Cognitive Psychology of Moral Intuitions

Jean-Pierre Changeux, Antonio R. Damasio, Wolf Singer & Yves Christen, eds., Neurobiology of Human Values: Research and Perspectives in Neurosciences 91 (2005)

14 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2014

See all articles by Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman

Princeton University

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: 2005

Abstract

Moral intuitions operate in much the same way as other intuitions do; what makes the moral domain so distinctive is its foundations in the emotions, beliefs, and response tendencies that define indignation. The intuitive system of cognition, System I, is typically responsible for indignation; the more reflective system, System II, may or may not provide an override. Moral dumbfounding and moral numbness are often a product of moral intuitions that people are unable to justify. An understanding of indignation helps to explain the operation of many phenomena of interest to law and politics: the outrage heuristic, the centrality of harm, the role of reference states, moral framing, and the act-omission distinction. Because of the operation of indignation, it is extremely difficult for people to achieve coherence in their moral intuitions. Legal and political institutions usually aspire to be deliberative, and to pay close attention to System II; but even in deliberative institutions, System I can make some compelling demands.

Suggested Citation

Kahneman, Daniel and Sunstein, Cass R., Cognitive Psychology of Moral Intuitions (2005). Jean-Pierre Changeux, Antonio R. Damasio, Wolf Singer & Yves Christen, eds., Neurobiology of Human Values: Research and Perspectives in Neurosciences 91 (2005), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2533210

Daniel Kahneman

Princeton University ( email )

Department of Psychology 3-2-1 Green Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
609-258-2280 (Phone)
609-258-2809 (Fax)

Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
1,086
Abstract Views
8,509
rank
24,945
PlumX Metrics