“the duty to detect moral blindness and the need for critical moral thinking based on the autonomy of reason and the role of critical judgment (Arendt 1989)” (Rendtorff 2014, p.68)
“We are able to take part in organizations as automatic and self-regulating agents where we eliminate or suspend our own conception of morality and operate exclusively on the premises of the organizational system. In this sense, we can say that instrumental action in the organizational system is a condition for moral blindness.” (Rendtorff 2014, p.55)
“It is a characteristic aspect of moral blindness that human beings are dehumanized and that they are treated as numbers, things or objects and that it is not longer necessary to have a human relationship with such dehumanized objects. Bureaucracy aims at the most efficient solution without having any concern for human costs (Bauman 1993).” (Rendtorff 2014, p.54)
“Aimless expansion of profits was the basis for the financial crisis, where the system diminished the power of human-centered values and ethics, resulting in humanity being reduced to consumers. Homo sapiens have, in the modern world, become equivalent with homo economicus. From Arendt’s perspective, capitalist rationalization with economic risk-taking as a major component for the accumulation of capital implies dehumanization and the materialist values of profit and loss replace morality and spiritual values (Arendt 1958, 1965). Following this, we can argue that the role of many business people in the financial crisis were also characterized by a kind of moral blindness where individual greed and self-interest replaced responsibility, moral thinking, and concern for other human beings.” (Rendtorff 2014, p.50)
“the economic and financial crisis, as well as the global environmental crisis, is the result of a new kind of moral blindness where purely economic concerns have replaced ethical and political concerns in the management of risk and economic decision-making in society.” (Rendtorff 2014, p.49)
“the Nazi regime resembled the bureaucratic organization where duty and obedience ensure compliance. The ideological clichés of the Nazi system, including obedience to one’s superiors, created the conditions for its efficiency. The moral blindness to the risk of destroying humanity was a result of this obedience to the norms and values of the system without question.” (Rendtorff 2014, p.49)
“Rather than explaining terror and violence in terms of real evil based on direct conscious intentionality – as proposed by classical philosophy and some contemporary philosophy – the approach informed by Arendt and her followers considers the concept of moral blindness and the banality of evil based on relations between structures, systems, and human individuals in unreflective roles which has an implication for understanding risk and the moral implications of risk of human actions in organizations.” (Rendtorff 2014, p.45)
(Bird, 1996, 85)
Moral Muteness – not defending ideals or ideas
Moral Deafness – inability or unwillingness to hear moral concerns
Moral Blindness – inability of unwillingness to recognize moral and/or ethical problems, concerns, expectations that bear upon an activity.
Hypocrisy – speak against but do not act upon.
Moral Displacement: De-individualization is created from anonymity. This makes those individuals more likely to commit moral or ethical wrongs by allowing them to pass moral responsibility to others. (Bandura 1990, 1999). This passing moral responsibility is called moral displacement.
Ignoring a moral issue is not a passive behavior, rather it is a moral decision and thereby an active, if subconscious, choice.
Moral Vision – Ability to perceive, recognize, understand, and foresee by putting oneself in the place of others, and to perceive, recognize, and understand their point of view and concerns.
Narrow mindedness reduces the capacity to see morality or ethics as an important dimension of organizational activities.
Certain situational and psychological factors can prevent people from realizing how their behaviors and official functions violate even their own moral principles. This failure of situational and systems awareness allows our moral standards to remain unactivated. (Tsang, 2002)
If there is a low sense of personal responsibility for one’s actions then there is a correlative reduction in discomfort experienced if the consequences prove to be immoral or unethical.
People cannot think about moral or ethical issues if they are not seen as relevant to the situation at hand.
Prioritizing expedience over long-term values, officials have a short-term perspective, path dependence (Margulies, P. 2010 Judging Myopia in Hindsight: Bivens Actions, National Security Decisions, and the Rule of Law. Iowa Law Review 96, 145, p.248.
Moral Myopia – a distortion of moral vision affecting ability or willingness to perceive ethical dilemmas.
A focusing failure, created by a bounded awareness makes one focus on certain elements to the exclusion of others.
Even when individuals are aware of the ethical dimensions of the choices they are making, they may still engage in unethical behavior as long as they can recruit justifications for it. (Moore 2013)
Moral rationalization and disengagement is the cognitive process that individuals use to convince themselves that their behavior does not violate their moral standards. This displacement and diffusion of responsibility amounts to moral and mental cowardice and requires the individual be in a state of cognitive dissonance to maintain the illusion.
“According to Adams and Balfour, moral blindness becomes worse and subtler in cases of moral inversion, where something evil is suddenly defined as good (Adams and Balfour 2009). The moral inversion emerges because no one really knows they are doing evil since evil is presented to them as a part of their job in a technological rational system. This moral inversion is what Adams and Balfour call the “mask of evil.” Adams and Balfour argue that the scientific analytic mindset of the technical-rational approach to social and political problems creates a new kind of administrative evil, which is masked. As a consequence, ordinary people find they are doing evil although they hadn’t intended to. This combination of administrative masking in addition to our own blindness might be considered to be a form of double-blindness. Sometimes even ethical codes and other rules of conduct may be inefficient at dealing with this double-blindness because the technological analytical mindset of the administration is so powerful that the members of the administration do not see that they participate in processes that lead to greater harm.” (Rendtorff 2014, pp 61-62)
“Arendt proposes that the Holocaust is…the result of wrongdoing of ordinary people…[an] inability to think and to have moral sensibility and judgment. Arendt uses the term banality of evil…one that is devoid of moral thinking, where heinous acts are committed by an ordinary [person] who has no profound understanding of what [they] has done and who lacks the ability to feel or understand that what [they] have done is wrong.” (Rendtorff 2014, p.47)