Moral perception and the contents of experience

Preston J. Werner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


I defend the thesis that at least some moral properties can be part of the contents of experience. I argue for this claim using a contrast argument, a type of argument commonly found in the literature on the philosophy of perception. I first appeal to psychological research on what I call emotionally empathetic dysfunctional individuals (eedis) to establish a phenomenal contrast between eedis and normal individuals in some moral situations. I then argue that the best explanation for this contrast, assuming non-skeptical moral realism, is that badness is represented in the normal individual's experience but not in the eedi's experience. I consider and reject four alternative explanations of the contrast.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)294-317
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Moral Philosophy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2014.


  • Ethics
  • Metaethics
  • Moral epistemology
  • Moral perception
  • Moral realism
  • Perception of higher-order properties


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