The Anthropologist View

Posted by Beetle B. on Sun 28 August 2016

Anthropologists had studied and documented that many unrelated cultures had:

  • Witchcraft and sorcery themes - with a great deal of similarity. Often this resulted in people not wanting to upset neighbors, lest they be accused of being branded a witch. This hinted that humans independently invented supernatural beings to further/order their societies.
  • Head Chopping - and not just for revenge or personal animosity. This hinted of morality involving tension within a group linked to competition between groups.
  • Purity and pollution - Many societies had rules regarding foods and how they may make the consumer impure. One culture required males to avoid any food that resembled a vagina as a part of the rite of passage. Morality was tied to purity of the body, which was tied to food. The Bible is full of these kinds of rules.

These were all part of morality in their cultures, and many did not seem well connected to the concept of harm. So Turiel’s stance was in jeopardy: Morality is not merely about harm.

These were well studied by anthropologists, but largely ignored by psychologists. The author could not see how these moral rules could arise via role-play. So he doubted Kohlberg’s rationalist theory.