Yesterday author Albert Bandura joined Michael Krasny of The Forum to discuss his latest book, Moral Disengagement: How People Do Harm and Live With Themselves. In the interview, Dr. Bandura takes a look at how people rationalize committing inhumanities and why some people seem to lack moral accountability.
In his theory, Dr. Bandura identifies eight methods that people use to disengage morally and still feel good about themselves. The first, and in Dr. Bandura’s opinion likely the most powerful, is moral justification – using worthwhile ends to justify inhumane means. As an example, Dr. Bandura points to recent atrocities committed by ISIS in the name of Allah where religious ideology “justifies” the means.
But what about people who refuse to cross over the line and do not commit such acts? Those people show moral courage; they have a sense of common humanity and also have empathy and compassion for the plight of others. In his book, Dr. Bandura also emphasizes the power of humanization and highlights a story from WWI during which the Allied and German forces were in the trenches about to launch a campaign on Christmas Eve. The soldiers decided to come together in a one-day truce. Exchanging rations and pictures of their families and children, the soldiers humanized themselves. When the truce was over, they had a sense that their enemies were good people and were presented with a choice -- they chose to shoot over the trenches.
To hear more about Dr. Bandura’s theory, stream or download the full interview:
Learn more about Dr. Bandura's text, Moral Disengagement: How People Do Harm and Live With Themselves: