The Moral Psychology of Resource Use

seminar presented by Dr Brock Bastian, UNSW (Now UniMelb

11.30am Thursday 27th August 2015

Lewis Lecture Theatre, UNE


Resource decision-making is not based on human needs alone and regularly requires achieving a balance between the protection of animal rights, rare species, and entire ecosystems. This balance is being pressurized by two current trends. First, human (over) population of the planet is growing exponentially, placing pressure on limited resources. Second, there is a growing human tendency to afford moral rights to nonhumans, and these nonhumans are sometimes the resources themselves. I will review research which examines this conflict. First, I will focus on how peoples own morality may play a role in resource decision making, demonstrating that our increasing sensitivity to the needs and rights of nonhumans has clear costs for humans. Second, I will focus on how competing motivations (satisfaction of human needs vs. moral principles) may shape and bend our moral worlds, changing our attitudes and perceptions in ways that ultimately allow us to satisfy those needs. By taking account of how the satisfaction of human needs interacts with moral reasoning about the rights of those more distant from us, I will aim to provide new insights into how research, policy, and practice may be best positioned to address the inevitable rise of resource conflicts.

Speaker bio:

Brock Bastian received his PhD in social psychology from The University of Melbourne in 2007. He was awarded a University of Queensland postdoctoral fellowship followed by an Australian Research Council postdoctoral fellowship for his work on dehumanization and morality. In 2014 Dr Bastian received ARC Future Fellowship and also joined the University of New South Wales. His research broadly focuses on pain, happiness, and morality, for which he has received numerous awards and media attention.

For more info on Dr Bastian: