Moral Perception: High-Level Perception or Low-Level Intuition?

In Thiemo Breyer & Christopher Gutland (eds.), Phenomenology of Thinking (2015)
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Here are four examples of “seeing.” You see that something green is wriggling. You see that an iguana is in distress. You see that someone is wrongfully harming an iguana. You see that torturing animals is wrong. The first is an example of low-level perception. You visually represent color and motion. The second is an example of high-level perception. You visually represent kind properties and mental properties. The third is an example of moral perception. You have an impression of moral properties. The fourth is an example of intuition. You intellectually grasp a general moral truth. Should moral perceptions be thought of as high-level perceptions or as intuitions? Most proponents of moral perception have thought of them as high-level perceptions. I give epistemological and methodological reasons for thinking that at least some are examples of what I call low-level intuitions—experiences in which we both apprehend abstract generalities and apply them to concrete particulars.

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Elijah Chudnoff
University of Miami


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