The secret joke of Kant’s soul

In W. Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, Vol. 3. MIT Press (2007)
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In this essay, I draw on Haidt’s and Baron’s respective insights in the service of a bit of philosophical psychoanalysis. I will argue that deontological judgments tend to be driven by emotional responses, and that deontological philosophy, rather than being grounded in moral reasoning, is to a large extent3 an exercise in moral rationalization. This is in contrast to consequentialism, which, I will argue, arises from rather different psychological processes, ones that are more “cognitive,” and more likely to involve genuine moral reasoning. These claims are strictly empirical, and I will defend them on the basis of the available evidence. Needless to say, my argument will be speculative and will not be conclusive. Beyond this, I will argue that if these empirical claims are true, they may have normative implications, casting doubt on deontology as a school of normative moral thought.



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Joshua D. Greene
Harvard University

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