Making Psychology Normatively Significant

Regina A. Rini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The debate between proponents and opponents of a role for empirical psychology in ethical theory seems to be deadlocked. This paper aims to clarify the terms of that debate, and to defend a principled middle position. I argue against extreme views, which see empirical psychology either as irrelevant to, or as wholly displacing, reflective moral inquiry. Instead, I argue that moral theorists of all stripes are committed to a certain conception of moral thought-as aimed at abstracting away from individual inclinations and toward interpersonal norms-and that this conception tells against both extremes. Since we cannot always know introspectively whether our particular moral judgments achieve this interpersonal standard, we must seek the sort of self-knowledge offered by empirical psychology. Yet reflective assessment of this new information remains a matter of substantive normative theorizing, rather than an immediate consequence of empirical findings themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-274
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Ethics
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2013

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Psychology
Empirical Psychology
Conception
Reflective
Theorists
Self-knowledge
Inclination
Moral Judgment
Ethical Theory
Thought
Opponents
New Information

Keywords

  • Cognitive science of ethics
  • Intuitions
  • Moral methodology
  • Moral psychology
  • Normative abstraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

Cite this

Making Psychology Normatively Significant. / Rini, Regina A.

In: Journal of Ethics, Vol. 17, No. 3, 09.2013, p. 257-274.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rini, Regina A. / Making Psychology Normatively Significant. In: Journal of Ethics. 2013 ; Vol. 17, No. 3. pp. 257-274.
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