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Is there a distinction between morality and convention?

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  • Robert Sugden

    (University of East Anglia)

Abstract

In Humean analyses of the emergence and stability of moral rules, ideas of justice and reciprocity originate in non-moral, conventional solutions to conflicts of interest in human interaction. This theory seems contrary to an empirical claim made by some developmental psychologists: that, from early childhood, human beings perceive a distinction between (universal) ‘moral' and (relative) ‘conventional' rules, and that moral rules apply to matters of welfare, fairness and trust. I review the psychological literature and argue that, properly understood, it is compatible with a Humean analysis of morality.

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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. in its series Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) with number 08-01.

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Date of creation: 12 May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:uea:wcbess:08-01

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