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date: 19 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Legal judgments must be influenced by how people think about good and evil, right and wrong. This chapter reviews some of the history of the psychology of moral judgment, and the methods used to study it. It suggests the use of utilitarianism as a normative model for evaluating judgments, if only because departures from utilitarian judgments could have a cost in terms of outcomes. Common biases, from this perspective, are omission bias (preference for harms of omission over harms of action), and protected (absolute) values. The chapter also discusses biases in helping others, and biases in distributions of goods and bads. General psychological theories of moral judgment include heuristics, naive theories, and dual systems. The chapter concludes with discussion of citizenship, and speculations about the possible effects of law on moral judgment and about the morality of belief.

Keywords: omission bias, protected values, distribution, utilitarianism, morality.

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