Compensatory Ethics and Easy Virtue

A two’fer because I really like both articles and they are somewhat related, insofar as an email thread between me and someone else covered both.

So, compensatory ethics:

The idea that good people reside on one side of the political divide and bad
people on another is a naïve and foolish way to look at the world. But it’s
also self-congratulatory and cultivates a sense of entitlement. The study
of the concept of “compensatory ethics” suggests that people who engage
in certain types of self-defined moral behavior, such as buying “green”
products, are more likely to make moral shortcuts in other ways, such as
cheating or stealing, according to one study by Canadian psychologists.
In other words, a lot of people seem to believe that if you vote the right
way and support the right causes, you’re entitled to behave badly in other
aspects of your life.

In this context, I’d modify that “self-defined” to “group defined” or “tribally defined”. I would also modify the argument such that the left-wing practitioners of compensatory ethics can also ignore the consequences of their behaviors. We see this all the time from the advocates of left-wing policies:

Why do liberals always advocate for more welfare, more food stamps and more giveaways despite all the damage they do to the people who are taking handouts? Because they get to claim you’re “heartless” for not wanting to do that, which they think makes them “compassionate” in comparison. Is that true? Does it make sense? Of course not, but as Doug Bandow noted, “Years ago Marvin Olasky wrote how compassion traditionally meant to ‘suffer with.’ Over the years it turned into writing a check. Now it means making other people write checks.”

With liberals, it’s always about virtue on the cheap without their having to sacrifice anything personally.

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