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date: 20 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

It is proposed that prosocial judgments and actions are closely tied to moral judgments. Distinctions between prosocial actions and prohibition-oriented reasoning or between discretionary and obligatory judgments, while useful, are limited in explaining prosocial actions. Prosocial actions often must take into account prohibitions, laws, and sanctions. Seemingly discretionary judgments are not free of obligatory considerations. Examples of these relations are decisions made to save lives during the Holocaust, which involved violation of laws, defiance of authority, and risks of punishments. This example illustrates that seemingly antisocial actions (deception) can be used in the service of moral ends (saving lives). Research shows that decisions can involve the coordination of one value (e.g., honesty) with a conflicting value (e.g., preventing harm). Such coordination involves the application of domains of moral, social-conventional, and personal judgments. Prosocial acts are often characterized by the coordination between helping others and personal goals.

Keywords: prosocial, prohibition, discretionary, obligatory, moral judgments, personal goals, coordination

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