“Black CNN”: Cultural Transmission of Moral Norms through Narrative Art

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
Jan Horský Ph.D. Researcher, LEVYNA Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion, Masaryk University Brno Czech Republic
Ph.D. Researcher, Department for the Study of Religions, Masaryk University Brno Czech Republic

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In recent debates in moral psychology and literary Darwinism, several authors suggested that narrative art plays a significant role in the process of the social learning of moral norms, functioning as storage of locally salient moral information. However, an integrative view, which would help explain the inner workings of this morally educative function of narrative art, is still lacking. This paper provides such a unifying theoretical account by bringing together insights from moral psychology (concerning the non-reflective nature of moral cognition), educational sciences (concerning different types of settings and methods of moral learning), cognitive/evolutionary narratology (concerning how easy narrative art lends itself to the transmission of moral information), and cultural evolution (concerning different types of learning strategies/biases in relation to narrative art). A study of contemporary American rap music is included to showcase the benefits of this integrative approach in the context of one particular type of narrative art.

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