Within your rights: dissociating wrongness and permissibility in moral judgment

British Journal of Social Psychology (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Are we ever morally permitted to do what is morally wrong? It seems intuitive that we are, but evidence for dissociations among judgment of permissibility and wrongness are relatively scarce. Across 4 experiments (N = 1,438), we show that people judge that some behaviors can be morally wrong and permissible. The dissociations arise because these judgments track different morally relevant aspects of everyday moral encounters. Judgments of individual rights predicted permissibility but not wrongness, while character assessment predicted wrongness but not permissibility. These findings suggest a picture in which moral evaluation is granular enough to express reasoning about different types of normative considerations, notably the possibility that people can exercise their rights in morally problematic ways.

Author Profiles

Samuel Murray
Providence College
Santiago Amaya
University of the Andes

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