Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 115–131 | Cite as

Prolegomena to a future phenomenology of morals

Regular article


Moral phenomenology is (roughly) the study of those features of occurrent mental states with moral significance which are accessible through direct introspection, whether or not such states possess phenomenal character – a what-it-is-likeness. In this paper, as the title indicates, we introduce and make prefatory remarks about moral phenomenology and its significance for ethics. After providing a brief taxonomy of types of moral experience, we proceed to consider questions about the commonality within and distinctiveness of such experiences, with an eye on some of the main philosophical issues in ethics and how moral phenomenology might be brought to bear on them. In discussing such matters, we consider some of the doubts about moral phenomenology and its value to ethics that are brought up by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Michael Gill in their contributions to this issue.


Moral experience Moral judgment Moral objectivity Moral phenomenology 


  1. Broad, C. D. (1930). Five types of ethical theory. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  2. Dreyfus, H., & Dreyfus, S. (1990). What is morality?: A phenomenological approach to the development of ethical expertise. In D. Rassmussen (Ed.), Universalism vs. communitarianism: Contemporary debates in ethics. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  3. Gill, M. (2007). Variability and Moral Phenomenology. This volume.Google Scholar
  4. Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108, 814–834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Harman, G. (1977). The nature of morality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Hauser, M. D. (2006). Moral minds: How nature designed our universal sense of right and wrong. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  7. Horgan, T., & Timmons, M. (2005). Moral phenomenology and moral theory. Philosophical Issues Philosophical Issues 15, Issue on Normativity, (2005), 56–77.Google Scholar
  8. Horgan, T., & Timmons, M. (2007). Morphological rationalism: Making room for moral principles. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 10, 279–295.Google Scholar
  9. Horgan, T., & Timmons, M. (2008). What does moral phenomenology tell us about moral objectivity? Social Philosophy and Policy. (in press).Google Scholar
  10. Kriegel, U. (2007). Moral phenomenology: Foundational issues. This volume.Google Scholar
  11. Mandelbaum, M. (1955). The phenomenology of moral experience. Glencoe, Ill: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  12. Mikhail, J. M. (2000). Rawls’ linguistic analogy. Unpublished Ph.D., Cornell University, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  13. Nichols, S. (2004). Sentimental rules. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2007a). Is moral phenomenology unified?’ This volume.Google Scholar
  15. Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (Ed). (2007b). Moral psychology. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Ross, W. D. (1930). The right and the good. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Ross, W. D. (1939). The foundations of ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Siewert, C. (2007). Who’s afraid of phenomenological disputes? Southern Journal of Philosophy XLV (in press)Google Scholar
  19. Turiel, E. (1983). The development of social knowledge: Morality and convention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations