The meta-ethical grounding of our moral beliefs: Evidence for meta-ethical pluralism

Philosophical Psychology 26 (3):336-361 (2013)

Abstract

Recent scholarship (Goodwin & Darley, 2008) on the meta-ethical debate between objectivism and relativism has found people to be mixed: they are objectivists about some issues, but relativists about others. The studies discussed here sought to explore this further. Study 1 explored whether giving people the ability to identify moral issues for themselves would reveal them to be more globally objectivist. Study 2 explored people's meta-ethical commitments more deeply, asking them to provide verbal explanations for their judgments. This revealed that while people think they are relativists, this may not always be the case. The explanations people gave were sometimes rated by outside (blind) coders as being objective, even when given a relativist response. Nonetheless, people remained meta-ethical pluralists. Why this might be is discussed

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