From punishment to universalism

Mind and Language 34 (1):59-72 (2018)
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Many philosophers have claimed that the folk endorse moral universalism. Some have taken the folk view to support moral universalism; others have taken the folk view to reflect a deep confusion. And while some empirical evidence supports the claim that the folk endorse moral universalism, this work has uncovered intra-domain differences in folk judgments of moral universalism. In light of all this, our question is: why do the folk endorse moral universalism? Our hypothesis is that folk judgments of moral universalism are generated in part by a desire to punish. We present evidence supporting this across three studies. On the basis of this, we argue for a debunking explanation of folk judgments of moral universalism. Our results not only further our understanding of the psychological processes underpinning folk judgments of moral universalism. They also bear on philosophical discussions of folk meta-ethics.

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Author Profiles

David Rose
Stanford University
Shaun Nichols
Cornell University

References found in this work

The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
Moral realism: a defence.Russ Shafer-Landau - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The emotional construction of morals.Jesse J. Prinz - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Myth of Morality.Richard Joyce - 2001 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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