SAAP Annual Meeting 2014

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Incorporating Moral Foundations Theory Into Dewey's Moral Imagination

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I contend that the findings of Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) from moral psychology can contribute to pragmatist ethics, following Dewey's claim that ethics should be informed by the full breadth of human knowledge. Taking moral imagination as exemplary of Dewey's ethics, I 1) demonstrate its compatibility with MFT, and 2) present Jonathan Haidt's (one of the founders of MFT) political analysis from "The Righteous Mind" as an unwitting example of Deweyan moral imagination. My claim is that Dewey's empirical approach to ethics, understood to be "experience as method" following Pappas, is enhanced by the interpretation of our moral psychology offered by MFT.


Jon LaRochelle    
University of Oregon
United States


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