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Corvinus & Rome Faculty Seminar

On April 11, 2018 the Business Ethics Center organized a Faculty Seminar with world renown psychologist Gian-Vittorio Caprara (University of Rome “La Sapienza”) on Moral Disengagement.

Gian-Vittorio Caprara

Caprara argued that in reality what people proclaim in the domain of values and virtues does not necessary correspond to what people do, as declarative morality does not necessarily turn into practical morality. Since individuals have to live with themselves, they strive to preserve self-views as people worth of respect. This, however, can be achieved through means that may also include compliance, self-deception and moral disengagement, when self-interest is at stake and people behavior do not accord with their moral standards.

As Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura discovered mechanisms of moral disengagement – such as moral justification, advantageous comparison, euphemistic labeling, diffusion of responsibility, displacement of responsibility, distortion of consequences, attribution of blame and dehumanization. These mechanisms largely account for a kind of moral leniency that allows people to live in peace with their conscience despite transgressing the moral principles they proclaim. The same mechanisms have been proved to be at work across context so to undermine the set of reciprocal obligations and expectations that the good society entails as regards trust, respect and fair treatment.

Caprara’s conclusion was that an ethic of public good requires moral agents capable of refraining from doing what may damage others and fully committed to the pursuit of common good.