Essay on The Moral Psychology Behind Occurrences Of Atrocity

1122 Words Jan 27th, 2015 null Page
This paper investigates the moral psychology behind occurrences of atrocity, their key claim is that “Perpetrators of atrocity typically occupy excusing conditions and are therefore not morally responsible for their conduct”. This paper is not suggesting this makes the atrocities committed acceptable or even that the people who commit them deserve less criminal punishment. What the paper is suggesting is that there are situations that profoundly degrade an individuals’ capacity for the cognitive ability needed for moral judgment and prevent the acknowledgement of moral responsibility.
They reach this conclusion by considering philosophical situations considered to be cognitively degrading and which prevent capable mature individuals from behaving morally responsibly. These situations are regarded to be excusing conditions. They also present empirical observations on moral psychology and combat, supporting the argument that war is very often cognitively degrading enough to prevent the ability to behave morally therefore rendering those individuals at war not morally culpable. The atrocities committed in combat at Abu Ghraib are proven via photographic evidence, it is clear who did what in the situations. What isn’t clear to the average person is why they would do such reprehensible acts such as torturing, sodomising and starving prisoners without any obvious remorse. This situation is used as an observational example of the excusing conditions eliminating moral…

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