Philosophy Faculty Publications

Title

Psychologies of Moral Perceivers

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-1998

Publication Source

Midwest Studies In Philosophy

Abstract

Philosophers have long discussed how an agent should reason about ethical situations and dilemmas, but have failed adequately to address how agents go about determining morally relevant saliencies in their everyday lives. Drawing on recent cognitive science research, I argue that there are at least two distinct types of competencies that agents employ to identify moral saliencies in their day-to-day experience. The two examined here are 1) a competence in using high-level, analytic thought processes for abstract problem solving, and 2) a competence in using embodied, low-level thought processes for responding to concrete, finely grained situations. Because these two types of capacities are demonstrably isolatable from each other and can each be developed to a different degree (often to a significantly different degree) in a single individual, I distinguish and describe the psychologies of two types of moral perceiver: abstract perceivers and concrete perceivers. Concrete moral perceivers are those persons who have the well-developed capacity and the tendency to deploy embodied mental structures to perceive moral saliencies in day-to-day situations; and abstract moral perceivers are those who have the well-developed capacity and the tendency to use high-level, articulable theories to perceive moral saliencies in day-to-day situations.

Inclusive pages

266–280

ISBN/ISSN

0363-6550

Comments

Permission documentation is on file.

Publisher

John Wiley & Sons

Volume

22

Issue

1

Peer Reviewed

yes