Experimental work has revealed causal links between physical cleansing and various psychological variables. Empirically, how robust are they? Theoretically, how do they operate? Major prevailing accounts focus on morality or disgust, capturing a subset of cleansing effects, but cannot easily handle cleansing effects in non-moral, non-disgusting contexts. Building on grounded views on cognitive processes and known properties of mental procedures, we propose grounded procedures of separation as a ...
In place of Tomasello's explanation for the source of moral obligation, we suggest that it develops from the concern for others already implicit in the human developmental system. Mutual affection and caring make the development of communication and thinking possible. Humans develop as persons within such relationships and this develops into respect and moral obligation.
#1Zoe Liberman(UCSB: University of California, Santa Barbara)H-Index: 10
#2John W. Du Bois(UCSB: University of California, Santa Barbara)H-Index: 11
Tomasello provides compelling evidence that children understand that people are morally obligated toward members of their social group. We call for expanding the scope of inquiry to encompass the full developmental trajectory of humans' understanding of the relation between moral obligation, sociality, and stancetaking in interaction. We suggest that humans display a lifelong preoccupation with the sociality of moral obligation.
Tomasello's characterization of obligation as demanding and coercive is not an implication of the centrality of collaborative commitment. Not only is this characterization contentious, it appears to be falsified in some cases of personal conviction. The theory would be strengthened if the nature of obligation's force and collaborative commitment were directly linked, possibly through Tomasello's notions of identity and identification.
Tomasello argues in the target article that a sense of moral obligation emerges from the creation of a collaborative “we” motivating us to fulfill our cooperative duties. We suggest that “we” takes many forms, entailing different obligations, depending on the type (and underlying functions) of the relationship(s) in question. We sketch a framework of such types, functions, and obligations to guide future research in our commentary.
Tomasello argues in the target article that, in generalizing the concrete obligations originating from interdependent collaboration to one's entire cultural group, humans become “ultra-cooperators.” But are all human populations cooperative in similar ways? Based on cross-cultural studies and my own fieldwork in Polynesia, I argue that cooperation varies along several dimensions, and that the underlying sense of obligation is culturally modulated.
Tomasello explores four interrelated phenomena: (1) joint intentional collaboration; (2) joint commitment; (3) “self-regulative pressure from ‘we’”; and (4) the sense of interpersonal obligation. He argues that the version of (1) that involves (2) is the “source” of (3) and so the source of (4). I note an issue that arises once we distinguish two versions of (3).
The natural history of our moral stance told here in this commentary reveals the close nexus of morality and basic social-cognitive capacities. Big mysteries about morality thus transform into smaller and more manageable ones. Here, I raise questions regarding the conceptual, ontogenetic, and evolutionary relations of the moral stance to the intentional and group stances and to shared intentionality.
#1Melanie Killen(UMD: University of Maryland, College Park)H-Index: 44
#2Audun Dahl(UCSC: University of California, Santa Cruz)H-Index: 13
Morality has two key features: (1) moral judgments are not solely determined by what your group thinks, and (2) moral judgments are often applied to members of other groups as well as your own group. Cooperative motives do not explain how young children reject unfairness, and assert moral obligations, both inside and outside their groups. Resistance and experience with conflicts, alongside cooperation, is key to the emergence and development of moral obligation.
My response to the commentaries focuses on four issues: (1) the diversity both within and between cultures of the many different faces of obligation; (2) the possible evolutionary roots of the sense of obligation, including possible sources that I did not consider; (3) the possible ontogenetic roots of the sense of obligation, including especially children's understanding of groups from a third-party perspective (rather than through participation, as in my account); and (4) the relation between ...