Tag Archives: morality

Breaking Bad: Breaking Men from the Inside

15 Aug

By now zillions of atoms have be scattered on the internet to the end of explicating Breaking Bad. I’ve read some of that, but not much. Breaking Bad‘s Moral Lesson to Civilians, by Alex Horton, is the best that I’ve read.

While I’ve found the show compelling, sometimes more, sometimes less, I couldn’t make sense of it. Yeah, it’s one of those new-fangled high-quality TV series, like The Sopranos, that’s, you know, dark. The other “dark” shows that I’ve seen (say, Deadwood or The Wire) nonetheless managed to make sense to me. Breaking Bad, compelling, but why?

Horton offers a compelling reason:

Walter, along with several of the Breaking Bad characters, exhibits a term many of us in the military and veterans community have come to understand as a moral injury, and the show profoundly explores the concept in a way previously unseen in film and television. Of course, virtually no troops or veterans have much in common with the criminals in the show, but the reaction to traumatic events is universal, be it in war or a fictional universe.

To be clear, a moral injury is not a psychiatric diagnosis. Rather, it’s an existential disintegration of how the world should or is expected to work—a compromise of the conscience when one is butted against an action (or inaction) that violates an internalized moral code. It’s different from post-traumatic stress disorder, the symptoms of which occur as a result of traumatic events. When a soldier at a checkpoint shoots at a car that doesn’t stop and kills innocents, or when Walter White allows Jesse’s troublesome addict girlfriend to die of an overdose to win him back as a partner, longstanding moral beliefs are disrupted, and an injury on the conscience occurs.

As he chokes the life from Krazy-8 with a bike lock [early in the first season], Walter enters a distorted moral universe where killing and death become the currency of his trade.

That I can understand. It makes sense. Continue reading

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Greed on Wall Street Prevents Good from Happening – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com

16 Mar

In this research we looked at the ethical conduct among society’s haves and have-nots. In one study we found that wealthier subjects cheated more. After five apparently random rolls of a computer die for a chance to win some cash, wealthier participants were more likely to report scores higher than 12 — even though the game was rigged so that scores higher than 12 were impossible. When we positioned assistants at four-way traffic stops and pedestrian zones, wealthy drivers in high-priced cars were more likely to cut off other drivers or ignore pedestrians. In still other studies, the wealthy were more likely to lie in negotiations and endorse unethical behavior at work, like deceiving clients for profit. Wealthier subjects even took more candy from a jar that was ostensibly for children.

via Greed on Wall Street Prevents Good from Happening – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

Jonathan Haidt Decodes the Tribal Psychology of Politics – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education

1 Feb

Meanwhile, though Haidt still supports President Obama, he chides Democrats for a moral vision that alienates many working-class, rural, and religious voters. Though he’s an atheist, he lambasts the liberal scientists of New Atheism for focusing on what religious people believe rather than how religion binds them into communities. And he rakes his own social-psychology colleagues over the coals for being “a tribal moral community that actively discourages conservatives from entering” and for making the field’s nonliberal members feel like closeted homosexuals. (See related article, Page B8.)

“Liberals need to be shaken,” Haidt tells me. They “simply misunderstand conservatives far more than the other way around.”

via Jonathan Haidt Decodes the Tribal Psychology of Politics – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Gulf of Morality – NYTimes.com

14 Nov

The intensification of disagreements over moral values not only makes compromise difficult to achieve, but sharpens competition for scarce goods at a time when austerity dominates the agenda. If, as is increasingly the case, left and right see their opposites as morally corrupt, the decision to cut the benefits or raise the taxes of the other side become easy – too easy — to justify.

via The Gulf of Morality – NYTimes.com.

Can OWS end America’s war against the poor? – Occupy Wall Street – Salon.com

7 Nov

Now, in what seems like no time at all, the fog has lifted and the topic on the table everywhere seems to be the morality of contemporary financial capitalism. The protestors have accomplished this mainly through the symbolic power of their actions: by naming Wall Street, the heartland of financial capitalism, as the enemy, and by welcoming the homeless and the down-and-out to their occupation sites. And of course, the slogan “We are the 99 percent” reiterated the message that almost all of us are suffering from the reckless profiteering of a tiny handful. (In fact, they aren’t far off: the increase in income of the top 1 percent over the past three decades about equals the losses of the bottom 80 percent.)

via Can OWS end America’s war against the poor? – Occupy Wall Street – Salon.com.