How do good people do bad things and still live with themselves?

I am finding Albert Bandura has a very useful model for identifying the mechanisms of moral disengagement. Indeed, when I consider the current crisis of refugee children being removed from their parents, I can say I’ve seen plenty of examples of all four major mechanisms and their subtypes coming into play already. The following examples have come from multiple sources:

  1. Behaviour reframing
    1. Moral, social, and economic justifications. “They’re an existential threat”
    2. Euphemistic re-labelling. “They’re not asylum seekers, they’re illegal immigrants”
    3. Advantageous comparisons. “Lesser of two evils. A strong deterrent saves more people in the long run”
  2. Consequence reframing
    1. Denial of the consequences. “They are being treated well”
    2. Misrepresenting the consequences “It’s actually good for them”
  3. Responsibility reframing
    1. Deflecting the responsibility. “It’s the Democrats law”
    2. Diffusion of responsibility. “It’s not like it’s me who’s mistreating them”
  4. Victim reframing
    1. Dehumanisation. “They’re animals”
    2. Blaming the victim. “Their parents are responsible for bringing them”

Have you seen any of these mechanisms in play?

2 thoughts on “How do good people do bad things and still live with themselves?

  1. 1.2.b. Economic migrants.

    3.3. We need to look after poor people / old people / veterans / etcetera here, before we start thinking about other people.

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