Posts Tagged ‘morality’

Law of Effect Needs Moral Governance

January 18, 2018

Law of Effect Needs Moral Governance

There are many psychological principles that determine human behavior. They work together in complex ways and the behavioral outcomes of these interactions often appear to be both synergistic and exponential.

For example, being sexually abused twice, 1+1, may not equal a magnitude of disturbance in the victim of 2; it might equal a magnitude of disturbance of 5. Other unfortunate experiences frequently evolve from this person’s troubled behavior and is likely to produce a quickly accelerating rate of more troubled emotions and behaviors.

Of course principles of genetics and biology are of great importance. The interactions between these factors and psychological factors are bi-directional. Therefore, principles of psychology influence behavior and behavior is influenced by bio-genetic factors.

For example, a person born with the genetic factors that determine alcohol addiction will be more motivated to consume alcohol to excess , which in turn, can lead to more physical and psychological problems. These problems can include broken families, road fatalities, ruined business early death due to alcohol related illnesses or suicide.

In the previous example of rape, the victim may turn to drugs or alcohol in order to self-medicate for the fears and anxieties that typically are associated with rapes or other traumas. This can lead to more physical and psychological problems, which could end in bad outcomes for the individual and society.

These individuals could be helped by entering therapy. But many refuse treatment, are only partially assisted, or even fail to benefit in any measurable way.

Any society that designs itself in ways that accidentally, or selfishly, increase such problems for their citizens and then spends increasing revenues and energy to fix the problems is maladaptive and self-defeating. Such cultural designs are on a certain path to cultural decline.

This defines one of modern America’s most severe and worsening self-management problems.

The primary focus of the remainder of this blog will be upon psychological principles, processes and behavioral outcomes.

The great and powerful Law of Effect states that the probability of behavior is controlled by its consequences. The higher an animal is placed upon the phylogentic continuum, the greater the Law of Effect influences that animal’s behavior. Therefore, human behavior (good, bad, or indifferent) is most greatly influenced by the Law of Effect. The behavior of animals lower on the phyologentic scale is less influenced by the law of effect and more so by genetics.

Unfortunately, if  the powerful and natural influences of the Law of Effect and other interacting psychological principles are not guided by commonly accepted moral rules, values and consequences transmitted consistently and synchronously; within families, agencies and organizations (at managerial and governmental levels)…increased rates of bad behaviors within populations will certainly occur.

This is my prediction based upon principles of conditioning and learning theory and behavioral/cognitive social learning theory. My prediction is also informed by my 36 years as a professor of psychology and over 40 years as a private cognitive/behavioral therapist.

The population behavior changes I have seen in America during the course of my adult life (now at 75 yrs.) is largely, though not a singularly result, of a decline in our moral rules and consequences that less and less consistently govern our behavior. The interacting biopsychosocial scientific principles and  behavioral outcomes cause by this erosion of moral rules, values and consequences is what I call Behavioral Contagion. More specifically, Bad Behavioral contagion, leading to increased rates of bad behavior.

For our informal purposes, “bad behaviors” will include those  perceptions, emotions, beliefs and actions that damage the healthy physical and psychological development of children, adolescents and adults. These problems are very expensive and decrease the ability of a society to survive long and well.

To be sure, an entire book could be written about what bad behavior is, and is not, and there would be disagreement about what are good or bad behaviors under various circumstances. Regarding the class of “good behaviors”, I view these as human actions that are incompatible with, or compete with, the bad behaviors as defined above.

Most people would agree that, bad behaviors are neglecting, abusing or abandoning children or other loved ones; becoming addicted to activities or substances; lying, cheating, stealing and murdering, etc.. Most people would would agree that behaviors that are incompatible, or compete with, such actions would be examples of good or non-harmful behavior.

My general definitions, for the sake of this blog, will allow most folks to begin to to think about this complex matter of desirable, pro-social (good), or undesirable antisocial (bad) behavior among residents of our society.

It is important that citizens of America learn to think about such moral values and judgments because they determine the consequences for the actions of  themselves and others (rewards, punishments or no consequences) through their social interactions with others. Just as importantly, in America’s Representative Republic, citizens also influence the moral values, rules and consequences for themselves and others by casting votes for those who will be elected to make and enforce, or change the rules that govern all of us.

So, now comes the big question based upon Behavioral Contagion Theory: What can be done to decrease bad behavioral contagion in America and, as a result, also increase our cultural health and viability? 

Without a doubt, the “wisdom of the ages”, on this matter can be found in the moral precepts of the worlds greatest peaceful religions. My research finds that many scientists who study cultural decline, note that when populations loose their faith in their God’s teachings, they also loose the moral precepts and values important for their culture’s health and viability. This phenomenon appears to be happening to many (perhaps all, to some degree), modern technologically advancing societies in the world. 

I judge that skillfully using the psychological (and genetic/biological) principles of behavioral contagion will naturally decrease rates of bad behavior and increase rates of good behavior in America. But, to achieve this will require that we strengthen the influences of the social agencies, families, churches, schools and media influences that can promulgate and model moral rules and values and also reward conformity to these rules and values with acceptance, praise, recognition, influence, political power and material/financial consequences

Though it is unpopular in America’s increasingly immoral society, withholding these rewards for those who do not follow moral rules is essential. In extreme cases, murder, robbery, rape and child abuse, etc. To ever be effective, Swift and certain punishment must be administered by authorities for these and similar behaviors. 

For this chain of events to occur will require that America’s government (at all levels) cease the restrictions and punishments for America’s traditional and contemporary, peaceful and pro-social religious influences. 

I judge that it is essential to vote only for those public servants who support conservative moral rules and values to guide local, state and national governance. This will naturally catalyze increasing rates of good behavioral contagion in America and decrease rates of bad behavioral contagion.

Wake-Up America: Vote For Conservative Moral Values and Principles!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Psychology

Health Services Provider in Psychology

 

 

 

Some Truth About America’s Moral Decline

January 14, 2018

Some Truth About America’s Moral Decline.

I presume that you are aware of America’s moral decline. It is very real and it is a function of many factors that have changed in American culture; some are not so easily identified as connected with our moral decline. 

The following is an article that identifies a couple of factors that are directly related to America’s moral decline. 

It is very important that Americans see this clearly. My research suggests that moral decline is all too often associated with a decline in a societies viability and long-term debilitation.

Please read this short and insightful article.

Wake-Up America!

https://patriotpost.us/opinion/53401

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 1/14/18

President Trump’s Bad Language

January 13, 2018

President Trump’s Bad Language

There is no question, President Trump can use bad language if he is angered.

Read the outstanding book about this President’s amazing strong points, “Let Trump Be Trump”, and find that it is honest enough to report that Trump is prone to profanity when he discovers a lack of progress or incompetence. Who should be surprised to find that a man who is used to wielding great power to get his own way can become upset and unpleasant when he does not?  So what?!

Democrats, RINO republicans, and liberal members of the deep state will certainly inflate and leak such incidences. They do this to derail Trump’s “America First” efforts and to distract attention from their own evil agenda of exchanging favors to the poor, uneducated and gullible… for votes and power.

Who, in touch with reality, would be unaware of any of this?

There are at least three points to ponder on this matter.

First Point:

Is President Trump “Crazy”, as so many liberals allege?

The simple answer is absolutely not. How could it be so in light of his many life-long consistent and complex accomplishments? I will grant that he is likely to show a difficult personality when he is failing to achieve his goals. But his thinking must have remained stable and rational or he would have been incapable of a life-time of his stellar achievements.

Note that the word “crazy” is a pejorative slang term used to destroy the credibility of someone. The closest technical term to this word is psychosis, a term used by psychologists and psychiatrists for one of the most debilitating psychological conditions featuring great mental confusion and the loss of contact with reality.

President Trump is certainly not psychotic.

Furthermore, President Trump’s recent physical exam found him to be in very good condition. A physician would certainly have been able to determine if the President was in a state of psychosis (i.e.,”crazy”), or not.

The Second Point:

Is President Trump a racist?

I am unable to tell you what his deepest thoughts are on this matter, nor are others who do not know him intimately.

My research finds that most liberals, and the main-stream media are convinced that he is. Additionally, a very few liberal republicans in favor of chain immigration and continued liberal immigration policies from very poor third-world countries may also accuse him of racism.

Trump has reached-out to minorities as no other republican has for many years. He should be given the benefit of doubt on this issue.

An alternative explanation for President Trump’s position of immigration is that randomly selected, or indiscriminately admitted uneducated and unskilled individuals from third-world countries are overloading America’s social welfare, medical, educational and law enforcement/judicial systems. As a result these essential systems are in financial crises and their dramatically increased work loads are stressing their workers to the point of systemic breakdown.

This problem threatens the viability of America. It can only be resolved by increasing tax supplied funds to our essential social systems. This would be a self-destructive act on top of other self-destructive acts. Or, it can be resolved by changing our immigration system to  merit based policies to insure that immigrants are self-sufficient.

It is critically important to vote for the latter solution.

The reader should also note that uncontrolled immigration from certain Islamic countries has led to increased terrorism in America and in every other country that has tried to assimilate their refugees.

You have probably noticed that most of these countries happen to be largely inhabited by people who are not Caucasians. This is the flimsy and dishonest basis for those on the “left” launching defamatory attacks on President Trump, calling him a racist.

Perhaps you are familiar with the scientific dictum: “Correlation is not causation”.

Trump’s objection to unlimited immigration from third-world or terrorist-ridden countries is absolutely not proof that he is a “racist”.

More likely, it is proof that President Trump is putting America’s urgent need to reverse its steep decline and recover its financial and cultural health and viability is first and foremost among his many objectives.

The Third Point.

Is President Trump distinctive in his use of bad language and crude remarks?

It is a fact that Trump will win no prizes for consistent tact and diplomatic language, though he is very capable of this style of communication.

I am not arguing that profane and crude language is a good thing. But it is a fact that public language and language in chambers, during political combat, can get pretty salty.

See for yourself.

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/lists/a-brief-history-of-presidential-profanity-20121210/abraham-lincoln-19691231

Wake-Up America!

Radical Liberals, socialists, progressives, RINO’s, and their deep state accomplists are attempting to destroy and then impeach our properly elected President of the United States.

Vote Conservative Republican!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 1/13/18

The Psychology of Morality: Religion vs Atheism

January 20, 2012

The Psychology of Morality: Religion vs Atheism

There are clear reasons why secular-based moral behavior is likely to be weaker than religiously based moral behavior.

Psychologists know, and generally teach their students that immediate consequences (reinforcement and punishment) most powerfully influence behavior. However, Dr. Richard Malott (A professor of psychology at Western Michigan University) has made a special exception to that rule for humans who have mastered the use of language and who can well experience, read about and hear about the past, present. Humans can also imagine, or be informed of future probable events, and they can estimate the size and impact of those consequences for themselves and others.

Professor Malott observes (and so can you), that immediate consequences that are small and not certain are not so likely to influence our behavior. Familiar examples of this weak control would be wearing a seat belt to avoid injury in case of an automobile collision, exercising regularly to avoid a host of possible health difficulties, or brushing our teeth three times a day to avoid cavities, etc..

The control of our behavior is much more powerful when consequences that are delayed, are also very large and very certain. We would be unlikely to attempt to fly to airplane to a destination if we did not know, for certain, that we had enough fuel to arrive safely. A mariner would most likely avoid voyaging in the direction of a developing hurricane.

Of course immediate, large, and very certain consequences control our behavior best. Humans normally avoid stepping in front of a speeding automobile, walking of cliffs, and petting rattle snakes.

But more to the point, for those who believe in God, both immediate cognitive-emotional (guilty thoughts and feelings), social (social disapproval) consequences;  and delayed spiritual consequences (Heaven or Hell) related to moral and immoral behavior can be very big, and very certain .

For non believers, there are no spiritual consequences. Furthermore secular social consequences are often small, delayed, and improbable for religiously based moral prescriptions (tell the truth, treat others kindly, don’t steal, etc.).

On the other hand immoral behavior earns relatively immediate, large, and certain physiological reinforcement (pornography and sex = novel stimulation and orgasm, ingestion of drugs and alcohol = reduced anxiety and rewarding changes in states of consciousness, Gambling and violence = physiological excitement and dominance). Furthermore, individuals  will easily find social contexts in which to behave in immoral ways and gain positive reinforcement from others.

To the believer, “the wages of sin is death”. To the secularist humanist, all too often, the wages of sin are more immediate, larger and more certain reinforcement.

 

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.,  1/20/12

A Founding Father’s Moral Guidline

February 9, 2011

A Founding Father’s Moral Guidline

Founder's Quote Daily

“Men must be ready, they must pride themselves and be happy to sacrifice their private pleasures, passions and interests, nay, their private friendships and dearest connections, when they stand in competition with the rights of society.” –John Adams, letter to Mercy Warren, 1776


To subscribe to Founder’s Quote Daily and The Patriot Post, link to http://patriotpost.us/subscribe/.

Wake-Up America!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

Religion Accomplishes What Reason Cannot

January 2, 2011

Religion Accomplishes What Reason Cannot

Having again emersed myself in the philosophy of morality and ethics, I again endure the fog of semantical moras, the negation of all negations—the immorality of all moralities. My years as an academician have equipped me with a perverse enjoyment of a few battles of ideas that cannot be won. With regard to the philosophy of morality and ethics, I return again and again to find “the winner”, but the unquestioned victor never emerges.

What does emerge for me is the imperative of some practical guidelines that, under normal corcomstances, should not be questioned.

The following is taken from Robert H. Bork’s extraordinary book (p.278), Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline.

For me, Robert Bork has untied the Gordian Knot. In more colloquial terms: he has “cut the crap”. Please see what you think.

The following are Robert Bork’s words.

Today’s Religious conservatives take Christianity and Judaism seriously, but that does not place them outside a very long moral tradition. C. S. Lewis: ‘The number of actions about whose ethical quality a Stoic, an Aristotelian, a Thomist, a Kantian, and a Utilitarian would agree is , after all very large.  And again: ‘A Christian who understands his own religion laughs when unbelievers expect to trouble him by the assertion that Jesus uttered no command which had not been anticipated by the Rabbis—few, indeed, which cannot be paralleled in classical, ancient Egyptian, Ninevite, Babylonian, or Chinese texts. We have long recognized that truth with rejoicing. Our faith is not pinned on a crank.’

Bork goes on to say:

Only religion can accomplish for a modern society what tradition, reason, and empirical observation cannot. Christianity and Judaism provide the major premises of moral reasoning by revelation and by the stories in the Bible. There is not need to attempt the impossible task of reasoning your way to first principles. Those principles are accepted as given by God.

For most people, only revealed religion can supply the premises from which the prescriptions of morality can be deduced. Religion tells us what the end of man should be and that information supplies the premises for moral reasoning and hence a basis for moral conduct. Philosophers cannot agree on the proper end of man and hence cannot supply the necessary premises. Religion is by its nature authoritative and final as to first principles. It must be so or it would be valueless. Those principles are given on a stone tablet, either literally or figuratively, and so long as you believe the religion, there is simply no possibility to arguing with what is on the tablet.

 End of quotes.

In my view, there is no way out but this: Either a socioculture is built upon commonly accepted, religiously based precepts, or it will fall under the weight of its own behavioral chaos—much as America and the West is now.

Happy New Year.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.    1/2/11

Politics……How-Bout Some Moral Leadership?!

January 29, 2010

Politics……..How-Bout Some Moral Leadership?!

The following is from Founders Quote Daily by the Patriot Post.Com

“[A] good moral character is the first essential in a man, and that the habits contracted at your age are generally indelible, and your conduct here may stamp your character through life. It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous.” –George Washington, letter to Steptoe Washington, 1790

VTM, 1/29/10

 

Ahmadinejad on America’s Fate

September 26, 2009

Ahmadinejad on America’s Fate

In an Associated Press article entitled: “Iran Leader Blasts U.S, Capitalism”, Karin Laube describes Ahmadinejad’s speech to the U.N..

“Ahmadinejad portrayed Iran as a defender of poor countries, lashed-out at unbridled capitalism which he said has reached the end of the road and will suffer the same fate as Marxism.”

The main message is unmistakable. This meglomaniac dictator thinks that our way of life is all but on the trash-heap of history. O.k., what else would you expect him to say? We’re supposed to listen to this crazy man?! We’re supposed to listen to the man who repeatedly states that the holocaust never happened, etc.?!

But wait—did you notice the word “unbridled” when he refered to our doomed capitalism?

If capitalism is now unbridled, it must mean that it was once bridled by something. Could it be that Ahmadinejad has noticed something that we have not? Afterall, even psychotics can perceive fragments of reality.

In my opinion, what once “bridled” Capitalism (and also our Republic) was the more pervasive rule of ethics and morality. These ethics were based upon Judeo/Christian religious teachings. Of course the influences of these ethics was never perfect,  they were greatly more powerful than they are now.

Our Founding Fathers knew that our Republic could not last without a strong religious/ethical base. More recently, Thomas Sowell (the well-known Economist) documented the powerfully damaging effects of corruption upon the economies of Nations (see my recommended readings).

People, I am sickened with fear about crazy Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s prediction: “unbridled capitalism will suffer the same fate as Marxism.”

VTM, 0/26/09

P.S. The Associated Press article appeared in the 9/24/09 issue of the South Bend Tribune (Indiana).

P.S., I now detect that increasingly our fate may well be Marxism! (3/8/18)

 


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