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Abstract: Recent work in Cognitive Science highlights the importance of exemplar-based know-how in supporting human expertise. Influenced by this model, many accounts of moral knowledge now stress exemplar-based, non-sentential know-how at the expense of the rule-and-principle based accounts favored by Kant, Mill and others. I shall argue, however, that moral thought and reason is an intrinsically complex achievement that cannot be understood by reference to either of these roles alone. Moral cognition -- like other forms of ‘advanced’ cognition -- depends on the subtle interplay and interaction between multiple factors and forces and especially (or so I argue) between the use of linguistic tools and formulations and more biologically basic forms of thought and reason
Abstract: Neuroscience and psychology have recently turned their attention to the study of the subpersonal underpinnings of moral judgment. In this paper we critically examine an influential strand of research originating in Greene’s neuroimaging studies of ‘utilitarian’ and ‘non-utilitarian’ moral judgement. We argue that given that the explananda of this research are specific personal-level states—moral judgments with certain propositional contents—its methodology has to be sensitive to criteria for ascribing states with such contents to subjects. We argue that current research has often failed to meet this constraint by failing to correctly ‘fix’ key aspects of moral judgment, criticism we support by detailed examples from the scientific literature.
Abstract: Recent work in various branches of philosophy has reinvigorated debate over the psychology behind moral judgment. Using Marc Hauser's categorization of theories as “Kantian,” “Humean,” or “Rawlsian” to frame the discussion, I argue that the existing evidence weighs against the Kantian model and partly in favor of both the Humean and the Rawlsian models. Emotions do play a causal role in the formation of our moral judgments, as the Humean model claims, but there are also unconscious principles shaping our moral judgments, as the Rawlsian model predicts. Thus, Hauser's tripartite division of possible models of moral psychology is inadequate. Drawing on research in cognitive neuroscience, clinical and behavioral psychology, and psychopathology, I sketch a new, developmental sentimentalist model of moral psychology. I call it a “Mencian” model, after the Confucian philosopher Mencius. On this model, moral judgments are caused by emotions, but because of the way emotions are mapped onto particular actions, moral judgments unconsciously reflect certain principled distinctions