book notes for chapter 7
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Chapter 7: Morality, Religion and Justice
•Secularization: religion is on the decline and people around the world are discovering new
secular and rational ways to make sense of their lives.
oBut in reality, religion is growing in importance across the planet.
oThe consequences of cultural differences in perceptions of morality underlie many of
the past and future conflicts around the world (9/11 bombing, Islam is criticized by
Three Perspectives for Making Sense of Cultural Diversity: Universalism, Evolutionism
•Universalism: the perspective that sees people from different cultures as largely the same
and that any observed cultural variability exists only at a superficial level.
oPeople are the same wherever you go and the differences that we see across cultures
are largely differences in term of conventions and are of little significance.
oLanguages of cultures seem to be very different from one another but closer
examinations of languages reveal that they do have much in common (universal word
orders and grammar).
•Relativism: the perspective that sees cultural diversity in ways of thinking is not superficial
but reflects genuinely different psychological processes (culture and thought are mutually
oCultural practices lead to certain habitual ways of thinking and because cultural
practices differ across cultures, habitual ways also vary.
oEast Asian cultures are much more concerned with face than are people in Western
oNo individual culture’s psychological tendencies is view as better or worse but that
cultural practices reflect a solution to the challenges faced by that culture.
•Evolutionism: the perspective that sees cultural variability reflects genuine differences in
psychological processes and that there really is only one way that the mind has evolved to
oSome ways of thinking are more mature or advanced than others and people of
different cultures would all think in the same ways once they reached the same point
oEvolutionists identify a particular psychological process as a standard of mature or
advanced thinking and then to evaluate other cultures by how closely they match
Ethnocentrism and Interpreting Cultural Variability
•Ethnocentrism leads people to assume that their own culture’s way of life are in some ways
better or more natural than that of others (but it is not true).
•Because of the ethnocentrism bias, it is a big challenge to consider standards for
psychological phenomena that would be universally valid, rather than ones that are favored
within one’s own culture.
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•We cannot determine which country has the highest quality of life because there are
different standards that could be used, depending on the operational definition (lowest
suicide rate or highest income per capita).
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development
•Level 1: The Preconventional Level
oIndividuals understand the cultural rules and labels of what is good and bad but
interpret these labels in terms of either the physical or hedonistic consequences of
oCalculate morality on how better or worse off they would be for acting in a certain
•Level 2: The Conventional Level
oPeople are able to identify themselves with a particular group and social order and
show loyalty toward this group.
oViewing actions as moral to the extent that they help maintain and facilitate social
oActions are morally wrong if they involve violating any rules or laws.
•Level 3: The Postconventional Level
oMoral reasoning is based on the abstract ethical principles of what is right and
oMoral decisions are reached based on the logical extensions of those principles.
oBehavior is good if it is consistent with a set of universal ethical principles that
emphasize justice and individual rights.
•It is universal in terms of no person will reach level 3 without passing levels 1 and 2.
•It is not universal in terms of what levels different cultures reach.
•Preconventional and Conventional thinking was found to be universally applicable, but
postconventional thinking was not universally found.
oReason for Evolutionist: it is due to having fewer opportunities to experience
oReason for Relativist: urban Western environments are one kind of environment and
tribal environment are another kind of environment and that people develop a moral
framework that best fits their environment.
oThere are other ethical principles aside from justice and individual rights on which
people in other cultures base their moral reasoning that’s why postconventinal
thinking was not found to be universal (as it only measures Western ethical
Ethics of Autonomy, Community and Divinity
•Ethic of Autonomy: views morality in terms of individual freedom and rights violations.
oIt is the code of ethics inherent in Kohlberg’s model.
oThere is emphasis on personal choice, right to engage in free contracts and individual
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