Defining Morality and Moral Judgment
• Morality system of principles and ideals that people use as an obligatory guide to making evaluative
judgments of the actions or character of a person
• Three Components of Morality
1. Obligation: The rule is supposed to be followed
2. Inclusion: Rules should apply to all people
3. Sanction: Punishment for violations and praise for adherence to moral standards
The Morality of Thoughts
What Domains Does Morality Extend to?
• In all cultures people view some behaviors as being more moral than others. Nowhere is it acceptable to
harm others without cause.
• But is it a moral failing if one has undesirable thoughts? (I.e. just thinking bad things!)
Jewish vs. Christian Worldviews
• The New Testament (i.e., the Christian half of the bible) explicitly discusses private thoughts as moral
domains. It specifies how one is not saved until one has appropriate beliefs.
• Further, it discusses how impure thoughts themselves are sins.
• In contrast, the Old Testament (aka, the Hebrew Bible) has little to say about beliefs(thoughts) mostly it
is about behaviors. For example, 8 of the 10 commandments are about behaviors, and the remaining 2
(honoring one’s parents when they are old and not coveting anything of your neighbor’s) appear to be
interpreted differently by Jews and Christians.
• Judaism emphasizes a wider variety of behaviors, such as keeping kosher, than does Christianity.
Will Jews and Christians View People with Impure Thoughts Differently?
• Study compared Jews and Protestants in how they responded to various vignettes where someone thinks
about inappropriate things.
• Results: When participants were asked if it was immoral if Mr. B actually had the affair there were no
differences between Jews and Protestants both agreed equally that this would be immoral behavior.
• However, Protestants viewed Mr. B more negatively than did Jews for just thinking about having an affair.
• Protestants are also more likely than Jews to believe that thoughts are under one’s control.
• Protestants also view thoughts as being more likely to lead to behaviors than do Jews.
What is Fair?
• People’s views of what is just and fair are evident in how they go about deciding how to distribute
resources (i.e. give someone 1$ while other 10$=injustice)
• There are 3 key principles that underlie how people distribute resources.
• Principle of Equality: Everyone gets the same amount, irrespective of contributions. (Example gov’t
issues identical rebate cheques to every citizen).
• Principle of Equity: People get an amount based on what they have contributed. (Example A salesperson
may earn her salary based on commission).
• Principle of Need: People get an amount based on the degree of their needs. (Example universal health
care. The sick get more benefits than the healthy).
• Meritocracy: North American a lot. It leads to competition a lot.
• There is variation in the nation in which of the above principal is used. Asian equity ( olders get more) and
the need ( give beggars money)
Culture and Justice
• Study contrasted Americans and Indians. Participants were asked to imagine in a vignette how a company
might best distribute money for a bonus between two employees.
• One employee was a very effective worker, whereas the other employee did not contribute so much.
However, the latter employee was in a poor financial situation because of an illness in the family.
• They were testing which of the three principal they are going to use in this situations.
Allocation Principles • The most popular principle for Indians was need. This was the least popular principle for Americans.
• Americans preferred the principle of equity closely followed by equality. Equity was the least popular
solution among Indians.
• MP: Perceptions of fairness vary across cultures.
Why these results:
• Perceptions of fairness have been key to understanding how cooperative norms emerge in human societies.
• There are only 2 ways that cooperation are understood strictly in terms of biological evolution.
1. Kin selection. It is adaptive (i.e., you have more surviving o