huge energy bills at home at the same time as lecturing on the need to save electricity, it turns out that he was only reverting to “green” type.

According to a study, when people feel they have been morally virtuous by saving the planet through their purchases of organic baby food, for example, it leads to the “licensing [of] selfish and morally questionable behaviour”, otherwise known as “moral balancing” or “compensatory ethics”.

Do Green Products Make Us Better People is published in the latest edition of the journal Psychological Science. Its authors, Canadian psychologists Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong, argue that people who wear what they call the “halo of green consumerism” are less likely to be kind to others, and more likely to cheat and steal. “Virtuous acts can license subsequent asocial and unethical behaviours,” they write.

The pair found that those in their study who bought green products appeared less willing to share with others a set amount of money than those who bought conventional products. When the green consumers were given the chance to boost their money by cheating on a computer game and then given the opportunity to lie about it – in other words, steal – they did, while the conventional consumers did not. Later, in an honour system in which participants were asked to take money from an envelope to pay themselves their spoils, the greens were six times more likely to steal than the conventionals.

Why am I not surprised?  Waiting

(via the always thoughtful and moderate James Delingpole)