Friday, July 15, 2016

Labeling and Moral Theorizing

From guest blogger, Mark.

This might not be very significant, but I had a thought about labeling theory when formulating philosophical viewpoints.

Labeling theory is a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, where an individual might accept or reject certain traits, behaviors, evidences, etc. based on terms that would be used to describe or classify them. A good example would be personality tests, where results that would validate one's (or others') perception of their self are more easily accepted.  

Going a step further, labeling may be projected and alter one's perception of others.  The implications of this can range from benign ("that one friend...", "people like you...", etc.) to malicious e.g. certain races being perceived as inferior, thereby justifying activity such as slavery or genocide.

With such a heavy importance placed on what constitutes a moral being, and the weight of consequences in regards to said moral beings, we have to wonder how self-fulfilling prophecies might influence one's ability to evaluate philosophical theory.

We have already experienced this when discussing deontology; any case can be made abstract enough to be justifiable.  What about when judging consequences?

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