I argue that Kantianism and utilitarianism have the opposite strengths and weaknesses. Whereas Kantianism but not utilitarianism accords with our commonsense views about morality, utilitarianism but not Kantianism accords with our commonsense views about action and reasons for action.
Pauline Kleingeld and Marcus Willaschek, in a co-authored article, declare that their purportedly new interpretation of Immanuel Kant’s writings on autonomy reveals that his moral philosophy is neither realist nor constructivist. However, as I explain here, John Rawls already occupies the area of intellectual territory to which Kleingeld and Willaschek attempt to lay claim: Rawls interprets Kant’s moral philosophy as neither realist, as Kleingeld and Willaschek evidently construe this term, nor constructivist, as they evidently construe this term. Contra Kleingeld and (...) Willaschek, the moral constructivism attributed to Kant by Rawls is not voluntarist, and Rawls’s account of Kant’s concept of autonomy is not paradoxical. In order to understand autonomy, it is necessary to understand Kant’s complex conception of the will, which structures his moral philosophy (as Rawls, unlike Kleingeld and Willaschek, explains). Rawls, like Kant, but unlike Kleingeld and Willaschek, clearly distinguishes between certain importantly different questions about normativity and obligation. Kant’s moral philosophy, according to Rawls’s insightful interpretation, is a form of objective moral constructivism. (shrink)
Can reasoning improve moral judgments and lead to moral progress? Pessimistic answers to this question are often based on caricatures of reasoning, weak scientific evidence, and flawed interpretations of solid evidence. In support of optimism, we discuss three forms of moral reasoning (principle reasoning, consistency reasoning, and social proof) that can spur progressive changes in attitudes and behavior on a variety of issues, such as charitable giving, gay rights, and meat consumption. We conclude that moral reasoning, particularly when embedded in (...) social networks with mutual trust and respect, is integral to moral progress. (shrink)
I draw on neurobiological evidence to defend the rationalist thesis that moral judgments are essentially dependent on reasoning, not emotions (conceived as distinct from inference). The neuroscience reveals that moral cognition arises from domain-general capacities in the brain for inferring, in particular, the consequences of an agent’s action, the agent’s intent, and the rules or norms relevant to the context. Although these capacities entangle inference and affect, blurring the reason/emotion dichotomy doesn’t preferentially support sentimentalism. The argument requires careful consideration of (...) the empirical evidence (from neuroimaging to psychopathology) and philosophical analysis of the commitments of rationalism versus sentimentalism in ethics. (shrink)
What is the connection between justification and truth in moral epistemology? The primary goal of this paper is to argue that you cannot have justified false beliefs about your own moral obligations. The secondary goal is to explain why not. Some epistemologists embrace a global truth-connection in epistemology, according to which epistemic justification is always factive. In contrast, I endorse a local truth-connection in moral epistemology, which says that epistemic justification is factive when it concerns your own moral obligations. To (...) explain this, I appeal to a version of moral rationalism, which says there are necessary truths about morality that everyone has a priori justification to believe. (shrink)
The moral debates continued to see good as merely that which gives happiness or pleasure. \"…it was assumed that what we ought to do is always a function of what it would be good to bring about: action can only be right because it produces good (J.B. Schneewind 'Modern Moral Philosophy'). It was the breaking away from this idea that was perhaps the most important aspect of the works of both Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and David Hume (1711-1776). Hume's moral theory (...) arose out of his belief that reason alone can never cause action. Desire or feelings cause action. Because reason alone can never cause action, morality is rooted in our feelings. Virtue arises from acting on a desire to help others. Hume's moral theory is therefore a virtue-centered morality rather than the natural-law morality, which saw morality as coming from God. Kant's notion of morality arose from his notion of a moral law; a law applicable to all people at all times, that imposes absolute duties on us. According to Kant, you \"ought to act according to the maxim that is qualified for universal law giving; that is, you ought to act so that the maxim of your action may become a universal law\" (Immanuel Kant 'Lectures of Mr. Kant on the Metaphysics of Morals'). Kant, unlike Hume, saw it as possible to act on reason alone, and whether or not a person acted morally depended on whether he/she had acted on reason alone. The essential difference between Kant and Hume that affected their whole thinking on the matter of morality was each one's belief about the autonomy of the will. Kant saw the will as fully autonomous and therefore needing no external sources for motivation, thus making it possible to act out of reason alone. (shrink)
A number of philosophers from Hobbes to Mill to Parfit have held some combination of the following views about the Golden Rule: (a) It is the cornerstone of morality across many if not all cultures. (b) It affirms the value of moral impartiality, and potentially the core idea of utilitarianism. (c) It is immune from evolutionary debunking, that is, there is no good naturalistic explanation for widespread acceptance of the Golden Rule, ergo the best explanation for its appearance in different (...) traditions is that people have perceived the same non-natural moral truth. De Lazari-Radek and Singer employ all three of these claims in an argument meant to vindicate Sidgwick's ‘principle of universal benevolence’. I argue that the Golden Rule is the cornerstone of morality only in Christianity, it does not advocate moral impartiality, and there is a naturalistic explanation for why versions of the Golden Rule appear in different traditions. (shrink)
The death of a person is a tragedy while the explosion of a lifeless galaxy is a mere firework. The moral difference is grounded in the nature of humans: humans have intrinsic worth, a worth that makes their fate really matter. This is the worth proposed as the foundation of ethics. Ethics in the usual sense of right and wrong actions, rights and virtues, and how to live a good life, is founded on something more basic that is not itself (...) about actions, namely the worth of persons. Human moral worth arises from certain properties that distinguish humans from the rest of creation (though some animals share a lesser degree of those properties): rationality, consciousness, the ability to act for reasons, emotional structure and love, individuality. This complex package makes humans the "piece of work" of which Hamlet says, “How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty." The Worth of Persons establishes a foundation for ethics in the equal worth of persons, which makes ethics absolutely objective and immune to relativist attacks because it is based on the metaphysical truth about humans. Endless debate about ethical dilemmas, rules, and principles fails to connect with what is really important ethically, that is, what makes humans matter. (shrink)
How is moral knowledge possible? This paper defends the anti-Humean thesis that we can acquire moral knowledge by deduction from wholly non-moral premises. According to Hume’s Law, as it has become known, we cannot deduce an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’, since it is “altogether inconceivable how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it” (Hume, 1739, 3.1.1). This paper explores the prospects for a deductive theory of moral knowledge that rejects Hume’s Law.
Ask most philosophers for an example of a moral rationalist, and they will probably answer “Kant.” And no wonder. Kant’s first great work of moral philosophy, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, opens with a clarion call for rationalism, proclaiming the need to work out for once a pure moral philosophy, a metaphysics of morals. That this metaphysics includes the first principle of ethics, the moral law, is obvious. But what about the second principles, particular moral laws, such as duties (...) of truthfulness, beneficence, etc.? Are these principles metaphysical too? Many have thought not, since they make essential use of empirical and anthropological considerations. I argue otherwise; the second principles are metaphysical and this matters. I do this by taking seriously the metaphysics of the metaphysics of morals—more specifically, by understanding the metaphysics of morals alongside the metaphysics of nature. For, qua metaphysics, both employ a common two-stage methodology, the first stage of which is wholly a priori but the second stage of which is partly empirical. As I explain, appreciating this common methodology sheds new light on how the second principles are to be established, as well as on the reach of Kant’s rationalism. (shrink)
As Socrates famously noted, there is no more important question than how we ought to live. The answer to this question depends on how the reasons that we have for living in various different ways combine and compete. To illustrate, suppose that I've just received a substantial raise. What should I do with the extra money? I have most moral reason to donate it to effective charities but most self-interested reason to spend it on luxuries for myself. So, whether I (...) should live my life as I have most moral reason to live it or as I have most self-interested reason to live it depends on how these and other sorts of reasons combine and compete to determine what I have most reason to do, all things considered. This Element seeks to figure out how different sorts of reasons combine and compete to determine how we ought to live. (shrink)
La teoría del mandato divino sostiene que Dios decide lo que es moralmente correcto e incorrecto. Aquí sostenemos que esta teoría presenta los siguientes problemas: 1) los mandatos divinos son arbitrarios, 2) la voluntad de Dios no es lo único relevante en los debates sobre lo moralmente correcto, 3) esta concepción de la moralidad es misteriosa, y 4) la teoría del mandato divino no resuelve, a fin de cuentas, el problema de la objetividad moral. Estos problemas muestran que lo moralmente (...) correcto e incorrecto no necesariamente dependen de una perspectiva religiosa. La racionalidad se puede involucrar en los asuntos morales, sin necesidad de recurrir a la religión. En síntesis, la moral y la religión son independientes. (shrink)
The standard account of supererogation holds that Liv is not morally required to jump on a grenade, thereby sacrificing her life, to save the lives of five soldiers. Many proponents defend the standard account by appealing to moral rationalism about requirement. These same proponents hold that Bernie is morally permitted to jump on a grenade, thereby sacrificing his life, to spare someone a mild burn. I argue that this position is unstable, at least as moral rationalism is ordinarily defended. The (...) proponent of the standard account of supererogation must either reject moral rationalism or endorse that Bernie is morally required to remain in safety. Along the way, this paper brings together three neglected topics: going *too far* beyond the call of duty, moral rationalism about *permission*, and how to weigh reasons when some reasons have a different proportion of justifying and requiring weight than others. (shrink)
According to pluralistic intuitionist theories, some of our moral beliefs are non-inferentially justified, and these beliefs come in both an a priori and an a posteriori variety. In this paper I present new support for this pluralistic form of intuitionism by examining the deeply social nature of moral inquiry. This is something that intuitionists have tended to neglect. It does play an important role in an intuitionist theory offered by Bengson, Cuneo, and Shafer-Landau (forth), but whilst they invoke the social (...) nature of moral inquiry in order to argue that ordinary moral intuitions are trustworthy, my argument focuses on what I will call the ‘frontiers’ of moral inquiry. I will show that inclusive and cooperative dialogue is necessary at moral inquiry’s frontiers, and that intuitionists can expect such dialogue to result in both a priori and a posteriori moral beliefs. (shrink)
A presentation of Kant's idea for enlightenment process that was happening at that time. I try to be objective as it is needed to give a thorough explanation for what was the main subject in this process. Kant explains the main idea of enlightenment and describes it with examples for which stands descriptive and understandable for that period.
The current discourse on moral epistemology (ME), has hardly paid any attention to the question concerning the demarcation of the domain of ME within epistemology. Neither is the subject matter of ME considered unique, nor is the methodology adopted in its investigations considered distinct. We attempt to show in this paper that this omission does not restrict itself to a mere taxonomical oversight but rather leads to certain deeper conceptual concerns. We argue that a casual and porous understanding of the (...) subject matter of ME is the result of conflating moral beliefs and justification with non-moral beliefs and justification. If ME doesn't merit a clear demarcation within epistemology, then the very legitimacy of ME is brought under a cloud, thereby threatening the distinction between ethics and epistemology. We believe G. E Moore foresaw this predicament and our interpretation of his work could offer a possible solution. (shrink)
May assumes that if moral beliefs are counterfactually dependent on irrelevant factors, then those moral beliefs are based on defective belief-forming processes. This assumption is false. Whether influence by irrelevant factors is debunking depends on the mechanisms through which this influence occurs. This raises the empirical bar for debunkers and helps May avoid an objection to his Debunker’s Dilemma.
In Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind, Joshua May argues successfully that many claims about the causal influence of affect on moral judgment are overblown. But the findings he cites are compatible with many of the key arguments of philosophical sentimentalists. His account of rationalism, in turn, relies on an overly broad notion of inference, and leaves open crucial questions about how we reason to moral conclusions.
Recent work by emotion researchers indicates that emotions have a multi-level structure. Sophisticated sentimentalists should take note of this work—for it better enables them to defend a substantive role for emotion in moral cognition. Contra the rationalist criticisms of May 2018, emotions are not only able to carry morally relevant information but can also substantially influence moral judgment and reasoning.
Does immorality necessarily involve irrationality? The question is often taken to be among the deepest in moral philosophy. But apparently deep questions sometimes admit of deflationary answers. In this case we can make way for a deflationary answer by appealing to dualism about rationality, according to which there are two fundamentally distinct notions of rationality: structural rationality and substantive rationality. I have defended dualism elsewhere. Here, I’ll argue that it allows us to embrace a sensible – I will not say (...) boring – moderate view about the relationship between immorality and irrationality: roughly, that immorality involves substantive irrationality, but not structural irrationality. I defend this moderate view, and argue that many of the arguments for less moderate views turn either on missing the distinction between substantive and structural rationality, or on misconstruing it. (shrink)
According to Iris Murdoch, the chief experience in morality is loving attention. Her view calls into question the Kantian account of the standard of moral authority, and ultimately denies that reason might provide moral discernment, validate moral experience or drive us toward moral progress. Like Kant, Murdoch defines the moral experience as the subjective experience of freedom, which resists any reductivist approach. Unlike Kant, she thinks that this free agency is unprincipled. Some of her arguments are based on an oversimplified (...) account of Kant’s theory of reflective agency and discount the discipline of reason, thereby nullifying its practical import. However, Murdoch’s work offers a distinctive view of the standard of proof as a ‘moral proof’, which rehabilitates the transformative power of love and represents a genuine alternative to theories of practical reason as well as to reductivist empiricist views of the mind. (shrink)
This chapter examines the relevance of the cognitive science of morality to moral epistemology, with special focus on the issue of the reliability of moral judgments. It argues that the kind of empirical evidence of most importance to moral epistemology is at the psychological rather than neural level. The main theories and debates that have dominated the cognitive science of morality are reviewed with an eye to their epistemic significance.
The 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, and ultimately defuses sweeping debunking arguments in ethics. The science does suggest that moral knowledge and virtue don’t come easily. However, despite (...) the heavy influence of automatic and unconscious processes that have been shaped by evolutionary pressures, we needn’t reject ordinary moral psychology as fundamentally flawed or in need of serious repair. Reason can be corrupted in ethics just as in other domains, but a special pessimism about morality in particular is unwarranted. Moral judgment and motivation are fundamentally rational enterprises not beholden to the passions. (shrink)
This chapter discusses contemporary scientific research on the role of reason and emotion in moral judgment. The literature suggests that moral judgment is influenced by both reasoning and emotion separately, but there is also emerging evidence of the interaction between the two. While there are clear implications for the rationalism-sentimentalism debate, we conclude that important questions remain open about how central emotion is to moral judgment. We also suggest ways in which moral philosophy is not only guided by empirical research (...) but continues to guide it. (shrink)
This paper takes up an important epistemological challenge to the naturalistic moral realist: that her metaphysical commitments are difficult to square with a plausible rationalist view about the epistemology of morality. The paper begins by clarifying and generalizing this challenge. It then illustrates how the generalized challenge can be answered by a form of naturalistic moral realism that I dub joint-carving moral realism. Both my framing of this challenge and my answer advertise the methodological significance of non-fundamental epistemological theorizing, which (...) defends and deploys epistemological claims without adverting to the most fundamental epistemological facts. (shrink)
Traditional normative realists are committed to the idea that different individuals manage to pick out on the very same property with terms like ‘morally right’, despite variations in their understanding and use of the term. How is this possible? In this chapter, we sketch a metasemantic account that promises to vindicate traditional normative realism within a broadly rationalist framework. We will first introduce a metasemantic principle that ties reference determination to what is justifiable from the perspective of the conceptually competent (...) subject. This type of metasemantic approach has been andstill is the most influential general model of reference determination. We explain how this metasemantic principle can help vindicate something close to the traditional rationalist claim that normative truths can be known a priori. We will then show how an anti-individualist version of this principle can handle the problem of radical disagreement among competent speakers. Finally, we explain how the principle can help to vindicate the traditional rationalist thesis that moral requirements entail valid reasons for action. (shrink)
A theory of normative reasons for action faces the fundamental challenge of accounting for the dual nature of reasons. On the one hand, some reasons appear to depend on, and vary with, desires. On the other hand, some reasons appear categorical in the sense of being desire‐independent. However, it has turned out to be difficult to provide a theory that accommodates both these aspects. Internalism is able to account for the former aspect, but has difficulties to account for the latter, (...) whereas externalism is vulnerable to the reverse problem. In this paper, I outline an ecumenical view that consists of two parts: First, I defend a distinction between requiring reasons and justifying reasons in terms of their different connections to rationality. Second, I put forward a subjectivist, procedural, view of rationality. The ecumenical alternative, I argue, is able to accommodate the mentioned duality within a unified theory. In outlining this view, I also suggest that it has a number of other significant advantages. (shrink)
Non-naturalist normative realists face an epistemological objection: They must explain how their preferred route of justification ensures a non-accidental connection between justified moral beliefs and the normative truths. One strategy for meeting this challenge begins by pointing out that we are semantically or conceptually competent in our use of the normative terms, and then argues that this competence guarantees the non-accidental truth of some of our first-order normative beliefs. In this paper, I argue against this strategy by illustrating that this (...) competence based strategy undermines the non-naturalist’s ability to capture the robustly normative content of our moral beliefs. (shrink)
Are animals moral agents? In this article, a theologian and an anthropologist unite to bring the resources of each field to bear on this question. Alas, not all interdisciplinary conversations end harmoniously, and after much discussion the two authors find themselves in substantial disagreement over the answer. The article is therefore presented in two halves, one for each side of the argument. As well as presenting two different positions, our hope is that this article clarifies the different understandings of morality (...) in our respective fields and will help to offset confusion in interdisciplinary dialogue. In what follows, we each present our case. In the first section, Adam Willows argues that moral activity necessarily involves the use of reason, symbolic thought, and language and is on that basis an exclusively human affair. In the second, Marcus Baynes-Rock discusses his experience of relationality with other creatures; a relationality which, he argues, creates a shared understanding of obligations which are characteristically moral. (shrink)
This chapter aims to situate Kant’s account of practical reason in metaethical debates. First, it explains the reasons why it is legitimate and instructive to discuss Kant’s relevance in contemporary metaethics, hence addressing some issues about the intended scope of metaethics and its relation to practical reason and psychology. Second, it defends an interpretation of Kant’s conception of autonomy, which avoids some paradoxes traditionally associated with self-legislation. Third, it shows that constructivism best captures Kant’s conception of practical reason and of (...) its authority. Kantian constructivism is defended as a self-standing metaethical theory, which is designed to account for the objectivity and unconditional authority of practical knowledge, on the basis of standards congruent with shared subjective experience. This version of constructivism, adopting a “dialogical” interpretation of the autonomy of rational will, explains how finite rational agents are obligated and bound by the moral law. (shrink)
This article is a critique of Gal Yehezkel’s attempt to refute subjectivism about normative practical reasons, a school of thought inspired by Hume. Yehezkel believes reason, far from being, as Hume puts it, “the slave of the passions,” has the normative authority to be a critic of basic desires and argues that subjectivism lacks the theoretical resources both to acknowledge this alleged truth and to analyze the distinction between wanting an outcome and intending to pursue it. I contend his refutation (...) fails, largely because it operates with a strikingly attenuated view of the subjectivist theory. (shrink)
Epistemic Perceptualists claim that emotions are sources of immediate defeasible justification for evaluative propositions that can sometimes ground undefeated immediately justified evaluative beliefs. For example, fear can constitute the justificatory ground for a belief that some object or event is dangerous. Despite its attractiveness, the view is apparently vulnerable to several objections. In this paper, I provide a limited defence of Epistemic Perceptualism by responding to a family of objections which all take as a premise a popular and attractive view (...) in value theory – Neo-Sentimentalism – according to which values are analysed in terms of fitting emotions. (shrink)
I argue that the conception of reflective equilibrium that is generally accepted in contemporary philosophy is defective and should be replaced with a conception of fruitful reflective disequilibrium which prohibits ad hoc manoeuvres, encourages new approaches, and eschews all justification in favour of continuous improvement. I suggest how the conception of fruitful disequilibrium can be applied more effectively to moral enquiry, to encourage genuine progress in moral knowledge, if we make moral theory empirically testable by adopting a meta-ethical postulate which (...) is independently plausible. (shrink)
Here I criticise Audi's account of self-evidece. I deny that understanding of a proposition can justify belief in it and offfer an account of intuition that can take the place of understanding in an account of self-evidence.
This paper argues for a novel sentimentalist realist metaethical theory, according to which moral wrongness is analyzed in terms of the sentiments one has most reason to have. As opposed to standard sentimentalist views, the theory does not employ sentiments that are had in response to morally wrong action, but rather sentiments that antecedently dispose people to refrain from immoral behavior, specifically the sentiments of compassion and respect.
Metaethical constructivism is one of the main movements within contemporary metaethics – especially among those with Kantian inclinations. But both the philosophical coherence and the Kantian pedigree of constructivism are hotly contested. In the first half of this article, I first explore the sense in which Kant's own views might be described as constructivist and then use the resulting understanding as a guide to how we might think about Kantian constructivism today. Along the way, I hope to suggest that a (...) fairly diverse range of views within contemporary metaethics – including some without any explicit allegiance to Kant – may be thought of as pursuing a version of the resulting strategy. (shrink)
In the second half of this essay, I discuss the robust conception of rationality that lies at the heart of the Kantian version of Rationalist Constructivism – offering some reasons to prefer this conception to the more minimal accounts of rationality associated with Humean views. I then go on to discuss some of the potential metaethical advantages of the resulting form of constructivism.
This essay offers a defense of Axiarchism's answer to the question, "Why does the world exit?" against prominent objections leveled against it by Derek Parfit. Parfit rejects the Axiarchist answer while abstracting from it his own Selector strategy. I argue that the abstraction fails, and that even if we were to regard Axiarchism as an instance of a Selector hypothesis, we should regard it as the only viable one. I also argue that Parfit's abstraction leads him to mistake the nature (...) and, thereby, the force of Axiarchism's claim to being an ultimate explanation. Finally, I defend the Axiarchist's claim that the good could not fail to rule. (shrink)
Moral Rationalism is the view that if an act is morally required then it is what there is most reason to do. It is often assumed that the truth of Moral Rationalism is dependent on some version of The Overridingness Thesis, the view that moral reasons override nonmoral reasons. However, as Douglas Portmore has pointed out, the two can come apart; we can accept Moral Rationalism without accepting any version of The Overridingness Thesis. Nevertheless, The Overridingness Thesis serves as one (...) of two possible explanations for Moral Rationalism. In this paper I will investigate which of these two explanations a moral rationalist should accept. I will argue that when we properly attend to the form of Moral Rationalism supported by the intuitions that motivate the view, we are left with no reason to accept The Overridingness Thesis. (shrink)
The word 'rationalism,' as it appears in philosophical discussions of ethics and morality, signifies at least one of a cluster of theses, each of which connects some aspect of ethical experience to reason or rationality. The most provocative rationalist thesis arises in contemporary discussions in metaethics; and it is this thesis that remains the most likely referent, in contemporary discussions, of the phrase 'moral rationalism.' The thesis is more accurately referred to, however, as metaethical rationalism, since it concerns the provenance (...) and nature of moral obligations, rather than their substance. A strong version of metaethical rationalism maintains that if someone is morally obligated to perform a certain action, then performing that action is what she has the strongest reasons, all things considered, to do. A weaker version of metaethical rationalism claims that if someone is morally obligated to perform a certain action, then performing that action is something that she has a reason to do, even though the reason might not be decisive: another reason, for instance of prudence, might trump the reason she has to act morally. It is rationalism in this metaethical guise that will be the ultimate focus of this essay. (shrink)
Is practical reason a cognitive faculty? Do practical judgments make claims about a subject matter that are appropriately assessed in terms of their agreement with that subject matter? According to Kantians like Christine Korsgaard, the answer is no. To think otherwise is to conflate the theoretical and the practical, the epistemic and the ethical. I am not convinced. In this paper, I motivate my skepticism through examination of the very figure who inspires Korsgaard’s rejection of cognitivism: Kant. For as I (...) read him, Kant does not construe the distinction between theoretical and practical reason in terms of a distinction between cognitive and non-cognitive faculties but in terms of two distinct applications of a single faculty of reason, which is through-and-through cognitive. Thus, practical, no less than theoretical, reason cognizes a subject matter, and so practical, no less than theoretical, reason is straightforwardly subject to familiar epistemic standards of truth, warrant, and knowledge. Of course, even if I am right about Kant, this does not show that Korsgaard is wrong about reason; and I will offer no direct argument against her position here. Nonetheless, I believe that reflection on Kant’s true view, with its careful treatment of and respect for both the practicality and rationality of reason, should perhaps lead us to rethink what it means to be a rationalist in ethics. (shrink)
We asked college students to make judgments about realistic moral situations presented as dilemmas (which asked for an either/or decision) vs. problems (which did not ask for such a decision) as well as when the situation explicitly included affectively salient language vs. non-affectively salient language. We report two main findings. The first is that there are four different types of cognitive strategy that subjects use in their responses: simple reasoning, intuitive judging, cautious reasoning, and empathic reasoning. We give operational definitions (...) of these types in terms of our observed data. In addition, the four types characterized strategies not only in the whole sample, but also in all of the subsamples in our study. The second finding is that the intuitive judging type comprised approximately 26% of our respondents, while about 74% of our respondents employed one of the three styles of reasoning named above. We think that these findings present an interesting challenge to models of moral cognition which predict that there is either a single, or a single most common, strategy – especially a strategy of relying upon one’s intuitions – that people use to think about moral situations. (shrink)
This chapter examines the different answers that British moralists gave to the question ‘what does virtue consist in?’ Rather than as a royal road to present-day views in ethics, their answers are best understood when considered against the background of early modern natural law theories and their projected metaphysics of morals. The emerging ‘science of morality’ dealt with the metaphysical problem of determining what sort of thing virtue is. Considered from this vantage point, the British moralists struggled with the problem (...) of deciding whether moral concepts signify laws of nature, rational drives in human beings, irrational drives in human beings, volitions of a legislator, or social institutions. British moral philosophies in the eighteenth century can be divided up according to whether they defended the thesis that moral qualities are artificial, the thesis that they are part of nature, or the thesis that they are the product of historical experience. (shrink)