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Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:03

"Beyond the dualistic model of moral judgement. The idea of Respect in Kantian philosophy as a normative foundation in neuroethics", has been selected by the AJOB-Neuroscience editorial team for recognition at the International Neuroethics Symposium and publishing in the upcoming issue.

Beyond the dualistic model of moral judgement. The idea of Respect in Kantian philosophy as a normative foundation in neuroethics.   Author: Dr. J. Félix Lozano. Ingenio Institute (CSIC – UPV), Universitat Politècnica de Valencia.

Based on Haidt’s seminal work (Haidt 2001), numerous empirical neuroethics studies have established a dichotomy between intuitionism and rationalism responses in moral decision-making (Crockett 2013; Crockett 2016; Wiech et al. 2013; Kahane et al. 2015). Assuming this dichotomy, some authors have attempted to identify the neural correlates of two cognitive ways of reaching a conclusion over good or bad in moral dilemmas (Koenigs et al. 2008; Casebeer 2003; Funk & Gazzaniga 2009; Greene 2009).

Even though some authors (Dubljević 2017; Dubljevic, V., Racine 2014) call for this dualistic model to be overcome, it is still present in the literature and is used as a basic assumption for empirical research on ethical decision making and ethical leadership development (Egorov et al. 2018). This basic conceptual mistake has led to mistaken conclusions in empirical neuroethics research. We consider that this dual process of moral judgment, that generally identifies intuitionism with deontology and rationalism with utilitarianism, is inaccurate and dangerous. It is inaccurate because Kantian moral philosophy is essentially rational (and only secondarily emotional); and it is dangerous – from our point of view – because it denigrates the use of reason and leads to spontaneity and Denkenlosigkeit (Lack of reflection).

Our aim in this paper is twofold: first, we would like to criticize the assumption that Kant´s moral philosophy is intuitive or blind to the agent’s character or the consequences. Secondly, inspired by Dubljevic and Racine (Dubljevic, V., Racine 2014),  we would like to present the Kantian concept of respect as a key normative concept for the ADC model of moral judgement. This normative concept could be the philosophical foundation for prioritizing principles and intuitions.    

According to Kant (1785), respect is a feeling that emerges spontaneously from reason and manifests itself in a willingness to comply with practical law: “the immediate determination of will by law and awareness of the same is called respect” (Kant, 1785, p. BA17). Respect is an attitude with a cognitive, affective, conative and evaluative dimension (Dillon, 2014).  Respect is guided but not limited by reason and deliberation, nor is it abstract to reality.

We would like to start by clarifying and demonstrating the weakness of the two dominant approaches to moral judgment in neuroethics: rationalism and intuitionism. Secondly, we briefly present the Kantian formula of Humanity (Sensen 2011) as an a priori that shapes theoretical and practical knowledge and that goes far beyond the superficial understanding of deontology.  Finally, we attempt to justify why the Kantian idea of “Respect Owed to Others” could be a strong normative foundation for the ADC model presented by Dubljevic and Racine (Dubljevic, V., Racine 2014).


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