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March 16, 2014


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One question Joshua. You write that:

"It is with regard to this one form of argument that we have seen especially impressive progress over the past few years".

Could you please help with me with what the form of argument you are referring to here is?

Hi Joshua,

Is anyone studying the more mellow descendents of mad dog judgment internalism?

For example, Smith's practical rationality version? Or Blackburn's version in Ruling Passions?

I also wonder: are these studies informed by the Slote/Finlay/Copp implication views? Do they shed light on the related debate about whether the motivational bit is part of the conventional meaning or not?

Last, I wonder whether anyone has done coupled studies about whether the folk think color blind people can make color judgments or not. This might help put the results in dialectical context (say by linking them to the Brink/Smith debate)? Just some random thoughts...

Brad, in our studies (in "Motivational internalism and folk intuitions") we tried scenarios relevant to versions of conditional internalism, thus going beyond the simplest forms of internalism. Still, for anyone interested in whether particular versions of internalism resonates particularly well with non-philosophers, there is plenty left to do. Of course, the subtler the differences between the views, the more difficult it will be to work out the relevant implications for cases and to get the details of such cases across to subjects. We found it difficult already to avoid what we took to be the more obvious confounds when investigating some more basic differences.

I might perhaps add that in one of our studies subjects were as willing to attribute moral belief in an explicit "inverted commas" scenario as in a regular amoralist scenario. (The inverted commas scenario was like the regular amoralist scenario with the exception that the agent's putative moral judgments were explicitly concerned with whether others would say that the action in question was morally wrong.) This might indicate that folk attributions of moral belief to amoralists are not attributions of the sort of moral belief that metaethicists have been interested in: everyone agrees that inverted commas beliefs are possible, whatever the correct metaethical theory.


just wanted to chip in with one further thought, on top of the very helpful information in Gunnar's recent comment.

The Worsnip and Phillips paper also introduces a version of internalism that is less mad dog and more mellow (though not along quite the same dimensions that, e.g., Smith and Blackburn have pursued).

Specifically, they suggest that the concept of moral judgment might be a prototype concept, meaning that one could say of any given psychological state that it is a moral judgment *to a certain degree*. Then they provide experimental evidence that when the agent has no motivation, people tend to say that his or her psychological state counts as a moral judgment to a lesser degree.


My apologies for being so late in responding. What I meant to say was that there has been a lot of interesting progress in the development of arguments that in some way rely on facts about people's intuitions regarding cases like the one I described in the post above.

If you look through the different papers listed there, you will find that different ones appeal to these facts in somewhat different ways, but just to give one example, consider the type of argument mentioned in my reply to Brad above. Given that an agent has a particular type of psychological state, we could ask the question as to whether that type of psychological state counts as a *moral judgment*. This question seems to hinge on issues about the concept of moral judgment, and some of the papers suggest that we can use experimental data to make progress on questions of that type.

Hi Gunnar and Joshua,

Thanks! Looks like several of the papers are operating with various mellow versions of internalism. I can see how this gets complicated and hard to assess.

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