Children's developing metaethical judgments.

Published

Journal Article

Human adults incline toward moral objectivism but may approach things more relativistically if different cultures are involved. In this study, 4-, 6-, and 9-year-old children (N=136) witnessed two parties who disagreed about moral matters: a normative judge (e.g., judging that it is wrong to do X) and an antinormative judge (e.g., judging that it is okay to do X). We assessed children's metaethical judgment, that is, whether they judged that only one party (objectivism) or both parties (relativism) could be right. We found that 9-year-olds, but not younger children, were more likely to judge that both parties could be right when a normative ingroup judge disagreed with an antinormative extraterrestrial judge (with different preferences and background) than when the antinormative judge was another ingroup individual. This effect was not found in a comparison case where parties disagreed about the possibility of different physical laws. These findings suggest that although young children often exhibit moral objectivism, by early school age they begin to temper their objectivism with culturally relative metaethical judgments.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Schmidt, MFH; Gonzalez-Cabrera, I; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • December 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 164 /

Start / End Page

  • 163 - 177

PubMed ID

  • 28822880

Pubmed Central ID

  • 28822880

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0457

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-0965

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.07.008

Language

  • eng