7 junio, 2024

Moral judgment: what it is, characteristics, types, elements, examples

We explain what a moral judgment is, its characteristics, the types that exist and we give several examples.

What is a moral judgment?

A moral judgment It is an evaluation that is made about the conduct of a person or about a particular action, in terms of whether it is considered correct or incorrect from an ethical point of view.

Moral judgments are based on the values ​​and ethical principles of a society or culture, and are often used to guide human behavior and to make decisions in difficult situations. They are subjective and can vary from person to person, depending on their beliefs and their cultural context.

Morality is a set of principles and beliefs shared by a group or society, which are related to right and wrong behavior.

For example, today it is wrong to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation, at least in some Western societies. In other cultures, such as Islamic ones, wearing the hijab is mandatory for women. In each of these societies, people evaluate and decide what to do based on the moral standards of their respective groups.

When analyzing a moral judgment, three elements are noted: a subject who will judge, an object whose action will be judged, and a standard according to which the subject’s action will be judged.

Characteristics of moral judgments

They are evaluations of human conduct in terms of whether it is right or wrong from a moral point of view.
They can vary according to the culture, the time and the individual who emits them.
They are based on moral norms and values, which can be universal or relative to a particular society or group.
They can be subjective, since they depend on the perspective of the person who issues them.
They can be changed or modified as a person gains new knowledge or experiences.
They can be influenced by emotion and rationality.
They can have consequences in terms of rewards or punishments.

Elements of moral judgment

A moral judgment usually has several or all of the following elements:

Intention: an idea about what is going to happen or about the action.

Reason: a reason why an action is performed.

situational aspects: circumstances surrounding the action.

Atmosphere: place where an action is executed or the environment where it is carried out.

History: past aspects that can influence some action.

retribution: the response obtained from having made the value judgment.

Types of moral judgment

Mainly, there are four types of moral judgments. Moral judgments respond to the same model of logical reasoning.

affirmative or negative moral judgmentsuch as: “it is not wrong to murder someone who killed your family”.

Universal, particular or singular moral judgmentsuch as: «all firefighters do their job correctly.»

hypothetical moral judgmentsuch as: «if the adolescent enters that school, he will become a religious fanatic.»

problematic moral judgment, such as: «necessarily all Arabs are involved in terrorist activities.»

Examples of Moral Judgments

Blood transfusion

From a medical point of view, for many people it is necessary to receive a blood transfusion if their state of health warrants it.

However, for Jehovah’s Witnesses, no person should receive a blood transfusion from people who do not belong to the religion. The reason is what is stated in the Bible (Deuteronomy, 12:23): «Keep firmly determined not to eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the flesh.»


In all societies of the world, appropriating another’s property without the consent of its owner is a reprehensible conduct and punishable by law.

However, this behavior is morally valid for many people, when an individual steals because he is in a situation of need and cannot feed himself.

Such is the case of an unemployed mother who is the head of the family who steals some food for her children. In this situation, theft is considered an almost acceptable act.

Death penalty

Killing is another action punishable by the law of every country in the world. Despite this, there are certain occasions in which ending someone’s life is allowed according to moral judgments.

Such is the case of the death penalty, a sentence frowned upon by many and endorsed by others.


In many societies the practice of prostitution is condemned both morally and legally. It is seen in this office the execution of unseemly acts.

However, there are many people who accept and value this profession, but who morally condemn the exploitation suffered by women who are forced by another person to practice it.

The abortion

This is perhaps one of the most controversial issues from the point of view of moral judgments issued by different people and institutions.

For the various churches, abortion is an act that threatens human life. It is a crime against a child who does not even have the opportunity to assert her rights.

From the biological point of view, a position assumed by people in favor, if the abortion is done at a certain time (before 12 weeks), the fetus is not considered to be a person, so the abortion would be viable from a moral point of view.

In addition, the right of a woman to decide on her body is defended, since she is the one who must face the risks of a pregnancy.

The violence

This act tends to be judged negatively by most societies. Despite this, there are times when violence is accepted, and you even pay to see it.

In this way, every day we encounter street fights that we morally disapprove of, but we pay for tickets to see a boxing or martial arts fight.

Violence is also morally accepted in cases of personal defense, when one’s own integrity requires to be defended from an external aggressor agent.

profanity verbal expressions

The use of profanity or vulgar expressions is branded as negative or frowned upon in many formal social situations.

This does not prevent them from being morally accepted in numerous informal social situations.

Alcohol consumption

Most people who are part of Western culture morally accept adult alcohol consumption as a social act.

However, when this consumption takes place in minors, or occurs constantly and excessively (alcoholism), negative moral judgments are issued.

live off others

When a person lives off what others produce, they can be negatively judged as a “good for nothing”. Many societies reject this type of behavior as parasitic.

However, when a mother or father decides to dedicate herself to taking care of the home, while her partner is in charge of bringing the financial resources and covering the expenses, the moral criticism collapses, understanding that both parties contribute to the home. in a different way.

On the other hand, in the case of children or minors, it is socially accepted and often imposed by law that their parents respond financially for their needs until they reach the age of majority.

Care of nature

Previously, caring for nature was not given importance and resources were treated as if they were never going to run out. The people who ensured the care of the environment were branded as hippies, activists or fanatics.

Today, this type of behavior is socially accepted and people who dedicate themselves to caring for nature are judged positively according to collective morality.

derogatory words

Today there are certain words that are morally wrong, so you avoid using them.


Mistreatment of women, children or the elderly was not judged harshly before. Today, someone who mistreats others is judged negatively.

animal abuse

Likewise, before animals were used in laboratories to test various medicines, cosmetics and products on them. Currently, companies that do not test anything on animals are valued positively.

female freedom

Relatively few years ago, a woman could not work, study or have male friends without being negatively judged. That has changed.

Equality marriage

In many countries it is already legal for same-sex couples to marry. Before, it was unthinkable to accept them socially, let alone see the situation as normal.

marijuana use

Marijuana use in many countries is no longer punishable by law. Consequently, whoever has it and uses it is no longer seen by society as a criminal.

Medical attention

It is the duty of a doctor to care for sick people. But if he also accompanies and supports him, that doctor will be judged much better.


Like abortion, this is a sensitive issue. Many people consider it dignified that people decide when to die (for example, in cases of terminal illnesses, with no possible cure), and are not judged if they seek help to kill themselves.

Political corruption

In many countries, developed and developing, political corruption forces voters to choose the “least bad” candidate, instead of voting for the most suitable one. The moral judgment affects above all if the voter does not agree with the corruption.

Prioritize the physical appearance

Judging someone by their physical appearance, by what they have, or by the quality of their belongings, and not by their values, their thinking, or their actions, is deeply rooted behavior. Doing so is considered negative.


Introduction to nature of moral judgment. Retrieved from kkhsou.in
Motivate in Definition. Retrieved from collinsdictionary.com

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