Folk moral relativism

In Joshua Knobe & Shaun Nichols (eds.), Experimental Philosophy: Volume 2. New York, NY, USA: pp. 169-192 (2014)

Abstract

It has often been suggested that people’s ordinary folk understanding of morality involves a rejection of moral relativism and a belief in objective moral truths. The results of six studies call this claim into question. Participants did offer apparently objectivist intuitions when confronted with questions about individuals from their own culture, but they offered increasingly relativist intuitions as they were confronted with questions about individuals from increasingly different cultures or ways of life. In light of these data, the authors hypothesize that people do not have a fixed commitment to moral objectivism but instead tend to adopt different views depending on the degree to which they consider radically different perspectives on moral questions. [NOTE: This is a reprint of Sarkissian et al 2011]

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Author Profiles

Jennifer H. Wright
King's College London
Hagop Sarkissian
CUNY Graduate Center
Joshua Knobe
Yale University

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