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Moral Development and RealityBeyond the Theories of Kohlberg, Hoffman, and Haidt$
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John C. Gibbs

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190878214

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190878214.001.0001

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Beyond Haidt’s New Synthesis

Beyond Haidt’s New Synthesis

(p.19) 2 Beyond Haidt’s New Synthesis
Moral Development and Reality

John C. Gibbs

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews—and moves beyond—Haidt’s new synthesis of trends in disciplines (such as social psychology, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology) pertinent to morality and enculturation. Reviewed are his major themes: ingroup solidarity, intuitive primacy, and social persuasion (rather than truth or objectivity) as the function of moral reasoning. His work reminds us of our pretensions and the major role of innately prepared, fast, preconscious intuitions in morality. He discusses the phylogenetic history and neurology of those intuitions and their shaping through culture. We are also reminded of the values of phylogenetic humility, scientific description, and cultural diversity. In the final analysis, however, three serious limitations of Haidt’s theory—a negative skew or inadequacy in descriptive work; an unwarranted exclusion of the prescriptive implications of the higher reaches in morality; and moral relativism—overshadow its contributions.

Keywords:   Jonathan Haidt, morality, moral reasoning, culture, moral relativism, socialization

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