Philosophy Instruction Changes Views on Moral Controversies by Decreasing Reliance on Intuition



What changes people’s judgments on moral issues, such as the ethics of abortion or eating meat? On some views, moral judgments result from deliberation, such that reasons and reasoning should be primary drivers of moral change. On other views, moral judgments reflect intuition, with reasons offered as post-hoc rationalizations. We test predictions of these accounts by investigating whether exposure to a moral philosophy course (vs. control courses) changes moral judgments, and if so, via what mechanism(s). In line with deliberative accounts of morality, we find that exposure to moral philosophy changes moral views. In line with intuitionist accounts, we find that the mechanism of change is reduced reliance on intuition, not increased reliance on deliberation; in fact, deliberation is related to increased confidence in judgments, not change. These findings suggest a new way to reconcile deliberative and intuitionist accounts: Exposure to reasons and evidence can change moral views, but primarily by discounting intuitions.

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