One important issue in moral psychology concerns the proper characterization of the folk understanding of the relationship between harmful transgressions and moral transgressions. Psychologist Elliot Turiel and associates have claimed with a broad range of supporting evidence that harmful transgressions are understood as transgressions that are authority independent and general in scope, which, according to them, characterizes these transgressions as moral transgressions. Recently, many researchers questioned the position advocated by the Turiel tradition with some new evidence. We entered this debate proposing an original, deflationary view in which perceptions of basic-rights violation and injustice are fundamental for the folk understanding of harmful transgressions as moral transgressions in Turiel’s sense. In this article, we elaborate and refine our deflationary view, while reviewing the debate, addressing various criticisms raised against our perspective, showing how our perspective explains the existent evidence, and suggesting new lines of inquiry.
- harm; moral transgression; punishment; moral psychology; social cognition