Presentation on theme: "Don Forsyth University of Richmond"— Presentation transcript:
1 Don Forsyth University of Richmond Ethics Position Theory: Morality, Politics, and HappinessDon Forsyth University of Richmond
2 Philosophical Study of Ethics Normative ethicsPhilosophical analyses:DeontologyTeleologyEgoismRelativismJusticeRight vs. wrongGood vs. evilWhat you should do?How should we make moral decisions?
3 Psychological Study of Ethics Descriptive ethicsScientific analyses:Moral judgmentMoral developmentIndividual differencesCross-cultural variationsValues, virtues, characterHow do people decide what is right vs. wrong?When (and why) do people act in ways that are morally questionable?
4 “Reasonable people disagree…” Overview of one approach to individual differences in judgments about ethicsReview, briefly, empirical findings, focusing on moral judgmentsReport of a preliminary study of relationship between moral thought and political orientation
5 Individual Differences in Morality Should Heinz steal the drug?Should you push the switch to divert the trolley?Should psychologists help develop “interview” methods for the military?Is a lie, told for a “right purpose” (say, by a researcher) morally permissible?Should social psychologists fake their data?Are we morally obligated to care for others?Answers Depend on your Individual Moral Philosophy
6 Moral Philosophies Moral Position (or philosophy): an individual’s organized set of beliefs and values pertaining to ethicsindividuals are intuitive “moral philosophers”Example: From the great philosopher, Calvin
9 Great variation, but 2 themes Principle-based morality: Aren’t there rules about what’s right and wrong?Moral standards (e.g., lying, stealing)General principles (e.g., Golden Rule, Kant’s categorical imperative)Codes of ethics (e.g., Hippocratic Oath; Geneva Convention).
10 Second theme2. Consequence-based morality: Shouldn’t we try to maximize happiness and minimize harm?Beneficence (doing good works that help others)Utilitarianism (e.g., Bentham’s greatest good for the greatest number )Primum non nocere (“first, do no harm”)
11 First Theme: Principles UniversalismRelativismFollow the rulesStick to your principlesDo what is rightDon’t do what is wrongTolerate differencesDon’t expect others to act as you doRules, and morality, change over timeNo rule is sacred
12 Second Theme: Consequences IdealismConsequentialismDo no harmPromote others’ welfareDo not weigh ends against the meansTrade-offs are unavoidableWeigh the good against the badCalculate cost-benefit ratio and choose rationally
13 The Ethics Position Questionnaire Measuring Relativism1. Different types of moralities cannot be compared as to rightness.2. What is ethical varies from one situation and society to another.3. Whether a lie is judged to be moral or immoral depends upon the circumstances surrounding the action.These 2 themes, or dimensions, emerged across a number of studies of individual differences in moral judgment
14 The Ethics Position Questionnaire Measuring Idealism4. One should never psychologically or physically harm another person.5. If an action could harm an innocent other, then it should not be done.6. Deciding whether or not to perform an act by balancing the positive consequences of the act against the negative consequences of the act is immoral.The full question has 20 questions, rather than just these 6
15 Relativism3159.3LowRelativismHighRelativismRelativism: Some personal moral codes emphasize the importance of universal ethical rules; others do not endorse universal principles
16 Idealism31510.5LowIdealismHighIdealismIdealism: a fundamental concern for the welfare of others; some assume that we should avoid harming others, others assume harm will sometimes be necessary to produce good.
17 Dimensions vs. TypesPeople vary from low to high in idealism and relativismCan also “type” people, as relatively high versus lowIf consider both dimensions, typing yields a four-fold classificationHighRelativismSituationistSubjectivistLowIdealismHighIdealismExceptionistAbsolutistLowRelativism
18 Four Ethical Ideologies HighSubjectivistSituationistAppraisals based on personal values and perspective rather than universal principlesRejects moral rules; advocates individualistic analysis of each act in each situationRelativismExceptionistAbsolutistMoral absolutes guide judgments but pragmatically open to exceptions to these standards; utilitarianAssumes that the best possible outcome can always be achieved by following universal moral rulesHighLowIdealism
19 Studies of the “Moral mind” Do people with different moral philosophies “think about” morality differently?1. People differ in their conclusions about morality: their moral judgments.Absolutists harshest if principle violatedSituationists sensitive to harmSubjectivists unpredictableExceptionists lenient if justification
20 Example: Judgments of Research Procedures How Unethical
21 2. People may differ in how they make their moral judgments Some evidence suggests situationists process information in a more complex way than others (multiplicative combinatorial model rather than additive).Absolutists, if “cognitively busy,” process information more slowly
23 3. People may differ in how they behave in morally charged settings. Some evidence suggests judgments influence actionsBUT: Moral words do not necessarily = moral deeds
24 But absolutists certainly feel worse after acting immorally…. Self-ratings
25 Ethics positions across cultures Using meta-analysis, we (Forsyth, O’Boyle, & McDaniel, 2008) explored average EPQ scores across various countries. Identified 139 samples of over 30,000 individuals.
26 Consistent relations with Hofstede’s cultural dimensions
30 Forsyth & O’Boyle (2013) found a relationship between a country’s ethics position and average levels of “happiness”.
31 How about politics?Are the differences between conservative and liberal views rooted in moral differences?
32 Jon Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory KindnessSelf-sacrificeReverenceFairnessRespectHarmRecipr.IngroupHierar.Purity
33 Moral debates in contemporary society Conservatives and most traditional societies (esp. agricultural) build on all five foundations, create a broad morality. Regulates most action; values tradition.Moral debates in contemporary societyConservativesHarmRecipr.IngroupHierar.Purity
34 Moral debates in contemporary society Liberals and more mobile, mercantile societies hyper-value harm and reciprocity; distrust and overrule hierarchy, purity, and sometimes in-group. Create a narrow morality, values autonomy, rights, and self-expression.Moral debates in contemporary societyLiberalsHarmRecipr.IngroupHierar.Purity
35 Example: Health Care Reform UnfairOutsidersServedProfessionHarmedUnhealthyEqualrightsCompassionHarmRecipr.IngroupHierar.Purity
36 Example: Marriage Rights for Gays HeterosexismAgainst God+ traditionSin, perversionEqualrightsCompassionHarmRecipr.IngroupHierar.Purity
37 Haidt and his colleagues find some suggestive evidence of two clusters—is one of these idealism, the other relativism?Source: Graham, J., Nosek, B. A., Haidt, J., Iyer, R., Koleva, S., & Ditto, P. H. (2011). Mapping the moral domain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(2), doi: /a
38 Internet-based survey completed the EPQ and the MFQ 9128 participants (fewer for the political attitudes measures)130 countriesa bit “liberal” of a sample