Moral Psychology Lab Meeting

Speaker: Jeremy Henry

Title: Reasoned Judgments and Moral Intuitions in Vaccination Hesitancy

Abstract: According to the social intuitionist model of moral judgment, nearly all moral judgments are driven by intuitions: fast, automatic, and largely affective responses to some triggering event. In the moral and political domain, “reasoned” judgments—judgments driven primarily by a weighing of the relevant information at the judge’s disposal—are rare. I claim that when parents decide whether or when to vaccinate their children, they are usually making reasoned judgments. There are two reasons to think so. First, existing models that connect moral intuitions to parents’ judgments about vaccination do not explain the variation in parents’ decisions. Second, most parents who are hesitant about following the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule (40% of American parents) spend considerable energy in both research and deliberation. In a significant class of cases, one’s moral judgment is not driven by one’s intuitions, but rather by a careful weighing of the information at one’s disposal.