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The Psychology And Epistemology Of (Mostly Moral) Intuitions

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This dissertation is composed of four stand-alone papers, organized here as four chapters. The first chapter gives a philosophical account of the nature of intuitive judgments. It proposes a conceptual framework that captures what are hopefully the essential properties of intuitions, and offers a description of the conditions under which intuitions will be reliable. The second chapter considers and rejects a recently popular theory in moral psychology, the linguistic analogy. According to this theory, human moral cognition is importantly similar to linguistic cognition, just so long as the later is understood using the theory of universal generative grammar that is currently fashionable in contemporary linguistics. The third chapter considers and rejects another recently popular theory in moral psychology. This theory, called the social intuitionist model of moral judgment, holds that moral reasoning does not function to promote moral truth. Rather, the proper function of moral reasoning is to create patterns of agreement in both people's moral intuitions and any attendant moral sentiments. Finally, the last chapter of this dissertation argues against the currently established view that moral intuitions ought to occupy an epistemically privileged role in moral inquiry. It uses Frank Jackson's moral epistemology as a stalking horse, and in contrast to some elements of his epistemology, the chapter outlines a view of reflective equilibrium that explains how more sources of moral insight than just moral intuitions can play an evidential role in moral inquiry.

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2009-10-14T20:05:33Z

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dissertation or thesis

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