Intuitions, Rationalizations, and Justification: A Defense of Sentimental Rationalism

Journal of Value Inquiry 48 (2):195-216 (2014)
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People sometimes make moral judgments on the basis of brief emotional episodes. I follow the widely established practice of referring to such affective responses as intuitions (Haidt 2001, 2012; Bedke 2012, Copp 2012). Recently, a number of moral psychologists have argued that moral judgments are never more than emotion- or intuition-based pronouncements on what is right or wrong (Haidt 2001, Nichols 2004, Prinz 2007). A wide variety of empirical findings seem to support this claim. For example, some argue that arbitrary emotional responses or intuitions induced under hypnosis elicit moral judgments (Wheatly and Haidt 2005). Furthermore, intuitions function as the point of last resort in attempts to justify moral judgments (Haidt, Björklund, and Murphy 2000). On the basis of such evidence, psychologists such as Jonathan Haidt (2001, 2012) and philosophers such as Shaun Nichols (2004) and Jesse Prinz (2007) defend what I call ‘Subjective Sentimentalism’, which consists of three claims a



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Frank Hindriks
University of Groningen