Event Title

Investigating the Influence of Social Pressures on Decisions to Provide Charitable Aid

Presenter Information

Alexander Lato, Colby CollegeFollow

Location

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

Start Date

30-4-2015 9:00 AM

End Date

30-4-2015 10:55 AM

Project Type

Poster

Description

It is unclear how people make ethical decisions. Peter Singer suggests in Famine, Affluence, and Morality that these decisions, especially ones regarding donations to foreign charity organizations, should be made based on calculated utilitarian rationality. It is clear, however, based on the responses to his two thought experiments, that there is more at work in judging moral obligation to a particular charitable action than rationality. There are external factors that influence our sense of obligation. Singer concedes that awareness of how a community is acting has the power to sway these ethical decisions. This project picks up on this idea, and investigates the influence of social pressure and observation on the likelyhood of donating time and money to a charity organization. Results are based on two thought experiments designed to test how our behavior changes when we know that we are being observed, and when we have the opportunity to analyze the activity of the community around us. Results show that both being observed and being aware of social activity significantly influence individual senses of obligation to a particular charity. These results are not meant to accept or reject Singer's proposal, but rather to offer an solution to the problem of why our ethical activity departs from what should be considered irrational behavior.

Faculty Sponsor

John Waterman

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. Philosophy Dept.

CLAS Field of Study

Humanities

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

1468

Share

COinS
 
Apr 30th, 9:00 AM Apr 30th, 10:55 AM

Investigating the Influence of Social Pressures on Decisions to Provide Charitable Aid

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

It is unclear how people make ethical decisions. Peter Singer suggests in Famine, Affluence, and Morality that these decisions, especially ones regarding donations to foreign charity organizations, should be made based on calculated utilitarian rationality. It is clear, however, based on the responses to his two thought experiments, that there is more at work in judging moral obligation to a particular charitable action than rationality. There are external factors that influence our sense of obligation. Singer concedes that awareness of how a community is acting has the power to sway these ethical decisions. This project picks up on this idea, and investigates the influence of social pressure and observation on the likelyhood of donating time and money to a charity organization. Results are based on two thought experiments designed to test how our behavior changes when we know that we are being observed, and when we have the opportunity to analyze the activity of the community around us. Results show that both being observed and being aware of social activity significantly influence individual senses of obligation to a particular charity. These results are not meant to accept or reject Singer's proposal, but rather to offer an solution to the problem of why our ethical activity departs from what should be considered irrational behavior.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2015/program/174