elephant and the rider
Philosophy and Religion
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AbstractIn this paper I examine potential implications of how a “Dual-process theory” of the mind can influence ethical theory. It is a theory dividing the brain in two system, an (1) implicit system, as intuitive, automatic and unconscious, and an (2) explicit system, as a deductive and conscious process. Empirical studies seem to indicate that this is how we can understand moral reasoning. It has been proposed that much of our reasoning is executed by our implicit system, and it is argued that the nature of deontology “at it’s core” is implicit and intuitive. More specifically, it is claimed that a Naturalistic Fallacy is committed, that one treads over the line distinguishing 'ought' from 'is'. Ultimately, I will claim the criticism of deontology is at least partly held and that what can be deemed faulty is when one draws explicit knowledge out of implicit. I suggest that the implicit knowledge is approximations, and the fault is committed when deriving definite and exact explicit rules from these. An ethical theory that takes a “Dual-process theory” of mind into account, appears to be “Two-level utilitarianism”. I will propose an added emphasis on virtue ethics, and try to show how implicit principles can be taught with explicit control. Finally, an increasingly important question seems to be to find an answer to the threat of having an “inhuman” moral theory. I will agree with arguments that a theory must have the possibility to be completely counter-intuitive, but that the human limitation also must lead to that at least some “moral wrongs” cannot be blameworthy.