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Monday, February 17, 2020

Religion’s Impact on Conceptions of the Moral Domain

S. Levine, and others
PsyArXiv Preprints
Last edited 2 Jan 20


How does religious affiliation impact conceptions of the moral domain? Putting aside the question of whether people from different religions agree about how to answer moral questions, here we investigate a more fundamental question: How much disagreement is there across religions about which issues count as moral in the first place? That is, do people from different religions conceptualize the scope of morality differently? Using a new methodology to map out how individuals conceive of the moral domain, we find dramatic differences among adherents of different religions. Mormons and Muslims moralize their religious norms, while Jews do not. Hindus do not seem to make a moral/non-moral distinction at all. These results suggest that religious affiliation has a profound effect on conceptions of the scope of morality.

From the General Discussion:

The results of Study 3 and 3a are predicted by neither Social Domain Theory nor Moral Foundations Theory: It is neither true that secular people and religious people share a common conception of the moral domain (as Social Domain Theory argues), nor that religious morality is expanded beyond secular morality in a uniform manner (as Moral Foundations Theory suggests).When participants in a group did make a moral/non-moral distinction, there was broad agreement that norms related to harm, justice, and rights count as moral norms. However, some religious individuals (such as the Mormon and Muslim participants) also moralized norms from their own religion that are not related to these themes. Meanwhile, others (such as the Jewish participants) acknowledged the special status of their own norms but did not moralize them. Yet others (such as the Hindu participants) made no distinction between the moral and the non-moral. 

The research is here.