Reasons, reflection, and repugnance

In Alberto Giubilini & Steve Clarke (eds.), The Ethics of Human Enhancement: Understanding the Debate. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press (2016)
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In this chapter we draw comparisons between Kass’ views on the normative authority of repugnance and social intuitionist accounts of moral judgement which are similarly sceptical about the role of reasoned reflection in moral judgement. We survey the empirical claims made in support of giving moral primacy to intuitions generated by emotions such as repugnance, as well as some common objections. We then examine accounts which integrate intuition and reflection, and argue that plausible accounts of wisdom are in tension with Kass’ claim that our inarticulable emotional responses can be the expression of deep wisdom. We conclude that while repugnance and other emotions have a role to play in informing deliberation and judgement, we have reason to be cautious in giving them normative authority. Affective responses alone cannot discharge the burden of justification for moral judgement and are just one tool relied upon by those we consider wise.
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