What the Science of Morality Doesn’t Say About Morality

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 43 (2):157-200 (2013)
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Abstract

In this article I ask what recent moral psychology and neuroscience can and can’t claim to have discovered about morality. I argue that the object of study of much recent work is not morality but a particular kind of individual moral judgment. But this is a small and peculiar sample of morality. There are many things that are moral yet not moral judgments. There are also many things that are moral judgments yet not of that particular kind. If moral things are various and diverse, then empirical research about one kind of individual moral judgment doesn’t warrant theoretical conclusions about morality in general. If that kind of individual moral judgment is a peculiar and rare thing, then it is not obvious what it tells us about other moral things. What is more, it is not obvious what its theoretical importance is to begin with—that is, why we should care about it at all. In light of these arguments, I call for a pluralism of methods and objects of inquiry in the scientific investigation of morality, so that it transcends its problematic overemphasis on a particular kind of individual moral judgment

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Gabriel Abend
University of Lucerne

References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
After virtue: a study in moral theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1981 - Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation.Donald Davidson - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex.Charles Darwin - 1898 - New York: Plume. Edited by Carl Zimmer.

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