Thursday, November 3, 2011

Moral intuitions

I've been thinking about moral intuitions lately. Many of our normative judgments seems to ultimately be based on our intuitions. We can give and give reasons but all reasons must come to an end. That end point is usually some moral intuition. It's curious that so many of our moral intuitions overlap not just within society but across societies.

However, here, I'd like to point out that many of our moral intuitions may be motivated by forces outside of our consciousness. This insight was realized by Nietzsche and Freud (in some of his philosophical writings which are remarkably good for an amateur philosopher).

The subconscious may have its own forces which motivate and produce intuitions in us and because these motives are not subject to the light of consciousness, we may not be aware of their moral legitimacy. They may have flaws, things we would not want to follow through on. They may even be considered immoral if we realize what they are. I made remarks in another post along these lines though there, I did not mention the subconscious. But the subconscious may provide the conceptual resources to really express what I was trying to get at.

Some of our judgments may be based off of intuitions that though ostensibly on the surface noble, may actually be a form of a masked subconscious forces that are not. What if, say, we find out that our demand for rights of the individual have large components that are simply motivated by self-interest motives?