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The psychology of meta-ethics: exploring objectivism.
Cognition 2008; 106(3):1339-66C

Abstract

How do lay individuals think about the objectivity of their ethical beliefs? Do they regard them as factual and objective, or as more subjective and opinion-based, and what might predict such differences? In three experiments, we set out a methodology for assessing the perceived objectivity of ethical beliefs, and use it to document several novel findings. Experiment 1 showed that individuals tend to regard ethical statements as clearly more objective than social conventions and tastes, and almost as objective as scientific facts. Yet, there was considerable variation in objectivism, both across different ethical statements, and across individuals. The extent to which individuals treat ethical beliefs as objective was predicted by the way they grounded their ethical systems. Groundings which emphasize the religious, pragmatic, and self-identity underpinnings of ethical belief each independently predicted greater ethical objectivity. Experiment 2 replicated and extended these findings with a refined measure of ethical objectivism. Experiment 3 demonstrated the robustness of the religious grounding of ethics, and differentiates it from mere religious belief and from political orientation. The results shed light on the nature of ethical belief, and have implications for the resolution of ethical disputes.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA. ggoodwin@princeton.eduNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

17692306

Citation

Goodwin, Geoffrey P., and John M. Darley. "The Psychology of Meta-ethics: Exploring Objectivism." Cognition, vol. 106, no. 3, 2008, pp. 1339-66.
Goodwin GP, Darley JM. The psychology of meta-ethics: exploring objectivism. Cognition. 2008;106(3):1339-66.
Goodwin, G. P., & Darley, J. M. (2008). The psychology of meta-ethics: exploring objectivism. Cognition, 106(3), pp. 1339-66.
Goodwin GP, Darley JM. The Psychology of Meta-ethics: Exploring Objectivism. Cognition. 2008;106(3):1339-66. PubMed PMID: 17692306.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - The psychology of meta-ethics: exploring objectivism. AU - Goodwin,Geoffrey P, AU - Darley,John M, Y1 - 2007/08/09/ PY - 2006/10/26/received PY - 2007/05/29/revised PY - 2007/06/22/accepted PY - 2007/8/19/pubmed PY - 2008/4/22/medline PY - 2007/8/19/entrez SP - 1339 EP - 66 JF - Cognition JO - Cognition VL - 106 IS - 3 N2 - How do lay individuals think about the objectivity of their ethical beliefs? Do they regard them as factual and objective, or as more subjective and opinion-based, and what might predict such differences? In three experiments, we set out a methodology for assessing the perceived objectivity of ethical beliefs, and use it to document several novel findings. Experiment 1 showed that individuals tend to regard ethical statements as clearly more objective than social conventions and tastes, and almost as objective as scientific facts. Yet, there was considerable variation in objectivism, both across different ethical statements, and across individuals. The extent to which individuals treat ethical beliefs as objective was predicted by the way they grounded their ethical systems. Groundings which emphasize the religious, pragmatic, and self-identity underpinnings of ethical belief each independently predicted greater ethical objectivity. Experiment 2 replicated and extended these findings with a refined measure of ethical objectivism. Experiment 3 demonstrated the robustness of the religious grounding of ethics, and differentiates it from mere religious belief and from political orientation. The results shed light on the nature of ethical belief, and have implications for the resolution of ethical disputes. SN - 0010-0277 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/17692306/The_psychology_of_meta_ethics:_exploring_objectivism_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0010-0277(07)00176-X DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -