This volume presents a variety of perspectives from within and outside moral psychology. Recently there has been an explosion of research in moral psychology, but it is one of the subfields most in need of bridge-building, both within and across areas. Interests in moral phenomena have spawned several separate lines of research that appear to address similar concerns from a variety of perspectives. The contributions to this volume examine key theoretical and empirical issues these perspectives share that connect these issues with the broader base of theory and research in social and cognitive psychology.
The first two chapters discuss the role of mental representation in moral judgment and reasoning. Sloman, Fernbach, and Ewing argue that causal models are the canonical representational medium underlying moral reasoning, and Mikhail offers an account that makes use of linguistic structures and implicates legal concepts. Bilz and Nadler follow with a discussion of the ways in which laws, which are typically construed in terms of affecting behavior, exert an influence on moral attitudes, cognition, and emotions.
Baron and Ritov follow with a discussion of how people's moral cognition is often driven by law-like rules that forbid actions and suggest that value-driven judgment is relatively less concerned by the consequences of those actions than some normative standards would prescribe. Iliev et al. argue that moral cognition makes use of both rules and consequences, and review a number of laboratory studies that suggest that values influence what captures our attention, and that attention is a powerful determinant of judgment and preference. Ginges follows with a discussion of how these value-related processes influence cognition and behavior outside the laboratory, in high-stakes, real-world conflicts.
Two subsequent chapters discuss further building blocks of moral cognition. Lapsley and Narvaez discuss the development of moral characters in children, and Reyna and Casillas offer a memory-based account of moral reasoning, backed up by developmental evidence. Their theoretical framework is also very relevant to the phenomena discussed in the Sloman et al., Baron and Ritov, and Iliev et al. chapters.
The final three chapters are centrally focused on the interplay of hot and cold cognition. They examine the relationship between recent empirical findings in moral psychology and accounts that rely on concepts and distinctions borrowed from normative ethics and decision theory. Connolly and Hardman focus on bridge-building between contemporary discussions in the judgment and decision making and moral judgment literatures, offering several useful methodological and theoretical critiques. Ditto, Pizarro, and Tannenbaum argue that some forms of moral judgment that appear objective and absolute on the surface are, at bottom, more about motivated reasoning in service of some desired conclusion. Finally, Bauman and Skitka argue that moral relevance is in the eye of the perceiver and emphasize an empirical approach to identifying whether people perceive a given judgment as moral or non-moral. They describe a number of behavioral implications of people's reported perception that a judgment or choice is a moral one, and in doing so, they suggest that the way in which researchers carve out the moral domain a priori might be dubious.