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Enhancing Moral Motivation for Sustainable Behaviour

Our current lifestyle is not sustainable, and we know it. Our carbon-based economy causes climate change, and our livestock threatens the rainforests. We also know what we ought to do to save the planet: decarbonize the economy and change our diet. However, too many people lack the moral motivation to act on this knowledge. This is problematic for sustainability governance. Problem and solution are known, but we cannot get ourselves to do what we should do.

Full Project Title

Mythical yet Indispensable: Enhancing Moral Motivation for Sustainable Behaviour

Project Description

We aim to contribute to a solution of this lack of motivation problem by integrating insights from philosophy and psychology. Some philosophers believe that our current morality is a myth. Morality contains essential, but false, presuppositions, such as the presupposition that most answers to our moral questions are objectively correct. But morality is a useful myth, especially if it is rebuilt and, possibly, improved. We want to empirically test this philosophical theory  using research methods from psychology:

Question 1: Are people exposed to arguments for the claim that objective morality is a myth more, less, or equally motivated to live more sustainably compared to people in a control group who have not been exposed to these arguments? 

Question 2 (extending Question 1): Can motivations for sustainable behaviour be enhanced when people reject the absolute objectivity of morality but are given the chance to redefine their moral norms using practical reasons that recognize the utility of stable moral standards in human cooperation?

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