Intelligent Automaticity in Moral Judgment and Decision-Making
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Is conscious reflection necessary for good moral judgment and decision-making? Philosophical attention to this question has increased in the last decade due to recent empirical work in moral psychology. I conclude that conscious reflection is not necessary for good moral judgment and decision-making, arguing that good moral intuition can develop from implicitly acquired and held moral values that bypass deliberative processes. I anchor my project in the now widely discussed work by Jonathan Haidt (2001) on moral judgment and decision-making. While many theorists think of moral judgment and decision-making as deliberative, Haidt argues that it is in fact more reactive: an individual has a gut response to a moral situation and immediately forms a judgment from that intuition. While Haidt’s work is empirically focused, he in large part intends for it to be a challenge to the traditional theory and norms in philosophy. I discuss two kinds of response in the philosophical literature to Haidt’s challenge. First, an empirical response: that Haidt’s data do not show that we largely fail to engage in deliberation. Second, a normative response: that Haidt’s empirical data do not challenge our normative ideals. I argue that both groups of arguments fail. This, then, warrants an exploration of the idea that the dominant normative view of moral judgment and decision-making in philosophy needs to be evaluated. I offer my own normative theory of moral judgment and decision-making, which I call “value-guided automaticity,” and argue that intuitive judgments motivated by implicitly held values make many of our automatic responses normatively evaluable.
- Philosophy