Cultivating Morality and Constructing Moral Systems: How to Make Silk Purses From Sows’ Ears
Most people would agree that the key to fostering harmonious social relations, enhancing the quality of our lives and ensuring the continuing existence of humanity lies in the cultivation of morality. Most people also would agree on the four main steps we need to take to cultivate morality. First, we need to define the behaviors we consider moral, which entails specifying the types of behavior we will target. Second, we need to determine what we have to work with, which entails identifying the mental mechanisms that give rise to moral and immoral behaviors, mapping their design, and determining what activates and inhibits them. Third, we need to determine how children acquire morality-producing mechanisms, how the mechanisms develop, and why different people end up with different mechanisms or with mechanisms designed in different ways. Finally, based on this knowledge, we need to design interventions that are equipped to maximize the acquisition and activation of mechanisms that give rise to moral behaviors and minimize the acquisition and activation of mechanisms that give rise to immoral behaviors.