Can International Law Stop Genocide When Our Moral Intuitions Fail Us?
Decision Research; University of Oregon - Department of Psychology
UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL ACTION, PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS, R. Goodman, D. Jinks, & A. K. Woods, eds., Forthcoming
“If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at one, I will.” This statement, uttered by Mother Teresa, captures a powerful and deeply unsettling insight into human nature: Most people are caring and will exert great effort to rescue “the one” whose needy plight comes to their attention. But these same people often become numbly indifferent to the plight of “the one” who is part of a much greater problem. Why does this occur? The answer to this question will help us answer a related question: Why do good people and their governments ignore mass murder and genocide?
Keywords: Genocide, affect, psychophysical model, numeracy, compassion, moral intuition, interntional lawAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 11, 2010 ; Last revised: September 29, 2010
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