Expert Moral Intuition and Its Development: A Guide to the Debate

Topoi 34 (2):1-17 (2015)
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In this article, I provide a guide to some current thinking in empirical moral psychology on the nature of moral intuitions, focusing on the theories of Haidt and Narvaez. Their debate connects to philosophical discussions of virtue theory and the role of emotions in moral epistemology. After identifying difficulties attending the current debate around the relation between intuitions and reasoning, I focus on the question of the development of intuitions. I discuss how intuitions could be shaped into moral expertise, outlining Haidt’s emphasis on innate factors and Narvaez’s account in terms of a social-cognitive model of personality. After a brief discussion of moral relativism, I consider the implications of the account of moral expertise for our understanding of the relation between moral intuitions and reason. I argue that a strong connection can be made if we adopt a broad conception of reason and a narrow conception of expertise.



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Michael Lacewing
University College London