While evidence suggests that humans have an aversion to directly killing other humans, the phenomenon of extremist violence seems to speak against this. We review evidence in social psychological research for three ways in which people can subjectively overcome moral doubts, justifying past violence and facilitating future violence, on behalf of themselves or their social group. The victims can be dehumanized, either in the sense that they are like animals, or in the sense that they are inanimate. Victims can also be demonized as agents of evil that not only may, but must, be sought out and eliminated. Finally, in the light of recent theories of morality, perpetrators of violence can perform morality shifting – justifying their acts as fulfilling a positive moral duty to protect the ingroup and obey authority. Because perpetrators of violence believe they are acting morally, special care must be taken to distinguish their moralized justifications from genuine, evenhanded applications of morality. We argue that violent extremists and their supporters turn a deaf ear to moral pleas because they already believe themselves to be justified. Perhaps, then, the replacement of moralization by a more pragmatic approach offers the best hope for conflicts characterized by extremism.

Dehumanization, demonization, and morality shifting: Paths to moral certainty in extremist violence / Giner-Sorolla, R.; Leidner, B; Castano, E. - STAMPA. - (2011), pp. 165-182. [10.1002/9781444344073.ch10]

Dehumanization, demonization, and morality shifting: Paths to moral certainty in extremist violence

Castano E
2011-01-01

Abstract

While evidence suggests that humans have an aversion to directly killing other humans, the phenomenon of extremist violence seems to speak against this. We review evidence in social psychological research for three ways in which people can subjectively overcome moral doubts, justifying past violence and facilitating future violence, on behalf of themselves or their social group. The victims can be dehumanized, either in the sense that they are like animals, or in the sense that they are inanimate. Victims can also be demonized as agents of evil that not only may, but must, be sought out and eliminated. Finally, in the light of recent theories of morality, perpetrators of violence can perform morality shifting – justifying their acts as fulfilling a positive moral duty to protect the ingroup and obey authority. Because perpetrators of violence believe they are acting morally, special care must be taken to distinguish their moralized justifications from genuine, evenhanded applications of morality. We argue that violent extremists and their supporters turn a deaf ear to moral pleas because they already believe themselves to be justified. Perhaps, then, the replacement of moralization by a more pragmatic approach offers the best hope for conflicts characterized by extremism.
2011
Extremism and the psychology of uncertainty
Hoboken, New Jersey
Wiley-Blackwell
978-144433128-8
Giner-Sorolla, R.; Leidner, B; Castano, E
Dehumanization, demonization, and morality shifting: Paths to moral certainty in extremist violence / Giner-Sorolla, R.; Leidner, B; Castano, E. - STAMPA. - (2011), pp. 165-182. [10.1002/9781444344073.ch10]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11572/289376
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