The epistemic value of psychological moral intuitions

Philosophical Explorations 13 (2):113-128 (2010)
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Abstract
In this article, I discuss whether intuitive moral judgements have epistemic value. Are they mere expressions of irrational feelings that should be disregarded or should they be taken seriously? In section 2, I discuss the view of some social psychologists that moral intuitions are, like other social intuitions, under certain conditions more reliable than conscious deliberative judgements. In sections 3 and 4, I examine whether intuitive moral judgements can be said not to need inferential justification. I outline a concept of moral intuition as a seeming whose seemingness resides in special, phenomenological features such as a felt veridicality, appropriateness, familiarity, or confidence, and whose justificatory force is influenced by the reliability of the belief-producing procedures and by a subject's competence in applying moral concepts. I argue that subjects can come to realise that the beliefs expressed in their intuitive judgements evoke a sense of non-inferential credibility. In section 5, I first discuss the contribution of moral expertise to the non-inferential credibility of a person's intuitions. Subsequently, I discuss whether Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is right in saying that we can never claim non-inferential justification for our intuitions because they are subject to all kinds of distorting influences.
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