Rick Sendelbeck

PhD Philosophy


PhD Topic

The Evidential Relationship of Intuitions and Moral Theory

Research questions:

How are intuitions to be understood as evidence in moral philosophy? Can intuitions play the justificatory role ascribed to them in moral philosophy?


A recent focus in philosophy has been on intuitions. In particular, philosophers have examined the nature of intuitions, epistemological questions about intuitions, and more recently questions regarding the use of intuitions.

In my PhD I address recent challenges coming from the so-called negative programme within moral experimental philosophy. Although most analytical moral philosophers rely heavily on moral intuitions to support their arguments, little attention has been paid to the relation between intuitions used as evidence and moral theories. This underdeveloped theoretical account of the evidential relation between intuitions and moral theories has become a more pressing matter since experimental moral philosophers have started calling into question the reliability of intuitions and their use within most analytical moral philosophy.

Given this focus, my PhD is situated at the intersection of ethics and philosophy of science and is embedded in the recent research on intuition. It engages in the project of providing a reliable methodology for moral philosophy. A deeper insight into the evidential relationship is essential for a better understanding of moral philosophizing and thus for advancement in moral methodology.

Taking the actual practice of the use of intuitions as a starting point, I want to reconstruct as an antithesis to Cappelen’s centrality thesis that intuitions are actually used within moral theorising and show what function they serve precisely. My research will be sensitive to the history of appeal to intuitions in philosophy. Doing so, I hope to shed light on my second aforementioned question concerning the evidential relationship between intuition and moral theory.

Additional roles 

 Convenor, Ethics Reading Group 2015-16

 Co-organiser, 5th Edinburgh Ethics Festival 2016

Scholarships & Awards

10/2015 – present PhD Research Award (declined) of the Hans-Böckler-Foundation
09/2015 – present PhD Research Award of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Research of the University of Edinburgh
04/2011 – 09/2015 Undergraduate and Graduate Studies Scholarship  of the Hans-Böckler-Foundation
09/2013 – 08/2014 Graduate Studies Scholarship  of the London School of Economics
09/2011 – 06/2012 Erasmus scholarship for undergraduate studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury


09/2015 – present Doctor of Philosophy University of Edinburgh Thesis: ‘The Evidential Relationship of Intuitions and Moral Theory‘
09/2012 – 09/2015 Master of Arts in Political Theory Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main  Dissertation: ‘Intuition as Evidence in Moral Philosophy‘
09/2013 – 11/2014 Master of Science in Philosophy of the Social Sciences London School of Economics and Political Science Dissertation: ‘Intuitions in Moral Philosophy’ 
09/2009 – 02/2013 Bachelor of Arts in Political Science Freie Universität, Berlin Dissertation: ‘policy advice at local politics’
09/2011 – 06/2012

Diploma in Politics and International Relations University of Kent at Canterbury

Research summary

Experimental Moral Philosophy, Moral Psychology, Ethics, and Political Theory