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Take the Moral Sense Test

In "The Science Behind Making Moral Decisions," NPR’s Allan Coukell reports that scientists are jumping in to a realm usually occupied by philosophers, ethicists and religious leaders: morality. They are trying to determine where moral decisions are made in your brain, and they’re also assessing the quality of those decisions.

Their evidences, so far, suggests that although most people think they have a sense of what is right and wrong and that sense doesn’t change, it is in fact variable, depending on the circumstances. In other words, though most believe in objective morality, when tested, it seems they don’t.

"The trolley problem" is used as an example. Basically, you can save the lives of 5 people if you flip the switch and sacrifice the life of one. Most people will say that’s okay. However, if you had to personally kill the one person to save the 5, most people wouldn’t say that’s okay.

I was thinking that the second part of the trolley problem would propose that the person you’d be killing by flipping the switch was your best friend, mother, or child (whomever you like the most). That would have made a different point, though. The point they were aiming for is that if you have to cause someone physical harm yourself, you would opt not to. Meanwhile, if you could press a button and have the harm caused, that would be more acceptable to you. There is no mention of this in the story, but . . . If you were not starving and you could slaughter a cow yourself in order to eat a hamburger, would you choose to do that? Would you think it was okay? Would it be more okay to go to McDonald’s and order a hamburger at the drive-through? If so, what’s the difference between the two acts on a moral level?

Please participate in The Moral Sense Test, which is a Harvard project still in the data collection phase. It is composed of hypotheticals, and that’s about all I can tell you. You may only take it once. You can get a brief conclusion (for lack of a better word) of your responses at the end.

I am fully convinced that religion is on the way out as a moral source. It’s far-too problematic both historically, and practically. I am convinced that as the global consciousness evolves, a new morality will become clear. But it will always be up to the individual to decide whether they want to choose a different path. And suffer the consequences in this life and beyond.

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