What makes moral dilemma judgments “utilitarian” or “deontological”?

Bertram Gawronski, Jennifer Beer

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The distinction between utilitarianism and deontology has become a prevailing framework for conceptualizing moral judgment. According to the principle of utilitarianism, the morality of an action depends on its outcomes. In contrast, the principle of deontology states that the morality of an action depends on its consistency with moral norms. To identify the processes underlying utilitarian and deontological judgments, research in psychology and neuroscience has investigated responses to moral dilemmas that pit one principle against the other (e.g., trolley dilemma). However, the interpretation of responses in this paradigm is ambiguous, because the defining aspects of utilitarianism and deontology, outcomes and norms, are not manipulated. We illustrate how this shortcoming distorts interpretations of empirical findings and describe an alternative approach that overcomes the limitations of the traditional paradigm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-632
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2 2017

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Ethical Theory
morality
paradigm
interpretation
moral judgement
psychology
neurosciences
Neurosciences
Psychology
Research
norm

Keywords

  • Deontology
  • measurement
  • moral judgment
  • omission bias
  • utilitarianism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

What makes moral dilemma judgments “utilitarian” or “deontological”? / Gawronski, Bertram; Beer, Jennifer.

In: Social Neuroscience, Vol. 12, No. 6, 02.11.2017, p. 626-632.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

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