Moral Learning, Rationality, and the Unreliability of Affect

Originally published in Australasian Journal of Philosophy

James Woodward and John Allman [2007, 2008] and Peter Railton [2014, 2016] argue that our moral intuitions are products of sophisticated rational learning systems. I investigate the implications that this discovery has for intuition-based philosophical methodologies. Instead of vindicating the conservative use of intuitions in philosophy, I argue that what I call the rational learning strategy fails to show philosophers are justified in appealing to their moral intuitions in philosophical arguments without giving reasons why those intuitions are trustworthy. Despite the fact that our intuitions are outputs of surprisingly sophisticated learning mechanisms, we do not have reason to unreflectively trust them when offering arguments in moral philosophy.