Children are not simply molded by the environment; through constant inference and interpretation, they actively shape their own social world. This book is about that process. Elliot Turiel's work focuses on the development of moral judgment in children and adolescents and, more generally, on their evolving understanding of the conventions of social systems. His research suggests that social judgements are ordered, systematic, subtly discriminative, and related to behavior. His theory of the ways in which children generate social knowledge through (...) their social experiences will be of interest to a wide range of researchers and students in child development and education. (shrink)
Certain researchers in the field of moral psychology, following Turiel, argue that children and adults in different cultures make a distinction between moral and conventional transgressions. One interpretation of the theory holds that moral transgressions elicit a signature moral response pattern while conventional transgressions elicit a signature conventional response pattern. Four dimensions distinguish the moral response pattern from the conventional response pattern. 1. HARM/JUSTICE/RIGHTS – Subjects justify the wrongness of moral transgressions by stating that they involve a victim that (...) is harmed, whose rights have been violated or who has been subject to an injustice. Conventional transgressions do not involve a victim that is harmed, whose rights have been violated or who has been subject to an injustice. 2. AUTHORITY – Subjects judge moral transgressions as wrong independent of structures of authority while the wrongness of conventional transgressions can be changed by an authority. 3. GENERALIZABILITY – Subjects judge moral transgressions as generalizably wrong, i.e., independent of time and place, while conventional transgressions’ wrongness depends on time and place. 4. SERIOUSNESS – Subjects judge moral transgressions as more seriously wrong than conventional transgressions. Others have criticized this view for a diversity of reasons. Relevant for our purposes is that, first, there appear to be cultural differences in what constitutes a moral transgression and second, it is unclear what the exact hypotheses are, surrounding this supposed moral/conventional distinction. I will present planned and ongoing experimental research that investigates two specific problems we encountered in the moral-conventional literature. First of all, we cannot draw reliable conclusions from previous work about the generalizability of the wrongness of different kinds of transgressions. In previous experiments, differences in time and place are often but not always confounded with a variety of other differences. For example, Huebner et al. ask participants if the depicted act would be OK for someone who lived elsewhere where everyone else did this. Moreover, when varying time and/or place, participants are likely to assume that other things differ as well. In our study, we vary time and/or place in a variety of scenarios in order to investigate what assumptions participants make when confronted with the generalizability question. Second, it is an open question as to what extent any transgression will universally elicit one of the two signature response patterns. In our study, we make use of existing differences in participants’ value hierarchy to test this. For one and the same scenario, we compare the response of participants for whom authority is an important value with the results of participants for whom authority is not an important value, in order to see if there are differences in the two groups’ response patterns. References: Haidt J., Koller S. & Dias M. 1993. Affect, culture and morality, or is it wrong to eat your dog? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65:613-628. Huebner B., Lee, J.L. & Hauser, M.D. 2010. The Moral-Conventional Distinction in Mature Moral Competence. Journal of Cognition and Culture 10: 1-26. Kelly D., Stich S., Haley K.J., Eng S.J. & Fessler D.M.T. 2007. Harm, Affect, and the Moral/Conventional Distinction. Mind & Language 22:117-131. Nichols S. 2004. Sentimental Rules: on the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment. Oxford University Press. Stich S., Fessler, D.M.T. & Kelly D. 2009. On the Morality of Harm: A response to Sousa, Holbrook and Piazza. Cognition 113:93-97. Turiel E. 1983. The Development of Social Knowledge. Morality & Convention. Cambridge University Press. (shrink)
The main thesis of this article is that resistance and subversion are part of everyday life in most cultures, and that they are integral to the process of development. Many of our theories of social and moral development either fail to account for resistance, and treat it largely as anti-social, or view it as unusual activity sometimes undertaken by those who have reached a high level of development. Several examples are presented to illustrate that resistance and subversion are common among (...) people in positions of little power in the social hierarchy--especially on the part of women in patriarchal societies. Moreover, research has demonstrated that social conflict and resistance based on moral aims occur in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Especially among adults, conflicts occur over inequalities embedded in the structure of social systems that allow greater power and personal entitlements to some groups (e. g. social hierarchies based on gender, socio-economic class, ethnic or racial status). In their everyday lives adults come into conflicts with others and resist moral wrongs embedded in cultural practices that serve to further the interests of those in higher positions in the social hierarchy. Resistance frequently entails deceptive actions aimed at transforming aspects of the social system judged unfair and detrimental to the welfare of groups of people. (shrink)
Among moral attributes true virtue alone is sublime. … [I]t is only by means of this idea [of virtue] that any judgment as to moral worth or its opposite is possible. … Everything good that is not based on a morally good disposition … is nothing but pretence and glittering misery. 1.
If “perfectionism” in ethics refers to those normative theories that treat the fulfillment or realization of human nature as central to an account of both goodness and moral obligation, in what sense is “human flourishing” a perfectionist notion? How much of what we take “human flourishing” to signify is the result of our understanding of human nature? Is the content of this concept simply read off an examination of our nature? Is there no place for diversity and individuality? Is the (...) belief that the content of such a normative concept can be determined by an appeal to human nature merely the result of epistemological naiveté? What is the exact character of the connection between human flourishing and human nature? These questions are the ultimate concern of this essay, but to appreciate the answers that will be offered it is necessary to understand what is meant by “human flourishing.” “Human flourishing” is a relatively recent term in ethics. It seems to have developed in the last two decades because the traditional translation of the Greek term eudaimonia as “happiness” failed to communicate clearly that eudaimonia was an objective good, not merely a subjective good. (shrink)
Jean-Paul Sartre, in describing the realization of his freedom, was often inclined to say mysterious things like ‘I am what I am not’, ‘I am not what I am’ He was therefore plainly contradicting himself, but was this merely a playful literary figure , or was he really being incoherent? By the latter judgment I do not mean to reject his statements entirely ; for I believe there is an intimate link between contradiction and freedom, as I shall explain in (...) this paper. But a minor thing we must first have out of the way is the suggestion that Sartre's language was just a rhetorical trope, designed merely to express some banal platitude in a bemusing way: ‘I am not yet what I will be’, ‘I am no longer what I was’ are sane and sensible, for instance, but cannot be the meant content of Sartre's sayings, since, while they would indeed describe the reform of some character, they would be appropriate only before or after some metamorphosis, not, as Sartre clearly intended, in the midst of some process of riddance and conversion, whether radical or otherwise. Yet, in the turmoil of such a change, ‘I am not what I am’ still, surely, cannot be true, and if that is the case, Sartre must be being inocherent, and therefore, obfuscating and deliberately obscure, and hence, it seems, must properly be rejected by all right and clear thinking men. (shrink)
The Alligator's Child was full of 'satiable curtiosity. One day while rummaging in a trunk in the lumber room he came across a photograph of his father wearing an aardvark uniform and standing by a large ant hill. All excitement, he rushed to his father and breathlessly said, ‘Father, I didn't know that you had been an aardvark! What is it like to be an aardvark?’.
H. B. D. Kettlewell's field experiments on industrial melanism in the peppered moth, Biston betularia, have become the best known demonstration of natural selection in action. I argue that textbook accounts routinely portray this research as an example of controlled experimentation, even though this is historically misleading. I examine how idealized accounts of Kettlewell's research have been used by professional biologists and biology teachers. I also respond to some criticisms of David Rudge to my earlier discussions of this case study, (...) and I question Rudge's claims about the importance of purely observational studies for the eventual acceptance and popularization of Kettlewell's explanation for the evolution of industrial melanism. (shrink)
This paper seeks to reinterpret the life and work of J. B. S. Haldane by focusing on an illuminating but largely ignored essay he published in 1927, "The Last Judgment" -- the sequel to his better known work, "Daedalus" (1924). This astonishing essay expresses a vision of the human future over the next 40,000,000 years, one that revises and updates Wellsian futurism with the long range implications of the "new biology" for human destiny. That vision served as a kind of (...) lifelong credo, one that infused and informed his diverse scientific work, political activities, and popular writing, and that gave unity and coherence to his remarkable career. (shrink)
Les recherches menées dans le champ de la psychologie morale par Larry P. Nucci et Elliot Turiel conduisent à identifier le domaine moral avec le domaine des jugements prescriptifs concernant la manière dont nous devons nous comporter à l’égard des autres personnes. Ces travaux empiriques pourraient apporter du crédit aux propositions normatives du philosophe Ruwen Ogien qui défend une conception minimaliste de l’éthique. L’éthique minimale exclut en particulier le rapport à soi du domaine moral. À mon avis cependant, ces (...) travaux de psychologie morale ne permettent pas du tout d’affirmer que nous sommes, empiriquement parlant, des minimalistes moraux. Les résultats des recherches de Nucci et Turiel montrent que les personnes considèrent intuitivement que le domaine personnel – le domaine des actions qui affectent prioritairement l’agent lui-même – doit échapper au contrôle ou à l’interférence des autres personnes. Mais affirmer que c’est l’agent lui-même qui possède l’autorité légitime de décider dans le domaine personnel ne signifie pas que tout ce qu’il y fait soit moralement indifférent. (shrink)
This essay explains the inescapability of moral demands. I deny that the individual has genuine reason to comply with these demands only if she has desires that would be served by doing so. Rather, the learning of moral reasons helps to shape and channel self- and other-interested motivations so as to facilitate and promote social cooperation. This shaping happens through the “embedding” of reasons in the intentional objects of motivational propensities. The dominance of the instrumental conception of reason, according to (...) which reasons must be based in desires of the individual, has made it harder to recognize that reasons shape desires. I attempt to undermine this dominance by arguing that the concept of a self that extends over time is constructed to meet the demands of social cooperation. Prudential reasons to act on behalf of the persisting self's desires are often taken to constitute the paradigm of reasons based on desires of the individual. But such reasons, along with the very concept of the persisting self, are constructed to promote human cooperation and to shape the individual's desires. (shrink)
According to both deontologists and consequentialists, if there is a reason to promote the general happiness – or to promote any other state of affairs unrelated to one's own projects or self-interest – then the reason must apply to everyone. This view seems almost self-evident; to challenge it is to challenge the way we think of moral reasons. I contend, however, that the view depends on the unwarranted assumption that the only way to restrict the application scope of a reason (...) for action is by restricting it to those agents whose interests or projects are involved in the reason. In fact normative theories may coherently restrict application scopes in other ways. Thus we must take seriously the possibility that the reason to promote the general happiness, although genuine, does not apply to everyone. (shrink)
In the paper I offer a brief sketch of one of the sources of utilitarianism. Our biological ancestry is a matter of fact that is not altered by the way we describe ourselves. With philosophical theories it is otherwise. Utilitarianism can be described in ways that make it look as if it is as old as moral philosophy – as J. S. Mill thought it was. For my historical purposes, it is more useful to have an account that brings out (...) what is specific about Benthamism and its descendants. Let us try to make do with the following. First, utilitarianism asserts that the fundamental requirement of morality is that we are to maximize good, for everyone and not just for the agent. This basic principle presupposes that it makes sense to think of aggregating goods to make a total, and of comparing amounts of good thus aggregated. Second, the good to be brought about is located in feelings of pleasure, and the evil to be avoided in feelings of pain. These feelings have inherent value or disvalue regardless of how they are caused to exist and regardless of their own consequences. Third, all moral principles can be derived from the requirement that good be maximized. The principles involved in evaluating agents as well as in giving moral direction to action are nothing but applications of the basic principle. (shrink)
In L. Frank Baum's story, Ozma of Oz, which is a sequel to Baum's much more famous story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her companion come upon a wound-down mechanical man bearing a label on which are printed the following words: Smith and Tinker's Patent Double-Action, Extra-Responsive, Thought-Creating Perfect-Talking MECHANICAL MAN Fitted with our Special Clock-Work Attachment Thinks, Speaks, Acts, and Does Everything but Live As Dorothy and her companion are made to discover when they wind up this (...) man, he is indeed capable of doing all the things of which his label boasts—acting, speaking and even thinking. But as Tik-Tok himself insists, and no one in the story casts doubt on the matter, he is not alive. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to set out some of the ontologies amongst which some forms of anti-realism must select. This provides the appropriate setting for presenting an alternative realist ontology. The argument is that the choice between the varieties of anti-realism and realism is inevitably a choice between ontologies.
This skit of Bertrand Russell’s philosophy was originally published in 1918 by Russell’s correspondent friend Jourdain. The introduction explains that the contents purport to be lost papers written by Mr. B*rtr*nd R*ss*ll, a contemporary of Bertrand Russell. This politically humorous volume from the early 20 th Century parodies the writing style of Russell as well as his theories.
To a student audience seduced by the claims of a ‘secular Christianity’, Professor Gordon Rupp once urged the combined loyalties of ‘worldmanship’ and ‘other-worldmanship’. The Muslim world shows little friendship to secularist ideologies which explicitly reject the eschatological dimension, but Muslims are increasingly involved in secularising processes; many of these are ‘Islamised’, if they are compatible with Islamic social or political ideals, and the stigma of bid‘ah , innovation, is thereby avoided. A Lebanese author, Muhammad Darwazah, in his Dustūr al-Qur’ (...) ānī , Cairo 1956, advocated a ‘Qur'ānic Constitution’ for the modern world since the Qur'ān’s world-view is both in-worldly and other-worldly: ‘Islam is a religion of the world , of government, society, morals and order, to the same extent as it is a religion of faith and belief and the next world .’. (shrink)