Moral intuitions, moral expertise and moral reasoning

Journal of Philosophy of Education 43 (4):597-613 (2009)

Abstract

In this article I examine the consequences of the dominance of intuitive thinking in moral judging and deciding for the role of moral reasoning in moral education. I argue that evidence for the reliability of moral intuitions is lacking. We cannot determine when we can trust our intuitive moral judgements. Deliberate and critical reasoning is needed, but it cannot replace intuitive thinking. Following Robin Hogarth, I argue that intuitive judgements can be improved. The expertise model for moral development, proposed by Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus, not only teaches us how we acquire intuitive moral judgements, it also shows the interconnectedness of intuitive thinking and deliberate reasoning. Analysing the expertise model in more detail, I show that it cannot do justice to the importance of reasoning skills. Reasoning skills are needed because we expect people to be able to argue for their standpoints. I conclude that moral education should not only aim at improving intuitive moral judgements, but also at acquiring reasoning skills.

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Author's Profile

Bert Musschenga
VU University Amsterdam