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Does being religious or being conservative promote a rule-based ethic or does having a rule-based ethic promote religiosity and/or conservatism?

Morality study finds conservatives show a ‘general insensitivity to consequences’

When it comes to topics like abortion or assisted suicide, there seems to be no common ground between conservatives and liberals. Why is there such a noticeable rift between the two political orientations?

Research published June in Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that religious individuals and political conservatives think about moral issues in a fundamentally different way than liberals.

The study by Jared Piazza of the University of Pennsylvania and Paulo Sousa of Queen’s University Belfast, which included a total of 688 participants, found religious individuals and political conservatives consistently invoked deontological ethics. In other words, they judged the morality of actions based on a universal rule such as, “You should not kill.” Political liberals, on the other hand, consistently invoked consequentialist ethics, meaning they judged the morality of actions based on their positive or negative outcomes.


Answer Question

Asked by MamaK88 at 9:33 PM on Jun. 23, 2013 in Religious Debate

Level 33 (62,090 Credits)
Answers (8)
  • I don't see things (in general) in terms of black & white. I believe most things fall into a gray area & that each circumstance should be judged by it's own merits.

    I guess that's why I'm middle of the road politically & anti establish religion.

    Answer by 3libras at 9:37 PM on Jun. 23, 2013

  • I don't think a good/positive outcome for one person justifies a negative/harmful action to another.

    While I also don't think in extreme black and white I do not think it is as simple as a perceived postive or negative outcome, many times we can not see the true outcome. Meaning what may seem positive from our perspective or current perspective doesn't mean that that is the "true outcome".

    Answer by tntmom1027 at 9:54 PM on Jun. 23, 2013

  • Both? There are religions that are very rigid in their ethics, so they teach as well as draw in those who find it best fits their beliefs. Members leave when they don't agree with it.

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 10:10 PM on Jun. 23, 2013

  • And you didn't really quote an inclusive part of the article just what you thought was best. Here is a better sense of what it says about religious and conservatives.

    “This suggests that not all religious individuals are non-consequentialists; that is, religion does not necessarily promote a deontological ethic, though many religious institutions do promote such an orientation,” Piazza added. “Instead, it may be that people who are skeptical about the capacity for human beings to know right from wrong in the absence of divine revelation that tend towards a rule-based morality. Though this begs the question of why some religious individuals tend to see morality in terms of honoring divine commands, while others accept that human intuition or reason may be an equally, if not more reliable, foundation. This is an interesting and complex psychological question which we don’t currently have an answer to.”

    Answer by tntmom1027 at 10:20 PM on Jun. 23, 2013

  • “I think it is more likely that being religious — and being religious in a particular way — is what promotes deontological commitments, and not the other way around,” he told PsyPost. “In a recent unpublished study I conducted with my colleague Justin Landy at Penn, we found that it is a particular sub-class of religious individuals that are strongly opposed to consequentialist thinking.

    Not all conservatives are highly religious if religious at all so this article is a fluff piece nothing else.

    Answer by tntmom1027 at 10:21 PM on Jun. 23, 2013

  • Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? I think the two things build on each other. Those who tend toward a rule-based ethic might be drawn to conservative religiosity, and those for whom conservative religion resonates may be more likely to have a rule-based way of perceiving the world.

    Answer by Ballad at 10:39 PM on Jun. 23, 2013

  • “Instead, it may be that people who are skeptical about the capacity for human beings to know right from wrong in the absence of divine revelation that tend towards a rule-based morality.

    How did the OP leave that out of the question? That IS the substance of the actual question on the subject line.

    As for the question itself, there is a mindset that prefers to put as little effort into thinking as possible. While it's easier to say it's because they are more comfortable with a rule-based ethic, I think that's sugar coating it a bit. I think the reality is that they are too lazy to subscribe to a thought process that requires more effort than a true/false decision.

    However, I think that also goes to the other extreme - there are those who go with the permissive ruleset, not because they think it through, but because they can't be bothered to think 6 steps beyond the first decision.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 12:44 PM on Jun. 24, 2013

  • Messed up thinking leads astray from truth, that's for sure.

    Answer by morebee7 at 1:01 AM on Jul. 23, 2013

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