Brede moraal en brede rede: Hoe inclusieve ethiek te combineren met psychologisch realisme

Translated title of the contribution: Broad Morality and broad reason: Reconciling inclusive ethics with psychological realism

Tsjalling Swierstra*, Evelien Tonkens

*Corresponding author for this work

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Many of today’s problems revolve around distance and proximity. Progres­ sives argue that a universalist, inclusive ethics requires us to bridge distan­ ces in identity, space, and time. Conservatives object that such bridging is psychologically unrealistic: people of flesh and blood can only care about whom/what is close­by. Evolutionary and psychological research seems to corroborate this sobering view. Many researchers confirm that our intuitions (‘System 1’) are groupish and short­sighted, and largely deaf to the appeal of rational universalism (‘System 2’).
But not all agree. We distinguish four ‘evo­progressive’ attempts to reconcile evolution and psychology with a universalist, inclusive ethics. Singer and Pinker (1), Buchanan and Powell (2), and Sunstein (3) contend that a reason­ based, inclusive ethics is psychologically feasible, but that such an ethics has to be thin, solely focusing on rights and no­harm. By contrast, Haidt (4) argues that an inclusive ethics should be ‘broad’, also encompassing moral domains like sacrality, loyalty and authority. This implies for him that it cannot be reason­based.
We argue that a broad form of inclusive ethics can and should be reason­ based, but that this requires a rethinking of ‘reason’. We show that the evo­progressives’ conviction that a rational ethics is by definition thin, results from their theoreticistic conception of reason. But reason can also have more mimetic­embodied or mythical­narrative forms. These do allow or a broad, rational, inclusive ethics that can motivate real people to include stakeholders that are distant in identity, place, and time.
Translated title of the contributionBroad Morality and broad reason: Reconciling inclusive ethics with psychological realism
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)2-36
Number of pages35
JournalAlgemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Dual Process Theory; inclusive ethics; reason; conservatism and progressivism; evolution theory


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