You know utilitarians, those jerky people who have beat their consciences into quietude so that they can support things like abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, and such in the name of the greater good?
Yeah, those people. Well, it turns out they’re not just jerks. They might be psychos.
NEW YORK – September 30, 2011 – A study conducted by Daniel Bartels, Columbia Business School, Marketing, and David Pizarro, Cornell University, Psychology found that people who endorse actions consistent with an ethic of utilitarianism—the view that what is the morally right thing to do is whatever produces the best overall consequences—tend to possess psychopathic and Machiavellian personality traits.
In the study, Bartels and Pizarro gave participants a set of moral dilemmas widely used by behavioral scientists who study morality, like the following: “A runaway trolley is about to run over and kill five people, and you are standing on a footbridge next to a large stranger; your body is too light to stop the train, but if you push the stranger onto the tracks, killing him, you will save the five people. Would you push the man?” Participants also completed a set of three personality scales: one for assessing psychopathic traits in a non-clinical sample, one that assessed Machiavellian traits, and one that assessed whether participants believed that life was meaningful. Bartels and Pizarro found a strong link between utilitarian responses to these dilemmas (e.g., approving the killing of an innocent person to save the others) and personality styles that were psychopathic, Machiavellian or tended to view life as meaningless.
I didn’t know it, know it. But I kinda knew it, know what I mean?
Anyway, now that we know that Utilitarians are defective, can we kill them all? Ya know, for the greater good?