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Chapter 7

Textbook Ch. 7: Morality, Religion, and Justice

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Nick Rule

CHAPTER 7 MORALITY, RELIGIOUS, AND JUSTICE - secularization theory, religion is on the decline and people around the world are discovering new secular and rational ways to make sense of their lives - how do we evaluate what is right and wrong in other cultures if our moral standards were acquired through socialization in our own culture? Universalism, Evolutionism, and Relativism - universalism, sees people from different cultures as largely the same; any observed cultural variability exists only at a superficial level - case of language, across diverse language groups there are many universal features of word orders and morphemes - those who grow up without hearing correct grammar (e.g. parents spoke a “pidgin language”) end up creating and speaking grammatically complex languages themselves (“creole languages”) - relativism, cultural diversity in ways of thinking reflects genuinely different psychological processes; different cultural practices lead to different ways of thinking - e.g. faces more important to East Asians, self-esteem more important to Westerners - evolutionism, cultural variability reflects genuine differences in psychological processes and there is only one way that the mind has evolved to think - cultural differences in ways of thinking reflect increasing stages of development - e.g. Kalahari Bushment grow up in a carpentered world and encounter a lot of objects with corners; less susceptible to the Muller-Lyer illusion Ethnocentrism and Interpreting Cultural Variability - 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 - difficulty in agreeing on what each culture values most - e.g. answering which cultures provide the highest quality of life? Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development 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 Level 2: The Conventional Level - people are 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 Postconventional Level - moral reasoning is based on the consideration of abstract ethical principles of what is right and wrong; good behaviour is consistent with a set of universal ethical principles - the model is proposed to be universal as the levels are always followed sequentially - it 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 no cultural group did the average adult reason at the preconventional level - evidence of postconventional 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 reasoning - 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? Ethics of Autonomy, Community, and Divinity - ethic of autonomy, views morality in terms of individual freedom and rights violations - acts are immoral when it directly hurts another person or infringes on their rights and freedoms as an individual - ethic of community, emphasizes that individuals have duties that conform with their roles in a community or social hierarchy - acts are immoral when individuals fail to perform their duties - 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 Ethic of Community Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft Relations - Ferdinand Tonnies argued that there are two means by which individuals can relate to each other in a group - Gemeinschaft groups are characteristic of smaller folk organizations where interpersonal relationships play an important role - relationships are core to an individual’s identity and reflect and understanding of the self - 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 - relationships are imaginary, instrumental, and means to ends - individuals can’t always be expected to behave in prosocial ways toward others as they don’t have strong obligations toward them, so formalized rules are needed Ethic of Community in India - moral obligations are objective obligations (believed even if there is no official rule or law) and are legitimately regulated (should be prevented or punished if people act in such a way) - (Miller et al., 1990) Indians and Americans viewed episo
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