Do “Naturalistic” Conceptions of Morality Provide any Novel Answers?
Version of Record online: 28 APR 2006
Journal of Personality
Volume 62, Issue 2, pages 263–268, June 1994
How to Cite
Shaffer, D. R. (1994), Do “Naturalistic” Conceptions of Morality Provide any Novel Answers?. Journal of Personality, 62: 263–268. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1994.tb00294.x
- Issue online: 28 APR 2006
- Version of Record online: 28 APR 2006
- Manuscript received July 23, 1992; revised October 12, 1993.
ABSTRACT Based on open-ended responses to the question “What does morality mean?”, Quinn, Houts, and Graesser (this issue) claim that subjects' naturalistic moral conceptions challenge the assumptions of value-prescriptive theories by demonstrating that morality is construed as a person-based attribute (or attributes) rather than an ethical philosophy based heavily on such organizing principles as equality, justice, and compassion. Unfortunately, their target probe demands no thinking about the principles (philosophical or otherwise) that might underpin individual moralities, and the “consensus” that participants expressed is essentially a restatement of the psychologist's tripartate perspective, a summary definition of the term “morality” that has a rich empirical history. Though I concur with the authors that a straightforward, question-answering methodology holds some promise of identifying the content and structure of “naturalistic” moralities, this goal can be realized only if investigators are willing to ask the kinds of questions that will extract such information.