We are often awed by some few people who act quickly to intervene in dangerous situations, protect property and order, and even save lives. We hail them as “Heroes” and honor them accordingly.
One wonders “How do they decide to act so quickly?”. The short answer may be “They don’t …“.
” …the heroes overwhelming described their actions as fast and intuitive, and virtually never as carefully reasoned.”
Steve Layman has thought about this and comes to this conclusion: “I don’t believe their “study”, where in a few short sentences, he outlines several incongruities in our usual acceptance of heroic behaviors.
He reflects indirectly about an analysis of Carnegie Hero Medal acts which indicates a strong correlation between heroic acts and unconscious behavior.
The role of preparatory training and experience in preparing people to act quickly and without conscious consideration is noted, as it should be. Steve also mentions the realitonship to identifying some unconscious actions as moral acts, which introduces some new questions:
What do moral expectations have to do with doing the right thing at the right time?
Are acts which result in good, such as saving lives, automatically moral acts?
How do conscious and unconscious intentions figure into all this?
Consider this example:
A bank robber robs a bank, but then stops to give first aid to a passer-by who has fainted from all the excitement. Medical first responders on the scene agree that the robber’s act saved the person’s life. The robber is then arrested and tried for his crime.
How do you consider the two separate but connected behaviors?
Click on all the links above to learn more and then reflect on what you find. Share your thoughts here if desired.
Wondering why this particular issue caught my attention in the Heartland ….
Image: (WIlliam) Wallace Monument window in Stirling, Scotland via Wikipedia