Beliefs, Desires, & Hybrids: An Examination of the Content of Moral Judgements

Author: Haley Brokensha

Brokensha, Haley, 2019 Beliefs, Desires, & Hybrids: An Examination of the Content of Moral Judgements, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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Theories of moral judgement have traditionally implied that one should be either a cognitivist or a non-cognitivist about moral judgements. Each side offers unique advantages that do not come as easily for the other. In the attempt to try and capture the positive qualities of each side, several theories that are best described as hybrid theories have been developed. In this thesis I describe three significant variations of hybrid theories: hybrid-state theory claims that moral judgements express `besires' which are hybrid-mental states with both cognitive and non-cognitive components; hybrid-expressivism claims that moral judgements express both a cognitive and a non-cognitive mental state; and a very new position, moral thought pluralism says that moral judgements can express more than one kind of moral thought. In this thesis I examine several central philosophical and empirical attempts to conceptualise moral judgements. I find that, at present, this evidence suggests that hybrid-state theory and hybrid-expressivism are implausible. Furthermore, there should be a presumption in favour of moral thought pluralism until such time as a more restrictive theory such as cognitivism or non-cognitivism is satisfactorily supported. If moral thought pluralism is correct, all attempts at restricting the theory will be unsuccessful.

Keywords: Moral judgements, moral thought pluralism, hybrid theories, mental states, beliefs, desires, besires

Subject: Philosophy thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2019
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Lina Eriksson