, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 293-301
Date: 15 Sep 2012

The Moral Cognition/Consciousness Connection

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People experience joy and pain. We appreciate brilliant colors. We have awareness of our own mental states, and we attribute mental states to others—not only beliefs and desires, but also phenomenal experiences (such as joy and pain). We knowingly construct conceptions of ourselves and deploy these self-concepts to navigate the world around us. These are fundamental aspects of the human experience, encompassing phenomenal consciousness, on the one hand, and self-consciousness on the other. Let us refer to these collectively as consciousness.

Just as we cannot but enjoy conscious experiences, we also naturally conceive of the world in ethical terms with an understanding of right and wrong. Moral violations are continually readily apprehensible; but when it is not obvious that some person should or should not have acted in some particular way, just how they should have acted is often a matter of intense debate. Most of us concede that it would have been wrong for George to shoot Trayvon w ...