Are there different moral domains? Evidence from Mongolia

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Abstract

In this paper we report a study conducted in Mongolia on the scope of morality, that is, the extent to which people moralize different social domains. Following Turiel's moral-conventional task, we characterized moral transgressions (in contrast to conventional transgressions) in terms of two dimensions: authority independence and generality of scope. Different moral domains are then defined by grouping such moral transgressions in terms of their content (following Haidt's classification of morally relevant domains). There are four main results of the study. First, since all five Haidtian domains were moralized by the Mongolian participants, the study provides evidence in favour of pluralism about moral domains. However, the study also suggests that the domain of harm can be reduced to the fairness domain. Furthermore, although the strong claim about reduction of all moral domains to the domain of fairness does not seem to hold a significant number of participants did indicate considerations of fairness across domains. Finally, a significant amount of participants moralized conventional transgressions a la Turiel, but it did not reach a statistical significance.

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