Among naturalist philosophers, both defenders and opponents of moral relativism argue that prescriptive moral theories (or normative theories) should be constrained by empirical findings about human psychology. Empiricists have asked if people are or can be moral relativists, and what effect being a moral relativist can have on an individual’s moral functioning. This research is underutilized in philosophers’ normative theories of relativism; at the same time, the empirical work, while useful, is conceptually disjointed. Our goal is to integrate philosophical and (...) empirical work on constraints on normative relativism. First, we present a working definition of moral relativism. Second, we outline naturalist versions of normative relativism, and third, we highlight the empirical constraints in this reasoning. Fourth, we discuss recent studies in moral psychology that are relevant for the philosophy of moral relativism. We assess here what conclusions for moral relativism can and cannot be drawn from experimental studies. Finally, we suggest how moral philosophers and moral psychologists can collaborate on the topic of moral relativism in the future. (shrink)
There is a widespread conviction that people distinguish two kinds of acts: on the one hand, acts that are generalisably wrong because they go against universal principles of harm, justice, or rights; on the other hand, acts that are variably right or wrong depending on the social context. In this paper we criticise existing methods that measure generalisability. We report new findings indicating that a modification of generalisability measures is in order. We discuss our findings in light of recent criticisms (...) of moral/conventional research. (shrink)
Can business humanize its stakeholders? And if so, how does this relate to moral consideration for stakeholders? In this paper we compare two business orientations that are relevant for current business theory and practice: a stakeholder orientation and a profit orientation. We empirically investigate the causal relationships between business orientation, humanization, and moral consideration. We report the results of six experiments, making use of different operationalizations of a stakeholder and profit orientation, different stakeholders, and different participant samples. Our findings support (...) the prediction that individual stakeholders observing a stakeholder-oriented firm see the firm’s other stakeholders as more human than individual stakeholders observing a profit-oriented firm. This humanization, in turn, increases individual stakeholders’ moral consideration for the firm’s other stakeholders. Our findings underscore the importance of humanization for stakeholders’ moral consideration for each other. This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of the firm as a moral community of stakeholders. Specifically, we move away from a focus on managers, and how they can make business more moral. Instead we direct attention to stakeholders, and how business can make these stakeholders more moral. (shrink)
Individual differences in moral views are often explained as the downstream effect of ideological commitments, such as political orientation and religiosity. Recent studies in the U.S. suggest that moral views about recreational drug use are also influenced by attitudes toward sex and that this relationship cannot be explained by ideological commitments. In this study, we investigate student samples from Belgium, The Netherlands, and Japan. We find that, in all samples, sexual attitudes are strongly related to views about recreational drug use, (...) even after controlling for various ideological variables. We discuss our results in light of reproductive strategies as determinants of moral views. (shrink)
Elqayam & Evans suggest descriptivism as a way to avoid fallacies and research biases. We argue, first, that descriptive and prescriptive theories might be better off with a closer interaction between and Moreover, while we acknowledge the problematic nature of the discussed fallacies and biases, important aspects of research would be lost through a broad application of descriptivism.
Elqayam & Evans (E&E) suggest descriptivism as a way to avoid fallacies and research biases. We argue, first, that descriptive and prescriptive theories might be better off with a closer interaction between and Moreover, while we acknowledge the problematic nature of the discussed fallacies and biases, important aspects of research would be lost through a broad application of descriptivism.
A central claim in stakeholder theory is that, if we see stakeholders as human beings, we will attribute higher moral standing or show more moral consideration to stakeholders. But would the same hold for firms? In this paper, I apply the concepts of humanization and moral standing to firms, and I predict that individuals attribute higher moral standing to stakeholder-oriented than to profit-oriented firms, because individuals attribute more experience to stakeholder-oriented than to profit-oriented firms. Five experiments support these predictions across (...) different operationalizations of stakeholder and profit orientations. The analyses show that moral standing attributions are not fully explained by attributions of agency to firms, or by attributions of experience or agency to human stakeholders. By unearthing the importance of experience attributions for moral standing attributions to firms, this work provides novel insights in ongoing legal, philosophical and public debates related to firms’ moral standing. The findings also bring the debate about firms’ moral standing to the heart of stakeholder theory, and lead to new normative and descriptive research questions about the interests of firms and their stakeholders. (shrink)