The evolution of moral intuitions and their feeling of rightness

In Joyce R. (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Evolution and Philosophy (forthcoming)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Despite the widespread use of the notion of moral intuition, its psychological features remain a matter of debate and it is unclear why the capacity to experience moral intuitions evolved in humans. We first survey standard accounts of moral intuition, pointing out their interesting and problematic aspects. Drawing lessons from this analysis, we propose a novel account of moral intuitions which captures their phenomenological, mechanistic, and evolutionary features. Moral intuitions are composed of two elements: an evaluative mental state and a feeling of rightness (FOR). We illustrate the phenomenology of the FOR with examples of non-moral and moral cases, and provide a biological and mechanistic account: the emergence of human reasoning capacities created a need for the co-evolution of a psychological system producing the feeling of rightness (the FORs). This system is triggered when we experience conflicting evaluations. The FORs renders evaluations resulting from rational deliberation less compelling than the evaluations produced by simple evolved systems. It thus facilitates optimal decision-making, preventing excessive interference by rational deliberation. Our account sheds light on why moral intuitions are so frequently experienced and why they are so compelling and resistant to argument. In addition, the account fuels interesting speculations about common metaethical intuitions.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Revision history
Archival date: 2016-07-07
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Ethical Intuitionism.Huemer, Michael

View all 29 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index

Total views
209 ( #14,833 of 40,658 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
53 ( #10,668 of 40,658 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.