Philosophical Psychology 33 (2):244-261 (2020)

Tanya de Villiers-Botha
University of Stellenbosch
Recent work in moral psychology that claims to show that human beings make moral judgements on the basis of multiple, divergent moral foundations has been influential in both moral psychology and moral philosophy. Primarily, such work has been taken to undermine monistic moral theories, especially those pertaining to the prevention of harm. Here, I call one of the most prominent and influential empirical cases for moral pluralism into question, namely that of Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues. I argue that Haidt et al.’s argument is not as strong as it is often made out to be, given significant problems with the design of one of the key experiments used to ground the claim that there are divergent moral foundations across cultures. The flaws that I point out pose a significant challenge to Haidt et al.’s findings and have a detrimental impact on subsequent work based on this immensely influential experiment. Accordingly, I argue that both empirical and normative claims made on the basis of Haidt et al.’s findings should be treated with caution. I conclude by making some suggestions as to how some of the problems that I point out might be addressed.
Keywords Haidt  moral pluralism  harm  Moral Foundations Theory
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Reprint years 2019, 2020
DOI 10.1080/09515089.2019.1688776
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References found in this work BETA

The Weirdest People in the World?Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3):61-83.
The Emotional Basis of Moral Judgments.Jesse Prinz - 2006 - Philosophical Explorations 9 (1):29-43.
Mind Perception is the Essence of Morality.Kurt Gray, Liane Young & Adam Waytz - 2012 - Psychological Inquiry 23 (2):101-124.
Normative Ethics.Shelly Kagan - 2000 - Mind 109 (434):373-377.

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Why Not Road Ethics?Meshi Ori - 2020 - Theoria 86 (3):389-412.

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