Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-pftt2 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-27T17:32:12.329Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Not as distinct as you think: Reasons to doubt that morality comprises a unified and objective conceptual category

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 May 2018

Jordan Theriault
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115. jordan_theriault@northeastern.eduhttp://www.jordan-theriault.com/
Liane Young
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. liane.young@bc.eduhttp://moralitylab.bc.edu/

Abstract

That morality comprises a distinct and objective conceptual category is a critical claim for Stanford's target article. We dispute this claim. Statistical conclusions about a distinct moral domain were not justified in prior work, on account of the “stimuli-as-fixed-effects” fallacy. Furthermore, we have found that, behaviorally and neurally, morals share more in common with preferences than facts.

Type
Open Peer Commentary
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Baayen, R. H., Davidson, D. J. & Bates, D. M. (2008) Mixed-effects modeling with crossed random effects for subjects and items. Journal of Memory and Language 59:390412. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2007.12.005.Google Scholar
Clark, H. (1973) The language-as-fixed-effect fallacy: A critique of language statistics in psychological research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 12:335–59. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0022-5371(73)80014-3.Google Scholar
Goodwin, G. P. & Darley, J. M. (2008) The psychology of meta-ethics: Exploring objectivism. Cognition 106:1339–66. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2007.06.007.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Goodwin, G. P. & Darley, J. M. (2010) The perceived objectivity of ethical beliefs: Psychological findings and implications for public policy. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1:161–88. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13164-009-0013-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goodwin, G. P. & Darley, J. M. (2012) Why are some moral beliefs perceived to be more objective than others? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48(1):250–56. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2011.08.006.Google Scholar
Graham, J., Nosek, B. A., Haidt, J., Iyer, R., Koleva, S. & Ditto, P. H. (2011) Mapping the moral domain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 101(2):366–85. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0021847.Google Scholar
Iyer, R., Koleva, S., Graham, J., Ditto, P. & Haidt, J. (2012) Understanding libertarian morality: The psychological dispositions of self-identified libertarians. PLoS ONE 7(8):e42366. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0042366.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Judd, C. M., Westfall, J. & Kenny, D. A. (2012) Treating stimuli as a random factor in social psychology: A new and comprehensive solution to a pervasive but largely ignored problem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 103:5469. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0028347.Google Scholar
Kelly, D., Stich, S., Haley, K. J., Eng, S. J. & Fessler, D. M. T. (2007) Harm, affect, and the moral/conventional distinction. Mind and Language 22:117–31. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199733477.003.0013.Google Scholar
Nichols, S. & Folds-Bennett, T. (2003) Are children moral objectivists? Children's judgments about moral and response-dependent properties. Cognition 90(2):B2332. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0010-0277(03)00160-4.Google Scholar
Schurz, M., Radua, J., Aichhorn, M., Richlan, F. & Perner, J. (2014) Fractionating theory of mind: A meta-analysis of functional brain imaging studies. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 42:934. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.01.009.Google Scholar
Smetana, J. (2006) Social-cognitive domain theory: Consistencies and variations in children's moral and social judgments. In: Handbook of moral development, ed. Killen, M. & Smetana, J., pp. 119–53. Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Theriault, J., Waytz, A., Heiphetz, L. & Young, L. (2017) Examining overlap in behavioral and neural representations of morals, facts, and preferences. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 146(3):305–17. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000350.Google Scholar
Theriault, J., Waytz, A., Heiphetz, L. & Young, L. (under review) Theory of mind network activity is associated with metaethical judgment: An item analysis. PsyArXiv, Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/GB5AM.Google Scholar
Tisak, M. S. & Turiel, E. (1988) Variation in seriousness of transgressions and children's moral and conventional concepts. Developmental Psychology 24:352–57. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.24.3.352I.Google Scholar
Turiel, E. (1983) The development of social knowledge: Morality and convention. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Van Overwalle, F. (2009) Social cognition and the brain: A meta-analysis. Human Brain Mapping 30:829–58. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.20547.Google Scholar
Wainryb, C., Shaw, L. S., Langley, M., Cottam, K. & Lewis, R. (2004) Children's thinking about diversity of belief in the early school years: Judgments of relativism, tolerance, and disagreeing persons. Child Development 75:687703. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00701.x.Google Scholar
Westfall, J., Kenny, D. A. & Judd, C. M. (2014) Statistical power and optimal design in experiments in which samples of participant respond to samples of stimuli. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143:2020–45. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000014.Google Scholar