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Moral Disengagement and Execution

People ordinarily refrain from behaving in ways that violate their core moral standards because such conduct will bring self-censure. In some institutional role functions, however, such as military combat and state executions, the taking of human life presents a grave moral predicament. Intentional infliction of death and destruction can, therefore, exact a heavy emotional toll and leave a troubled and haunted life for those who have to do it. The challenge is to explain how individuals who are caring and compassionate in other aspects of their lives can perform roles that require them to take a human life.

In the course of socialization, people adopt standards of right and wrong that serve as guides and deterrents for conduct. They do things that give them satisfaction ...

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