So I’m not alone in my feelings of contempt, frustration, and intrigue towards Brooks’s NYT piece.
Moreover, it’s not clear why the facts Brooks cites about how we make moral judgments in normal life imply anything about the role that reason might play in answering these questions. Some of the researchers I’ve read on this topic seem to think that they do because they conflate two very different questions: (a) what role does reasoning play in our everyday moral judgments? and (b) what role does reason play in the justification of those judgments?
The very obvious fact is that no amount of description of how we actually tend to make moral judgments is going to resolve the question whether those moral judgments are right or not. To answer that question, we’re going to have to engage in good old fashioned philosophical reasoning and argumentation about moral principles.
David Hume (from beyond the grave):
Disputes with men, pertinaciously obstinate in their principles, are, of all others, the most irksome; except, perhaps, those with persons entirely disingenuous, who really do not believe the opinions they defend, but engage in the controversy from affectation, from a spirit of opposition, or from a desire of showing wit and ingenuity superior to the rest of mankind.