Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 339–356 | Cite as

A Two-Tiered Cognitive Architecture For Moral Reasoning

  • John Bolender


The view that moral cognition is subserved by a two-tieredarchitecture is defended: Moral reasoning is the result both ofspecialized, informationally encapsulated modules which automaticallyand effortlessly generate intuitions; and of general-purpose,cognitively penetrable mechanisms which enable moral judgment in thelight of the agent's general fund of knowledge. This view is contrastedwith rival architectures of social/moral cognition, such as Cosmidesand Tooby's view that the mind is wholly modular, and it is argued thata two-tiered architecture is more plausible.

ambivalence attitude cognitive architecture cognitively penetrable inclusive fitness informationally encapsulated mental faculty module moral intuition moral judgment repression strength of attitude teleological 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Cosmides, L. andTooby, J.: 1992, ‘Cognitive Adaptations for Social Exchange', in J. H. Barkow,L. Cosmides andJ. Tooby (eds.), The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Cosmides, L. andTooby, J.: 1994, ‘Beyond Intuition and Instinct Blindness: Toward an Evolutionarily Rigorous Cognitive Science', Cognition 50, 41-77.Google Scholar
  3. Dovidio, J.F.,Kawakami, K.,Johnson, C. andJohnson, B.: 1997, ‘On the Nature of Prejudice: Automatic and Controlled Processes', Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 33, 510-540.Google Scholar
  4. Eagly, A.H. andChaiken, S.: 1993, The Psychology of Attitudes, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Fort Worth, TX.Google Scholar
  5. Fiske, A.P.: 1991, Structures of Social Life: The Four Elementary Forms of Human Relations, The Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Fodor, J.A.: 1983, The Modularity of Mind, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  7. Fodor, J.A.: 1990, A Theory of Content, and Other Essays, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  8. Fodor, J.A.: 1998, In Critical Condition: Polemical Essays on Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Mind, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA & London.Google Scholar
  9. Houston, D.A. andFazio, R.: 1989, ‘Biased Processing as a Function of Attitude Accessibility: Making Objective Judgments Subjectively', Social Cognition 7, 51-66.Google Scholar
  10. La Cerra, P. andBingham, R.: 1998, ‘The Adaptive Nature of the Human Neurocognitive Architecture: An AlternativeModel', Proceedings and Addresses of the National Academy of Sciences 95, 11290-11294.Google Scholar
  11. Powell, M.C. andFazio, R.H.: 1984, ‘Attitude Accessibility as a Function of Repeated Attitudinal Expression', Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 10, 139-148.Google Scholar
  12. Pylyshyn, Z.: 1980, ‘Computation and Cognition: Issues in the Foundations of Cognitive Science', Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, 111-132.Google Scholar
  13. Tesser, A.: 1993, ‘The Importance of Heritability in Psychological Research: The Case of Attitudes', Psychological Review 100(1), 129-142.Google Scholar
  14. Tooley, M.: 1986, ‘Abortion and Infanticide', in P. Singer (ed.), Applied Ethics, Oxford University Press, Oxford. First published in 1972.Google Scholar
  15. Wilson, T.D.,Lindsey, S. andSchooler, T.Y.: 2000, ‘A Model of Dual Attitudes’, Psychological Review 107(1), 101-126.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Bolender
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of PhilosophyMiddle East Technical UniversityAnkaraTurkey

Personalised recommendations