EdgeWise 11.3.2004


Genetics and Neuroscience of Morality

Great article on how we're wired up.
Many of the world’s great conflicts may be rooted in such neuronal differences, Greene says, which may explain why the conflicts seem so intractable. "We have people who are talking past each other, thinking the other people are either incredibly dumb or willfully blind to what's right in front of them," Greene says. "It's not just that people disagree, it’s that they have a hard time imagining how anyone could disagree on this point that seems so obvious." Some people wonder how anyone could possibly tolerate abortion. Others wonder how women could possibly go out in public without covering their faces. The answer may be that their brains simply don't work the same: Genes, culture, and personal experience have wired their moral circuitry in different patterns.

Greene hopes that research on the brain’s moral circuitry may ultimately help resolve some of these seemingly irresolvable disputes. "When you have this understanding, you have a bit of distance between yourself and your gut reaction," he says. "You may not abandon your core values, but it makes you a more reasonable person. Instead of saying, 'I am just right and you are just nuts,' you say, 'This is what I care about, and we have a conflict of interest we have to work around.'"
posted at 16:20:00    #    comment []    trackback []

Feminist Lifestyle Questions

How can someone live a really proactive Feminist lifestyle? Are there regular or daily feel-good Feminist activities equivalent to other issues (recycling, socially responsible consumerism, vegetarianism, living in a racially diverse neighborhood, etc.)

I don't necessarily need to daily succeed in ending the gender pay equity gap, for instance, but I do need to feel like I am structuring my life to combat it, without being in a hiring position. For many Feminist issues, I am dumbfounded at how just living correctly can have an impact, aside from not personally propogating problems.

This really upsets me because my life has been designed to have a positive impact on many Progressive issues that I don't feel as strongly about as Feminism. Intersectionality implies that as I make Progressive change, it will spill over and indirectly positively impact women's issues, but this doesn't get us off the hook. It's certainly not as satisfying as directly addressing Feminist issues through lifestyle choices.

Sure, I'm reliably activist in protecting reproductive choice (March for Choice, even occasional clinic escort) but that's really only a very small part of Feminism, and activism is only a small portion of my life (15 hours a week). There's got to be ways to better integrate Feminism into my lifestyle.

You can make socially responsible investments to promote feminist issues, and I do.

As a responsible consumer, there's no Feminist certification label (such as Fair Trade) to insure that the products I buy are made by a company that provides child care, and has non-discriminatory hiring, wage, and promotion practices. There are directories of women owned companies, and I could try to prefer buying their products, not that it's a guarantee that they meet any of those criteria. Does Ms. magazine or something report on the 500 worst companies like the environmental groups do on their issues?

There's no dietary change like vegetarianism that improves the situation for women (aside from possibly buying food in socially responsible consumerism as above).

I dunno. I'd be interested in hearing suggestions.
posted at 11:14:56    #    comment []    trackback []
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