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Moral Reasoning across Cultures Essay

Moral reasoning involves an active critical thinking process that evaluates reasons for ethical beliefs (Sunar, 2002). Sometimes individuals may be skeptic about issues related to morality. However, these same people seek to relate their moral opinions with tangible reasons. By doing this, they try to prove the issues that encompass ethics but often end up making common fallacies in moral reasoning. The universal acceptance of moral reasoning or arguments becomes rather problematic as culture seems to play a critical role in the way individuals make moral judgments (Sunar, 2002).

To fully appreciate the difference in moral reasoning across cultures, it is important to examine some of the moral questions that have drawn serious debates in history. These moral questions such as euthanasia, abortion, same-sex marriages have been a hurdle due to the differences in cultural practices and beliefs which make some individuals to view an issue as morally correct or morally wrong (Sunar, 2002). But at the same time, there are principals that are universally accepted across cultures and this makes moral reasoning, to some level, be homogenous in intercultural dimensions.

Morality can be viewed differently across different psychologists. To evolutionally psychologist, morality is an issue of inheritance implying that if the parents had poor morals, the offspring will not escape but inherit the genes of poor morals (Sunar, 2002). Cognitive psychologists may differ and claim that morality is entirely learnt where a child develops character and morals through experiences and role-taking. The difference in their explanations comes in due to the attempt to answer the disconcerting question on why moral reasoning tends to differ across individuals, gender and cultural levels (Sunar, 2002).

There are diverse and pervasive cultural differences in moral principles across cultures, an issue that has made serious debates among cross-cultural psychologists (Sunar, 2002). The thinking of cognitive psychologists as observed in Kohlberg’s cognitive-developmental theory seem to be applicable only to the Western people with liberal values and individualists social forms. In this perspective, social constructionists have given a strong critique on the cognitive-development theory in the understanding of moral reasoning (Bucciarelli, Khemlani & Johnson-Laird, 2008).

The social constructionists maintain that every culture is entirely unique with distinct moral systems and meanings and the comparisons in their moral reasoning does not make sense. This argument can be supported by the number of states legalizing abortion. Countries such as Malta, El Salvador and Chile have made abortion to be illegal no matter the condition or the purpose of the procedure (Pregnant Pause, 2002). On the other hand, countries such as Belgium, Belarus, Australia, Bosnia, Cambodia and China have made abortion to be a legal practice for a number of reasons such as social or economic reasons (Pregnant Pause, 2002).

A different perspective is held by evolutionary psychologists, psychoanalytic psychologists and cognitive-development psychologists. They all argue that moral reasoning should be uniform across cultures. Psychoanalytic theory claims that the internalization process is deeply rooted in the conflicts between the social life requirements and the individual desires. These factors tend to be universal and therefore moral reasoning is uniform across cultures.

Cultures such as same-sex marriages that used to be predominantly in Western countries are slowly finding a place in African countries (Bucciarelli, Khemlani & Johnson-Laird, 2008). This shows that moral reasoning is similar across cultures. Another element of similarities across cultures is the manner in which social institutes such as marriage are conducted. Punishments for poor marriage practices and rewards for good conduct have been shown to increase the observance of the moral principles regardless to cultural differences.

Generally, the issue of moral reasoning tends to be both uniform and different across different cultures. There are moral principles that are universally acceptable and some practices will be known to be wrong among all cultures. However, some practices tend to have cultural boundaries where some countries or ethnic groups may restrict certain practices while others allowing the practices. These factors make moral reasoning to differ across cultures. Reference: Bucciarelli, M. , Khemlani, S & Johnson-Laird, P. N (2008).

The psychology of moral reasoning. Judgment and Decision Making. 3 (2):121-139. Pregnant Pause (2002). Summary of abortion laws around the world. Retrieved July 15, 2010 from http://www. pregnantpause. org/lex/world02. htm Sunar, D. (2002). The psychology of morality. In W. J. Lonner, D. L. Dinnel, S. A. Hayes, & D. N. Sattler (Eds. ), Online Readings in Psychology and Culture (Unit 2, Chapter 11), Retrieved July 15, 2010 from http://www. ac. wwu. edu/~culture/Sunar. htm

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