Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Moral Reasoning and Political Conflict: The Abortion Controversy

Jonathan Kelley, M. D. R. Evans and Bruce Headey
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 44, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 589-612
DOI: 10.2307/591412
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/591412
Page Count: 24
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
Moral Reasoning and Political Conflict: The Abortion Controversy
Preview not available

Abstract

We argue that the abortion controversy has one major source - religion - and two less important ones - attitudes towards sexual permissiveness and women's employment. Traditional Christianity promotes opposition to abortion using three distinct modes of moral reasoning: through deductive moral reasoning, by the Christian world view's implication that abortion violates the sanctity of life and is a rebellion against God's design; through authoritative moral reasoning by appeal to Catholic dogma; and through consequentialist moral reasoning, as a means of control over sexuality and as a means of confining women's activities to the home. Even aside from Christian belief, adherence to traditional morality promotes opposition to abortion on these consequentialist grounds. We posit a model in which religious belief, anti-feminism, sexual permissiveness, and attitudes towards abortion are distinct concepts (a four-factor model) rather than all simply aspects of a single conservatism factor. We develop reliable, multiple item attitude scales; show that our four-factor model fits the data much better than the one-factor alternative; and test our hypotheses on new data from a large, representative national sample of Australia (N=4540). Using maximum likelihood structural equation methods, we find that deductive reasoning from Christian belief is the most important source of opposition to abortion, with strong effects both direct and indirect. Exposure to the authority of the Catholic hierarchy is a real but weaker source of opposition. Consequentialist reasoning from traditional moral views on sex - partly buttressed by religion, partly independent of it - is also influential. But views on women's employment matter only a little, contrary to received wisdom.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[589]
    [589]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
590
    590
  • Thumbnail: Page 
591
    591
  • Thumbnail: Page 
592
    592
  • Thumbnail: Page 
593
    593
  • Thumbnail: Page 
594
    594
  • Thumbnail: Page 
595
    595
  • Thumbnail: Page 
596
    596
  • Thumbnail: Page 
597
    597
  • Thumbnail: Page 
598
    598
  • Thumbnail: Page 
599
    599
  • Thumbnail: Page 
600
    600
  • Thumbnail: Page 
601
    601
  • Thumbnail: Page 
602
    602
  • Thumbnail: Page 
603
    603
  • Thumbnail: Page 
604
    604
  • Thumbnail: Page 
605
    605
  • Thumbnail: Page 
606
    606
  • Thumbnail: Page 
607
    607
  • Thumbnail: Page 
608
    608
  • Thumbnail: Page 
609
    609
  • Thumbnail: Page 
610
    610
  • Thumbnail: Page 
611
    611
  • Thumbnail: Page 
612
    612