Good Moral Judgment and Decision‐Making Without Deliberation

Southern Journal of Philosophy 55 (1):68-95 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


It is widely accepted in psychology and cognitive science that there are two “systems” in the mind: one system is characterized as quick, intuitive, perceptive, and perhaps more primitive, while the other is described as slower, more deliberative, and responsible for our higher-order cognition. I use the term “reflectivism” to capture the view that conscious reflection—in the “System 2” sense—is a necessary feature of good moral judgment and decision-making. This is not to suggest that System 2 must operate alone in forming our moral decisions, but that it plays a normatively ineliminable role. In this paper, I discuss arguments that have been offered in defense of reflectivism. These arguments fit into two broad categories; let us think of them as two sides of a coin. On the first side are arguments about the efficaciousness of conscious reasoning—for example, without conscious deliberation we will make bad moral judgments and decisions. On the other side of the coin are arguments about the centrality of conscious deliberation to normative actions—for example, without conscious deliberation we are no more agential than animals or automatons. Despite their attractiveness, I argue that these arguments do not successfully establish that reflection is a necessary component of good moral judgment and decision-making. If I am right, the idea that good moral judgment and decision-making can result from entirely automatic and subconscious processes gains traction. My goal in this paper is to show that reflectivism fails to include the full range of cases of moral decision-making and that a theory of automaticity may do a better job. I briefly discuss at the end of the paper how an account of successful automatic moral judgment and decision-making might begin to take shape.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 78,003

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Moral cognition, affect, and psychopathy.Michelle Maiese - 2014 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (6):807-828.
A Cognitive–Intuitionist Model of Moral Judgment.Adenekan Dedeke - 2015 - Journal of Business Ethics 126 (3):437-457.
Reasons-based moral judgment and the erotetic theory.Philipp Koralus & Mark Alfano - 2017 - In Jean-Francois Bonnefon & Bastian Tremoliere (eds.), Moral Inference.
Reflection and Reasoning in Moral Judgment.Joshua D. Greene - 2012 - Cognitive Science 36 (1):163-177.
The role of rules in ethical decision making.Eugene C. Hargrove - 1985 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 28 (1-4):3 – 42.


Added to PP

83 (#153,194)

6 months
10 (#101,748)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Asia Ferrin
American University

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references