Brains, trolleys, and intuitions: Defending deontology from the Greene/Singer argument

Philosophical Psychology 28 (4):466-486 (2015)
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Joshua Greene and Peter Singer argue, on the basis of empirical evidence, that deontological moral judgments result from emotional reactions while dispassionate reasoning leads to consequentialist judgments. Given that there are good reasons to doubt these emotionally driven intuitions, they argue that we should reject Kantian ethics. I argue that the evidence does not support the claim that consequentialism is inherently more reason-based or less emotion-based than Kantian ethics. This is partly because the experiments employ a functional definition of ‘deontological’ that is so broad as to include any non-consequentialist theory, including virtue ethics, divine command theory, and even rule-utilitarianism. Thus the experiments failed to capture the reasons behind the judgments. Also, the results of the experiments are partly due to the extensive use of moral dilemmas like the footbridge version of the trolley scenario. The options in these dilemmas involve different levels of moral thinking. The consequ..



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References found in this work

Principia ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Thomas Baldwin.
The emotional construction of morals.Jesse Prinz - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Ethics and Intuitions.Peter Singer - 2005 - The Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):331-352.
The secret joke of Kant’s soul.Joshua Greene - 2007 - In W. Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, Vol. 3. MIT Press.

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