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

See all articles by Paul Slovic

Paul Slovic

Decision Research; University of Oregon - Department of Psychology

David Zionts

Harvard Law School

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

“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

Slovic, Paul and Zionts, David, Can International Law Stop Genocide When Our Moral Intuitions Fail Us? (2012). 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. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1567224

Paul Slovic (Contact Author)

Decision Research ( email )

1201 Oak Street, Suite 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)
541-485-2403 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.decisionresearch.org

University of Oregon - Department of Psychology ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)

David Zionts

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
805
PlumX Metrics
!

Under construction: SSRN citations will be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information