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The Moral Foundations Vignettes (MFVs) – a recently developed set of brief scenarios depicting violations of various moral foundations – enables investigators to directly examine differences in moral judgments about different topics. In the present study, we adapt the MFV instrument for use in the Portuguese language. To this end, the following steps were performed: 1) Translation of the MFV instrument from English to Portuguese language in Brazil; 2) Synthesis of translated versions; 3) Evaluation of the synthesis by expert judges; 4) Evaluation of the MFV instrument by university students from Sao Paulo City; 5) Back translation; and lastly, 6) Validation study, which used a sample of 494 (385f) university students from Sao Paulo city and a set of 68 vignettes, subdivided into seven factors. Exploratory analyses show that the relationships between the moral foundations and political ideology are similar to those found in previous studies, but the severity of moral judgment on individualizing foundations tended to be significantly higher in the Sao Paulo sample, compared to a sample from the USA. Overall, the present study provides a Portuguese version of the MFV that performs similarly to the original English version, enabling a broader examination of how the moral foundations operate.
The moral dumbfounding phenomenon for harmless taboo violations is often cited as a critical piece of empirical evidence motivating anti-rationalist models of moral judgment and decision-making. Moral dumbfounding purportedly occurs when an individual remains obstinately and steadfastly committed to a moral judgment or decision even after admitting inability to provide reasons and arguments to support it (Haidt, 2001). Early empirical support for the moral dumbfounding phenomenon led some philosophers and psychologists to suggest that affective reactions and intuitions, in contrast with reasons or reasoning, are the predominant drivers of moral judgments and decisions. We investigate an alternative reason-based explanation for moral dumbfounding: that putatively harmless taboo violations are judged to be morally wrong because of the high perceived likelihood that the agents could have caused harm, even though they did not cause harm in actuality. Our results indicate that judgments about the likelihood of causing harm consistently and strongly predicted moral wrongness judgments. Critically, a manipulation drawing attention to harms that could have occurred (but did not actually occur) systematically increased the severity of moral wrongness judgments. Thus, many participants were sensitive to at least one reason — the likelihood of harm — in making their moral judgments about these kinds of taboo violations. We discuss the implications of these findings for rationalist and anti-rationalist models of moral judgment and decision-making.
As the study of moral judgments grows, it becomes imperative to compare results across studies in order to create unified theories within the field. These efforts are potentially undermined, however, by variations in wording used by different researchers. The current study sought to determine whether, when, and how variations in wording influence moral judgments. Online participants responded to 15 different moral vignettes (e.g., the trolley problem) using 1 of 4 adjectives: “wrong”, “inappropriate”, “forbidden”, or “blameworthy”. For half of the sample, these adjectives were preceded by the adverb “morally”. Results indicated that people were more apt to judge an act as wrong or inappropriate than forbidden or blameworthy, and that disgusting acts were rated as more acceptable when “morally” was included. Although some wording differences emerged, effects sizes were small and suggest that studies of moral judgment with different wordings can legitimately be compared.
Tomasello's novel and insightful theory of obligation explains why we sometimes sense an obligation to treat each other equally, but he has not yet explained why human morality also allows and enables much inequality in wealth and power. Ullman-Margalit's (1977) account of norms of partiality suggested a different source and kind of norms that might help to fill out Tomasello's picture.
Although common sense and literature support the possibility of moral dilemmas, many traditional and contemporary philosophers deny this possibility because of several arguments. Probably the strongest argument against the possibility of moral dilemmas can be called the argument from ought and ought not. Various versions of this argument have been presented by McConnell, Hare, and Conee. Its basic form can be outlined as follows.
If any agent is in any moral dilemma, then that agent ought to adopt each of two alternatives but cannot adopt both.
If any agent ought to adopt any alternative, but that agent cannot adopt that alternative together with another alternative, then that agent ought not not to adopt that other alternative.
Therefore, if any agent is in any moral dilemma, then that agent both ought and ought not to adopt each alternative.
It is not possible that any agent both ought and ought not to adopt any alternative.
Therefore, it is not possible for any agent to be in any moral dilemma.
May argues that framing effects do not undermine moral beliefs, because they affect only a minority of moral judgments in small ways. We criticize his estimates of the extent of framing effects on moral judgments, and then we argue that framing effects would cause trouble for moral judgments even if his estimates were correct.
Paradigmatic cases of conscientious objection in medicine are those in which a physician refuses to provide a medical service or good because doing so would conflict with that physician’s personal moral or religious beliefs. Should such refusals be allowed in medicine? We argue that (1) many conscientious objections to providing certain services must be allowed because they fall within the range of freedom that physicians have to determine which services to offer in their practices; (2) at least some conscientious objections to serving particular groups of patients should be allowed because they are not invidiously discriminatory; and (3) even in cases of invidiously discriminatory conscientious objections, legally prohibiting individual physicians from refusing to serve patients on the basis of such objections is not always the best solution.
This paper explores whether brain images may be admitted as evidence in criminal trials under Federal Rule of Evidence 403, which weighs probative value against the danger of being prejudicial, confusing, or misleading to fact finders. The paper summarizes and evaluates recent empirical research relevant to these issues. We argue that currently the probative value of neuroimages for criminal responsibility is minimal, and there is some evidence of their potential to be prejudicial or misleading. We also propose experiments that will directly assess how jurors are influenced by brain images.
Knobe cites both relevant alternatives and defaults on a continuum to explain how moral judgments influence intuitions about certain apparently non-moral notions. I ask (1) how these two accounts are related, (2) whether they exclude or supplement supposedly competing theories, and (3) how to get positive evidence that people consider relevant alternatives when applying such notions.
There are many disagreements about what people have moral obligations to do, but almost everyone believes that some people have some moral obligations. Moreover, there are some moral obligations in which almost everyone believes. For example, if I promise to give a talk at this conference, I have a moral obligation to do so. Of course, my obligation might be overridden. Moreover, even if my obligation were overridden, I would still have a moral obligation to give a talk at this conference.
If there is a moral reason for A to do X, and if A cannot do X without doing Y, and if doing Y will enable A to do X, then there is a moral reason for A to do Y. This principle is plausible but mysterious, so it needs to be explained. It can be explained by necessary enabler consequentialism, but not by other consequentialisms or any deontological moral theory. Or so I argue. Frances Howard-Snyder objects that this argument fails to establish consequentialism as understood by ‘most philosophers’, because it fails to establish agent-neutrality. I respond by distinguishing consequentialism, which need not be agent-neutral, from utilitarianism, which claims agent-neutrality. Howard-Snyder also presents a schema for a non-consequentialist theory that is supposed to explain moral substitutability. I respond that her explanation cannot be completed without introducing incoherence into deontological moral theories.
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