The actor–observer bias and moral intuitions: Adding fuel to Sinnott-Armstrong's fire

Neuroethics 1 (2):133-144 (2008)
In a series of recent papers, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong has used findings in social psychology to put pressure on the claim that our moral beliefs can be non-inferentially justified. More specifically, he has suggested that insofar as our moral intuitions are subject to what psychologists call framing effects, this poses a real problem for moral intuitionism. In this paper, we are going to try to add more fuel to the empirical fire that Sinnott-Armstrong has placed under the feet of the intuitionist. Along the way, we first provide an overview of what Sinnott-Armstrong calls the Master Argument against intuitionism. Then we examine some of the literature on framing effects—especially as it pertains to moral philosophy. Finally, we present the results of a new study which create yet another hurdle intuitionists must clear if they want to motivate their view. It appears that in addition to being influenced by framing effects, our moral intuitions are also influenced by an actor–observer bias as well—a bias whereby we hold other people to different moral standards than we would hold ourselves even if we were in the same situation. If we’re right, the burden is on the moral intuitionist to explain why we should have faith in our moral intuitions despite the gathering evidence concerning their seeming unreliability. And by our lights, this is something that simply cannot be done from the armchair.
Keywords Moral intuitionism  Framing effects  Actor–observer biases
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s12152-008-9015-7
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,316
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
John Bengson (2013). Experimental Attacks on Intuitions and Answers. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (3):495-532.

View all 19 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

175 ( #23,073 of 1,926,184 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

15 ( #55,924 of 1,926,184 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.