Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Philosophy

Abstract

A moral judgment is the conclusion of a psychological process, and a moral belief is thecognitive content resulting from it. Some experiences constrain the moral beliefs, principles, and convictions from which moral judgments are causally formed. If these experiences are associated with an underlying belief, principle, or conviction, they add context to it. Acquiring new contextual information through experience prompts reflection, which leads to the development of new morally relevant reasons. I hold that moral beliefs, principles, and convictions typically are involved in the formation of moral judgments, and that moral judgments typically are formed on the basis of moral reasons. I also hold that a moral judgment is improved if it is formed after consideration of additional morally relevant reasons. Following Matthew Pianalto's work, I identify the constraining activities of reflection and discourse as a baseline for improving one's moral judgment. These activities help make one's judgment more responsive to circumstances and less prone to cognitive vices such as fanaticism and dogmatism. I expand upon this baseline by including experiences of human limitation, a special type of experience I label as a "moral challenge,"" and experiences of conscience. These three categories of experience differ significantly, but they are all in their own way unpleasant. They are each given due consideration because experiences are no less valuable as constraints on account of being unpleasant.

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