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Morality (from ) is the differentiation of
intention Intentions are mental states in which the agent commits themselves to a course of action. Having the plan to visit the zoo tomorrow is an example of an intention. The action plan is the ''content'' of the intention while the commitment is the ''at ...
s, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper (right) and those that are improper (wrong), and it’s a construct of
justice
justice
. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such ques ...

philosophy
,
religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecies, ethics in religion, ...

religion
or
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in ...
, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may also be specifically
synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme, or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word, morpheme, or phrase in the same language. For example, the words ''begin'', ''start'', ''commence'', and ''initiate'' are all synonyms of one another ...
ous with
"goodness"
or "rightness". Moral philosophy includes
meta-ethics In metaphilosophy and ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'"Ethics ...
, which studies abstract issues such as moral
ontology Ontology is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Ph ...

ontology
and moral
epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the Outline of philosophy, branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic Justification (epistemology), justification, the Reason, rationality of ...

epistemology
, and
normative ethics Normative ethics is the study of ethical behaviour, and is the branch of philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a famil ...
, which studies more concrete systems of moral decision-making such as
deontological ethics In moral philosophy, deontological ethics or deontology (from Greek: + ) is the normative ethical theory that the morality Morality (from ) is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and Social actions, actions between those that ...
and
consequentialism Consequentialism is a class of normative, teleological ethical theories that holds that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist st ...
. An example of normative ethical philosophy is the
Golden Rule The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one wants to be treated. It is a maxim that is found in most religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, ...

Golden Rule
, which states: "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself."
Immorality Immorality is the violation of morality, moral laws, Norm (social), norms or standards. It refers to an agent doing or thinking something they know or believe to be wrong. Immorality is normally applied to people or actions, or in a broader sense, ...
is the active opposition to morality (i.e. opposition to that which is
good 175px, In many religions, angels are considered to be good beings. In most contexts, the concept of good denotes the conduct that should be preferred when posed with a choice between possible actions. Good is generally considered to be the oppos ...

good
or right), while
amorality Amorality is an absence of, indifference towards, disregard, or incapacity for morality. Some simply refer to it as a case of not being moral or immoral. Amoral should not be confused with ''immoral'', which refers to an agent doing or thinking ...
is variously defined as an unawareness of, indifference toward, or disbelief in any particular set of moral standards or principles.


History


Ethics

Ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, m ...

Ethics
(also known as moral philosophy) is the branch of
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such ques ...

philosophy
which addresses questions of morality. The word "ethics" is "commonly used interchangeably with 'morality', and sometimes it is used more narrowly to mean the moral principles of a particular tradition, group, or individual." Likewise, certain types of ethical theories, especially
deontological ethics In moral philosophy, deontological ethics or deontology (from Greek: + ) is the normative ethical theory that the morality Morality (from ) is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and Social actions, actions between those that ...
, sometimes distinguish between ethics and morals: "Although the morality of people and their ethics amounts to the same thing, there is a usage that restricts morality to systems such as that of
Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, ; ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German Philosophy, philosopher and one of the central Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment thinkers. Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemology, metaphysics, ethic ...

Immanuel Kant
, based on notions such as duty, obligation, and
principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political or personal control by someone with authority or power * Busin ...
of conduct, reserving ethics for the more
Aristotelian Aristotelian may refer to: * Aristotle (384–322 BCE), Greek philosopher * Aristotelianism, the philosophical tradition begun by Aristotle * Aristotelian ethics * Aristotelian logic, term logic * Aristotelian physics, the natural sciences * Aristot ...
approach to practical reasoning, based on the notion of a
virtue Virtue ( la, virtus ''Virtus'' () was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin ''vir'', "man"). It was thus a fre ...

virtue
, and generally avoiding the separation of 'moral' considerations from other practical considerations." For a Chinese discussion of ethics, morality and humanism see
Confucius } Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; ) was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), d ...
,
Laozi Lao Tzu ("Lao Zi"
''
, and '' daode''


Descriptive and normative

In its descriptive sense, "morality" refers to personal or cultural values,
codes of conduct A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the social norm, norms, rules, and responsibilities or proper practices of an individual party or an organization. Companies' codes of conduct A company code of conduct is a set of rules which is com ...
or social
mores 300px, A 19th-century children's book informs its readers that the Dutch people, Dutch were a "Protestant work ethic, very industrious race", and that Chinese people, Chinese children were "Filial piety, very obedient to their parents". Mores ( s ...

mores
from a society that provides these codes of conduct in which it applies and is accepted by an individual. It does not connote objective claims of right or wrong, but only refers to that which is considered right or wrong.
Descriptive ethicsDescriptive ethics, also known as comparative ethics, is the study of people's beliefs about morality Morality (from ) is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and Social actions, actions between those that are distinguished as proper (ri ...
is the branch of philosophy which studies morality in this sense. In its
normative Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good or desirable or permissible and others as bad or undesirable or impermissible. A norm Nor ...
sense, "morality" refers to whatever (if anything) is ''actually'' right or wrong, which may be independent of the values or mores held by any particular peoples or cultures.
Normative ethics Normative ethics is the study of ethical behaviour, and is the branch of philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a famil ...
is the branch of philosophy which studies morality in this sense.


Realism and anti-realism

Philosophical theories on the nature and origins of morality (that is, theories of
meta-ethics In metaphilosophy and ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'"Ethics ...
) are broadly divided into two classes: *
Moral realism Moral realism (also ethical realism) is the position that ethical sentences express proposition In linguistics and logic, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" is understood to b ...
is the class of theories which hold that there are true moral statements that report objective moral facts. For example, while they might concede that forces of social
conformity Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms, politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between indi ...
significantly shape individuals' "moral" decisions, they deny that those cultural
norms Norm, the Norm or NORM may refer to: In academic disciplines * Norm (geology), an estimate of the idealised mineral content of a rock * Norm (philosophy), a standard in normative ethics that is prescriptive rather than a descriptive or explanato ...
and
customs Customs is an authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses ...
define morally right behavior. This may be the philosophical view propounded by ethical naturalists, however not all moral realists accept that position (e.g. ethical non-naturalists). * Moral
anti-realism In analytic philosophy Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethi ...
, on the other hand, holds that moral statements either fail or do not even attempt to report objective moral facts. Instead, they hold that moral sentences are either categorically false claims of objective moral facts (
error theory Moral nihilism (also known as ethical nihilism) is the meta-ethical view that nothing is morally right or wrong. Moral nihilism is distinct from moral relativism, which allows for actions to be wrong relative to a particular culture or individu ...
); claims about subjective attitudes rather than objective facts (
ethical subjectivism Ethical subjectivism or moral non-objectivism is the meta-ethical view which claims that: #Ethical sentences express proposition In linguistics and logic, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philoso ...
); or else not attempts to describe the world at all but rather something else, like an expression of an emotion or the issuance of a command (
non-cognitivism Non-cognitivism is the meta-ethical view that ethical sentences do not express propositions (i.e., statements) and thus cannot be true or false (they are not truth-apt). A noncognitivist denies the cognitivist claim that "moral judgments are ...
). Some forms of non-cognitivism and ethical
subjectivism Subjectivism is the doctrine that "our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience", instead of shared or communal, and that there is no external or objective truth. The success of this position is historically attributed ...
, while considered anti-realist in the robust sense used here, are considered realist in the sense synonymous with
moral universalism Moral universalism (also called moral objectivism) is the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics, or a universal ethic, applies universally, that is, for "all similarly situated individuals", regardless of culture Culture () is a ...
. For example, universal prescriptivism is a universalist form of non-cognitivism which claims that morality is derived from reasoning about implied imperatives, and
divine command theory Divine command theory (also known as theological voluntarism) is a meta-ethical theory which proposes that an action's status as morally good 175px, In many religions, angels are considered to be good beings. In most contexts, the concept ...
and
ideal observer theoryIdeal observer theory is the meta-ethical view which claims that ethical sentences express truth-apt proposition In linguistics and logic, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" i ...
are universalist forms of ethical subjectivism which claim that morality is derived from the edicts of a god or the hypothetical decrees of a perfectly rational being, respectively.


Anthropology


Morality with Practical Reasoning

Practical reason is necessary for the moral agency but it is not a sufficient condition for moral agency. Real life issues that need solutions do need both rationality and emotion to be sufficiently moral. One uses rationality as a pathway to the ultimate decision, but the environment and emotions towards the environment at the moment must be a factor for the result to be truly moral, as morality is subject to culture. Something can only be morally acceptable if the culture as a whole has accepted this to be true. Practical reason and relevant emotional considerations are both necessary for a decision to be moral.


Tribal and territorial

Celia Green Celia Elizabeth Green (born 26 November 1935) is a British writer on philosophical skepticism and psychology. Biography Green's parents were both primary school teachers, who together authored a series of geography textbooks which became know ...

Celia Green
made a distinction between tribal and territorial morality.Green, Celia (2004). ''Letters from Exile: Observations on a Culture in Decline''. Oxford: Oxford Forum. Chapters I–XX. She characterizes the latter as predominantly negative and proscriptive: it defines a person's territory, including his or her property and dependents, which is not to be damaged or interfered with. Apart from these proscriptions, territorial morality is permissive, allowing the individual whatever behaviour does not interfere with the territory of another. By contrast, tribal morality is prescriptive, imposing the norms of the collective on the individual. These norms will be arbitrary, culturally dependent and 'flexible', whereas territorial morality aims at rules which are universal and absolute, such as
Kant Immanuel Kant (, ; ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'love ...

Kant
's ' categorical imperative' and Geisler's
graded absolutism Graded absolutism is a theory of moral absolutism (in Christian ethics) which resolves the objection to absolutism (i.e., in moral conflicts, we are obligated to opposites). Moral absolutism is the ethical view that certain actions are absolute ...
. Green relates the development of territorial morality to the rise of the concept of private property, and the ascendancy of contract over status.


In-group and out-group

Some observers hold that individuals apply distinct sets of moral rules to people depending on their membership of an "
in-group In sociology and social psychology, an in-group is a social group to which a person self-categorization theory, psychologically identifies as being a member. By contrast, an out-group is a social group with which an individual does not identify. ...
" (the individual and those they believe to be of the same group) or an "out-group" (people not entitled to be treated according to the same rules). Some biologists, anthropologists and
evolutionary psychologists Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical approach in the social and natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific m ...
believe this in-group/out-group discrimination has evolved because it enhances group survival. This belief has been confirmed by simple computational models of evolution. In simulations this discrimination can result in both unexpected cooperation towards the in-group and irrational hostility towards the out-group. Gary R. Johnson and V.S. Falger have argued that
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation should be congruent with the State (polity), state. As a movement, nationalism tends to promote the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of peop ...
and
patriotism Patriotism or national pride is the feeling of love, devotion, and sense of attachment to a homeland or the country and alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiment to create a feeling of oneness among the people. This attachment ...

patriotism
are forms of this in-group/out-group boundary. Jonathan Haidt has noted that experimental observation indicating an in-group criterion provides one moral foundation substantially used by
conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the traditional values or practices of the culture and civilization ...
s, but far less so by
liberals Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...

liberals
. In-group preference is also helpful at the individual level for the passing on of one's genes. For example, a mother who favors her own children more highly than the children of other people will give greater resources to her children than she will to strangers', thus heightening her children's chances of survival and her own gene's chances of being perpetuated. Due to this, within a population, there is substantial
selection pressure Any cause that reduces or increases reproductive success in a portion of a population potentially exerts evolutionary pressure, selective pressure or selection pressure, driving natural selection Natural selection is the differential survi ...
exerted toward this kind of self-interest, such that eventually, all parents wind up favoring their own children (the in-group) over other children (the out-group).


Comparing cultures

Peterson and Seligman approach the anthropological view looking across cultures, geo-cultural areas and across millennia. They conclude that certain virtues have prevailed in all cultures they examined. The major virtues they identified include ''wisdom / knowledge; courage;
humanity Humanity most commonly refers to: * Human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language a ...
; justice; temperance; and transcendence''. Each of these includes several divisions. For instance ''humanity'' includes ''
love Love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states, from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest Interpersonal relationship, interpersonal affection, to the simplest pleasure. An example of this range of m ...

love
'', ''
kindness Kindness is a type of behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward. Kindness is a topic of interest in philosophy and religion. Kindness was one of the main topics in the Bi ...
'', and ''social intelligence''. Still, others theorize that morality is not always absolute, contending that moral issues often differ along cultural lines. A 2014 PEW research study among several nations illuminates significant cultural differences among issues commonly related to morality, including divorce, extramarital affairs, homosexuality, gambling, abortion, alcohol use, contraceptive use, and premarital sex. Each of the 40 countries in this study has a range of percentages according to what percentage of each country believes the common moral issues are acceptable, unacceptable, or not moral issues at all. Each percentage regarding the significance of the moral issue varies greatly on the culture in which the moral issue is presented. Advocates of a theory known as moral relativism subscribe to the notion that moral virtues are right or wrong only within the context of a certain standpoint (e.g., cultural community). In other words, what is morally acceptable in one culture may be taboo in another. They further contend that no moral virtue can objectively be proven right or wrong Critics of moral relativism point to historical atrocities such as infanticide, slavery, or genocide as counter arguments, noting the difficulty in accepting these actions simply through cultural lenses.
Fons Trompenaars Alfonsus (Fons) Trompenaars (born 1953, Amsterdam Amsterdam (, , ) is the Capital of the Netherlands, capital and Municipalities of the Netherlands, most populous city of the Netherlands with a population of 872,680 within the city proper, 1, ...
, author of ''Did the Pedestrian Die?'', tested members of different cultures with various
moral dilemmaIn philosophy, ethical dilemmas, also called ethical paradoxes or moral dilemmas, are ''situations'' in which an agent stands under two (or more) ''conflicting moral requirements'', none of which ''overrides'' the other. A closely related definition ...
s. One of these was whether the driver of a car would have his friend, a passenger riding in the car, lie in order to protect the driver from the consequences of driving too fast and hitting a pedestrian. Trompenaars found that different cultures had quite different expectations, from none to definite.


Evolution

The development of modern morality is a process closely tied to
sociocultural evolution Sociocultural evolution, sociocultural evolutionism or cultural evolution are theories of sociobiology and cultural evolution that describe how Society, societies and culture change over time. Whereas sociocultural development traces processes th ...
. Some
evolutionary biologists Evolutionary biology is the subfield of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interaction ...
, particularly sociobiologists, believe that morality is a product of evolutionary forces acting at an individual level and also at the group level through
group selection Group selection is a proposed mechanism of evolution Evolution is change in the Heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the Gene expression, expre ...
(although to what degree this actually occurs is a controversial topic in evolutionary theory). Some sociobiologists contend that the set of behaviors that constitute morality evolved largely because they provided possible survival or reproductive benefits (i.e. increased evolutionary success). Humans consequently evolved "pro-social" emotions, such as feelings of empathy or guilt, in response to these moral behaviors. On this understanding, moralities are sets of self-perpetuating and biologically driven behaviors which encourage human
cooperation Cooperation (written as co-operation in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon E ...
. Biologists contend that all social animals, from ants to elephants, have modified their behaviors, by restraining immediate
selfishness Selfishness is being concerned excessively or exclusively, for oneself or one's own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others. Selfishness is the opposite of altruism Altruism is the principle and moral practice of concern for h ...
in order to improve their evolutionary fitness. Human morality, although sophisticated and complex relative to the moralities of other animals, is essentially a natural phenomenon that evolved to restrict excessive individualism that could undermine a group's cohesion and thereby reducing the individuals' fitness. On this view, moral codes are ultimately founded on emotional instincts and intuitions that were selected for in the past because they aided survival and reproduction (
inclusive fitness In evolutionary biology, inclusive fitness is one of two metrics of evolutionary success as defined by W.D. Hamilton, W. D. Hamilton in 1964: * Personal fitness is the number of offspring that an individual begets (regardless of who rescues/rears ...
). Examples: the
maternal bond A maternal bond is the relationship between a mother and her child. While typically associated with pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring develops inside a woman. A multiple birth, mu ...
is selected for because it improves the survival of offspring; the
Westermarck effect The Westermarck effect, also known as reverse sexual imprinting, is a psychological hypothesis that people who live in close domestic proximity during the first few years of their lives become desensitized to sexual attraction Sexual attract ...
, where close proximity during early years reduces mutual sexual attraction, underpins taboos against incest because it decreases the likelihood of genetically risky behaviour such as
inbreeding Inbreeding is the production of offspring In biology, offspring are the young born of living organism, organisms, produced either by a single organism or, in the case of sexual reproduction, two organisms. Collective offspring may be known as ...
. The phenomenon of
reciprocity Reciprocity may refer to: Law and trade * Reciprocity (Canadian politics), free trade with the United States of America ** Reciprocal trade agreement, entered into in order to reduce (or eliminate) tariffs, quotas and other trade restrictions on ...
in nature is seen by evolutionary biologists as one way to begin to understand human morality. Its function is typically to ensure a reliable supply of essential resources, especially for animals living in a habitat where food quantity or quality fluctuates unpredictably. For example, some
vampire bat Vampire bats, species of the subfamily Desmodontinae, are Phyllostomidae, leaf-nosed bats found in Central and South America. Their food source is blood, a dietary trait called hematophagy. Three extant bat species feed solely on blood: the commo ...
s fail to feed on prey some nights while others manage to consume a surplus. Bats that did eat will then regurgitate part of their blood meal to save a
conspecific Biological specificity is the tendency of a characteristic such as a behavior or a biochemical variation to occur in a particular species. Biochemist Linus Pauling stated that "Biological specificity is the set of characteristics of living organism ...
from starvation. Since these animals live in close-knit groups over many years, an individual can count on other group members to return the favor on nights when it goes hungry (Wilkinson, 1984) Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce (2009) have argued that morality is a suite of behavioral capacities likely shared by all mammals living in complex social groups (e.g., wolves, coyotes, elephants, dolphins, rats, chimpanzees). They define morality as "a suite of interrelated other-regarding behaviors that cultivate and regulate complex interactions within social groups." This suite of behaviors includes empathy, reciprocity, altruism, cooperation, and a sense of fairness. In related work, it has been convincingly demonstrated that chimpanzees show
empathy Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional st ...

empathy
for each other in a wide variety of contexts. They also possess the ability to engage in deception, and a level of social politics prototypical of our own tendencies for
gossip Gossip is idle talk or rumour, especially about the personal or private affairs of others; the act is also known as dishing or tattling. Gossip has been researched in terms of its origins in evolutionary psychology, which has found gossip to be ...

gossip
and
reputation management Reputation management refers to the influencing and controlling or concealing of an individual's or group's reputation. Originally a public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of inf ...
. Christopher Boehm (1982) has hypothesized that the incremental development of moral complexity throughout
hominid The Hominidae (), whose members are known as great apes or hominids (), are a taxonomic family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marri ...
evolution was due to the increasing need to avoid disputes and injuries in moving to open savanna and developing stone weapons. Other theories are that increasing complexity was simply a correlate of increasing group size and brain size, and in particular the development of
theory of mind In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense sco ...
abilities.


Psychology

In modern
moral psychologyMoral psychology is a field of study in both philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind ...
, morality is considered to change through personal development. Several psychologists have produced theories on the development of morals, usually going through stages of different morals.
Lawrence Kohlberg Lawrence Kohlberg (; October 25, 1927 – January 19, 1987) was an American psychologist best known for his theory of stages of moral development. He served as a professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Chicago and at the Harv ...
,
Jean Piaget Jean Piaget (, , ; 9 August 1896 – 16 September 1980) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland *Swiss people Places *Swiss, Missouri *Swiss, North Carolina *Swiss, West Virginia *Swiss, Wisconsin Other uses *Swiss ...

Jean Piaget
, and Elliot Turiel have cognitive-developmental approaches to
moral development Moral development focuses on the emergence, change, and understanding of morality Morality (from ) is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and Social actions, actions between those that are distinguished as proper (right) and those t ...
; to these theorists morality forms in a series of constructive stages or domains. In the Ethics of care approach established by
Carol Gilligan Carol Gilligan (; born November 28, 1936) is an American feminism, feminist, ethicist, and psychologist best known for her work on ethical community and ethical relationships and certain Pirsig's metaphysics of Quality, subject-object problems in ...
, moral development occurs in the context of caring, mutually responsive relationships which are based on
interdependence Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems, i.e. cohesive groups of interrelated, interdependent parts that can be natural or man-made, human-made. Every system is bounded by space and time, influenced by its environment, defined by i ...
, particularly in parenting but also in social relationships generally.
Social psychologists Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology The word "Social" derives fr ...

Social psychologists
such as
Martin Hoffman Martin L. Hoffman is an American psychologist A psychologist is a person who studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by experimenting with, and observing, interpreting, and ...

Martin Hoffman
and
Jonathan Haidt Jonathan David Haidt (; born October 19, 1963) is an American Social psychology, social psychologist, Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University New York University Stern School of Business, Stern School of Business, and author. His ma ...
emphasize social and emotional development based on biology, such as
empathy Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional st ...

empathy
. Moral identity theorists, such as
William Damon William Damon (born 1944 in Brockton, Massachusetts Brockton is a city in Plymouth County, Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous U.S. state, state in the New England region of t ...
and
Mordechai Nisan Mordechai Nisan is an Israeli professor, member of the World Zionist Organization The World Zionist Organization ( he, הַהִסְתַּדְּרוּת הַצִּיּוֹנִית הָעוֹלָמִית; ''HaHistadrut HaTzionit Ha'Olamit''), or WZ ...
, see moral commitment as arising from the development of a self-identity that is defined by moral purposes: this moral self-identity leads to a sense of responsibility to pursue such purposes. Of historical interest in psychology are the theories of psychoanalysts such as
Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of medicine Me ...

Sigmund Freud
, who believe that moral development is the product of aspects of the
super-ego The id, ego, and super-ego are a set of three concepts in psychoanalytic theory describing distinct, interacting agents in the psychic apparatus (defined in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the Psyche (psychology), psyche). The three agents a ...
as guilt-shame avoidance. As an alternative to viewing morality as an individual trait, some sociologists as well as social- and discursive psychologists have taken upon themselves to study the ''in-vivo'' aspects of morality by examining how persons conduct themselves in social interaction.


Moral cognition

Moral cognition refers to cognitive processes that allow a person to act or decide in morally permissible ways. It consists of several domain-general cognitive processes, ranging from perception of a morally salient stimulus to reasoning when faced with a moral dilemma. While it's important to mention that there is not a single cognitive faculty dedicated exclusively to moral cognition, characterizing the contributions of domain-general processes to moral behavior is a critical scientific endeavor to understand how morality works and how it can be improved. Cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists investigate the inputs to these cognitive processes and their interactions, as well as how these contribute to moral behavior by running controlled experiments. In these experiments putatively moral versus nonmoral stimuli are compared to each other, while controlling for other variables such as content or working memory load. Often, the differential neural response to specifically moral statements or scenes, are examined using functional
neuroimaging Neuroimaging or brain imaging is the use of various techniques to either directly or indirectly Medical imaging, image the neuroanatomy, structure, function, or pharmacology of the nervous system. It is a relatively new discipline within medicine, ...
experiments. Critically, the specific cognitive processes that are involved depend on the prototypical situation that a person encounters. For instance, while situations that require an active decision on a moral dilemma may require active reasoning, an immediate reaction to a shocking moral violation may involve quick, affect-laden processes. Nonetheless, certain cognitive skills such as being able to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, emotions to oneself, and others is a common feature of a broad range of prototypical situations. In line with this, a meta-analysis found overlapping activity between moral emotion and
moral reasoningMoral reasoning is a study in psychology that overlaps with moral philosophy. Starting from a young age, people can make moral decisions about what is right and wrong; this makes morality fundamental to the human condition. Moral reasoning, however, ...
tasks, suggesting a shared neural network for both tasks. The results of this meta-analysis, however, also demonstrated that the processing of moral input is affected by task demands. Regarding the issues of morality in video games, some scholars believe that because players appear in video games as actors, they maintain a distance between their sense of self and the role of the game in terms of imagination. Therefore, the decision-making and moral behavior of players in the game are not representing player's Moral dogma. It has been recently found that moral judgment consists in concurrent evaluations of three different components that align with precepts from three dominant moral theories (virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialism): the character of a person (Agent-component, A); their actions (Deed-component, D); and the consequences brought about in the situation (Consequences-component, C). This, implies that various inputs of the situation a person encounters affect moral cognition.


Neuroscience

The brain areas that are consistently involved when humans reason about moral issues have been investigated by multiple quantitative large-scale meta-analyses of the brain activity changes reported in the moral neuroscience literature. The neural network underlying moral decisions overlaps with the network pertaining to representing others' intentions (i.e., theory of mind) and the network pertaining to representing others' (vicariously experienced) emotional states (i.e., empathy). This supports the notion that moral reasoning is related to both seeing things from other persons' points of view and to grasping others' feelings. These results provide evidence that the neural network underlying moral decisions is probably domain-global (i.e., there might be no such things as a "moral module" in the human brain) and might be dissociable into cognitive and affective sub-systems.


Brain areas

An essential, shared component of moral judgment involves the capacity to detect morally salient content within a given social context. Recent research implicated the
salience network The salience network (SN) is a large scale brain network of the human brain The human brain is the central organ (anatomy), organ of the human nervous system, and with the spinal cord makes up the central nervous system. The brain consists o ...

salience network
in this initial detection of moral content. The salience network responds to behaviorally salient events and may be critical to modulate downstream default and frontal control network interactions in the service of complex moral reasoning and decision-making processes. The explicit making of moral right and wrong judgments coincides with activation in the
ventromedial prefrontal cortex The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) is a part of the prefrontal cortex in the mammalian brain. The ventral medial prefrontal is located in the frontal lobe at the bottom of the cerebral hemispheres and is implicated in the processing of r ...

ventromedial prefrontal cortex
(VMPC) while intuitive reactions to situations containing implicit moral issues activates the
temporoparietal junction The temporoparietal junction (TPJ) is an area of the brain A brain is an organ (anatomy), organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals. It is located in the head, usually close to the sens ...

temporoparietal junction
area. Stimulation of the VMPC by
transcranial magnetic stimulation Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive form of brain stimulation in which a changing magnetic field A magnetic field is a vector field that describes the magnetic influence on moving electric charges, electric currents, and m ...

transcranial magnetic stimulation
, has been shown to inhibit the ability of human subjects to take into account intent when forming a moral judgment. According to this investigation, TMS did not disrupt participants' ability to make any moral judgment. On the contrary, moral judgments of intentional harms and non-harms were unaffected by TMS to either the RTPJ or the control site; presumably, however, people typically make moral judgments of intentional harms by considering not only the action's harmful outcome but the agent's intentions and beliefs. So why were moral judgments of intentional harms not affected by TMS to the RTPJ? One possibility is that moral judgments typically reflect a weighted function of any morally relevant information that is available at the time. Based on this view, when information concerning the agent's belief is unavailable or degraded, the resulting moral judgment simply reflects a higher weighting of other morally relevant factors (e.g., outcome). Alternatively, following TMS to the RTPJ, moral judgments might be made via an abnormal processing route that does not take belief into account. On either account, when belief information is degraded or unavailable, moral judgments are shifted toward other morally relevant factors (e.g., outcome). For intentional harms and non-harms, however, the outcome suggests the same moral judgment as to the intention. Thus, the researchers suggest that TMS to the RTPJ disrupted the processing of negative beliefs for both intentional harms and attempted harms, but the current design allowed the investigators to detect this effect only in the case of attempted harms, in which the neutral outcomes did not afford harsh moral judgments on their own. Similarly VMPC-impaired persons will judge an action purely on its outcome and are unable to take into account the intent of that action.


Mirror neurons

Mirror neuron A mirror neuron is a neuron that action potential, fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. ...
s are neurons in the brain that fire when another person is observed doing a certain action. The neurons fire in imitation of the action being observed, causing the same muscles to act minutely in the observer as are acting grossly in the person actually performing the action. Research on mirror neurons, since their discovery in 1996, suggests that they may have a role to play not only in action understanding, but also in emotion sharing
empathy Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional st ...

empathy
. Cognitive neuroscientist
Jean Decety Jean Decety is an American and French neuroscientist specializing in developmental neuroscience The development of the nervous system, or neural development, or neurodevelopment, refers to the processes that generate, shape, and reshape the ner ...

Jean Decety
thinks that the ability to recognize and vicariously experience what another individual is undergoing was a key step forward in the evolution of social behavior, and ultimately, morality. The inability to feel empathy is one of the defining characteristics of
psychopath Psychopathy, sometimes considered synonymous with sociopathy, is traditionally a personality disorder Personality disorders (PD) are a class of mental disorder A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, ...
y, and this would appear to lend support to Decety's view.


Politics

If morality is the answer to the question 'how ought we to live' at the individual level,
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social science that stu ...

politics
can be seen as addressing the same question at the social level, though the political sphere raises additional problems and challenges. It is therefore unsurprising that evidence has been found of a relationship between attitudes in morality and politics.
Moral foundations theoryMoral foundations theory is a social psychological theory intended to explain the origins of and variation in human moral reasoning on the basis of innate, modular foundations. It was first proposed by the psychologists Jonathan Haidt, Craig Joseph a ...
, authored by
Jonathan Haidt Jonathan David Haidt (; born October 19, 1963) is an American Social psychology, social psychologist, Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University New York University Stern School of Business, Stern School of Business, and author. His ma ...
and colleagues, has been used to study the differences between
liberals Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...

liberals
and
conservatives Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the traditional values or practices of the culture Culture () is an umbrella term w ...
, in this regard. Haidt found that Americans who identified as liberals tended to value care and fairness higher than loyalty, respect and purity. Self-identified conservative Americans valued care and fairness less and the remaining three values more. Both groups gave care the highest over-all weighting, but conservatives valued fairness the lowest, whereas liberals valued purity the lowest. Haidt also hypothesizes that the origin of this division in the United States can be traced to geo-historical factors, with conservatism strongest in closely knit, ethnically homogenous communities, in contrast to
port The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola The thumb is the first digit of the hand, next to the index finger. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (where the palm is facing to the front), the thumb is the outermost digit ...

port
-cities, where the cultural mix is greater, thus requiring more liberalism. Group morality develops from shared
concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas or general notions that occur in the mind, in speech, or in thought. They are understood to be the fundamental building blocks of thoughts and belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that ...
s and
belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscio ...
s and is often codified to regulate behavior within a
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in ...
or community. Various defined actions come to be called moral or immoral. Individuals who choose moral action are popularly held to possess "moral fiber", whereas those who indulge in immoral behavior may be labeled as socially degenerate. The continued existence of a group may depend on widespread conformity to codes of morality; an inability to adjust moral codes in response to new challenges is sometimes credited with the demise of a community (a positive example would be the function of
Cistercian , one of the most influential early Cistercians, seen here depicted in a historiated initial. Cistercian monks standing in a cloister and wearing their religious habits The Cistercians, () officially the Order of Cistercians ( la, (Sacer) Ordo C ...
reform in reviving monasticism; a negative example would be the role of the
Dowager Empress Empress dowager (also dowager empress or empress mother) () is the English language translation of the title given to the mother or widow of an East Asian (Emperor of China, Chinese, Emperor of Japan, Japanese, Emperor of Korea, Korean, and Emper ...

Dowager Empress
in the subjugation of China to European interests). Within
nationalist Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of people),Anthony D. Smith, Smith, Anthony. ''Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History''. Polity (publisher), Polity, ...
movements, there has been some tendency to feel that a nation will not survive or prosper without acknowledging one common morality, regardless of its content. Political morality is also relevant to the behavior internationally of national governments, and to the support they receive from their host population. The
Sentience Institute The Sentience Institute is an American think tank A think tank, or policy institute, is a research institute A research institute, research centre, or research center is an establishment founded for doing research. Research institutes may spe ...
, co-founded by
Jacy Reese Anthis Jacy Reese Anthis () (born 1992), who has written under the name Jacy Reese, is an American writer and co-founder of the Sentience Institute with Kelly Witwicki. He previously worked as a Senior Fellow at Sentience Politics, and before that at ...
, analyzes the trajectory of moral progress in society via the framework of an expanding moral circle.
Noam Chomsky Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gesture ...

Noam Chomsky
states that
... if we adopt the principle of universality: if an action is right (or wrong) for others, it is right (or wrong) for us. Those who do not rise to the minimal moral level of applying to themselves the standards they apply to others—more stringent ones, in fact—plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of appropriateness of response; or of right and wrong, good and evil. In fact, one of them, maybe the most, elementary of moral principles is that of universality, that is, If something's right for me, it's right for you; if it's wrong for you, it's wrong for me. Any moral code that is even worth looking at has that at its core somehow.


Religion

Religion and morality are not synonymous. Morality does not depend upon religion although for some this is "an almost automatic assumption". According to ''The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics'', religion and morality "are to be defined differently and have no definitional connections with each other. Conceptually and in principle, morality and a religious value system are two distinct kinds of value systems or action guides."


Positions

Within the wide range of moral traditions, religious value systems co-exist with contemporary secular frameworks such as
consequentialism Consequentialism is a class of normative, teleological ethical theories that holds that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist st ...
,
freethought Free thought (sometimes spelled freethought) is an Epistemology, epistemological point of view (philosophy), viewpoint which holds that beliefs should not be formed on the basis of authority, tradition, revelation, or dogma, and that beliefs sh ...
,
humanism Humanism is a philosophical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively. The meaning of the term ''humanism'' has fluctuated according to the successive intellectual movements which have ident ...

humanism
,
utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a family of normative Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good or desirable or permissible and others as bad ...
, and others. There are many types of religious value systems. Modern
monotheistic Monotheism is the belief in one god. A narrower definition of monotheism is the belief in the existence of only one god God, in monotheistic thought, is conceived of as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith Faith, der ...
religions, such as
Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' is pronounced , or (when the stress is on the first syllable) ( ...
,
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of de ...
,
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's la ...
, and to a certain degree others such as
Sikhism Sikhism () or Sikhi ( pa, ਸਿੱਖੀ ', , from pa, ਸਿੱਖ, lit=disciple', 'seeker', or 'learner, translit=Sikh, label=none)''Sikhism'' (indigenously known as ''Sikhī'') originated from the word ''Sikh'', which comes from the Sanskri ...
and
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster Zoroaster (, ; el, Ζωροάστρης, ''Zōro ...
, define right and wrong by the laws and rules set forth by their respective scriptures and as interpreted by religious leaders within the respective faith. Other religions spanning
pantheistic Pantheism is the belief that reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only Object of the mind, imaginary. The term is also used to refer to the ontological status o ...
to
nontheistic Nontheism or non-theism is a range of both religious and nonreligious attitudes characterized by the absence of espoused belief in a personal god, God or gods. Nontheism has generally been used to describe apathy or silence towards the subject of ...
tend to be less absolute. For example, within
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...
, the intention of the individual and the circumstances should be accounted for in the form of
Merit Merit may refer to: Religion * Merit (Catholicism) * Merit (Buddhism) * Punya (Hinduism) Punya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia b ...
, to determine if an action is right or wrong termed. A further disparity between the values of religious traditions is pointed out by
Barbara Stoler MillerBarbara Stoler Miller (August 8, 1940 – April 19, 1993) was a scholar of Sanskrit literature 300px, The 11th-century Sanskrit manuscript of the Devi Māhātmya on palm-leaf, Bihar or Nepal.">Nepal.html" ;"title="Bihar or Nepal">Bihar or Nepal. ...
, who states that, in Hinduism, "practically, right and wrong are decided according to the categories of social rank, kinship, and stages of life. For modern Westerners, who have been raised on ideals of universality and egalitarianism, this relativity of values and obligations is the aspect of Hinduism most difficult to understand". Religions provide different ways of dealing with moral dilemmas. For example, there is no absolute prohibition on killing in Hinduism, which recognizes that it "may be inevitable and indeed necessary" in certain circumstances. In monotheistic traditions, certain acts are viewed in more absolute terms, such as abortion or divorce. Religion is not always positively associated with morality. Philosopher David Hume stated that, "the greatest crimes have been found, in many instances, to be compatible with a superstitious piety and devotion; Hence it is justly regarded as unsafe to draw any inference in favor of a man's morals, from the fervor or strictness of his religious exercises, even though he himself believe them sincere." Religious value systems can also be used to justify acts that are contrary to contemporary morality, such as Massacre, massacres, misogyny and slavery. For example, Simon Blackburn states that "apologists for Hinduism defend or explain away its involvement with the caste system, and apologists for Islam defend or explain away its harsh penal code or its attitude to women and infidels". In regard to Christianity, he states that the "Bible can be read as giving us a carte blanche for harsh attitudes to children, the mentally handicapped, animals, the environment, the divorced, unbelievers, people with various sexual habits, and elderly women", and notes morally suspect themes in the Bible's New Testament as well. Elizabeth S. Anderson, Elizabeth Anderson likewise holds that "the Bible contains both good and evil teachings", and it is "morally inconsistent". Christian apologists address Blackburn's viewpoints and construe that Halakha, Jewish laws in the Hebrew Bible showed the evolution of moral standards towards protecting the vulnerable, imposing a death penalty on those pursuing slavery and treating slaves as persons and not property. Humanists like Paul Kurtz believe that we can identify moral values across cultures, even if we do not appeal to a supernatural or universalist understanding of principles – values including integrity, trustworthiness, benevolence, and fairness. These values can be resources for finding common ground between believers and nonbelievers.


Empirical analyses

Several studies have been conducted on the empirics of morality in various countries, and the overall relationship between faith and crime is unclear. A 2001 review of studies on this topic found "The existing evidence surrounding the effect of religion on crime is varied, contested, and inconclusive, and currently, no persuasive answer exists as to the empirical relationship between religion and crime." Phil Zuckerman's 2008 book, ''Society without God'', based on studies conducted during 14 months in Scandinavia in 2005–2006, notes that Denmark and Sweden, "which are probably the least religious countries in the world, and possibly in the history of the world", enjoy "among the lowest violent crime rates in the world [and] the lowest levels of corruption in the world". Dozens of studies have been conducted on this topic since the twentieth century. A 2005 study by Gregory S. Paul published in the ''Journal of Religion and Society'' stated that, "In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies," and "In all secular developing democracies a centuries long-term trend has seen homicide rates drop to historical lows" with the exceptions being the United States (with a high religiosity level) and "theistic" Portugal. In a response, Gary Jensen builds on and refines Paul's study.Gary F. Jensen (2006) Department of Sociology, Vanderbilt Universit
"Religious Cosmologies and Homicide Rates among Nations: A Closer Look'"
''Journal of Religion and Society'', Vol. 8,
he concludes that a "complex relationship" exists between religiosity and homicide "with some dimensions of religiosity encouraging homicide and other dimensions discouraging it". In April 2012, the results of a study which tested their subjects' Prosocial behavior, pro-social sentiments were published in the ''Social Psychological and Personality Science'' journal in which non-religious people had higher scores showing that they were more inclined to show generosity in random acts of kindness, such as lending their possessions and offering a seat on a crowded bus or train. Religious people also had lower scores when it came to seeing how much compassion motivated participants to be charitable in other ways, such as in giving money or food to a homeless person and non-believers.


See also

*
Ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, m ...

Ethics
* Integrity * Applied ethics * Appeal to tradition * Buddhist ethics * Christian ethics * Emotional intelligence * Ethical dilemma * Good and evil * Ideology * Index of ethics articles * Islamic ethics * Moral agency * Moral character * Moral intelligence * Moral panic * Moral skepticism * Outline of ethics * Value theory * Worldview


Notes

:a. Studies on divorce in the United States done by the Barna Group suggested that atheists and agnostics have lower divorce rates than faith groups on average (though some faith groups had Religion and divorce, lower rates still). The study notes that fewer atheists and agnostics enter into marriage relative to faith-based individuals. :b. Some studies appear to show positive links in the relationship between religiosity and moral behavior Modern research in Relationship between criminology and sociology of education, criminology also suggests an inverse relationship between religion and crime, with some studies establishing this connection. A meta-analysis of 60 studies on religion and crime concluded, "religious behaviors and beliefs exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals' criminal behavior". :c. Zuckerman identifies that Scandinavians have "relatively high rates of petty crime and burglary", but "their overall rates of violent crime—such as murder, aggravated assault, and rape—are among the lowest on earth" (Zuckerman 2008, pp. 5–6). :d. The authors also state that "A few hundred years ago rates of homicide were astronomical in Christian Europe and the American colonies," and "the least theistic secular developing democracies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in these regards." They argue for a positive correlation between the degree of public religiosity in a society and certain measures of dysfunction, an analysis published later in the same journal argues that a number of methodological problems undermine any findings or conclusions in the research. :e. Blackburn provides examples such as the phrase in Book of Exodus, Exodus 22:18 that has "helped to burn alive tens or hundreds of thousands of women in Europe and America": "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," and notes that the Old Testament God apparently has "no problems with a slave-owning society", considers birth control a crime punishable by death, and "is keen on child abuse". Others interpret these passages differently, arguing for example that Jewish laws show the evolution of moral standards in society: that Jews actually threatened those who pursued forced slavery with the death penalty, held that slaves were persons instead of property, and protected them in several ways.


References


Further reading

* (Reviewed i
The Montreal Review
* Richard Dawkins, "The roots of morality: why are we good?", in ''The God Delusion'', Black Swan, 2007 (). * * Lunn, Arnold, and Garth Lean (1964). ''The New Morality''. London: Blandford Press. * John Newton, ''Complete Conduct Principles for the 21st Century'', 2000. . * * * * containing articles by Paterson Brown: *
"Religious Morality"
(from ''Mind'', 1963). *

(from ''Mind'', 1964). *

(from ''Religious Studies (journal), Religious Studies'', 1967). * Ashley Welch
"Virtuous behaviors sanction later sins: people are quick to treat themselves after a good deed or healthy act"
March 4, 2012. * Roberto Andorno
"Do our moral judgements need to be guided by principles?"
''Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics'', 2012, 21(4), 457–65.


External links


The Definition of Morality
''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy''
Boston College's Morality Lab

Morality and Judaism
chabad.org
"The Moral Instinct"
by Steven Pinker, ''The New York Times'', 13 January 2008 {{Authority control Morality, Ethics