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A paramoralism (from Greek/Latin para - "alongside, against, counter, beyond"; and moral - "system of ethics and human behaviour") is an insincere or deceptive moral argument or line of reasoning. While it may appear ethical, on closer examination it can be seen to be driven by self-interest, or by adherence to a system of rules disregarding conscience.

Paramoralisms do not simply justify bad ideas, or use faulty logic in an attempt to persuade. What defines them is the appeal to morality, the attempt to frame what is wanted as moral or what is not wanted as immoral. They can come from others or from oneself. Moral arguments are always suggestive, and once a person is swayed, the paralyzing effect of cognitive dissonance on critical thinking sets in; it immediately becomes harder to question the ideas justified.

They are also psychologically contagious: well-meaning people can be fooled by them, believe the intent is benevolent, and be misled into unwittingly supporting a cause or ideology and in turn spread the paramoralism to others. In this way, groups or even masses of people can come to support something which they would reject as unconscionable if they were able to see it clearly.

The invention and use of paramoralisms to influence people is common among pathological institutions, groups and individuals, and their widespread use is a defining trait of pathocracy. Acceptance of paramoralisms tends to generally weaken moral reasoning and deform its development in young people.

Paramoralisms: The conviction that moral values exist and that some actions violate moral rules is so common and ancient a phenomenon that it seems to have some substratum at man's instinctive endowment level (although it is certainly not totally adequate for moral truth), and that it does not only represent centuries' of experience, culture, religion, and socialization. Thus, any insinuation framed in moral slogans is always suggestive, even if the "moral" criteria used are just an "ad hoc" invention. Any act can thus be proved to be immoral or moral by means of such paramoralisms utilized as active suggestion, and people whose minds will succumb to such reasoning can always be found.

Andrew M. Lobaczewski, Political Ponerology

The most brutal kind of paramoralism is an insistence on the exact opposite of a moral truth, which is also an example of the manipulation technique known as the reversive blockade. People are culturally conditioned to look for the truth "in the middle", in-between opposing viewpoints. When the opposite of what is ethically sound is presented as what is ethical, many people find it hard to hear the voice of their conscience.

In a hysterical society, many people develop an ingrained, automatic habit of mentally selecting and substituting the information they accept, in order to avoid uncomfortable thoughts and realizations. Among other things, this can involve inventing paramoralisms and paralogisms of their own, or generally twisting the meaning of words.

Examples of paramoralisms

Used to further imperialism

  • 'We must invade in order to protect'
When the Turkish army in 1974 invaded and occupied Cyprus, they said it was because they felt the need to intervene in order to protect the Turkish/Cypriot population. They presented it as their moral duty. And because of this "morality", thousands were killed, wounded, violently thrown out their houses, women were raped, and those they wished to protect, are now living in the occupied part of Cyprus under dictatorship-like conditions.

Used by child abusers

  • Spare the rod and spoil the child
  • Stop crying and own up

Dick Cheney

It is easy to take liberty for granted when you have never had it taken from you.

Adolf Hitler

As in everything, nature is the best instructor. ....I do not see why man should not be as cruel as nature

Leonard Darwin

“My firm conviction is that if wide-spread Eugenic reforms are not adopted during the next hundred years or so, our Western Civilization is inevitably destined to such a slow and gradual decay as that which has been experienced in the past by every great ancient civilization. The size and the importance of the United States throws on you a special responsibility in your endeavours to safeguard the future of our race. Those who are attending your Congress will be aiding in this endeavour, and though you will gain no thanks from your own generation, posterity will, I believe, learn to realize the great dept it owes to all the workers in this field.”

See also

External links