About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

64 Ala. L. Rev. 867 (2012-2013)
Moral Psychology and the Law: How Intuitions Drive Reasoning, Judgment, and the Search for Evidence

handle is hein.journals/bamalr64 and id is 907 raw text is: MORAL PSYCHOLOGY AND THE LAW: How INTUITIONS
Jonathan Haidt*
My talk today is about a delusion that is stalking the halls of the
academy. Delusion is defined by Webster's as a false conception and
persistent belief unconquerable by reason in something that has no
existence in fact.' In his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins used
the word delusion in this way.2 He defined the God delusion as the belief
in a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and
created the universe and everything in it, including us.3 He then argued
that religious people are unconquerable by reason, because if they were
reasonable, they would see the falsity of their belief. He argued that there is
no such thing as a God defined in this way. Whether or not you agree with
Dawkins' atheism, his book is a useful example of how one might go about
arguing for the existence of a mass delusion.
The mass delusion that I want to talk about today is the rationalist
delusion in ethics. I define it like this: The belief in a reliable faculty of
reasoning, capable of operating effectively and impartially even when self-
interest, reputational concerns, and intergroup conflict pull toward a
particular conclusion. The word rationalism has a variety of meanings in
philosophy. I am using the term to indicate a fairly moderate position-the
view that reason is the chief source of valid knowledge about ethics-not
the more radical claim that it is the only source.
So is reason the chief source of knowledge about ethical truths? In
several review papers4 I have shown that there is a mountain of evidence
demonstrating the deficiencies of human reasoning, and little or no
evidence that reasoning can perform in the way that rationalist theories of
*   Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, Leonard N. Stem School of Business, New
York University. Dr. Haidt delivered this lecture at The University of Alabama School of Law on
September 9, 2012.
3.   Id. at 52.
4.   See especially Jonathan Haidt, The New Synthesis in Moral Psychology, 316 SCIENCE 998
(2007); Jonathan Haidt & Selin Kesebir, Morality, in 2 HANDBOOK OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY 797
(Susan T. Fiske et al eds., 5th ed. 2010). See also JONATHAN HAIDT, THE RIGHTEOUS MIND chs. 2-4

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most