This treatise explores the proper relationship of moral and religious beliefs to politics and law, focusing particularly on the USA, a country which, the author argues, is morally and religiously pluralistic.
Why do some countries have 'Culture Wars' over morality issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage while other countries hardly experience any conflict at all? This book argues that morality issues only generate major conflicts in political systems with a significant conflict between religious and secular parties, because this is required for these issues to become part of party competition. Conversely, morality issues get almost no attention in political systems where religion has disappeared from the party system and where no political actors see any interest in promoting a strongly secular platform. The comparative dynamic of morality politics is analyzed through detailed case studies of five morality issues (abortion, same-sex marriage, assisted reproduction, stem cell research and euthanasia) in the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Denmark and the United States. -- Back cover
Political scientists often distinguish between two types of issues: moral versus non-moral issues or social-cultural versus economic issues. The implication is that these types of issues trigger different types of reasoning: while economic issues rely on pragmatic, consequentialist reasoning, social-cultural issues are said to be dependent on principles and deontological reasoning. However, it is not known whether this distinction is as clear-cut from a citizen's perspective. Scholars agree that understanding the morality of voters' political attitudes has implications for their political behaviour, such as their willingness to compromise and openness to deliberation. However, few studies have analysed whether citizens reason in principled or pragmatic ways on different issues. This study takes an exploratory approach and analyses the determinants of principled versus pragmatic reasoning in direct democracy, in which citizens make direct policy decisions at the ballot box. Using a unique dataset based on thirty-four ballot decisions in Switzerland, it explores the justifications voters give for their ballot decisions in open-ended survey answers. It distinguishes between pragmatic (or consequentialist) arguments and principled (or value-based) arguments. The analysis shows that principled justifications are not tied to particular issues. Voters use both types of justifications almost equally frequently. Moral justifications are more likely when an issue is personally relevant, as well as when a proposition is accepted, while pragmatic justifications prevail when a proposition is rejected. Furthermore, right-wing voters more often argue in pragmatic terms. Finally, the framing of the issue during the campaign significantly affects moral versus pragmatic justifications.
Recent political debate over transgender military service and gendered bathroom use highlights a dramatic increase in salience over transgender issues in the US. In this essay, we examine a potential new front in the culture wars by reviewing recent empirical research in social science on the politics of transgender rights in the context of morality politics. Research on morality politics has often focused on LGBT rights, with an emphasis on gay and lesbian rights and little attention to transgender issues. We highlight the progress of research on transgender issues in the US, focusing on the study of attitudes about transgender people and rights, transgender rights in states and localities, and broader findings affecting transgender populations. Although there is ample research still needed, the current state of empirical social science on transgender issues has made great advancements in the past decade and shows that morality continues to shape LGBT politics and policy.