Analysis Of The Article ' Moral Instinct ' By Steven Pinker Essay

Analysis Of The Article ' Moral Instinct ' By Steven Pinker Essay

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Does everyone know what to do at a certain point, are all of our decisions benefiting us in the future, can our actions harm others? All of these thoughts are going on in our heads on a daily basis. Now that you are thinking about it ask yourself how many decision you make a day, and how many do actually consider the outcomes of later on. In the article, “Moral Instinct” written by Steven Pinker, touches upon the point of how these decisions are made based on certain factors in society or by self-judgment. Pinker compiles lists of data, each conducting different experiments and each coming to a different conclusion to why people act certain ways. On the other hand, psychologist Carol Tavris cites studies and real-life examples explaining morality, but in her case she is concerned specifically with group behavior. Tavris specifically emphasized on how people would act in situations depending on how many people were present at a certain point in time. Both Pinker’s and Tavris’s theories help explain the poor choices George Orwell makes as he discusses it in “Shooting an Elephant.” Orwell is an English officer in Burma, but at the moment the English are not liked and it is hard for him to get around in the country. The Burmese approach Orwell one day about an untamed elephant in town, and at first he thinks it is a setup by the Burmese. Orwell later on spots the elephant and sees the damage it has caused, and now he contemplates on his actions. He decides to shoot the elephant rather than watching over it, the sole purpose being the audience that is present clouds his judgment. He is now trying to please the audience’s mind rather than making the right decision. Orwell presents his conflict with the use of self-experience through the...


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...ake decisions every second of the day some minor and others that impact our lives, most times not considering how we made these judgments. Orwell elaborates his conflict by the use of self-experience and Tavris’s use of historical experience helped illustrate both sides of the conflict. One being in the “doer’s” point of view, while the other is in the eyes of the audience. Also with Pinker’s ideology of morality, we are able to understand why people make certain decisions in life. This all ties into why Orwell makes the decision of shooting the innocent elephant at the end. Now with all this information we are able to realize how sometimes we make the decision we do. One thing we should take from this, is that we always make the choice that can better ourselves and disregard pleasing others because that cannot not only hurt us, but sometimes others around us.

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