How to Measure Moral Realism

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (3):647-670 (2018)
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In recent years an increasing number of psychologists have begun to explore the prevalence, causes and effects of ordinary people’s intuitions about moral realism. Many of these studies have lacked in construct validity, i.e., they have failed to measure moral realism. My aim in this paper accordingly is to motivate and guide methodological improvements. In analysis of prominent existing measures, I develop general recommendations for overcoming ten prima facie serious worries about research on folk moral realism. G1 and G2 require studies’ answer choices to be as metaethically comprehensive as methodologically feasible. G3 and G4 prevent fallacious inferences from intuitions about related debates. G5 and G6 limit first-order moral and epistemic influences. G7 address studies’ instructions. And G8 and G9 suggest tests of important psychological presuppositions.

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Thomas Pölzler
University of Graz


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