Date of Award

Fall 10-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Knobe, Joshua


Contemporary work in moral psychology has focused on judgments concerning interactions between strangers. However, it increasingly is recognized that much of human moral judgment takes place in the context of -- and is shaped by -- multiple more familiar social relationships, such as parent-child, teacher-student, close friends, long-term romantic partners, neighbors, teammates, and so on. In this dissertation, I show how such relationships are associated with distinctive patterns of socially prescribed cooperative functions (such as care, hierarchy, or mating), which can be used to predict out-of-sample moral judgments of both blame and praise regarding various actions in relational context. I then proceed to focus on the long-term romantic partner relationship, showing how the ordinary concept of “true love” is likewise embedded with normative expectations. In the final part of the dissertation, I discuss how descriptive findings about people’s moral judgments in relational context may be used to inform substantive moral questions about relationships in philosophy and bioethics.