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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Feeling Good: Integrating the Psychology and Epistemology of Moral Intuition and Emotion

Hossein Dabbagh
Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics 5 (3): 1–30.


Is the epistemology of moral intuitions compatible with admitting a role for emotion? I argue in this paper thatmoral intuitions and emotions can be partners without creating an epistemic threat. I start off by offering some empirical findings to weaken Singer’s (and Greene’s and Haidt’s) debunking argument against moral intuition, which treat emotions as a distorting factor. In the second part of the paper, I argue that the standard contrast between intuition and emotion is a mistake. Moral intuitions and emotions are not contestants if we construe moral intuition as non-doxastic intellectual seeming and emotion as a non-doxastic perceptual-like state. This will show that emotions support, rather than distort, the epistemic standing of moral intuitions.

Here is an excerpt:

However, cognitive sciences, as I argued above, show us that seeing all emotions in this excessively pessimistic way is not plausible. To think about emotional experience as always being a source of epistemic distortion would be wrong. On the contrary, there are some reasons to believe that emotional experiences can sometimes make a positive contribution to our activities in practical rationality. So, there is a possibility that some emotions are not distorting factors. If this is right, we are no longer justified in saying that emotions always distort our epistemic activities. Instead, emotions (construed as quasiperceptual experiences) might have some cognitive elements assessable for rationality.

The paper is here.