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Reply to Dahl (2023): moral content is varied, and premature definitions should not constrain it

Giner-Sorolla, Roger, Myers, Simon, Rottman, Joshua (2023) Reply to Dahl (2023): moral content is varied, and premature definitions should not constrain it. Psychological Inquiry, 34 (2). pp. 86-90. ISSN 1047-840X. E-ISSN 1532-7965. (doi:10.1080/1047840X.2023.2248862) (KAR id:102897)

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To propose a clear psychological definition of morality is no easy task, and Dahl (2023) is to be commended here for not only doing so, but

leaving an explicit paper trail of traits deemed desirable for any such proposal. However, while a rationale for calling phenomena “moral” would be useful, is it really as vital for the conduct of research as Dahl presumes? We instead argue that the definition of the term “morality” is not always a task of scientific definition similar to defining “cell” or “attitude”, but rather can be seen as a meta-scientific task for organising research. When morality

itself is a construct that figures in theories and hypotheses, this construct usually depends on lay views of whether the moral realm is involved. This insight, in our view, argues for a broader rather than narrower approach to defining morality, which we explain in the final section.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/1047840X.2023.2248862
Uncontrolled keywords: morality, definition, meta-science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF41 Psychology and philosophy
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Roger Giner-Sorolla
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2023 17:16 UTC
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2024 22:28 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Giner-Sorolla, Roger.

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Myers, Simon.

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