How Morality Seems: A Cognitive Phenomenal Case for Moral Realism

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Virginia Tech

Philosophers of mind have recently debated over whether or not there exists a unique cognitive phenomenology – a “what it’s like”-ness to our conscious cognitive mental states. Most of these debates have centered on the ontological question of whether or not cognitive phenomenology exists. I suggest that assuming cognitive phenomenology does exist, it would have important consequences for other areas of philosophy. In particular, it would have important consequences for moral epistemology – how we come to know the moral truths we seem to know. I argue that adopting cognitive phenomenology and the epistemic principle of phenomenal conservatism can do “double duty” for the moral realist: they provide the moral realist with prima facie grounds for belief in the objectivity of morality, while epistemically vindicating the specific contents of their beliefs.

philosophy, cognitive phenomenology, moral epistemology, phenomenal conservatism, consciousness