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Clean HandsPhilosophical Lessons from Scrupulosity$
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Jesse S. Summers and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190058692

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190058692.001.0001

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Moral Judgments

Moral Judgments

(p.93) 6 Moral Judgments
Clean Hands

Jesse S. Summers

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Oxford University Press

Scrupulous moral judgments vary from moral judgments made by those without Scrupulosity. The content of Scrupulous moral judgments are perfectionist, which conflates what is ideal with what is obligatory, conflates the moral evaluation of thoughts and actions, and is influenced by chronic doubt and intolerance of uncertainty. Anxiety motivates Scrupulous moral judgments. Scrupulosity is both judgment-driven—one’s judgments evoke anxiety—and anxiety-driven—anxiety prompts rationalizing judgments and even causes beliefs. Anxiety leads to systematic distortions in one’s moral judgments. Anxiety leads one to act in a way that soothes one’s anxiety. Genuine moral judgments respond to all morally relevant features, not just a narrow set thereof. Anxiety narrows one’s attention, often to features that are not the most morally relevant, and is unresponsive to counterevidence. Scrupulous moral thought leads to excessive precision and to focus on features that rationalize one’s anxiety.

Keywords:   moral judgments, perfectionism, moral thought-action fusion, chronic doubt, intolerance of uncertainty, judgment-driven Scrupulosity, anxiety-driven Scrupulosity, rationalization

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