Moral dumbfounding and the linguistic analogy: Methodological implications for the study of moral judgment

Mind and Language 24 (3):274-296 (2009)
The manifest dissociation between our capacity to make moral judgments and our ability to provide justifications for them, a phenomenon labeled Moral Dumbfounding, has important implications for the theory and practice of moral psychology. I articulate and develop the Linguistic Analogy as a robust alternative to existing sentimentalist models of moral judgment inspired by this phenomenon. The Linguistic Analogy motivates a crucial distinction between moral acceptability and moral permissibility judgments, and thereby calls into question prevailing methods used in the study of moral judgment. Indeed, the judgments that are the focus of most current empirical work in moral psychology are not proper targets of scientific study.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0017.2009.01363.x
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