December 18, 2014
This is a good read: The Toxoplasma of Rage by Scott Alexander.
It’s wide-ranging but ultimately about incentivisation of unhelpful behaviour. Why highly publicised examples of things we can often largely agree are bad are dubious, contentious, or false and how they can encourage behaviour and support to the contrary.
As I mentioned it covers a lot (including a vegan pledging to eat meat in a stand against PETA ) but this is a fave passage about signalling in moral decisions:
But in the more general case, people can use moral decisions to signal how moral they are. In this case, they choose a disastrous decision based on some moral principle. The more suffering and destruction they support, and the more obscure a principle it is, the more obviously it shows their commitment to following their moral principles absolutely. For example, Immanuel Kant claims that if an axe murderer asks you where your best friend is, obviously intending to murder her when he finds her, you should tell the axe murderer the full truth, because lying is wrong. This is effective at showing how moral a person you are – no one would ever doubt your commitment to honesty after that – but it’s sure not a very good result for your friend.