Chapter 13: morality, religion and justice.
RELIGION IN THE WORLD
• Picture of the prophet created a lot of tension between different cultures. Many in the west wondered why that is? Different
culture viewed the significance of the picture differently.
• Secularization theory - religion on decline, people are finding new secular/rational ways to make sense of their lives. Basically
means that religion is going down as world is becoming more scientific.
• data suggests otherwise: 92% ofAmericans believe in God or higher power - religion seem to be growing across the globe
rather then going down.
Universalism, evolutionism, and relativism.
INTERPRETIVE Model: models for making sense of cultural diversity around us. These include Universalism, evolutionism,
Universalism: people largely same; cultural difference superficial. For example people may say tomato differently but we are
referring to the same things.
Variability in language: closer examination of language show that they do have much in common specially the universality of
grammar Universal grammar that’s evident in all languages.
Looking at pidgin language (language produced when two people meet and cannot communicate so they come up with a new
way to communicate) after a while this become a creole which is a fully made language with grammar and syntax.Analysis of
this new language shows similarity in grammar and syntax to other language thus suggesting universality.
Relativism, cultural diversity in ways of thinking reflects genuinely different psychological processes; different cultural
practices lead to different ways of thinking
cultural practices are viewed to lead to certain habitual ways of thinking & b/c cultural practices vary then thinking should also
vary - e.g. faces more important to East Asians, self-esteem more important to Westerners. It depends on what the culture
values and think.
Evolutionism: evolutionism, cultural variability reflects genuine differences in psychological processee (similar to relativism)
and there is only one way that the mind has evolved to think ( universalism)
cultural diff reflect increasing stages of development. Some ways of thinking are more mature/advanced than others & ppl of
diff cultures would all think in the same ways once they reached the same point of development or participated in a cultural
context that allowed for the full expression of the mindʼs capabilities
e.g. Kalahari Bushment ( hunters and gatherers) grow did not grown up in carpentered world and did not encounter a lot of
objects with corners; then are less susceptible to the Muller-Lyer illusion
Ethnocentrism and Interpreting Cultural Variability
• Evolutionist perspective met by resistance from cultural psychologists- b/c of concerns over whether one can objectively identify
a standard for evaluating psych phenomenon
• Ethnocentrism leads people to assume that their own culture’s way of life is in some ways better or more natural than that of
others thus it is very hard to step outside our own culture when evaluating others.
• Difficulty in agreeing on what each culture values most▯ e.g. answering which cultures provide the highest quality of life?
Depends on what you think ( which is based on your ethnocentric view) is the best
Kohlbergʼs Stages of Moral Development • Developmental framework for understanding peoples abilities to reason morally ▯ he argued that moral reasoning implicated
cognitive abilities & that these abilities would progress as individuals developed/matured/educated (evolutionary perspective)
• Level 1: The Preconventional Level
• Individuals understand the cultural rules and labels of what is good and bad but interpret these labels in terms of the physical or
hedonistic consequences of their action
• What determines whether an action is good or bad is whether it satisfies one’s own needs, and occasionally the needs of others
• Its all about which action with provide the best overall return.
Level 2: The Conventional Level
• At this stage people are now able to identify with a group and show loyalty toward the group.
• View actions as moral to the extent that they help maintain and facilitate the social order; morality is about following the rules;
individuals shouldn’t question where the rules come from
Level 3: The Post conventional Level
• In this stage, the moral values ad principals are seen to exist separately from the authority of the social group that holds them.
• Moral reasoning is based on the consideration of abstract ethical principles of what is right and wrong; good behavior is
consistent with a set of universal ethical principles that emphasize justice and equality others who agree or disagree doesn’t
• The model is proposed to be universal as the levels are always followed sequentially ( 13). But the only non-universal part is
up to what stage a culture reaches.
• This model is an example of an evolutionist perspective of cultural variation
Cross-Cultural Evidence for Kohlberg’s Model
• Results of one review indicated some universality in moral reasoning
• In all cultures, there were adults who reasoned at the conventional levels and in at no cultural group did the average adult reason
at the preconventional level (stage 1)
• Evidence of postconventional(stage 3) reasoning was not universally found
• Found in every urban Western sample but not in any traditional tribal and village sample
• Evolutionist interpretation: traditional societies don’t provide the educational experiences necessary for postconvetional
• Relativist interpretation, Western environments are one kind and tribal environments are another kind and people develop a
moral framework that best fits their environment
• Does Kohlberg’s model generalize well to other cultural contexts? Stage 3 is good for westerners but might not be for the
Ethics ofAutonomy, Community, and Divinity
• Ethic of autonomy, views morality in terms of individual freedom and rights violations. It is all about personal choices and the
right to engage in free contract and individual libertyacts are immoral when it directly hurts another person or infringes on their rights and freedoms as an individual ( i.e. steal money)
• Ethic of community, emphasizes that individuals have duties that conform with their roles in a community or social
hierarchyacts are immoral when individuals fail to perform their duties ( son not attending father’s graduation because he
doesn’t feel like it)
• Ethic of divinity, concerned about sanctity and the perceived “natural order” of things acts are immoral if they cause impurity
or degradation to oneself or others, or if one shows disrespect for God or God’s creations (i.e. the picture of the prophet for
Muslims violated this thus more from the perspective of divinity on the other hand westerners viewed picture making as
Ethic of Community
• It is distinct from other form of morality. Often woman do this form of morality more and is more prominent in the non-western
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft Relations
• Ferdinand Tonnies argued that there are two means by which individuals can relate to each other in a group
• Gemeinschaft (mean community) groups are characteristic of smaller folk organizations where interpersonal relationships play
an important role
o Relationships are core to an individual’s identity and reflect and understanding of the self thus very consistent with
o Interpersonal obligations aren’t objective or impartial enough to be governed by a system of justice and contracts
• Gesellschaft groups are more characteristics of modern Western societies
o Relationships are imaginary, instrumental, and means to ends
o Primary focus within the group is an autonomous individual that are bound with one another through social convention
( i.e. rules and laws and justice system which you have to follow)
o Individuals can’t always be expected to behave in prosaically ways toward others as they don’t have strong obligations
toward them, so formalized rules are needed
o Example of this is a child paying the parent for rend (unheard of in the above group)
Ethic of Community in India
• Moral obligations are objective obligations (believed even if there is no official rule or law like you should not pickpocket
doesn’t matter if rules exist or note) and are legitimately regulated (should be prevented or punished if people act in such a
• Violation is moral ones only if they are objective obligations and that can be legitimately regulated.
• In one study participants were given a situation where they had to make a decision that involved interpersonal obligations
(attending friends weeding) and justice obligations ( stealing a train ride). The manipulations was the variation in breaches of
justice (minor to serious)
• Results: Indians tend to prefer interpersonal ( helping friend) overAmericans who preferred protecting the justice obligations.
Also important to note that these are averages their was a lot of variability within a culture. Overall Indians more likely to favor