In a last few years, science has revealed a lot of information on our different psychological behaviors although uptil now no research or study could reveal how do we make moral judgements. How do we decide what we are doing is right or wrong? A new study has shed some light on this very question.

Experts on neuroethics from Université de Montréal and IRCM have proposed a new approach that could offer insight into the types of intuitive processes that directly influence every moral judgements we make. This proposed approach has been called the “ADC framework”.

According to Dr. Veljko Dubljevic, the ADC approach identifies the kinds of intuitions people use to make moral assessments and this is how it works.  “When making judgements, three criteria are used to determine the right or wrong. We assess the agent (A) by focusing on the character’s virtues and vices; the deed itself (D) by determining what are right and wrong actions; and the consequences (C) by evaluating good or bad outcomes.”

The experts elaborate using an example of a case that generated public controversy in Europe and the case has also been a part of important publications concerning human rights. The case was that of a kidnapped child in 2002 in Frankfurt, Germany. A man was arrested on suspicion of the kidnapping. The man was taken into the custody while trying to take the ransom but he constantly denied having any knowledge of the child’s whereabouts maintaining his innocence. Worried for the child’s life, the officers finally threatened to inflict pain by torturing him if the suspect didn’t reveal where he has hidden the child. Afraid of getting tortured, the suspect revealed child to be already dead.

The researchers explain that in this case the agent (A) is considered positive which is the officer seen as a dedicated and sincere person. The deed (D) being the threatening torture is seen as negative thus a wrong action. The consequences (C), however, is uncertain as the suspect was indeed guilty and the child was dead meaning the outcome was neither overwhelmingly good or bad.

Thus the controversy revolved around the uncertainty of the suspect’s guilt and the potential to save the child at the time the decision was made. Now if any of these elements (A,D,C) are changed, judgement will differ.