Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

John K. Davis

Committee Members

Betsy Postow, David A. Reidy


I argue for a naturalized conception of the faculty of intuition with particular interest in intuition's role in moral contexts. I examine intuition in philosophical discourse: namely, the Classic Intuitionists G.E. Moore, W.D. Ross, and H.A. Prichard. I bring to light relevant distinctions among their conceptions of intuition. The explanation of an intuitive faculty in their philosophy has come to stand for the paradigm of intuition in moral philosophy. In the section following, I will present the objections that call into question intuition. I draw from Robert Audi and Laurence BonJour since their respective projects attempt to deal with these same objections in an attempt to formulate respective Moderate Intuitionist positions. I show how these objections raised against intuitionism are objections to the epistemological role of intuition. After, examining the objections, I present Mediocre Intuitionism and Moderate Intuitionism both of which attempt to rearticulate the use of intuition in moral thinking in ways that are less objectionable. I argue that all these conceptions of intuition are moot, inadequate or incomplete. Finally, I examine research in cognitive science related to intuition and its bearing on the development a complete and adequate conception of intuition. Empirical study of cognition illuminates how conscious and unconscious processes manifest themselves as an intuition. Surprisingly, a relatively consistent picture of intuition can be derived from various empirical studies. Cognitive science will be able to tell us something about the immediacy of intuition, whether intuition is indeed non-inferential, and about the self-evidence of intuition. In particular, the results from empirical studies of intuition affect Moderate Intuitionists' reformulation of intuition. These analyses point to a naturalized conception of intuition.

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