Moralism/hypocrisy

From Issuepedia

Hypocritical actions, such as right-wing gay men being publicly very anti-gay while continuing to seek gay sexual liasons in private, may be one consequence of the moralistic worldview. The logic seems to be:

  • A particular set of activities (call this "X") is wrong and bad.
  • I frequently engage in X myself, so I am wrong and bad (sinful).
  • If I help prevent others from engaging in X, then I am doing a good and right thing.
  • By working hard to reduce the amount of X in the world, I can offset the bad that I do by engaging in it myself.
  • Therefore: the more I privately engage in X myself, the more I must counteract this by working hard to condemn X in public.

This logic ignores the following considerations:

  • Many people do not consider any given X to be wrong or bad, at least in certain contexts. They do not consider a reduction of X to be a good thing. (False advocacy)
  • By attempting to deprive others of X while being unwilling to give it up yourself, you are asking other people to make a sacrifice you are not making. (Hypocrisy)

This idea of moral counteractive equivalence may also transfer between different activities, e.g. a politician who does "morally wrong" activity X may also work harder to suppress "morally wrong" activities Y and Z or enforce "morally good" activities A and B. In general, moralistic thinking takes the guilt from transgressing one moral rule as justification for more rigid enforcement and advocacy of all rules in that same code, in the mistaken belief that this will somehow compensate for the transgression -- rather than as a sign of a moral code that needs less enforcement (because it is too rigid, poorly correlated with benefit to society, or otherwise harmful).