browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.


Moral Foundations

Our group at Eng 110 Fall 14

group url:

If you already have a yourmorals account, join this group by visiting this URL:

The Your Morals web is operated by the same guy who wrote the dog and chicken stories. He wonders why people think that something that is disgusting is also immoral.

  • Should morality be universal and agreed upon?
  • Or should it be relative to each person and their social group, regardless of how widely it is shared?
  • Is morality a matter of individual opinion based on unspoken assumptions that don’t have to be rational or defensible?
  • Or is morality something more abstract and objective, true regardless of whether we agree with it or not?

The chart below is helpful because it breaks morality into five components. Jonathan Haidt, the most prominent psychologist doing research in this topic, has recently added a sixth component, Liberty/Oppression.

  1. Care/harm for others, protecting them from harm.
  2. Fairness/cheating, Justice, treating others in proportion to their actions.
  3. Liberty/oppression, characterizes judgments in terms of whether subjects are tyrannized.
  4. Loyalty/betrayal to your group, family, nation. Ingroup vs outgroup.
  5. Authority/subversion, respect or disrespect for tradition and legitimate authority.
  6. Sanctity/degradation, avoiding disgusting things, foods, actions. Degree of purity.
Five Foundations of Morality

Five Foundations of Morality

Example of an effective student essay defining morality

Morality is an extremely complex topic.  Everyone has their own opinion on what is right and wrong, many of these opinions differ dramatically.  When we are young what is right and wrong becomes engrained in our very being. This is based on where in the world we were raised and are also based on life experiences. Since each of us has our own unique upbringing, it is likely that no one else has the exact same set of morals as you. We don’t all have to have the same morals to understand each other’s. The stories read in class about questionable acts really brought the differences in everyone’s morals to light.

The first story we read in class was definitely disturbing. I grew up with dogs as part of the family. I currently own a dog. I could not imagine consuming him if a car had hit him. I was completely disgusted and determined that it was an immoral act very quickly. It is a common practice in Asian countries is to eat dog meat. This made me question my decision. But also as a veterinary technology major I’m an animal lover. I personally believe this was immoral. I understand the reasons behind under opinions on this story though. Other cultures view dogs as just another animal.  Each of us is entitled to our own opinions.

The second story was actually even worse. Readying about a man who has sex with a raw chicken before cooking it made me cringe. I was disgusted by the mutilation of the dead animal. There was no question that this act was immoral. I feel very strongly about animal slaughter. The conditions the animals live in and the way they are killed is heartbreaking. Raping an animal’s body after it was murdered is awful. There are many acceptable outlets for sexual frustration that don’t include raw meat. I’m sure other people feel differently about the story though. We each have a unique set of morals.

Seeing the results of my classmates diagnostic images proved that not everyone agrees with me. A majority of the class did but 25% of the class had a different opinion. That is totally okay though, we all have different backgrounds and by default different morals. I don’t think there are any single morals that apply to everyone. The world is just such a huge place full of so much culture.  With billions of human beings of course there will be other people out there that don’t have the same list of morals.

I personally believe there is not a single universal moral. Morals are often situational and it is likely even your own morals will not stay rock solid. They grow and change along with us. There are a few morals that should be universal such as not harming another person and definitely not killing one another. Even though those are very reasonable and basic morals we should all follow, many don’t.  There is still domestic violence and there is still murder. We see this every day on the news. This proves that everyone has very different morals even in situations that you would imagine everyone to agree on.

The moral foundation results split morality up into five components including harm, fairness, loyalty, authority, and purity. These foundations along with the short quiz helped me further understand my morals. My results were not exactly the same as those of my classmates. They were not polar opposites but the differences were extremely clear to me. Some morals are accepted widely. For example those in the class have somewhat similar backgrounds. We are all relatively the same age and almost all are freshman in college. We all have some of the same morals as shown in the graph but they are not all exactly the same. There is a degree of variation visible.

Morals are so unique to each of us. They are a lot like a fingerprint. It’s likely no one else in the world has the exact same set of morals as you. That is a great thing; we are all open to believe in whatever we want to. Your morals are free to change and evolve throughout life so you aren’t stuck believing the same things forever. Morals are very interesting and actually tell a lot about a person. No universal moral exists, each of us are entitled to interpret and live by whatever morals we want to.

(about 750 words)