Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Moral Talk Is Not Magic: From Grandstanding

Grandstanding is the fantastic book by Justin Tosi and Brandon Warmke that you should be reading. 

Here's a wonderful passage from the first chapter, p. 5:

...many people don't see the downside of abusing moral talk. They act as if moral talk is always admirable (at least when their side does it). For these people, moral talk is magic. Invoking sacred words--justice, dignity, rights, equality, or honor, tradition, faith, and family--magically transforms your nasty, abusive, selfish behavior into something heroic and praiseworthy. Want to be cruel to people you don't like and have your like-minded peers congratulate you? Wrap your behavior in high-flying moral language. Voila! Brave, Admirable, Speaking Truth to Power.

But moral talk is not magic. We do not have free rein to treat others badly simply because we are invoking sacred words, or because we are showing in our own way that we care. Being morally outspoken is not in itself an achievement.  [Emphasis added]