What thinking about technologies tells us about ourselves: Moral focusing in everyday day life.
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
Social Psychology Seminar Series, Université de Genève (Switzerland)
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
The question ?what is morality?? is not easily answered. In Socrates? words, we are discussing no smaller matter but how we ought to live. In this contribution, an approach to investigating morality is introduced where the interest is not whether people are capable of applying abstract moral rules, and it is not whether people behave in morally good ways. Here the focus of attention is directed towards the question what moral orders people take for granted and how they orient themselves towards such socially shared moral representations in everyday life. In other words, this approach asks for moralities that individuals live by and that are reflected in everyday evaluations. Thereby, opposition in moral controversies often pertains not so much to disagreement on moral principles but rather to disagreement on how a principle should be implemented in a particular context. While the principle that human dignity should be respected is rarely disputed, for example, the question who or what counts as human is more likely to be contested. Human stem cells, for example, may or may not be understood as human entities for which the dignity concern applies. In this contribution I will introduce and discuss the concept of ?moral focusing?, which is a process of collective attention regulation through which the relevant is separated from the irrelevant - a precondition for translating moral rules or norms to concrete contexts or practices. Moral focusing becomes especially relevant whenever people face novel and confusing situations such as when different cultures meet, when new ideologies become salient, or when innovations render old routines obsolete. On the basis of qualitative data, media analyses and experimental research, this talk explores processes of moral focusing as observed in the context of everyday thinking about nature, biology and the life sciences.