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I'm Erin Judge. I'm a comedian and a writer. I live in Los Angeles. Let's hug.

January 14, 2008

Stop Moralizing and Start Moral Acting!

I finally got a chance to read Steven Pinker's NY Times Magazine piece entitled The Moral Instinct, and it's really fascinating. Pinker suggests that a universal moral code is built into the (properly functioning) human brain, and he compares it to Chomsky's beloved universal grammar. I found the article very informative in terms of the science, and I especially enjoyed Pinker's sensible arguments about the practical implications of some of the research.

You see, as it turns out, applying our moral code to certain situations can actually stand in the way of our ability to make rational decisions. Pinker states:


The moral sense, we are learning, is as vulnerable to illusions as the other senses. It is apt to confuse morality per se with purity, status and conformity. It tends to reframe practical problems as moral crusades and thus see their solution in punitive aggression.

He gives the example of global climate change, for which much of the response thus far has amounted to moralizing certain vehicular choices over others (Hummers = evil?) when the types of sense-of-righteousness-inducing changes most green-goers are implementing actually don't make much of a difference:


Though voluntary conservation may be one wedge in an effective carbon-reduction pie, the other wedges will have to be morally boring, like a carbon tax and new energy technologies, or even taboo, like nuclear power and deliberate manipulation of the ocean and atmosphere. Our habit of moralizing problems, merging them with intuitions of purity and contamination, and resting content when we feel the right feelings, can get in the way of doing the right thing.

I couldn't agree more. We have got to stop moralizing social problems and instead start focusing on the best ways to solve them. So, I am changing the mission of this blog. That's right; instead of bitching about bridehood, I'm going on a practical crusade to HALT THE DEADLY SCOURGE OF TROLLEYS!!!



Who among us has not heard tell the tragic tale of a poor bystander compelled to switch the path of a trolley away from five innocent people but only slightly less tragically TOWARDS a basket full of adorable puppies? And what of the puppies?? Rather than wringing our collective hands about what we "should" or "shouldn't" "morally" "do" in such a "situation," I suggest we get off our asses and stop leaving bushels of puppies on our nation's trolley tracks. Seriously, is that really the best place for your puppies, dude? I mean, it should at least be a ticketable offense. Am I right people?

My campaign to stop moralizing about trolleys and start raising trolley safety awareness begins NOW. In addition to imposing fines for trolley-related puppy abandonment, I also suggest we as a society become much more diligent about signage. For example (and I'm just throwing this out there):



See, bilingual! De nada, nuestros vecinos del sur. I believe that, with the help of this blog and the power of all of you to GET OUTRAGED(!!!), we can reduce trolley injuries to American humans and adorable pets from 1 in 3,000,000 to 1 in 10,000,000* at least by the time Greenland finally melts.

Who's with me?!?! Yeah!! We can make a DIFFERENCE, my people!! GOD, I feel so....MORALLY AWESOME!!!


*statistics not real

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