Selective debunking arguments, folk psychology, and empirical psychology

In Hagop Sarkissian & Jennifer Cole Wright (eds.), Advances in Experimental Moral Psychology. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 130-147 (2014)
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Rather than set out an overarching view or take a stand on the debunking of morality tout court, in what follows I’ll explore a divide and conquer strategy. First, I will briefly sketch a debunking argument that, instead of targeting all of morality or human moral nature, has a more narrow focus—namely, the intuitive moral authority of disgust. The argument concludes that as vivid and compelling as they can be while one is in their grip, feelings of disgust should be granted no power to justify moral judgments. Importantly, the argument is grounded in empirical advances concerning the character of the emotion itself. Next, I will step back and consider the argument’s general form. I then point to arguments that others have made that seem to share this form and selective focus, and comment on what such arguments do and do not presuppose. Finally, I locate the selective strategy with respect to other approaches moral debunking.

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Daniel Kelly
Purdue University


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