of Kant and perceptions

one of the most striking lectures of Jak to our class is about perceptions – in particular the attribution error that many of us commit unconsciously. to quote an article on The Straits Times (June 2008 by Gary Hayden):

“In general, the way people act depends partly on character and disposition, and partly on circumstances. But when we judge the actions of others, we tend to make a fundamental error. We attribute too much to personality and character and too little to situation and context.”

i always believed that i give the benefit of the doubt to any person and any circumstance – meaning even if i hear something bad about a person, im not easily swayed that a person is such. i postpone any judgement at first instance and at least try to see the situation. basically what happened and why it happened. of course the who part is inevitable to crop up. we all are influenced by our characteristics but then behavior are influenced by factors in our environment. motivation, rewards and punishment do play a part.

perhaps this is one of the greatest lessons i learned in the MPA classroom of Jak. i was a true blue Kantian (categorical imperative) until i was swayed by this strong theory. and indeed it has many circumstances to back it up. though i still believe that people do choose to do good or right on his or her own not because of fear of going to hell or jail but because it is right, now i can say that sometimes people choose to do otherwise not because of their own free choice but because they are pushed by circumstances.

– to be continued…

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