Digest of terms

moral foundations theory

empirically based position in moral psychology associated with Jonathan Haidt in particular and developed in critical reaction to Kohlberg's cognitive moral development theory, claiming that the latter's emphasis on patterns of reasoning in individuals puts the cart before the horse - rational ethical thinking is to a great extent subservient to intuitive ethical feelings built into us by millennia of evolutionary adaptation. These intuitions focus on four areas of human interaction in particular, concerned with suffering, hierarchy, reciprocity, and purity. Differing moral codes share these common intuitive foundations, and yield a broader conception of morality than Kohlberg's emphasis on justice and fairness. Reasoning is an essential part of the development and indeed improvement of morality, but the focus needs to be on patterns of reasoning in groups, not, as in Kohlberg, in individuals. The overall stance, therefore, may be called a form of social intuitionism.

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