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Utilitarian Moral Judgments Are Cognitively Too Demanding

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DOI: 10.4236/oalib.1102380    754 Downloads   1,299 Views Citations


We evaluate utilitarian judgments under the dual-system approach of the mind. In the study, participants respond to a cognitive reflection test and five (sacrificial and greater good) dilemmas that pit utilitarian and non-utilitarian options against each other. There is judgment reversal across the dilemmas, a result that casts doubt in considering utilitarianism as a stable, ethical standard to evaluate the quality of moral judgments. In all the dilemmas, participants find the utilitarian judgment too demanding in terms of cognitive currency because it requires non-automatic, deliberative thinking. In turn, their moral intuitions related to the automatic mind are frame dependent, and thus can be either utilitarian or non-utilitarian. This suggests that automatic moral judgments are about descriptions, not about substance.

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Da Silva, S. , Matsushita, R. and De Sousa, M. (2016) Utilitarian Moral Judgments Are Cognitively Too Demanding. Open Access Library Journal, 3, 1-9. doi: 10.4236/oalib.1102380.

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