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9781119544593

Moral Reasoning About Human Welfare in Adolescents and Adults Judging Conflicts Involving Sacrificing and Saving Lives

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  • ISBN13:

    9781119544593

  • ISBN10:

    1119544599

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2018-09-05
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
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Summary

The value of human life is a significant moral value for most people. Yet, past research has devoted little attention to the development of moral reasoning about the value of life. The present studies investigated how adolescents and adults reason about the value of life in the context of so-called trolley car situations. These situations, adopted from philosophy, involve the option of sacrificing the life of one person to save five others. Based on past developmental research, we expected that individuals would reason about distinct and sometimes conflicting considerations regarding the value of life. This approach contrasted with past research on adults' responses to trolley car situations, which has been taken to show that most moral evaluations are based not on reasoning but on affective, automatic reactions. In Study 1, 288 adolescents and adults were interviewed about trolley car situations designed to examine considerations like the value of human life and the relationship of those at risk with the actors. In Study 2, 144 college studens were interviewed to further examine the roles of those involved. Participants' justifications referred not only to the number of lives saved, but also to other considerations, such as intrinsic rights and personal responsibility for events. Moreover, responses indicated frequent conflicts about standard trolley car situations, counter to the argument that people's evaluations are automatic based soley on a counting of lives saved. The present findings indicated that adolescents and adults reason about, seek to coordinate, distinct moral considerations regarding the value of life.

Author Biography

Audun Dahl is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research investigates the development and application of moral concerns with human welfare from infancy to adulthood.

Matthew Gingo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Wheaton College. His research deals with the development of reasoning about social subversion and moral resistance in children and adolescents.

Kevin Uttich is a Senior Researcher at Conifer Research in Chicago, IL. He received his PhD in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied the connections between social and moral cognition in children and adults.

Elliot Turiel is the Jerome A. Hutto Professor of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. His research is on social and moral development from childhood to adulthood. He also studies social opposition to cultural practices of inequalities.

Melanie Killen is Professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology and Professor of Psychology (Affiliate) at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research, funded by the NSF and the NIH, focuses on the origins of prejudice, moral reasoning, intergroup attitudes, social inclusion and exclusion, social equality, and social hierarchies.

Kelly Lynn Mulvey is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at North Carolina State University. Her research, funded by NSF, includes social-cognitive development, in particular moral and social development in intergroup contexts.

Table of Contents

MORAL REASONING ABOUT HUMAN WELFARE IN ADOLESCENTS AND ADULTS: JUDGING CONFLICTS INVOLVING SACRIFICING AND SAVING LIVES

CONTENTS 

I. INTRODUCTION (page 7)
Audun Dahl, Matthew Gingo, Kevin Uttich, and Elliot Turiel

II. STUDY 1: INVESTIGATING BOTH EVALUATIONS AND REASONING ABOUT SYSTEMATICALLY VARIED TROLLEY CAR SITUATIONS (page 31) 
Audun Dahl, Matthew Gingo, Kevin Uttich, and Elliot Turiel

III. STUDY 2: VARYING THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE POTENTIAL VICTIMS (page 65)
Audun Dahl, Matthew Gingo, Kevin Uttich, and Elliot Turiel

IV. GENERAL DISCUSSION (page 77)
Audun Dahl, Matthew Gingo, Kevin Uttich, and Elliot Turiel

REFERENCES (page 100)

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (page 109)

COMMENTARY

CHALLENGING A DUAL-PROCESS APPROACH TO MORAL REASONING: ADOLESCENTS AND ADULTS EVALUATIONS OF TROLLEY CAR SITUATIONS (page 110)
Melanie Killen and Kelly Lynn Mulvey

CONTRIBUTERS (page 124)

SUBJECT INDEX (page 126)

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