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Hadden, D.A.

Author: Donald A. Hadden

Graduation Year: 2008

Department: Practical Philosophy

Master's Thesis:

The death of Homo philosophicus. Moral Judgements, Decision Making and Intuitions.  



Economics once relied on an ideal human, Homo economicus, to model human economic behaviour. He (and he was inevitably a he) was a rational paradigm, applying reason to all situations and to all his decisions. But the results were dismally inaccurate.

Philosophy has often used something similar in its normative ethical theories, a Homo philosophicus. Moral judgements, according to the H. philosophicus model, are the outcome of a process of rational deliberation. This master’s thesis contends this is an error; moral judgements have an essential emotional component and are primarily determined by an intuitive emotional sense.

How intuitions are arrived at, therefore, is an important issue. This thesis examines this and asks how reliable our intuitions are. It concludes that emotions play a critical and primary role: it is time to declare Homo philosophicus dead.

Furthermore, this thesis will make and defend the claim that moral decisions and judgements are simply decisions that have a moral consequence to them; they are not intrinsically distinct and do not involve any distinctive cognitive or mental features. We can circle them with a pencil, but they are decisions made like any other. Therefore, to understand what a moral judgement is, we need to understand decision making.


Last modified:01 November 2013 2.50 p.m.