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Chapter 13

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Sisi Tran

Chapter 13: Morality, Religion, and Justice - intro story: cartoon controversy sparked rage in Muslims (depicted prophet Muhammad in offensive ways) –figure 13.1: Muslims don’t believe freedom trumps all other values - central role of culture in world affairs  Samuel Huntington: argued that largest fundamental source of conflict in new world comprises those that divide world in cultural and religious terms  Controversial thesis because of secularization theory: religion is on the decline (esp. held by academics), ppl are discovering new secular and rational ways to make sense of their lives o But is not holding up – approx. 94% Americans (where greatest # of scientific advances over past century) report believing in God o Islam and Christianity growing exponentially - will explore how reasoning and perceptions of justice are both similar and different across cultures UNIVERSALISM, EVOLUTIONISM, AND RELATIVISM - anthropologists offered these three interpretive models for making sense of cultural diversity - universalism is perspective that sees ppl from different cultures as largely the same, and that any observed cultural variability exists only at superficial level  may appear quite foreign at first, but believe that more careful analysis = reveal common underlying processes o ex: tomato vs. tomahto = both still mean a red fruit  differences we see are largely in terms of conventions and are of little significance  urge us not to get too hung up on cultural peculiarities = contribute little to understanding of what drives humans to act in ways they do  another example in case of language: evidence of universal grammar o observe that ppl who grow up w/out hearing correct grammar (like those hearing parents speak “pidgin language” –language created out of mixture of diff languages as means of communicating among ppl who don’t share a common language) end up creating and speaking grammatically complex languages themselves (called “Creole languages” –languages learned by ppl whose parents speak pidgin language) o unlike pidgin languages, creole have fixed morphology and syntax and complicated grammatical rules (shared w/ other languages of the world) o evidence to support existence of universal grammar  therefore claims that cultural variability exists only at superficial lvl - relativism maintains that cultural diversity in ways of thinking isn’t superficial but reflects genuinely diff psychological processes  cultural practices viewed to lead to certain habitual ways of thinking = vary across cultures  culture and thought are mutually constituted  believe psychological phenomena emerge from specific cultural contexts = less emphasis on either one being better or worse than any other culture –default assumption: cultural practices reflect solution to challenges faced by that culture, doesn’t mean they’re never evaluated (some seen as more harmful or problematic than others  urge others to be slow to pass judgment on other cultures - evolutionism maintains that cultural variability reflects genuine differences in psychological processes (similar to relativism)  similar to universalism: maintains there really is only one way that mind has evolved to think  ways of thinking reflecting increasing stages of development –some ways of thinking more mature or advanced, and ppl of diff cultures all think in same ways once reached same point of development or participated in cultural context that allowed for full expression of mind’s capabilities  approach to investigate o take particular psychological process as standard of mature or advanced thinking and evaluate other cultures by how closely they math this standard o ex. on p.497: hunting-gathering societies not encountered many corners = didn’t develop potential to be susceptible to the illusion (figure 1.5 p.21, Müller-Lyer illusion) ETHNOCENTIRSM AND INTERPRETING CULTURAL VARIABILITY - evolutionist perspective tends to be met w/ most resistance by cultural psychologists, would typically take relativistic perspective in which perceptual system shaped by experienced (p.497) - ethnocentrism leads ppl to assume their own culture’s way of life is in some ways better or more natural than that of others  difficult to overcome because we’re socialized to think in ways consistent w/ our culture, and evaluate practice based on how well they fit w/ our own culture (good or bad)  ∴ difficult to make standards for psychological phenomena that would be universally valid o ppl from diff cultures won’t agree on same variable of measurement to compare diff cultures w/ because they don't’ agree on what each culture values most o “who comes out on top, in any ranking system, is really about who is doing the ranking” - when given tight overlap between values and morality = how cultures differ are most salient KOHLBERG’S STAGES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT - most influential model of moral reasoning derived from evolutionist perspective - three-level model capturing developmental progression of moral reasoning in all cultures of the world Level 1: The Preconventional Level - understand cultural rules and labels of what’s good and bad but interpreted in terms of either physical or hedonistic consequences of their actions; what’s good or bad depends on whether it satisfies one’s own needs, and occasionally needs of others - ∴morality based on evaluating whether consequence of their action makes them better or worse off Level 2: The Conventional Level - ppl identify themselves w/ particular group and social older, and show loyalty towards the group social order actively maintained, supported, and justified by individual’s efforts to live up to group’s standards - ∴ actions viewed as moral depends on how they help maintain and facilitate social order; not moral if violate rules or laws maintained by social order Level 3: The Postconventional Level - moral values and principles exist separately from authority of social groups - moral reasoning based on abstract ethical principles of what’s right and wrong, and moral decisions reached based on logical extensions of these principles  whether others agree w/ you or rules that contradict this doesn’t influence whether action is viewed to be moral  good behaviour = consistent w/ these set of abstract ethical principles that emphasize justice and individual rights - research use these lvls to assess how various cultures solve moral dilemmas (ex: p.500) - proposed to be universal because lvls are always seen to follow sequentially - one aspect NOT universal: levels that diff cultures reach  no claim that cultures are equally likely to reason at same lvl  never claims that full range of moral lvls should be evident in all cultures - represents evolutionist perspective Cross-Cultural Evidence for Kohlberg’s Model - one review: explored 45 studies investigated diff lvls of moral reasoning in 27diff cultural areas from around the world  results o all cultures = reasoned at conventional lvls (no cultural group on avrg reasoned at preconventional) except children) o postconventional: some from Western sample, none from traditional tribal and village folk  interpretation of postconventional finding o evolutionist perspective argue that traditional societies didn’t provide educational experiences necessary for members to reason this way o relativist emphasize their different environments = develop moral framework that fits it suggest the model is missing some categories of moral reasoning - ∴ evidence suggests Kohlberg’s model isn’t universal 1. useful at capturing Western moral reasoning, but not much of non-Western world –risk of ethnocentric bias in defining this standard based on kind of reasoning in the Western culture 2. another reason is that good description of Western moral reasoning fails to generalize to other cultural contexts (bound up in Western understandings of moral values)  how to test which one is more compelling  some explored if there are other ethical principles evident in other cultures which underlie their moral reasoning ETHICS OF AUTONOMY, COMMUNITY, AND DIVINITY - argue Kohlberg’s model of moral reasoning represent one of three diff codes of ethics 1. Kohlberg’s is ethic of autonomy: views morality in terms of individual freedom and rights violations  Emphasis on personal choice, right to engage in free contracts, and individual liberty  Act hurts another or impinges on their rights and freedoms = immoral  appears to be of crucial importance in all cultures 2. ethic of community: emphasizes individuals have duties that conform w/ their roles in a community or social hierarchy  ethical principle: uphold one’s interpersonal duties and obligations toward others  immoral behaviours involve failure to live up to duties and obligations associated w/ one’s role (ex: son not attending parents’ wedding anniversary celebration because doesn’t feel like it) 3. ethic of divinity: concerned w/ sanctity and perceived “natural order” of things  ethical principle: one is obligated to preserve standards mandated by transcendent authority  immoral behaviour framed in terms of sinning against sacredness of God (or Gods depending on culture) –belief that God(s) created sacred world, and everyone obligated to respect and preserve sanctity of this world - these moral codes not based on one’s subjective preferences (personal choice) or community’s view of what’s right and wrong (matter of convention) - in terms of the caricature dilemma in the beginning of this chapter  Western newspaper editors based reasoning on ethic of autonomy, whereas Muslim protestors viewing it form perspective of ethic of divinity ETHIC OF COMMUNITY Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft Relations - Tonnies argued there are two means by which individuals can relate to each other in a group 1. some groups characterized as Gameinschaft: community a. obligations associated w/ one’s relationships take on weight of moral obligations b. characteristic of smaller folk organizations c. interpersonal relationships play important role –bind ppl together w/ social glue of concord: viewed as real, organic, and ends in themselves d. feel connected due to feeling of unity of spirit; relationships not viewed in instrumental terms, nor are they often evaluated or negotiated e. relationships central to one’s identity, understanding of self consistent w/ interdependent self 2. Gesellschaft: “association” or “society” (modern Western societies) a. Treats relationships as imaginary, instrumental, and means to an end b. Primary focus: autonomous individuals bound to each other via social convention = individuals come up w/ own rules, norms, and laws in which individuals need to behave and arise out of public consensus c. Relatively impersonal and somewhat contractual = necessity of justice obligations to govern disputes between individuals d. Can’t expect to be always prosocial so need formalized rules to keep ppl in line e. Interpersonal relations reduced to serving utilitarian means among autonomous individuals = morality of justice should take precedence - good example of Gemeinschaft group is nuclear family  not likely follow contractual agreements, govern disputes by appealing to abstract principles of justice  among some North American families = growing trend in this direction to Gesellschaft relations (ex: children suing their parents, or parents paying children piecemeal rates for completing various chores) Ethics of Community in India - ppl all over world have obligations toward others, but question is whether the interpret these as moral obligations - meaning of moral may differ from ppl’s typical understanding –differ in a couple ways 1. moral obligations viewed as objective obligations: believe have obligation to act in certain way, even if there’s no official rule or law that requires them to a. if obligation exists when law present = perceived as matter of convention 2. perceived as legitimately regulated: ppl should be prevented from engaging in moral violation, or should be punished a. if believe shouldn’t be prevented = view act as manner of personal choice b. ex: Westerners view pickpocketing as violation of moral obligation (stealing is perceived as wrong regardless of what rules or laws exist), whereas not attending graduation ceremony is manner of personal choice - many studies of moral reasoning provide dilemmas which neither option seems ideal  ppl’s moral principles can be discerned by examining trade-offs they’re willing to make  study: gave a # of dilemmas pitted interpersonal and justice obligations against each other (example on p.506)  Hindu Indian and American college students participated; scenarios were minor, moderate, or extreme  Results in Figure 13.2 o Great deal of variability WITHIN cultures, many chose each one (not widely shared understanding of what’s best way to solve it) o Clear diff across cultures: Indians solve it through fulfilling interpersonal obligations than Americans o Whereas BOTH viewed justice breaches in moral terms, Indians far more likely view interpersonal breaches in moral terms  interpersonal obligations more serious than justice (Americans) o ∴ Indians perceive interpersonal obligations more seriously than justi
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