Elements of Moral Cognition

Elements of Moral Cognition : Rawls' Linguistic Analogy and the Cognitive Science of Moral and Legal Judgment

  • Electronic book text
By (author) 

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


Is the science of moral cognition usefully modelled on aspects of Universal Grammar? Are human beings born with an innate 'moral grammar' that causes them to analyse human action in terms of its moral structure, with just as little awareness as they analyse human speech in terms of its grammatical structure? Questions like these have been at the forefront of moral psychology ever since John Mikhail revived them in his influential work on the linguistic analogy and its implications for jurisprudence and moral theory. In this seminal book, Mikhail offers a careful and sustained analysis of the moral grammar hypothesis, showing how some of John Rawls' original ideas about the linguistic analogy, together with famous thought experiments like the trolley problem, can be used to improve our understanding of moral and legal judgement.
show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1139143948
  • 9781139143943

Review quote

'Judicious, carefully executed, and deeply informed, this valuable study builds upon the early work of John Rawls, including his now-classic Theory of Justice, identifying its core principles, persuasively defending them against critics, deepening them conceptually and developing rich empirical foundations. It thereby provides the outlines of a naturalistic theory of moral judgment and moral cognition, which may well be a common human possession. One conclusion with broad consequences is that moral cognition crucially relies on the generation of complex mental representations of actions and their components. Mikhail's enterprise resurrects fundamental themes of traditional moral philosophy and Enlightenment rationalism, while showing how they can be cast as empirical science with far-reaching implications for political, social, and legal theory. It is a most impressive contribution.' Noam Chomsky
show more

Table of contents

Part I. Theory: 1. The question presented; 2. A new framework for the theory of moral cognition; 3. The basic elements of Rawls' linguistic analogy; Part II. Empirical Adequacy: 4. The problem of descriptive adequacy; 5. The moral grammar hypothesis; 6. Moral grammar and intuitive jurisprudence: a formal model; Part III. Objections and Replies: 7. R. M. Hare and the distinction between empirical and normative adequacy; 8. Thomas Nagel and the competence-performance distinction; 9. Ronald Dworkin and the distinction between I-morality and E-morality; Part IV. Conclusion: 10. Toward a universal moral grammar.
show more