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Law, Psychology, and MoralityThe Role of Loss Aversion$
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Eyal Zamir

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199972050

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199972050.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 August 2021

Cognitive Psychology, Commonsense Morality, and the Law

Cognitive Psychology, Commonsense Morality, and the Law

(p.177) 8 Cognitive Psychology, Commonsense Morality, and the Law
Law, Psychology, and Morality

Eyal Zamir

Oxford University Press

Chapter 8 argues that the correspondence between loss aversion and the law rests on an intermediate factor: commonsense morality. Commonsense morality is deontological: it prohibits the infliction of active or intentional harm on other people, even if such harming would promote overall good outcomes. This implies that the prohibition on actively/intentionally harming people is more compelling than the moral duty to actively/intentionally benefit others. There is a straightforward correlation between the harms-benefits and the losses-gains distinctions. The argument that commonsense morality is deontological is supported by a host of experimental studies in moral psychology. Once the correspondence between loss aversion and commonsense morality is established, the chapter demonstrates that the law reflects commonsense morality—and therefore, indirectly, loss aversion as well. Overall, the analysis highlights an important correspondence among psychology, morality, and law. This correspondence resonates with theories of moral psychology and evolutionary morality.

Keywords:   commonsense morality, doing/allowing distinction, experimental philosophy, evolutionary morality, foreseeing/intending harm, moderate deontology, moral psychology, neuropsychology

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