Search Episodes
Listen, Share, & Support
Listen to the latest episode
Subscribe via iTunes
Subscribe via RSS
Become a fan
Follow on Twitter

Support Us:

Please consider making a donation to help make this podcast possible. Any contribution, great or small, helps tremendously!

Subscribe to E-Mail Updates

Related Readings
  • Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life
    Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life
    by Massimo Pigliucci
  • Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
    Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
    by Massimo Pigliucci
  • Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science
    Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science
    by Massimo Pigliucci

RS 235 - Tage Rai on "Why people think their violence is morally justified"

Release date: June 24th, 2019

Tage Rai (Photo: Reed Hutchinson)

We typically think of violence as being caused by a lack of control, or by selfish motives. But what if, more often than not, violence is intended to be morally righteous? That's the thesis of the book "Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships." Author Tage Rai debates his book's thesis with Julia. Plus: What does The Iliad teach us about changing attitudes about morality over time?


"Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships" by Alan Fiske and Tage Rai

"The Division of Labor in Society" by Emile Durkheim

"The Iliad" by Homer

Tage Rai's Twitter

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Reader Comments (8)

Having studied history academically I also have a similar "These people are just like me!/These people are aliens!" experience.
June 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEran
Post Hoc Pseudo Rationalization does seem a more likely explanation for the "moral basis" of perpetrator explanations of their conduct. Most violent criminals probably lack an actual a priori moral purpose for their crimes. How many spouse abusers and robbers really engage in misconduct due to their desire to change the world for the better? Wife abusers frequently say "She made me do it", and then list the "sins" of their victim that supposedly justify violence against her. Likewise, robbers will claim that rich people exploit the poor to justify violently dispossessing the rich of their wealth. However, abusive spouses really just want control, and robbers really just want money. Even w/o an audience, criminals will tend to post hoc pseudo rationalize their misconduct in order to assure themselves of their own moral worth.

Certain religious violence, such as "honor killings" might have a pseudo moralistic motivation.

Tage Rai will probably have a difficult time making his case, but he seems quite intelligent and well suited to the task.
June 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJameson
Great Post, I recommend Best Lawyer Marder & Seidler. They have been practicing divorce and family law in the Schaumburg areas for 40 years. They attend courts in Cook, DuPage Mc Henry, Kane and Lake Counties. They support you in every stop along the way in a fair and aggressive manner.They are sensitive to your feelings and needs.
July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterThaparAnkit
Regarding the discussion on whether folks who are more stable financially and otherwise commit less violence, I would argue that they do not. While some of their violence is outsourced to state systems of violence, others are outsourced to less stable individuals or the types of violence pursued is easier to sweep under the rug or to miscategorize as not violence. The distinction between armed robbery and wage theft is that the nature of the fear involved is different. In the former you fear possibly losing your life quickly. In the latter you fear losing your job and potentially your means of living but in an abstracted harm way where the rich arent seen as violent.
July 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterWhitney Levis
@ Whitney Levis: We call that latter case (cheating employees on their wages) Fraud. Although not violent, it also dispossess ppl of their livelihoods. Perpetrators of Fraud, similar to those who engage in unlawful violence, probably do engage in Post Hoc Pseudo Rationalization to fabricate a "moral basis" for their abuse of others.
July 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJameson
Great episode as usual. Thanks!

I think Mr Rai's recollection of The Iliad isn't accurate: it is Paris the coward who runs away — not his brother Hektor. Hektor is always brave and protective, up until the moment he's killed by Achilleus.
July 5, 2019 | Unregistered Commentertripu
Very penetrating discussion. People can believe what they want about Violence but the fact remains that unprovoked physical violence can never be morally justified. So this just shows how people suffer from a cognitive deficiency in the way they perceive and act in the world. If this theory is indeed true, then I think it fits nicely with my own personal theory about how Adult Humans Beings are living in this state of emotional immaturity making them behave like Children in a lot of ways which can be clearly seen in our Political arenas for example.

Tremendous episode, Thanks!
July 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterErnesto
Protecting and preventing hurt feelings should be conducted in a coherent and fair manner in a manner that monitors behaviors and issues in a comprehensive manner so as to provide accurate feedback and feedback.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.