Reasoning and moral decision-making: A critique of the social intuitionist model

Tziporah Kasachkoff, Herbert D. Saltzstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The Social Intuitionist Model (SIM) of moral reasoning proposed by Jon Haidt and colleagues (Haidt, 2001; Haidt & Bjorklund, 2006) is criticized on the grounds that (1) its conclusions concerning moral reasoning are unwarranted by research reporting ‘dumbfounded’ responses by subjects whose initial judgments are challenged and judgments elicited from hypnotized subjects; (2) its account of moral change in the individual ignores a crucial temporal and developmental element of that change; 3) its hypothesis that moral change is primarily non-rational ignores the many cases of rational persuasion that conduce to such change as well as the rational resolution of internal but conflicting moral intuitions within the same individual; (4) it presents no evidence for its view that the universality of certain moral attitudes and dispositions betokens a genetic foundation (forged by evolutionary processes) for those attitudes and disposition; (5) in positing moral modules as the genetic basis for moral response, it fails to distinguish between those human responses that are rightly to be characterized as ‘moral’ and those that are social but non-moral; and finally, (6) it undermines the scientific nature of its thesis by what appears to be an inuring of it against empirical disconfirmation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-302
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • Intuitionism
  • Moral psychology
  • Moral reasoning
  • Morality
  • Social intuitionist model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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