How Stable are Moral Judgments?

Rev Philos Psychol. 2022 Jul 29:1-27. doi: 10.1007/s13164-022-00649-7. Online ahead of print.


Psychologists and philosophers often work hand in hand to investigate many aspects of moral cognition. In this paper, we want to highlight one aspect that to date has been relatively neglected: the stability of moral judgment over time. After explaining why philosophers and psychologists should consider stability and then surveying previous research, we will present the results of an original three-wave longitudinal study. We asked participants to make judgments about the same acts in a series of sacrificial dilemmas three times, 6-8 days apart. In addition to investigating the stability of our participants' ratings over time, we also explored some potential explanations for instability. To end, we will discuss these and other potential psychological sources of moral stability (or instability) and highlight possible philosophical implications of our findings.

Keywords: Longitudinal; Moral judgment; Sacrificial dilemmas; Stability.