Reviving the ancient doctrine that human beings are set apart from other animals by a categorical divide rather than a difference of degree, contemporary accounts of the anthropological difference appear to conflict with the fact that human rationality is investigated in empirical psychology. According to these accounts, the idea of human rationality is part of a conceptual nexus that is known a priori and can be investigated through philosophical reflection. Thus, it might seem that empirical methods cannot have any say in the matter. Against this, the author makes room for the idea that the investigation of a priori concepts is dependent on experience by exploiting an analogy between a priori concepts and thick moral concepts, which appear to be subject to moral experience and continual learning.
How does conscience react to violations of imperfect duty in Kant’s mature ethical theory? On the one hand, conscience is given the role of relating an abstract moral law to an agent’s self, and this clearly encompasses perfect and imperfect duty alike. On the other hand, Kant sees conscience as an internal court that condemns and acquits (but does not reward); and there are concrete passages, such as the famous example of the Grand Inquisitor in the 1793 Religion, that similarly indicate that conscience speaks up only if strict or maybe juridical duties have been or are about to be violated. In this article, I discuss five prima facie plausible solutions to this puzzle. I conclude that conscience can prohibit non-compliance with imperfect duty if it is an expression of a culpable flaw at the level of the agent’s underlying maxim.
On the basis of the assumption that moral norms are central both to lived morality and professional ethical reflection, the present chapter, rooted in empirical bioethics, aims to identify empirical incursions into normative theory by showing how empirical information from social-scientific research in particular may influence various dimensions of the validity of moral norms. To this end, the author first provides a definition and analysis of the structure of a moral norm. He then establishes a number of dimensions of the validity of moral norms that correspond to specific elements of this structure (including philosophical or social justification and legitimacy, applicability to specific situations, social implementation, and the effects of norms), while also discussing how these dimensions may be influenced by empirical information. He concludes with a critical consideration of the significance of these dimensions of validity and the empirical influences on them for different ways of “doing ethics”.
This chapter investigates whether the model of an empirically informed theory is also useful for connecting philosophical and psychological moral intuitionism. The authors exploration takes place in successive steps. Section 2 presents the author’s view on (moral) intuitions. Sections 3 and 4 offer an account of (moral) psychological intuitions as the product of unconscious and automatic processes. Section 5 discusses how psychological moral intuitions relate to philosophical moral intuitions. Section 6 deals with the relation between the justification of intuitions and their reliability, and discusses whether we need reasons to trust our intuitions. Section 7 deals with the reliability of unconscious and automatic processes in general. Section 8 discusses the reliability of psychological moral intuitions. Finally, section 9 offers some conclusions about sense and feasibility of an empirically informed moral intuitionism.