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Religious Affiliation and Conceptions of the Moral Domain

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1521/soco.2021.39.1.139

What is the relationship between religious affiliation and conceptions of the moral domain? Putting aside the question of whether people from different religions agree about how to answer moral questions, here we investigate a more fundamental question: How much disagreement is there across religions about which issues count as moral in the first place? That is, do people from different religions conceptualize the scope of morality differently? Using a new methodology to map out how individuals conceive of the moral domain, we find dramatic differences among adherents of different religions. Mormon and Muslim participants moralized their religious norms, while Jewish participants did not. Hindu participants in our sample did not seem to make a moral/non-moral distinction of the same kind. These results suggest a profound relationship between religious affiliation and conceptions of the scope of the moral domain.

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