Interesting quiz. Here's the result I got:
Your Moral Parsimony Score is 84%
What does this mean?
Moral frameworks can be more or less parsimonious. That is to say, they can employ a wide range of principles, which vary in their application according to circumstances (less parsimonious) or they can employ a small range of principles which apply across a wide range of circumstances without modification (more parsimonious). An example might make this clear. Let's assume that we are committed to the principle that it is a good to reduce suffering. The test of moral parsimony is to see whether this principle is applied simply and without modification or qualification in a number of different circumstances. Supposing, for example, we find that in otherwise identical circumstances, the principle is applied differently if the suffering person is from a different country to our own. This suggests a lack of moral parsimony because a factor which could be taken to be morally irrelevant in an alternative moral framework is here taken to be morally relevant.
How to interpret your score
The higher your percentage score the more parsimonious your moral framework. In other words, a high score is suggestive of a moral framework that comprises a minimal number of moral principles that apply across a range of circumstances and acts. What is a high score? As a rule of thumb, any score above 75% should be considered indicative of a parsimonious moral framework. However, perhaps a better way to think about this is to see how your score compares to other people's scores.
In fact, your score of 84% is significantly higher than the average score of 66%. This suggests that you have utilised a noticeably smaller range of moral principles than average in order to make judgements about the scenarios presented in this test, and that you have tended to judge aspects of the acts and circumstances depicted here to be morally irrelevant that other people consider to be morally relevant.
Moral Parsimony - good or bad?
We make no judgement about whether moral parsimony is a good or bad thing. Some people will think that on balance it is a good thing and that we should strive to minimise the number of moral principles that form our moral frameworks. Others will suspect that moral parsimony is likely to render moral frameworks simplistic and that an overly parsimonious moral framework will leave us unable to deal with the complexity of real circumstances and acts. We'll leave it up to you to decide who is right.
How was your score calculated?
Your score was calculated by combining and averaging your scores in the four categories that appear below.
This category has to do with the impact of geographical distance on the application of moral principles. The idea here is to determine whether moral principles are applied equally when dealing with sets of circumstances and acts that differ only in their geographical location in relation to the person making the judgement.
Your score of 100% is significantly higher than the average score of 72% in this category.
The suggestion then is that geographical distance plays little, if any, role in your moral thinking.
In this category, we look at the impact of family loyalty and ties on the way in which moral principles are applied. The idea here is to determine whether moral principles are applied without modification or qualification when you're dealing with sets of circumstances and acts that differ only in whether the participants are related through family ties to the person making the judgement.
Your score of 51% is a bit lower than the average score of 57% in this category.
It seems then that family relatedness is sometimes a relevant factor in your moral thinking. Probably, you think that you have a slightly greater moral obligation towards people who are related to you than towards those who are not. If that's the case, then it decreases the parsimoniousness of your moral framework
Acts and Omissions
This category has to do with whether there is a difference between the moral status of acting and omitting to act where the consequences are the same in both instances. Consider the following example. Let's assume that on the whole it is a bad thing if a person is poisoned whilst drinking a cola drink. One might then ask whether there is a moral difference between poisoning the coke, on the one hand (an act), and failing to prevent a person from drinking a coke someone else has poisoned, when in a position to do so, on the other (an omission). In this category then, the idea is to determine if moral principles are applied equally when you're dealing with sets of circumstances that differ only in whether the participants have acted or omitted to act.
Your score of 83% is much higher than the average score of 59% in this category.
It seems that you do not think that the distinction between acting and omitting to act has any real moral significance.
This category has to do with whether scale is a factor in making moral judgements. A simple example will make this clear. Consider a situation where it is possible to save ten lives by sacrificing one life. Is there a moral difference between this choice and one where the numbers of lives involved are different but proportional - for example, saving 100 lives by sacrificing ten? In this category then, the idea is to determine whether moral principles are applied without modification or qualification when you're dealing with sets of circumstances that differ only in their scale, as in the sense described above.
Your score of 100% is significantly higher than the average score of 74% in this category.
It seems that scale, as it is described above, is not an important consideration in your moral worldview. But if, contrary to our findings, it is important, then it decreases the parsimoniousness of your moral framework.
India and Australia
In Question 13 you were asked the following: You see an advertisement from a charity in a newspaper about a person in severe need in Australia. You can help this person at little cost to yourself. Are you morally obliged to do so?
However, fifty percent of people undertaking this activity are asked a slightly different question, where the country India is substituted for the country Australia. The idea is to determine what kind of impact "culural distance" has on the moral judgements that people make. The important point here is that the vast majority of people who visit this web site are from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Consequently, in a comparison of the lives and lifestyles of TPM Online visitors, residents of India and residents of Australia, there will be bigger cultural differences between TPM Online visitors and residents of India than between TPM Online visitors and residents of Australia. Of course, whether a perception of cultural differences will enter into moral judgements, and if so, what its impact will be is entirely a matter of conjecture at this point. Indeed, whatever results we find here, they will only ever be suggestive of further avenues of enquiry. This aspect of the activity is simply not rigorous enough that it will be possible to draw definitive conclusions. It will nevertheless be interesting!
24% of respondents who were asked about a person in severe need in Australia responded that they were stongly obliged to help compared to 22% who responded this way when asked about a person in severe need in India.
42% of respondents who were asked about a person in severe need in Australia responded that they were weakly obliged to help. This is exactly the same as the percentage who responded this way when asked about a person living in India.
34% of respondents who were asked about a person in severe need in Australia responded that they were not obliged to help compared to 36% who responded this way when asked about a person in severe need in India.