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Teaching Ethics

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published on February 7, 2017

Deborah S. Mower

Reflections on . . . The “Borders” of Identity and Intuition

Because we automatically categorize individuals into members of in- or outgroups based on their perceived similarity to us, our social identity creates limitations and bias in our thinking. I examine the ways in which banal nationalism, cultural identifications, and group membership influence our thinking, the assumptions we hold, and the intuitions we form. If our goal is to engage in ethics without borders—a laudable goal—then we must uncover the ways in which our thinking is limited and consider strategies to escape or transcend such borders in our theoretical work and teaching. I offer two proposals using insights from cross-cultural psychology. First, I propose the acronym of WASPI as a description of the nonreflective assumptions held by many WEIRD university professors. Second, I offer a four-factor model of normative analysis as a concrete tool for our teaching and theoretical work. It is only through such processes of active and critical reflection that our goal of ethics without borders can succeed.

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