Moral Cognition and Psychological Cognition: Intuitions Come First
Keywords:moral intuitionism, dual-approach of cognition, interactive-dual approach, implicit cognition, psychological intuitions
Psychological understanding is a required capacity for moral competence in the sense that understanding the intentions, beliefs, and interests of others is a critical input for evaluating the responsibilities involved in their behaviors and understanding, in turn, how to interact with them to achieve our purposes. For its part, interaction with others is at the heart of both capacities, since both are essential and closely related components of human social life. My aim in this paper, in relation to both assumptions, will be to highlight a structural similarity between ordinary psychological cognition and moral cognition, showing as certain differentiated types of explanations on one domain and the other allows to identify a theoretical framework consistent that, in turn, it can account for the relationships between the two. For this, I will refer first, synthetically, to the Social Intuitionist Model (MIS) of J. Haidt (2001), as it exemplifies a non-classical and dual approach to moral cognition in which moral intuitions play a more basic role than reasons. In the field of psychological cognition, I will refer with more detail to the interactive or second-person approach, enriched by the dual approach to cognition, in particular by the proposals on implicit or “minimal” varieties of mental attribution. In this context, I will identify the so-called expressive behaviors: their nature and role in human behavior and interactions, and their significance as the evidential basis for psychological understanding. They constitute the primary objects of psychological intuitions. I hope to show that expressive signals are “readable” through the intuitive abilities that detect them and understand their psychological significance in efficient ways. Having exposed the theoretical affinities between the MIS and the interactive-dual approach, I will emphasize that, just as for the first, moral intuitions come first, and reasons later, also for the interactive-dual approach of psychological understanding, psychological intuitions come first, and reasons later.
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