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Index of Puzzles

A list of the puzzles we have encountered, indexing where they were introduced and where they were addressed.


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Why do feelings of disgust influence moral intuitions? And why do we feel disgust in response to moral transgressions?

Introduced: Conclusion: Two Puzzles and PS: Does emotion influence moral judgment or merely motivate morally relevant action?

Addressed: Does emotion influence moral judgment or merely motivate morally relevant action? (Reprise) (in a sense nearly everything in the lectures is about this puzzle and the one about reason).

Mikhail’s Puzzle

Why do patterns in moral intuitions reflect legal principles humans are typically unaware of?

Introduced: A Linguistic Analogy

Indirectly addressed: Framing Effects: Emotion and Order of Presentation (The research on framing effects is a challenge for the premise on which the puzzle is based.)


Why are moral judgements sometimes, but not always, a consequence of reasoning from known principles?

Introduced: Why Is Moral Dumbfounding Significant? (for the ‘not always’ part) and Moral Disengagement: Significance (for the ‘sometimes’ part)

Indirectly Addressed: A Dual Process Theory of Ethical Judgement (in a sense nearly everything in the lectures is about this puzzle and the one about emotion).

Directly Addressed: Does emotion influence moral judgment or merely motivate morally relevant action? (Reprise)

Framing Effects

Why are people’s moral intuitions about Switch and Drop subject to order-of-presentation effects?

Introduced: Conclusion: Yet Another Puzzle

In Framing Effects: Emotion and Order of Presentation, we strengthened the evidence for the premise on which the puzzle is based.

Indirectly Addressed: What Is the Role of Fast Processes In Not-Justified-Inferentially Judgements? (The moral intuitions about these dilemmas are not-justified-inferentially judgements. The existence of framing effects may be a consequence of the indirect role fast processes play in not-justified-inferentially judgements.)

Moral Reframing

If the evidence for cultural variation in moral psychology is at best weak, and if the theoretical argument for moral reframing is flawed, why does moral reframing seem to work?

Introduced: The Argument and Some Objections

Addressed: The Puzzle of Moral Foundations Theory and Moral Reframing and Process Dissociation

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automatic : As we use the term, a process is automatic just if whether or not it occurs is to a significant extent independent of your current task, motivations and intentions. To say that mindreading is automatic is to say that it involves only automatic processes. The term `automatic' has been used in a variety of ways by other authors: see Moors (2014, p. 22) for a one-page overview, Moors & De Houwer (2006) for a detailed theoretical review, or Bargh (1992) for a classic and very readable introduction
cognitively efficient : A process is cognitively efficient to the degree that it does not consume working memory and other scarce cognitive resources.
Drop : A dilemma; also known as Footbridge. A runaway trolley is about to run over and kill five people. You can hit a switch that will release the bottom of a footbridge and one person will fall onto the track. The trolley will hit this person, slow down, and not hit the five people further down the track. Is it okay to hit the switch?
fast : A fast process is one that is to to some interesting degree cognitively efficient (and therefore likely also some interesting degree automatic). These processes are also sometimes characterised as able to yield rapid responses.
Since automaticity and cognitive efficiency are matters of degree, it is only strictly correct to identify some processes as faster than others.
The fast-slow distinction has been variously characterised in ways that do not entirely overlap (even individual author have offered differing characterisations at different times; e.g. Kahneman, 2013; Morewedge & Kahneman, 2010; Kahneman & Klein, 2009; Kahneman, 2002): as its advocates stress, it is a rough-and-ready tool rather than an element in a rigorous theory.
moral intuition : According to this lecturer, a person’s intuitions are the claims they take to be true independently of whether those claims are justified inferentially. And a person’s moral intuitions are simply those of their intuitions that concern ethical matters.
According to Sinnott-Armstrong, Young, & Cushman (2010, p. 256), moral intuitions are ‘strong, stable, immediate moral beliefs.’
moral reframing : ‘A technique in which a position an individual would not normally support is framed in a way that it is consistent with that individual's moral values. [...] In the political arena, moral reframing involves arguing in favor of a political position that members of a political group would not normally support in terms of moral concerns that the members strongly ascribe to‘ (Feinberg & Willer, 2019, pp. 2--3).
not-justified-inferentially : A claim (or premise, or principle) is not-justified-inferentially if it is not justified in virtue of being inferred from some other claim (or premise, or principle).
Claims made on the basis of perception (That jumper is red, say) are typically not-justified-inferentially.
Why not just say ‘noninferentially justified’? Because that can be read as implying that the claim is justified, noninferentially. Whereas ‘not-justified-inferentially’ does not imply this. Any claim which is not justified at all is thereby not-justified-inferentially.
Trolley : A dilemma; also known as Switch. A runaway trolley is about to run over and kill five people. You can hit a switch that will divert the trolley onto a different set of tracks where it will kill only one. Is it okay to hit the switch?


Bargh, J. A. (1992). The Ecology of Automaticity: Toward Establishing the Conditions Needed to Produce Automatic Processing Effects. The American Journal of Psychology, 105(2), 181–199.
Feinberg, M., & Willer, R. (2019). Moral reframing: A technique for effective and persuasive communication across political divides. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 13(12), e12501.
Kahneman, D. (2002). Maps of bounded rationality: A perspective on intuitive judgment and choice. In T. Frangsmyr (Ed.), Le prix nobel, ed. T. Frangsmyr, 416–499. (Vol. 8, pp. 351–401). Stockholm, Sweden: Nobel Foundation.
Kahneman, D. (2013). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus; Giroux.
Kahneman, D., & Klein, G. (2009). Conditions for intuitive expertise: A failure to disagree. American Psychologist, 64(6), 515–526.
Moors, A. (2014). Examining the mapping problem in dual process models. In Dual process theories of the social mind (pp. 20–34). Guilford.
Moors, A., & De Houwer, J. (2006). Automaticity: A Theoretical and Conceptual Analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 132(2), 297–326.
Morewedge, C. K., & Kahneman, D. (2010). Associative processes in intuitive judgment. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(10), 435–440.
Sinnott-Armstrong, W., Young, L., & Cushman, F. (2010). Moral intuitions. In J. M. Doris, M. P. R. Group, & others (Eds.), The moral psychology handbook (pp. 246–272). Oxford: OUP.