I haven't purchased this, but this abstract is intriguing.
Why do people express moral outrage? While this sentiment often stems from a perceived violation of some moral principle, we test the counter-intuitive possibility that moral outrage at third-party transgressions is sometimes a means of reducing guilt over one’s own moral failings and restoring a moral identity. We tested this guilt-driven account of outrage in five studies examining outrage at corporate labor exploitation and environmental destruction. Study 1 showed that personal guilt uniquely predicted moral outrage at corporate harm-doing and support for retributive punishment. Ingroup (vs. outgroup) wrongdoing elicited outrage at corporations through increased guilt, while the opportunity to express outrage reduced guilt (Study 2) and restored perceived personal morality (Study 3). Study 4 tested whether effects were due merely to downward social comparison and Study 5 showed that guilt-driven outrage was attenuated by an affirmation of moral identity in an unrelated context. [emphasis mine]
While the researchers mention moral outrage over corporate wrongdoing, the first image that leaps to my mind is the self-righteousness of right wing hate radio and the GOP "red meat" strategy to whip up support.
So people can restore their perceived personal morality by angry moralizing against a hapless group or individual, after they've acted like assholes. It's like an indulgence, but instead of paying off a church you get to indulge in even more nastyness, all guilt-free. Wait, isn't that what abusers do when they beat up their wives for imagined wrongs?
Ah, a moral equivalent of "easy tricks and tips", much less bother than actually working through your moral failings and doing better, to clear your conscience.
image source (rim label mine)
Related: "This is what abortion politics is for" (Fred Clark, Slacktivist), arguing that after white evangelicals had abysmally failed the moral tests of the Civil Rights era, a "pro-life" anti-abortion [pro-forced-birth, and often anti-family-planning] position allowed them to "reclaim the moral high ground", and shut down all debate by branding proponents of abortion rights as supporting "baby killing".
And I hated to mention that phrase, even in criticism. It doesn't need any more brain space in people's heads. Equating a zygote or embryo or fetus, a potential person (though emotionally resonant and powerful when a baby is expected and wanted!) to a living, breathing, thinking, feeling baby or child or adult is simply wrong. Repeating that false equivalence makes for a Big Lie. It's "alternative facts". It's fake news.
(Feel free to share!)
In a hypothetical "ethical dilemma" situation - you have to choose between destroying a zygote and a toddler. Are any of these self-proclaimed champions of morality REALLY going to have a difficult choice?
The problem with that, Bertold, is that they don't couch it in terms of "destroying a zygote." Anti-choicers constantly talk about abortionists "killing babies." They've framed it that way from Letter A, and because people can't be bothered to actually THINK about the process of pregnancy, they've gotten away with it. Of course, their deity has slaughtered such pre-born life at a rate which would embarrass the most profligate abortionist, a privilege they grant that being without much consideration, since they defer to it as a matter of course. The one thing they have failed to do is to look at miscarriages and other suchlike events from a different perspective.
Well put, Loren.
I will share. Thanks.