Universal moral grammar: Theory, evidence, and the future

Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11 (4):143 –152 (2007)
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Scientists from various disciplines have begun to focus attention on the psychology and biology of human morality. One research program that has recently gained attention is universal moral grammar (UMG). UMG seeks to describe the nature and origin of moral knowledge by using concepts and models similar to those used in Chomsky's program in linguistics. This approach is thought to provide a fruitful perspective from which to investigate moral competence from computational, ontogenetic, behavioral, physiological and phylogenetic perspectives. In this article, I outline a framework for UMG and describe some of the evidence that supports it. I also propose a novel computational analysis of moral intuitions and argue that future research on this topic should draw more directly on legal theory.



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