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Practical Judgement


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Moral and Political Philosophy;

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Law, Governance, and Politics.


In this course, we will examine different approaches to moral judgement – both contemporary and traditional.
Moral judgement is often meant to be needed to bridge the gap between general moral knowledge and particular actions, especially when it comes to resolving moral conflicts.
But there is also substantial diversity in what has been called moral judgment. For example, although moral judgements have usually been explained in terms of rational deliberation, it has also been argued that moral judgments are the results of automatic, unconscious processes.

Contemporary moral psychology contains the debate as to whether moral judgements are based on emotions or reason. The question is actually: What role do reasoning and emotion play in the formation of normative moral judgements? Furthermore: Are empathy and imagination required for making moral judgements? Do individuals with psychopathy make genuine moral judgements? Are our judgements about what we ought to do in a given situation themselves motivating or not?
For that matter, how about our self-evaluative moral judgements and how are we to understand the relationship between moral judgements, intention, self-control and weakness of will?

Finally, is moral judging only a matter of correctly applying moral principles, or is it also a matter of getting our principles right?
We will discuss these questions by analysing different contemporary accounts of moral judgement and by tracing these accounts back to their historical roots, such as Hume’s and Kant’s conceptions of moral judgement.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of certain influential approaches to moral judgment.

Students who successfully complete the course will have:

  • a good understanding of some contemporary views of moral judgment, as well as certain critiques of these views;

  • a good understanding of several important conceptions of moral judgement proposed in the history of ethics, especially those of Hume and Kant;

  • insight into the views of some present-day proponents and opponents of these conceptions, such as Christine Korsgaard and Onora O’Neill;

  • insight into the debate between motivational internalists and motivational externalists about moral judgment.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • identify different approaches to moral judgement;

  • situate these approaches in relation to each other ;

  • apply them to issues of current moral interest ;

  • critically engage with important literature on the issues discussed.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars.

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Midterm paper;

  • Final paper;

  • One class presentation.


  • Midterm paper (20%);

  • Final paper (80%).

Successful completion of the presentation is required.


If the final mark is unsatisfactory, there is an option for a resit by writing a paper. The mark for the resit will replace all previously earned marks for subtests. No separate resits will be offered for the midterm test. Class participation, at least one submitted paper (either midterm or final), and the presentation are required for taking the resit.

Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Literature will be made available through Brightspace at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.


Not applicable.