What Motivates Unethical Behavior and How Does that Affect our Altruistic Response?

This piece is intended as a pedagogical exercise for an Intro to Effective Altruism course at UC Berkeley.

Orval Faubus was the son of prominent Arkansas integrationist, Sam Faubus. Orval, a World War II veteran, returned from the war as part of Sid McMath’s progressive GI Revolt, a post-war anti-corruption movement of returning GIs in Arkansas. McMath won the Arkansas governorship in 1948, but lost his re-election bid in 1952, in part for his support for ending the poll tax on Black voters. In 1954, Faubus ran for and won the Arkansas governorship. Despite his affiliations with his father and McMath, Faubus would become most famous as the segregationist governor who refused to integrate Little Rock Central High School. That crisis was resolved when President Dwight Eisenhower sent the National Guard to Arkansas to integrate Central High School. Faubus remained governor of Arkansas until 1967.

Darryl Davis is a Black man, who by befriending KKK members, has convinced 200 White supremacists to leave the KKK. Watch this 11-minute video about his work.


In the Faubus situation, the problem was resolved by military force. In the Davis situation, the problem is resolved with friendship and discussion. Why or why not are these tools appropriate in their respective situations?