Friday, July 29, 2011

New Book: "Elements of Moral Cognition" by John Mikhail

Elements of Moral Cognition
Rawls' Linguistic Analogy and the Cognitive Science of Moral and Legal Judgment

by John Mikhail

(Cambridge University Press, August 2011)

408 pages


Is the science of moral cognition usefully modeled on aspects of Universal Grammar? Are human beings born with an innate 'moral grammar' that causes them to analyse human action in terms of its moral structure, with just as little awareness as they analyse human speech in terms of its grammatical structure? Questions like these have been at the forefront of moral psychology ever since John Mikhail revived them in his influential work on the linguistic analogy and its implications for jurisprudence and moral theory. In this seminal book, Mikhail offers a careful and sustained analysis of the moral grammar hypothesis, showing how some of John Rawls' original ideas about the linguistic analogy, together with famous thought experiments like the trolley problem, can be used to improve our understanding of moral and legal judgement.


Part I. Theory
1. The question presented [preview, pdf]
2. A new framework for the theory of moral cognition
3. The basic elements of Rawls' linguistic analogy

Part II. Empirical Adequacy
4. The problem of descriptive adequacy
5. The moral grammar hypothesis
6. Moral grammar and intuitive jurisprudence: a formal model

Part III. Objections and Replies
7. R. M. Hare and the distinction between empirical and normative adequacy
8. Thomas Nagel and the competence-performance distinction
9. Ronald Dworkin and the distinction between I-morality and E-morality

Part IV. Conclusion
10. Toward a universal moral grammar.

John Mikhail is Professor of Law and Philosophy at Georgetown University.

* Podcast with John Mikhail on "Universal Moral Grammar" [mp3] (Philosophy Bites, June 2011).

* Article on "Universal Moral Grammar: Theory, Evidence, and the Future" (2007)

* "Rawls' Linguistic Analogy: A Study of the 'Generative Grammar' Model of Moral Theory Described by John Rawls in 'A Theory of Justice.'" (Phd Dissertation, Cornell University, 2000)

* New paper: "Rawls' Concept of Reflective Equilibrium and its Original Function in 'A Theory of Justice'" (Washington University Jurisprudence Review, Vol. 3, 2010).

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