For those unfamiliar with the growing “experimental philosophy” movement, there are some philosophers in tandem with psychologists doing interesting work that has tried to study questions posed by contemporary moral philosophers by employing experimental means. They are trying to uncover what our moral intuitions really are like and how they actually function.
Of course moral philosophy is about more than describing how we typically form our moral intuitions but, more importantly, how we should form them and what they should be. There have been entire eras in history in which people have as a matter of fact had moral intuitions that were reprehensible and which we would presently be inclined to say they shouldn’t have had. Yet, nonetheless, we cannot criticize moral intuitions but with further moral intuitions and, so, research into how even those which we think are justified are formed in practice ideally would help us to find a way to assess them by reference to something other than simply themselves. But can it do this? What does it tell us about the normative force of an intuition to know how we form it?
These are just some of the questions to keep in mind (and I’m sure you can raise a thousand more such important questions yourself) as you dig through this terrific new resource: a website with links to a majority of the papers that together thus far constitute this new controversial movement with provocative insights of uncertain importance. Sift through the intersection of cutting edge moral philosophy and moral psychology from the comfort of your own interwebs.If you’re interested in how I myself have been wrestling with the relevance of these descriptive insights into moral psychology for my own interpretation of what our ethical ideals should be, I recommend you check out my series of posts on Jonathan Haidt:
Also, the influence of psychologist Joshua Greene’s work on my thinking is evident throughout Is God Needed To Care About Starving Kids A World Away.