Moral grandstanding

I’m glad we now have a term other than (the inaccurate) ‘social justice warrior’ to deal with people who find pleasure in seeking out people and situations just so they can take the moral high ground.

This quotation from an article by Antonia Case in the most recent issue of New Philosopher magazine explains things better than I could:

“Hungry for social status within their own group, humans typically resort to prestige (knowledge, skills, success, or wealth) or dominance (intimidation, coercion, or sheer brute force) to get others to admire them. And grandstanders… seek prestige for their own moral qualities while, at the same time, employing moral talk to shame and silence others.”

Antonia Case, ‘Grandstander in the family’, New Philosopher (Spring 2020)

There may be the black and white of good vs evil when you’re a child, but when you get older and more mature there are so many shades of grey. You can’t say that everything depends on intentions. Or outcomes. And context is so very important.

As the philosopher Bertrand Russell put it:

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

Bertrand Russell

That’s not to say that all moral grandstanders are stupid. Rather that they the sureness with which they express their opinions is an edifice built on sand.

Of course,, social networks such as Twitter, now commonly referred to as ‘rage machines’ are the perfect place for instant gratification after drive-by moral grandstanding.