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Science. 2007 May 18;316(5827):998-1002.

The new synthesis in moral psychology.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA.


People are selfish, yet morally motivated. Morality is universal, yet culturally variable. Such apparent contradictions are dissolving as research from many disciplines converges on a few shared principles, including the importance of moral intuitions, the socially functional (rather than truth-seeking) nature of moral thinking, and the coevolution of moral minds with cultural practices and institutions that create diverse moral communities. I propose a fourth principle to guide future research: Morality is about more than harm and fairness. More research is needed on the collective and religious parts of the moral domain, such as loyalty, authority, and spiritual purity.

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