The Moral Foreign-Language Effect

Philosophical Psychology 29 (1):23-40 (2016)

Steve McFarlane
Florida State University
Heather Perez
Broward College
Many have argued that moral judgment is driven by one of two types of processes. Rationalists argue that reasoned processes are the source of moral judgments, whereas sentimentalists argue that emotional processes are. We provide evidence that both positions are mistaken; there are multiple mental processes involved in moral judgment, and it is possible to manipulate which process is engaged when considering moral dilemmas by presenting them in a non-native language. The Foreign-Language Effect is the activation of systematic reasoning processes by thinking in a foreign language. We demonstrate that the FLE extends to moral judgment. This indicates that different types of processes can lead to the formation of differing moral judgments. One implication of the FLE is that it raises the possibility that moral judgments can be made more systematic, and that the type of processing used to form them might be relevant to normative and applied ethics
Keywords Moral Psychology  Foreign-Language Effect  Dual-Process Theory  Moral Judgment
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Reprint years 2016
DOI 10.1080/09515089.2014.993063
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References found in this work BETA

The Emotional Construction of Morals.Jesse Prinz - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
Ethics and Intuitions.Peter Singer - 2005 - Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):331-352.

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