In this article I explain why cognitive science (including some neuroscience) matters for normative ethics. First, I describe the dual-process theory of moral judgment and briefly summarize the evidence supporting it. Next I describe related experimental research examining influences on intuitive moral judgment. I then describe two ways in which research along these lines can have implications for ethics. I argue that a deeper understanding of moral psychology favors certain forms of consequentialism over other classes of normative moral theory. I close with some brief remarks concerning the bright future of ethics as an interdisciplinary enterprise.
Many thanks to John Mikhail, Henry Richardson, and other participants in the symposium on Experiment and Intuition in Ethics held at Georgetown University, April 2011. Thanks to James Weinstein and other participants at the Origins of Morality Conference, Arizona State University, November 2010. Thanks to Tommaso Bruni, John Doris, Steven Frankland, Geoff Holtzman, Dylan Murray, and Joe Paxton for comments on this manuscript.
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