This article proposes a novel integrative approach to moral judgment and a related model that could explain how unconscious heuristic processes are transformed into consciously accessible moral intuitions. Different hypothetical cases have been tested empirically to evoke moral intuitions that support principles from competing moral theories. We define and analyze the types of intuitions that moral theories and studies capture: those focusing on agents (A), deeds (D), and consequences (C). The integrative ADC approach uses the heuristic principle of “attribute substitution” to explain how people make intuitive judgments. The target attributes of moral judgments are moral blameworthiness and praiseworthiness, which are substituted with more accessible and computable information about an agent’s virtues and vices, right/wrong deeds, and good/bad consequences. The processes computing this information are unconscious and inaccessible, and therefore explaining how they provide input for moral intuitions is a key problem. We analyze social heuristics identified in the literature and offer an outline for a new model of moral judgment. Simple social heuristics triggered by morally salient cues rely on three distinct processes (role-model entity, action analysis, and consequence tallying—REACT) in order to compute the moral valence of specific intuitive responses (A, D, and C). These are then rapidly combined to form an intuitive judgment that could guide quick decision making. The ADC approach and REACT model can clarify a wide set of data from empirical moral psychology and could inform future studies on moral judgment, as well as case assessments and discussions about issues causing “deadlocked” moral intuitions.


Dubljevic V, Racine E. (2014)  The ADC of moral judgment: Opening the black box of moral intuitions with heuristics about agents, deeds, and consequences. Ajob Neuroscience, 5(4), 3-20


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