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Is there a distinction between morality and convention?


  • Robert Sugden

    (University of East Anglia)


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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  • Robert Sugden, 2008. "Is there a distinction between morality and convention?," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 08-01, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  • Handle: RePEc:uea:wcbess:08-01

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