Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christopher Heathwood

Second Advisor

Eric Chwang

Third Advisor

Alastair Norcross


In this paper, I respond to the case against deontological moral theory that Joshua Greene develops in "The Secret Joke of Kant's Soul" and elsewhere. Using empirical data he and colleagues collected on peoples' judgments in various moral dilemmas, Greene attempts to show that deontology rests on unsound foundations. In brief, he contends that the intuitions used to support deontological theory are undermined because they are responses to a morally irrelevant feature he calls "personalness." I argue that deontologists can respond to Greene's arguments by drawing a distinction between "practical" and "theoretical" intuitions. I contend that it is only the former sort of intuitions that are undermined by Greene's evidence, and that deontological theory can be supported purely on the basis of theoretical intuitions.

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