Moral dissonances applied to climate change, veganism and other causes
Intellectual knowledge of moral facts doesn’t cause behavioural changes unless coupled with emotional engagement.
Here are a couple striking example:
- One might be convinced that giving up meat-eating is the most ethical posture and still not act out.
- We all know about climate change, yet are not able to act as the emergency it is. What’s the root of this behaviour?
Take the first example. My gut feeling is that one might be convinced of the arguments in favour of giving up meat-eating, for example, yet have enough societal pressure to not act on the topic. Empathy, thus, might exist at an intellectual level - yet empathy is by definition an emotional response, not an intellectial one.
What’s happening here is that the relationship of our society with animals doesn’t allow for contacts with livestock animals - ie, I’ve never been around a living pig for too long, as those opportunities don’t arise in society. A lack of contact with livestock animals outside of the context of the food industry cuts the possibility of this feeling to grow organically. Consider the (usual) reactions of children when they first meet a living usually eaten animal, such as a chicken - as they come to the realization that that’s the same thing that ends up in their plate they are usually horrorized.
I think this kind of intellectual-experiential dissonance, where one might be convinced of something and still not act out of lack of emotional backing of the thought, can be applied to many of the experiences that a modern life in a first world country gives (cloth buying, tech use, etc).
Other types of moral dissonance
At the same time, this kind moral dissonance is different from what people tend to understand by that term; methods of avoidance of a thought that collapses with one’s view of the world. In the above case, the thought does apply to one’s world view - the problem comes with the praxis.