Moral Judgment

Edited by Leonard Kahn (Loyola University, New Orleans)
About this topic
Summary Internalism and Externalism about Moral Judgment are, very roughly, contending views about the relationship between making a moral judgment and being motivated to act in accordance with it. Internalists - again, quite roughly - hold that there is a necessary connection between making a moral judgment and being motivated to act appropriately. Externalists deny that the connection is necessary and hold that it is, instead, merely contingent. 
Key works In many ways, Michael Smith's The Moral Problem is the both the most important work on moral judgment and the best place for someone interested in the topic to begin thinking seriously. Smith, better than anyone else, sets out the problems which have dominated the philosophical agenda on moral judgment for the last two decades and presents a novel and powerful cognitivist, Humean, internalist solution to these problems. R.M. Hare's The Language of Morals offers the classic non-cogntivist statement of internalism, while David O. Brink's Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics provides a persuasive case for cognitivist externalism and Jonathan Dancy's Moral Reasons argues for cognitivist non-Humeanism. Dancy's work draws in important ways from Thomas Nagel's The Possibility of Altruism, and Russ Shafer-Landau's Moral Realism: A Defense is a worthwhile follow up on both works. Those who wish to approach the problem from a more historical direction may wish to begin with Book III of David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature, Immanuel Kant's Critique of Practical Reason, and Chapter III of John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism. A more recent work which finds deep inspiration from Kant's work on moral motivation is Christine Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity.
Introductions Connie Rosati, "Moral Motivation," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Michael Smith, The Moral Problem, especially Chapter 3 Alex Miller, An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics, , especially Chapter 3
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  1. Perceiving Utilitarian Gradients: Heart Rate Variability and Self-Regulatory Effort in the Moral Dilemma Task.Alejandro Rosas, Juan Pablo Bermúdez, Jorge Martínez Cotrina, David Aguilar-Pardo, Juan Carlos Caicedo Mera & Diego Mauricio Aponte - forthcoming - Social Neuroscience.
    It is not yet clear which response behavior requires self-regulatory effort in the moral dilemma task. Previous research has proposed that utilitarian responses require cognitive control, but subsequent studies have found inconsistencies with the empirical predictions of that hypothesis. In this paper we treat participants’ sensitivity to utilitarian gradients as a measure of performance. We confronted participants (N = 82) with a set of five dilemmas evoking a gradient of mean utilitarian responses in a 4-point scale and collected data on (...)
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  2. Empiricism or Its Dialectical Destruction?Gene Fendt - 2021 - International Philosophical Quarterly 61 (2):139-160.
    Pamphilus’ introductory letter opens contradictory ways of reading Hume’s Dialogues. The first, suggested by Pamphilus' claim to be “mere auditor” to the dialogues, which were “deeply imprinted in [his] memory,” is the empiricist reading. This traditional reading could, and has, gone several ways, including to such conclusions as Philo forces upon Cleanthes, shocking Demea; e.g., that the design of the mosquito and other “curious artifices of nature,” which inflict pain and suffering on all, bespeaks an utterly careless and insensate, if (...)
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  3. Dual-Process Reflective Equilibrium: Rethinking the Interplay Between Intuition and Reflection in Moral Reasoning.Dario Cecchini - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations:1-17.
    Dual-process theories of the mind emphasize how reasoning is an interplay between intuitive and reflective thinking. This paper aims to understand how the two types of processing interact in the moral domain. According to a ‘default-interventionist’ model of moral reasoning intuition and reflection are conflicting cognitions: intuitive thinking would elicit heuristic and deontological responses, whereas reflection would favour utilitarian judgements. However, the evidence for the default interventionist view is inconclusive and challenged by a growing amount of counterevidence in recent years. (...)
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  4. The Effect of Cognitive Load on Intent‐Based Moral Judgment.Justin W. Martin, Marine Buon & Fiery Cushman - 2021 - Cognitive Science 45 (4):e12965.
    When making a moral judgment, people largely care about two factors: Who did it (causal responsibility), and did they intend to (intention)? Since Piaget's seminal studies, we have known that as children mature, they gradually place greater emphasis on intention, and less on mere bad outcomes, when making moral judgments. Today, we know that this developmental shift has several signature properties. Recently, it has been shown that when adults make moral judgments under cognitive load, they exhibit a pattern similar to (...)
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  5. Practical Reason and Social Science Research.Valerie Tiberius & Natalia Washington - 2020 - In Ruth Chang & Kurt Sylvan (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Practical Reason. Routledge. pp. 276-290.
    In many areas of philosophy, it is becoming more and more mainstream to appeal or at least refer to social science research. For example, in moral psychology, the empirically informed approach is well established in the literature on moral judgment, moral emotions, and moral responsibility (Greene, 2013; Nichols, 2004; Prinz, 2007; Kelly, 2011; Doris, 2016; Roskies, 2006; Vargas, 2013). Does work in the social sciences have any bearing on philosophical questions about practical reason or reasoning? While there has been some (...)
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  6. Percezione Morale.Dario Cecchini - 2020 - Aphex 22.
    Recently, in metaethics, several authors have taken into account the view according to which moral knowledge can be based on perceptual or quasi-perceptual experience. This kind of knowledge is defined as moral perception. This paper aims to introduce the recent debate about moral perception. Specifically, the possibility of moral perception will be discussed, and many different views of moral perception will be compared.
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  7. Problems for Hard Moral Particularism: Can We Really Dismiss General Reasons?Dario Cecchini - 2020 - Philosophical Inquiries 8 (2):31-46.
    Moral particularism, in its extreme version, is the theory that argues that there are no invariant context-independent moral reasons. It states also that moral knowledge is not constituted by principles and that these are useless or harmful in practice. In this paper, I intend to argue that this position takes context-sensitiveness of reasons too seriously and has to face many philosophical problems—mainly because its most important argument (the argument from holism of reasons) is not convincing but also because a pluralist (...)
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  8. Conflicting Judgments and Weakness of Will.Nora Heinzelmann - 2020 - Philosophia 1 (1):255-269.
    This paper shows that our popular account of weakness of will is inconsistent with dilemmas. In dilemmas, agents judge that they ought to do one thing, that they ought to do something else, and that they cannot do both. They must act against either of their two judgments. But such action is commonly understood as weakness of will. An agent is weak-willed in doing something if she judges that she ought to and could do something else instead. Thus, it seems (...)
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  9. Cerebellum and Emotion in Morality.Hyemin Han - forthcoming - In Michael Adamaszek, Mario Manto & Denis Schutter (eds.), Cerebellum and Emotion.
    In the current chapter, I examined the relationship between the cerebellum, emotion, and morality with evidence from large-scale neuroimaging data analysis. Although the aforementioned relationship has not been well studied in neuroscience, recent studies have shown that the cerebellum is closely associated with emotional and social processes at the neural level. Also, debates in the field of moral philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience have supported the importance of emotion in moral functioning. Thus, I explored the potentially important but less-studies topic with (...)
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  10. Thinking About Morality.Sarah Sawyer - 2017 - Forum for European Philosophy.
    Sarah Sawyer on concepts and the objectivity of moral reasons.
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  11. Entre razões e emoções, qual é a saída? Como entender os casos de dumbfounding moral.Gustavo Oliva de Oliveira - 2020 - In Gustavo Oliva de Oliveira, Daniel Santos & Eduardo Alves (eds.), XX Semana Acadêmica do PPG em Filosofia da PUCRS Vol. 4. Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil: pp. 137-148.
    The suggestion that emotions are, in a way, essential to moral judgement has been getting attention in recent literature. Jesse Prinz says that emotionist theories involve at least one of the following claims: (i) emotions are necessary and sufficient for the acquisition of moral concepts (epistemic emotionism); (ii) emotions are necessary and sufficient to determine moral properties (metaphysical emotionism). According to Prinz, some empirical results in moral psychology can support these kinds of emotionism (especially the first one). In The emotional (...)
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  12. Ethics and Language.Charles L. Stevenson - 1944 - Yale University Press.
  13. The Moral Point of View, Abridged Edition.Kurt Baier - 1965 - Random House.
  14. Experimental Philosophical Bioethics and Normative Inference.Brian Earp, Jonathan Lewis, Vilius Dranseika & Ivar Hannikainen - forthcoming - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics.
    This paper explores an emerging sub-field of both empirical bioethics and experimental philosophy (“x-phi”), which has been called “experimental philosophical bioethics” (“bioxphi”). As an empirical discipline, bioxphi adopts the methods of experimental moral psychology and cognitive science; it does so to make sense of the eliciting factors and underlying cognitive processes that shape people’s normative judgments, particularly about real-world matters of bioethical concern. Yet, as a normative discipline situated within the broader field of bioethics, it also aims to contribute to (...)
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  15. Moral Relativism and Moral Objectivity.Gilbert Harman & Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1996 - Blackwell.
  16. Why You Cannot Make People Better by Telling Them What is Good.Ulf Hlobil - 2020 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (4):986-996.
    So-called optimists about moral testimony argue, against pessimists, that, ceteris paribus, we ought to accept and act in accordance with trustworthy, pure moral testimony. I argue that even if we grant this, we need to explain why moral testimony cannot make us more virtuous. I offer an explanation that appeals to the fact that we cannot share inferential abilities via testimony. This explanation is compatible with the core commitments of optimism, but it also allows us to see what is right (...)
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  17. The Moral Sense.D. Daiches Raphael - 1947 - Oxford University Press.
  18. Improved Model Exploration for the Relationship Between Moral Foundations and Moral Judgment Development Using Bayesian Model Averaging.Hyemin Han & Kelsie J. Dawson - forthcoming - Journal of Moral Education:1-15.
    Although some previous studies have investigated the relationship between moral foundations and moral judgment development, the methods used have not been able to fully explore the relationship. In the present study, we used Bayesian Model Averaging (BMA) in order to address the limitations in traditional regression methods that have been used previously. Results showed consistency with previous findings that binding foundations are negatively correlated with post-conventional moral reasoning and positively correlated with maintaining norms and personal interest schemas. In addition to (...)
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  19. The Unrealized Eschatology of Michel Henry: Theological Gestures From His Phenomenological Aesthetics.Christopher C. Rios - 2020 - Modern Theology 36 (4):843-864.
  20. Does gratitude to R for ϕ-ing imply gratitude that R ϕ-ed?Tony Manela - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (11):3245-3262.
    Many find it plausible that for a given beneficiary, Y, benefactor, R, and action, ϕ, Y’s being grateful to R for ϕ-ing implies Y’s being grateful that R ϕ-ed. According to some philosophers who hold this view, all instances of gratitude to, or “prepositional gratitude,” are also instances of gratitude that, or “propositional gratitude.” These philosophers believe there is a single unified concept of gratitude, a phenomenon that is essentially gratitude that, and whose manifestations sometimes have additional features that make (...)
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  21. A Survey of Effects of STS Education on the University Students' Moral Development and Epistemological Beliefs: Using DIT and EBI.Hyemin Han - 2006 - Journal of Ethics Education Studies 9:201-217.
    The purpose of this study is to assess effects of STS(Science and Technology Studies) education in natural science colleges and engineering colleges. STS is an interdisciplinary study includes ethics, history, sociology, policy of science and technology; its main purpose is elaborating students' social perspectives on science and technology. In Korea, however, there is few studies related to STS education to improve its educational effects. Therefore, this study will do exploratory investigation effects of STS education in moral development and epistemological beliefs (...)
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  22. N. T. Wright, History and Eschatology.Andrew I. Shepardson - 2020 - Philosophia Christi 22 (1):180-184.
  23. Expressivism and Explaining Irrationality: Reply to Baker.Sebastian Hengst - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    In a recent paper in this journal, Derek Baker (Erkenntnis 83(4):829–852, 2018) raises an objection to expressivism as it has been developed by Mark Schroeder (Being for, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008). Baker argues that Schroeder’s expressivist (1) is committed to certain sentences expressing rationally incoherent states of mind, and he objects (2) that the expressivist cannot explain why these states would be rationally incoherent. The aim of this paper is to show that Baker’s argument for (1) is unsound, and (...)
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  24. Some Challenges for Research on Emotion and Moral Judgment: The Moral Foreign-Language Effect as a Case Study.Steven McFarlane & Heather Cipolletti Perez - 2020 - Diametros 17 (64):56-71.
    In this article, we discuss a number of challenges with the empirical study of emotion and its relation to moral judgment. We examine a case study involving the moral foreign-language effect, according to which people show an increased utilitarian response tendency in moral dilemmas when using their non-native language. One important proposed explanation for this effect is that using one’s non-native language reduces emotional arousal, and that reduced emotion is responsible for this tendency. We offer reasons to think that there (...)
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  25. Beyond Good and Bad.William Jimenez-Leal, Samuel Murray, Santiago Amaya & Sergio Barbosa - manuscript
    We argue that people regularly encounter situations involving moral conflicts among permissible options. These scenarios, which some have called morally charged situations, reflect perceived tensions between moral expectations and moral rights. Studying responses to such situations marks a departure from the common emphasis on sacrificial dilemmas and widespread use of single-dimension measures. In 6 experiments (n=1607), we show that people use a wide conceptual arsenal when assessing actions that can be described as suberogatory (bad but permissible) or supererogatory (good but (...)
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  26. The Driving Forces of Metaethics.Andrew Forcehimes - 2017 - In Steven M. Cahn & Andrew T. Forcehimes (eds.), Foundations of Moral Philosophy. New York, NY, USA: pp. 3-19.
    This essay serves as a general introduction to metaethics, highlighting the ideas that drive us toward or away from the various theories.
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  27. Foundations of Moral Philosophy: Readings in Metaethics.Steven M. Cahn & Andrew Forcehimes (eds.) - 2017 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
    Foundations of Moral Philosophy: Readings in Metaethics is a comprehensive collection of fifty-six contemporary readings and historical sources on major issues in metaethics. It focuses on the meaning of moral terms, the nature of moral psychology, whether we can know moral truths (if there are any), and the role of moral reasons. The book features unparalleled representation of women philosophers, with one-third of the contemporary articles authored or coauthored by women. Wherever appropriate, the articles have been carefully edited to ensure (...)
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  28. Emotions as Original Existences: A Theory of Emotion, Motivation, and the Self.Demian Whiting - 2020 - Palgrave Macmillan.
    This book defends the much-disputed view that emotions are what Hume referred to as ‘original existences’: feeling states that have no intentional or representational properties of their own. In doing so, the book serves as a valuable counterbalance to the now mainstream view that emotions are representational mental states. Beginning with a defence of a feeling theory of emotion, Whiting opens up a whole new way of thinking about the role and centrality of emotion in our lives, showing how emotion (...)
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  29. Expected Value Under Normative Uncertainty.Franz Dietrich & Brian Jabarian - manuscript
    Maximising expected value is the classic doctrine in choice theory under empirical uncertainty, and a prominent proposal in the emerging philosophical literature on normative uncertainty, i.e., uncertainty about values. But how should Expectationalism be stated in general, when we can face both uncertainties simultaneously, as is common in life? Surprisingly, different possibilities arise, ranging from Ex-Ante to Ex-Post Expectationalism, with several hybrid versions. Expectationalism thus faces the classic dilemma between ex-ante and ex-post approaches. Different expectational theories reach diverging evaluations, use (...)
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  30. Hume’s “Projectivism” Explained.Miren Boehm - 2020 - Synthese: Humeanisms.
    Hume appeals to a mysterious mental process to explain how to world appears to possess features that are not present in sense perceptions, namely causal, moral, and aesthetic properties. He famously writes that the mind spreads itself onto the external world, and that we stain or gild natural objects with our sentiments. Projectivism is founded on these texts but it assumes a reading of Hume’s language as merely metaphorical. This assumption, however, conflicts sharply with the important explanatory role that “spreading” (...)
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  31. Compassionate Moral Realism. [REVIEW]Adam Lerner - 2019 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2019.
  32. Setting Limits to Practical Reflection: Against Philosophy as a Way of Life.Vitor Sommavilla - 2020 - Metaphilosophy 51 (2-3):375-390.
    According to a tradition going back to Socrates, one should thoroughly examine the grounds of one’s judgments before settling on what one has reason to do or believe. According to contemporary metaethical constructivism, assumed in this essay, reflective scrutiny is also central to assessing a judgment’s claim to justification. This essay argues against the injunctions to thoroughly examine oneself and seek ultimate reasons for one’s normative judgments. In other words, the essay argues against the ideal of the philosophical way of (...)
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  33. Mathematics and Finance: Some Philosophical Remarks.Emiliano Ippoliti - forthcoming - Topoi.
    I examine the role that mathematics plays in understanding and modelling finance, especially stock markets, and how philosophy affects it. To this end, I explore how mathematics penetrates finance via physics, constructing a ‘financial physics’, and I outline the philosophical backgrounds of this process, in particular the ‘philosophy of equilibrium’ and that of critical points or ‘out-of-equilibrium’. I discuss the main characteristics and a few weaknesses of these mathematizations of financial systems, notably econometrics and econophysics, and I compare the two (...)
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  34. La teoria dei sentimenti morali. [REVIEW]Sergio Volodia Marcello Cremaschi - 1996 - Philosophy and Public Issues - Filosofia E Questioni Pubbliche 3 (1):199-206.
    A discussion of the Italian edition of Adam Smith's moral work edited by Eugenio Lecaldano.
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  35. Death.Claudia Meadows - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Houston - Downtown
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  36. The Argument From Disagreement to Moral Skepticism.Christopher W. Love - 2018 - Philosophia Christi 20 (2):443-461.
    This essay begins with the assumption that many of our moral disputes have deeper roots in disagreement over worldview propositions. If this is true, and if there is a fact of the matter about worldview propositions, such that one could know the truth of at least some of them, then this makes it possible for one to maintain one’s moral beliefs, even despite the persistent, pervasive disagreements so common today. I argue that this holds true even when those debates include (...)
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  37. Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind. By Joshua May. Pp. Ix, 264, Oxford University Press, 2018, £45.00. [REVIEW]Agneta Sutton - 2020 - Heythrop Journal 61 (2):359-359.
    he burgeoning science of ethics has produced a trend toward pessimism. Ordinary moral thought and action, we're told, are profoundly influenced by arbitrary factors and ultimately driven by unreasoned feelings. This book counters the current orthodoxy on its own terms by carefully engaging with the empirical literature. The resulting view, optimistic rationalism, shows the pervasive role played by reason our moral minds, and ultimately defuses sweeping debunking arguments in ethics. The science does suggest that moral knowledge and virtue don't come (...)
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  38. Can Literature Be Moral Philosophy? A Sceptical View on the Ethics of Literary Empathy.Ingrid Vendrell Ferran - 2011 - In Sebastian Hüsch (ed.), Philosophy and Literature and the Crisis of Metaphysics.
    One important aspect of Nussbaum´s thesis on the moral value of literature concerns the power of literature to enhance our ability to empathise with other minds. This aspect will be the focus of the current article. My aim is to reflect upon this question regarding the moral value of our empathy for fictional characters. The article is structured in two main parts. I will first examine the concept of “empathy” and distinguish between empathy for human beings and empathy for fictional (...)
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  39. Anti-Realist Pluralism: a New Approach to Folk Metaethics.Thomas Pölzler & Jennifer Cole Wright - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (1):53-82.
    Many metaethicists agree that as ordinary people experience morality as a realm of objective truths, we have a prima facie reason to believe that it actually is such a realm. Recently, worries have been raised about the validity of the extant psychological research on this argument’s empirical hypothesis. Our aim is to advance this research, taking these worries into account. First, we propose a new experimental design for measuring folk intuitions about moral objectivity that may serve as an inspiration for (...)
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  40. Rational Learners and Metaethics: Universalism, Relativism, and Evidence From Consensus.Alisabeth Ayars & Shaun Nichols - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (1):67-89.
    Recent work in folk metaethics finds a correlation between perceived consensus about a moral claim and meta-ethical judgments about whether the claim is universally or only relatively true. We argue that consensus can provide evidence for meta-normative claims, such as whether a claim is universally true. We then report several experiments indicating that people use consensus to make inferences about whether a claim is universally true. This suggests that people's beliefs about relativism and universalism are partly guided by evidence-based reasoning. (...)
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  41. Contingency Inattention: Against Causal Debunking in Ethics.Regina Rini - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (2):369-389.
    It is a philosophical truism that we must think of others as moral agents, not merely as causal or statistical objects. But why? I argue that this follows from the best resolution of an antinomy between our experience of morality as necessarily binding on the will and our knowledge that all moral beliefs originate in contingent histories. We can address this antinomy only by understanding moral deliberation via interpersonal relationships, which simultaneously vindicate and constrains morality’s bind on the will. This (...)
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  42. Lei de Hume e falácia naturalista.Ricardo Tavares Da Silva - 2016 - Anatomia Do Crime 4:187-204.
  43. ‘Mere Poverty Excites Little Compassion’: Adam Smith, Moral Judgment and the Poor.Kate Ward - 2020 - Heythrop Journal 61 (1):97-114.
  44. Pathological Moralizing: Is Moral Judgment a Commitment Device?Michael Prinzing - 2020 - Ethics 130 (2):228-236.
    Eric Campbell has argued that we should abolish moral discourse on the grounds that making moral judgments leads to “potentially severe practical pathologies”, including hypocrisy and self-delusion. However, his account of moral judgments only plausibly describes deontological judgments. Thus, his argument only supports deontological abolitionism. This view is certainly interesting. But it is not as extreme as moral abolitionism. Moreover, I argue that Campbell’s account, when reconstructed as an argument for deontological abolitionism can play only a very limited dialectical role.
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  45. Can We Measure Practical Wisdom?Jason Swartwood - 2020 - Journal of Moral Education 49 (1):71-97.
    ABSTRACTWisdom, long a topic of interest to moral philosophers, is increasingly the focus of social science research. Philosophers have historically been concerned to develop a rationally defensible account of the nature of wisdom and its role in the moral life, often inspired in various ways by virtue theoretical accounts of practical wisdom. Wisdom scientists seek to, among other things, define wisdom and its components so that we can measure them. Are the measures used by wisdom scientists actually measuring what philosophers (...)
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  46. Streumer on Non-Cognitivism and Reductivism About Normative Judgement.Daan Evers - 2019 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 16 (6):707-724.
    Bart Streumer believes that the following principle is true of all normative judgements: When two people make conflicting normative judgements, at most one of them is correct. Streumer argues that noncognitivists are unable to explain why is true, or our acceptance of it. I argue that his arguments are inconclusive. I also argue that our acceptance of is limited in the case of instrumental and epistemic normative judgements, and that the extent to which we do accept for such judgements can (...)
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  47. A Thomistic View of Conscience and Guilt.Anne Jeffrey - 2019 - In Corey Maley & Bradford Cokelet (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Guilt. London: pp. 243-268.
    According to the Conscience Principle, it is never morally permissible to act contrary to conscience. The plausibility of this being a genuine moral principle depends on what conscience is, whether it can be mistaken, and what its role is in general moral psychology. Thomas Aquinas endorses and defends a unique version of the Conscience Principle. What’s especially interesting about his unorthodox (for his time) view on conscience is that it seems to split the difference between the views we might expect (...)
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  48. Immorality.Ronald Dmitri Milo - 1984 - Princeton University Press.
  49. Hanno Sauer, Debunking Arguments in Ethics , Pp. Xi + 244. [REVIEW]Michael Klenk - 2019 - Utilitas 8 (4):1-5.
  50. Ethics at the Edges of Law: Christian Moralists and American Legal Thought. By Cathleen Kaveny. Pp. Xxi, 299, New York, Oxford University Press, 2018, $35.00/£22.99. Litigating Religions: An Essay on Human Rights, Courts, and Beliefs. By Christopher McCrudden. Pp. Xv, 196, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018, $65.00. [REVIEW]John R. Williams - 2019 - Heythrop Journal 60 (6):961-963.
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