Morality and the Religious Mind: Why theists and non-theists differ

Article · December 2014with3,161 Reads
DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2014.05.003
Religions have come to be intimately tied to morality, and much recent research has shown that theists and non-theists differ in their moral behavior and decision-making along several dimensions. Here we discuss how these empirical trends can be explained by fundamental differences in group commitment, motivations for prosociality, cognitive styles, and meta-ethics. We conclude by elucidating key areas of moral congruence.

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  • ... endorsements, but crucially, they found that belief in the moral absolutism of God's laws mediated this effect. This suggests that one reason for moral disagreement across the religious spectrum is that, whereas believers and nonbelievers alike can perceive objective moral truths amidst individualizing morality of welfare and fairness, believers are more likely to extend this perception of moral objectivity to binding morality of loyalty, authority, and sanctity (for relevant discussion, see Shariff, Piazza, & Kramer, 2014). These findings align with previous research revealing associations between Quest orientation and egalitarian values as well as notions of " inner authority " and openness to change. ...
  • ... increases the likelihood of prosocial behaviors (e.g., Piazza et al., 2011; Nettle et al., 2013; Takagishi et al., 2015). If moral transgressions are observed, the observers may inform others, which could damage the reputation of the transgressor (Piazza and Bering, 2008; Shariff et al., 2014). Maintenance of one's reputation provides a powerful incentive for prosocial behavior (Milinski et al., 2002; Piazza and Bering, 2008), and most of the world's religions posit the existence of supernatural agents who constantly observe and judge our actions. ...
  • ... Despite these fundamental differences in the very types of morality that are endorsed, there is common ground on which believers and non-believers agree [16]. Where moral values do not conflict with each other, but instead conflict only with selfishness, we find the constellation of constructs that can be called 'prosocial' behavior: generosity, cooperation, and honesty, for example. ...
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