Morality (in Handbook of Social Psychology)
HANDBOOK OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 5th Ed., S. Fiske, D. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey, eds., Forthcoming
61 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2010 Last revised: 25 Aug 2010
Date Written: January 10, 2010
This chapter assesses the state of the art in moral psychology from a social-psychological perspective. We begin with the story of the “great narrowing” — the historical process in which morality got reduced from virtue-based conceptions of the good person down to quandaries about what people should do. We argue for a return to a broader conception of the moral domain that better accommodates the diverse and often group-focused moralities found around the world. Our review of the empirical research is organized under three principles: 1) Intuitive primacy (but not dictatorship); 2) Moral thinking is for social doing; and 3) Morality binds and builds. We argue that kin selection and reciprocal altruism are just two of many evolutionary processes that shaped human morality. We show how a broader and more group-focused conception of morality fits with emerging ideas about multi-level selection, and with new discoveries about the rapid pace of genetic evolution and the importance of intergroup competition during the last 10,000 years. We close by applying this broader moral perspective to religion and politics.
Keywords: morality, evolution, politics, ethics, moral judgment, moral psychology, emotions
JEL Classification: D7, Z
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
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By Matt Motyl