Differentiate ‘moral intuition’ from ‘moral reasoning with suitable examples. (10M)

The question Differentiate ‘moral intuition’ from ‘moral reasoning with suitable examples." was asked in the Mains 2023 GS Paper 4.  Let us look at the model answer to this question.

Answer: Moral intuition is a swift, instinctive sense of right or wrong, often driven by emotions, culture, and experiences, like a relief worker instinctively helping in disasters. Conversely, moral reasoning is a conscious evaluation using logic and ethical principles, such as deducing the moral superiority of equity over discrimination. While intuition is subconscious, reasoning requires reflective logic.

Differences Between Moral Intuition and Moral Reasoning


The key distinction is the speed at which these processes operate. Moral Intuition is fast and automatic, while Moral Reasoning is slower and involves conscious thought.
Ex: Moral Intuition: Reacting instantly to stop a child from stealing.
Moral Reasoning: Deliberating over a company's ethical stance on environmental issues.


Moral Intuition often relies on emotions, cultural norms, and personal experiences, while Moral reasoning is based on logical thinking, ethical principles, and conscious evaluation.

Ex: Moral Intuition: Feeling uncomfortable is a public situation without knowing why.
Moral Reasoning: Deciding not to invest in a company after researching its human rights track record.


Moral Intuition can sometimes lead to quick and accurate moral judgments, especially in familiar or straightforward situations. However, Moral reasoning allows for a more comprehensive and nuanced evaluation, potentially leading to more well-informed decisions, particularly in complex or novel scenarios.

Ex: Moral Intuition: Instinctively comforting a crying stranger.
Moral Reasoning: Analyzing a contentious political issue from multiple angles before forming an opinion.


Moral Intuition is subjective and can be influenced by individual biases and emotions. Moral Reasoning, while still influenced by personal beliefs, aims for a more objective assessment by considering a broader range of factors.

Ex: Moral Intuition: Feeling that lying is wrong because of a past personal experience.

Moral Reasoning: Weighing the pros and cons of a whistleblowing act, considering societal implications.


Moral Intuition is often relied upon in situations where quick decisions are needed or where explicit moral rules may not be readily available. Moral Reasoning is essential in complex, unfamiliar, or morally ambiguous situations.

Ex: Moral Intuition: Jumping in to break up a public fight without much thought.
Moral Reasoning: Conducting a thoughtful review of company policies to ensure inclusivity and fairness.


Mother Teresa's immediate, instinctual response to the suffering and poverty in Calcutta led her to establish the Missionaries of Charity. Her intuitive sense of duty and compassion drove her to help the destitute, sick, and dying without extensive analysis or deliberation.

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's advocacy for the rights of Dalits and his role in drafting the Indian Constitution demonstrates his profound moral reasoning. His careful consideration of historical injustices, social inequalities, and the need for a legal framework for a just society was a result of deep reflection and reasoned analysis.

Despite many differences, both moral intuition and moral reasoning play valuable roles in ethical decision-making. They can complement each other, with intuition providing initial insights and reasoning offering a more thorough evaluation. Additionally, the effectiveness of each approach can vary depending on the specific circumstances and individual factors.