Moral Reasoning: Hints and Allegations


should be sent to Joseph M. Paxton, 33 Kirkland St., Room 1484, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail:


Recent research in moral psychology highlights the role of emotion and intuition in moral judgment. In the wake of these findings, the role and significance of moral reasoning remain uncertain. In this article, we distinguish among different kinds of moral reasoning and review evidence suggesting that at least some kinds of moral reasoning play significant roles in moral judgment, including roles in abandoning moral intuitions in the absence of justifying reasons, applying both deontological and utilitarian moral principles, and counteracting automatic tendencies toward bias that would otherwise dominate behavior. We argue that little is known about the psychology of moral reasoning and that it may yet prove to be a potent social force.