The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 533–549 | Cite as

Ethical Intuitionism and the Emotions: Toward an Empirically Adequate Moral Sense Theory

  • James Sias


Ethical intuitionists have never known quite what to make of the emotions. Generally speaking, these philosophers fall into two camps: rational intuitionists and moral sense theorists. And by my lights, neither camp has been able to tell a convincing story about the exact role and significance of emotion in moral judgment. Rational intuitionists are for the most part too dismissive of the emotions, either regarding emotions as little more than distractions to moral judgment,1 or else just ignoring emotions altogether.2 Moral sense theorists, to their credit, better recognize the centrality of emotion in moral judgment. But the exact sense in which emotions are supposed to be “central” here has never been very clear, with some even taking it to imply some version of moral anti-realism.3

A major part of the problem is that – since the early 20thcentury, at least – the primary context in which intuitionists have had occasion to even address the emotions is that of the...


Emotional Response Moral Judgment Perceptual Experience Moral Belief Moral Character 
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I want to thank Robert Adams, Dorit Bar-On, Geoff Sayre-McCord, Ram Neta, Chauncey Maher, Susan Feldman, and an anonymous referee for their help with this paper.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dickinson CollegeCarlisleUSA

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