Can International Law Stop Genocide When Our Moral Intuitions Fail Us?
Slovic, P., & Zionts, D. (2012). Can international law stop genocide when our moral intuitions fail us? In R. Goodman, D. Jinks, & A. K. Woods (Eds.), Understanding social action, promoting human rights. New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Posted: 11 Mar 2010 Last revised: 22 Mar 2014
Date Written: 2012
“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? A paper based on a 2009 talk by Paul Slovic on this subject is available.
Keywords: Genocide, affect, psychophysical model, numeracy, compassion, moral intuition, interntional law
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation