Other Papers & Research

This is a page for works in progress.  I welcome feedback.

  • Moral Psychology and the Unity of Morality [PDF]
    • Jonathan Haidt’s research on moral cognition has revealed that political liberals moralize mostly in terms of Harm and Fairness, whereas conservatives moralize in terms of those plus loyalty to Ingroup, respect for Authority, and Purity (or IAP). Some have concluded that the norms of morality encompass a wide variety of subject-matters with no deep unity. To the contrary, I argue that the conservative position gets partially debunked by its own lights. IAP norms’ moral relevance depends on their tendency to promote welfare (especially to prevent harm). I argue that all moral agents, including conservatives, are committed to that claim at least implicitly. I then argue that an evolutionary account of moral cognition partially debunks the view that welfare-irrelevant IAP norms have moral force. Haidt’s own normative commitments are harmonized by this view: IAP norms are more important than liberals often realize, yet morality is at bottom all about promoting welfare.

  • A rebuttal to Greene's attack on deontology [PDF]
    • This piece is a response to Joshua Greene's recent attempts to debunk "deontological" intuitions.  It argues that, while Greene provides some evidence which debunks some moral intuitions, these intuitions are not all deontological, nor do they account for all types of deontological intuitions.  Particularly unscathed are versions of deontology which reject agent-centered constraints but retain duties or permissions of special relationship. Nor are the intuitions Greene's argument would vindicate plausibly strictly consequentialist.  It offers several kinds of cases which would need to be tested to debunk deontological theories or vindicate consequentialist ones.

      Greene knows about this paper and perhaps is taking it into account in his monograph due out early 2013.  But in correspondence he has indicated that he wants to stick with his view, leaving an offspring-version of this paper to become a publishable criticism of that book.


  • Morality vs. Moralizing: How (not) to draw the moral/non-moral distinction
    • This paper argues that, if the term 'moral' refers at all, it should be taken to refer to a certain content/subject-matter rather than a kind of attitude. The latter view, I argue, commits either to implausible interpretations of terms like 'moral issue' on which they refer to nothing in particular, or to a relativist view which implausibly construes 'moral issue' as referring non-rigidly to any content whatsoever.

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