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In my previous blog post, I address the role of social distance in moral development. Per Paganelli’s interpretation of Smith’s TMS (1759), we reduced our self-command when we are around people we are emotionally attached to (p.12-13). Much of our moral development arise from socialization. Making our self-restraint a combination of learned behavior and social conformity. The schoolyard may be the proper environment for individuals to fine-tune their social awareness. Does our moral development stop once are no longer school age? I would suggest not. If anything it a continual and lifelong process that is always in progress. If anything as we grow older, the expectation of others and social norms become much more intricate. Some of the basic principles learned on the playground are social conventions that are applicable in any social dynamic. The etiquette learned in the schoolyard is too rudimentary to comprehensively cover all the social nuisances of professional situations.

For instance, what is the proper attire for a job interview? How do I politely reject my boss’s dinner invitation? These are just a few examples of social scenarios of greater complexity that cannot be learned even in High School (arguably even in college). The reserved awkwardness of new hires fresh out of college exemplifies this deficit in workplace social skills. Outside of there being a likely age gap between the new employee and the rest of their co-workers, they are afraid of making a faux-pas. They are deathly afraid of being the person who takes the last of the breakroom coffee without making more (this individual is universally hated). They do not want to be disliked by their new pool of peers. To not look like a self-absorbed young person, it going to take time. The new employee will go through an acclimation process. The primary drive of this adjustment is going to be the feedback of their co-workers.

I would go so far as to even suggest that each new social environment requires some duration of social learning. The phrase “.. reading the room..” comes to mind. For example, even if an individual has worked as a salesperson for twenty years, as soon as they take a job at another company they now become the “new guy”. A new job entails new co-workers, a new boss, new corporate policies, new corporate culture. Despite this individual’s extensive experience they still need to go through an adjustment period. This seasoned salesperson now has to learn to adapt to the personalities, culture, and rules in their new work environment. Even in social situations where we are familiar with the location and the people, various factors lead us to constantly adjust to the feedback from others. If you were attending a dinner party at your brother’s house (only family members were in attendance) you would still have to mold yourself to the social conditions of the moment. You will taper your behavior to the dispositions of the other dinner guests. Social settings are dynamic and even the slightest change to one variable can profoundly alter the course of events. To a certain extent, we are always fine-tuning our Impartial Spectator to maintain social harmony. Social situations much like all complex systems have a loose structure with a set of informal rules. Although there is a resolute structure the one altered variable can drastically change the trajectory of the interaction. As the expression goes “high school never ends”, actually we never leave the playground.

3 thoughts on “Calibrating Our Impartial Spectator is An Ongoing Process

  1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    The same was in the beginning with God.
    All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
    In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
    And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness does not comprehend it.

    There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
    The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
    He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

    That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.
    He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
    He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
    But as many as received him, to them HE GAVE POWER TO BECOME the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
    Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, BUT OF GOD. (Jesus is not the ONLY Begotten Son of God)
    And THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
    John 1:1………………….

    The Masses still have not learned the POWER in THE WORD.
    It’s incumbent on the babes in Christ to be patient and Trust THE WORD, growing in the knowledge of it’s use in being A Blessed PEACE MAKER and Child of God, no matter what other People do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a follow-up to an excellent post, I want to pose a logistical question about Adam Smith’s ingenious “impartial spectator” thought experiment: Is the impartial spectator more like a trial judge or an appellate judge? If it’s true, for example, that the average person makes up to 2000 decisions every hour (see here, for example: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stretching-theory/201809/how-many-decisions-do-we-make-each-day), which of these myriad decisions are subject to review by one’s impartial spectator, i.e. actually go up ‘on appeal,’ so to speak. Also, if Smith’s imaginary spectator operates like an appellate judge, what criteria does this judge use in deciding which of our decisions will reviewed on appeal, and what standard or review does this judge use–“de novo” review, a clear error rule, or an abuse of discretion standard? These questions are not meant as a criticism of Smith’s moral theory, but rather are designed to show just how fruitful Smith’s approach to moral philosophy can be …

    Liked by 1 person

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